Brazil / by Michelle Ryan

Brazil’s government continued to face charges of corruption, with former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva indicted for corruption and money laundering. Senate president Renan Calheiros, a key ally of current President Michel Temer, was removed from his position by the Supreme Court following charges of embezzlement. A former director of Brazil's largest construction firm, Odebrecht SA, told prosecutors that the company had given illegal contributions to politicians in the currently-ruling PMDB party, including Brazil’s current president, Michel Temer. Protests sprang up across Brazil in response to the gutting of an anti-corruption bill by Congress. Kyriakos Amiridis, the Greek ambassador to Brazil, was confirmed dead by Brazilian police. The Public Security Institute published statistics confirming that homicides rose in the Rio de Janeiro state but fell in Sao Paulo in 2016. A report released by the Central Bank of Brazil revealed that the country's GDP is forecast to shrink by 3.5 per cent this year and grow by just 0.5 per cent in 2017. Brazil’s unemployment rate is the highest it has been since 2012. The constitutional amendment PEC 44 was passed through Congress, freezing federal spending on health, education, infrastructure, science, and technology for the next twenty years. President Michel Temer proposed a plan to cut benefits and extend the retirement age, while keeping tax breaks for agricultural commodity exports to ensure that the current economy and social security system will not completely collapse. Computer company Lenovo reduced its Brazilian operations, cutting its manufacturing facility’s size by half and reducing its workforce by 4,200 employees. Infraero announced plans to establish future partnerships in order to help run Brazil’s busiest airports.The Brazilian foreign ministry announced on 19 December that it will launch a formal trade dispute against Canada in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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