Brazil / by Alistair Galloway

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was questioned about corruption charges on 10 May. On the same day, JBS, Brazil’s largest meatpacking company, announced that executives Wesley and Joesley Batista signed a plea bargain with authorities, resulting in the admittance of evidence to prosecutors naming numerous elected politicians who had accepted bribes from the firm. Part of the evidence submitted also revealed tapes allegedly containing current president Michel Temer’s recorded orders to keep paying former – now jailed – Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha for his silence. Amnesty International published a report on 4 May accusing Brazil of ignoring a human rights crisis involving the number of killings by police. On 26 May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) issued a joint statement criticising violations by the Brazilian police force. On 24 May, reports emerged that police officers opened fire during clashes with protesters. Three hundred police officers of the National Force were sent to Rio de Janeiro on 15 May to help with security, and President Temer also deployed troops on 24 May in a controversial and later reversed decision. On 25 May, another jail break occurred, this time at Parnamirim prison in Rio de Janeiro. On 2 May, the Brazilian military police launched a major anti-crime operation in Rio de Janeiro, resulting in the arrests of dozens and confiscation of weapons. Brazil’s new anti-terrorism law was used for the first time on 4 May, when eight men accused of plotting to attack the 2016 Olympic Games on behalf of ISIS, were sentenced to jail. On 11 May, Brazil’s health ministry declared an end to the Zika virus public health emergency. S&P Global Ratings cut Brazil’s rating due to current political unrest, on 22 May. The central bank of Brazil cut the interest rate by another 100 basis points on 31 May. The Brazilian economy is predicted to have grown in the first quarter of 2017. Government data released on the same day revealed that unemployment fell in the three months through April 2017. On 9 May, Finance Minister Henrique Merielles announced plans to change bankruptcy law to aid indebted firms.