As Brazil’s president is looking more and more unlikely to complete his term in office, the country is divided as to how he should be replaced. Some are arguing to move up direct elections – a process that would require amending Brazil’s constitution. This would be a long, contentious and most likely pointless, if not potentially dangerous, exercise. Better to just follow the currently outlined constitutional procedure and wait for the next scheduled elections, which are only a little more than a year away. Instead of “Diretas Já” (direct elections now), how about “Diretas Já Já”(direct elections soon)?
Forget Odebrecht. JBS is the new king of Brazilian corruption, and revelations from the company's founders, the billionaire Batista brothers, threaten to take down President Michel Temer. But the real scandal is that despite admitting to some egregious crimes, the Batistas themselves have been granted full immunity and will continue to run their multi-billion dollar empire from abroad.
In Brazil, as in many other places in the world, 2017 has gotten off to a very rocky start. Indeed, anyone who has been following the Brazilian news has been met by a barrage of crazy headlines.
After a brief period of respite, tensions are once again building in Brazil at the end of what has been a singularly tumultuous year. Recent moves by Congress to shield itself from anti-corruption investigations have set off the latest round of widespread popular protests, but it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. A series of missteps, corruption allegations and controversial measures by the government of Michel Temer, combined with continued negative economic forecasts, have been trying the Brazilian people’s patience.
Within the last 24 hours, two former governors of the state of Rio de Janeiro have been arrested. Anthony Garotinho is accused of rigging his wife’s mayoral election in a cash-for-votes scheme. Sergio Cabral is accused of taking bribes from the construction companies responsible for public works projects in the state, notably some related to the World Cup and Olympic Games.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would limit public spending growth, one of the Temer government’s key initiatives, is making waves in Brazil. Some have cheered it, stating that getting Brazil’s finances in order is crucial for the country’s economic recovery. Others however, worry that this extreme measure will ultimately harm the country’s poorest citizens. So who’s right?
The outcome of last Sunday’s municipal elections shows that Brazilians are in a strange political mood. Anyone looking to the election results, which were all over the place, for hints about the 2018 presidential campaign is sure to be disappointed.
There is a saying that the most profitable business in the world is a well-run oil company, and the second-most profitable business is a poorly run one. Well, according to that logic, Brazil’s Petrobras defies categorization. It is a state-owned oil company, essentially a monopoly, in one of the biggest countries in the world, and yet it has been losing money for years. How is this possible?
There is evidence that Brazil’s former president benefited from the corruption scheme at Petrobras, which he has also been accused of masterminding. Could this be the beginning of the end for the man who was once the most popular politician in the world?
The acrimonious nature and bizarre ending of Dilma Rousseff's impeachment almost makes you nostalgic for the impeachment of Fernando Collor de Mello, in 1992. Back then, Brazil was united in its disdain for a corrupt president and the process to remove him was relatively swift and uncontroversial. Indeed, perhaps the best way to make sense of the current impeachment and gain some perspective on it is to compare it with this previous episode.
The events leading up to the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff have been simultaneously traumatic and cathartic for Brazil. As this chapter of Brazilian history draws to a close, many unanswered questions remain. Will the new government have the clout to push through the hard reforms needed to pull Brazil out of its worst ever economic crisis? Will the Lava Jato corruption investigation be allowed to continue, or will politicians get in the way, risking the country’s future to save themselves?
Will Rio be able to pull itself together at the last minute, or will the Olympics be a train wreck?
A Brazilian prosecutor has found that the “fiscal pedaling” for which suspended Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment does not represent a crime. However, this interpretation probably won’t affect the outcome of the impeachment proceedings against her. This is because while conclusion of the prosecutor in this case refers to criminal charges, the "crimes of responsibility" cited as the basis for impeachment are civil in nature.
As a Secretary in the Finance Ministry of Michel Temer’s interim government, economist Mansueto Almeida is one of the people tasked with the seemingly impossible task of fixing Brazil’s finances in the face of a crushing recession and a record budget deficit of some R$ 170 billion. Unsurprisingly, he is frustrated. Frustrated with the difficulty of it all, for sure, but even more so with the widespread speculation and unrealistic expectations coming from analysts and commentators about how it should be done.
Today was another busy day for Brazil’s anti-corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash. Several senior political figures, predominantly from the Workers’ Party (PT) of suspended president Dilma Rousseff and former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, were arrested or taken in for questioning.
As Brazil’s interim government gets to work, its main task is fixing Brazil’s finances after identifying a record budget deficit. Although the specter of austerity looms large, the good news is that budget cuts don’t need to affect Brazil’s social programs. The country’s real fiscal problems can be alleviated by addressing large-scale inefficient and wasteful spending elsewhere. The following five-part series examines where some of these savings could come from.
This is Part V of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part V looks back to determine what lessons Brazil can learn from its past as it attempts to move forward, beyond political and economic crises.
This is Part IV of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part IV examines the costs of corruption in Brazil, and what can be done about them.
This is Part III of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part III examines inefficient and wasteful spending in Brazil's massive government bureaucracy, particularly with regard to public sector pensions, salaries, and other benefits.
This is Part II of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part II examines the government's provision of subsidies and tax breaks to companies in Brazil, as well as the indirect subsidies provided to wealthy individuals through the country's educational system.
This is Part I of a five-part series entitled "What now? The trade-offs and budget cuts needed to fix Brazil’s finances." Part I examines spending in the Brazilian government’s premier social welfare program.
As Brazil’s interim government gets to work, its main task is restoring Brazil’s finances after identifying a record budget deficit. Although the specter of austerity looms large, the good news is that budget cuts don’t need to affect Brazil’s social programs. The country’s real fiscal problems can be alleviated by addressing inefficient and wasteful spending elsewhere – this five-part series examines where some of these savings could come from.
If we consider the current local context, in which Brazil has robust if flawed democratic institutions; the international context, in which terrorism has replaced communism as the global threat du jour; and the regional context, in which leftist regimes all over Latin America are collapsing on their own, it becomes clear that the Brazilian military is not primed to intervene on this occasion.
It’s time for the media to reconsider the narrative that has been used to describe the Brazilian crisis and to turn a more critical eye to President Rousseff, as well as her predecessor Lula and the Workers’ Party in general. They have, after all, been in charge for the past 13 years, and the economic and political crises and corruption scandals currently tearing Brazil apart have happened on their watch.
Yesterday, lawyer and law professor Janaína Paschoal testified before the Brazilian Senate’s Special Impeachment Commission to explain the request that she filed, along with Helio Bicudo and Miguel Reale Jr., for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. Here is a translated and annotated transcript of her remarks.
In a rowdy hearing last Sunday, the lower house of Brazil’s Congress voted to move forward with impeachment proceedings against president Dilma Roussef. Financial markets had a mixed response as enthusiasm for potential new economic policies was tempered by the reality that there are no short-term solutions for Brazil's dire economic situation. Meanwhile, the Rio Olympics experienced new setbacks when a brand new elevated bicycle path in the city collapsed, killing two people, and news broke that several Olympic construction projects may become the target of corruption investigations.
The Brazilian left, led by the beleaguered Workers’ Party, has furiously and justifiably condemned recent praise for Brazil’s past right-wing dictatorship. Indeed, the Brazilian far right should absolutely be criticized for its reactionary views. But the left should not get a free pass and deserves just as much scrutiny. In fact, given their history of supporting dictators in other countries, the selective nature of the left’s outrage is intellectually dishonest. Likewise, Workers’ Party claims of persecution by the corrupt political establishment belie the party’s own history of malfeasance.
The political drama in Brazil continued to unfold during what has been an especially eventful week, even by recent standards. In other news, the economic outlook remains bleak, preparations for the Rio Olympics appear to have finally gotten on track, and concerns are being raised about new laws that would affect net neutrality and strengthen censorship on the Brazilian internet.
Perhaps the most fitting metaphor for how the political situation in Brazil is developing is not House Of Cards, but Game of Thrones. In any case, it is important for the crisis to be resolved soon, because winter is coming, and with it the Rio Olympics.
It should be a straightforward yes or no question. But determining the validity of the impeachment in Brazil with regard to whether the president actually broke the law when she used accounting tricks to cover up a budget deficit during an election year is anything but.