Brazil

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. 

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Brazil by Alistair Galloway

On 4 April, the NGO Justiça Global filed an official complaint with the United Nations (UN) against Brazil, citing human rights violations in Rio de Janeiro. On 12 April, the Supreme Court ordered investigations into alleged corruption by 74 more politicians as part of the ongoing Operation Car Wash corruption probe. The controversial labour reform bill, which underwent a ‘watering-down’ on 18 April, passed the Lower House of Congress on 27 April and will now move to the Senate for approval. On 6 April, the Supreme Court banned police from striking in protest of the bill. Cities across Brazil went into partial shutdown as the country experienced a massive general strike on 28 April in protest of the bill. The strike turned violent on the same day. Police union members attempted to gain entry to the Brazilian Congress but were rebuffed by Congressional police. Video from a drug raid on 30 March in which a 13 year old girl was killed by a stray bullet surfaced online on 1 April, showing police officers shooting apparently injured men. Violence between indigenous Brazilians and farmers continued throughout April. A protest by indigenous people on 25 April turned violent, with police utilizing tear gas. On 24 April, the gang PCC committed a $40 million USD robbery on the Brazilian-Paraguayan border. On 17 April, the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht was ordered to pay $2.6 billion USD in fines in order to settle charges that it bribed officials in a dozen countries. Brazil nearly doubled its deficit target for 2018 on 7 April. Data released on 28 April revealed that national unemployment hit a new record high in March. On 13 April, the central bank cut the interest rate by another 100 basis points. Concerns over the labour reform bill have negatively affected the Brazilian economy, with the Bovespa stock index dropping 0.3 per cent on 18 April.

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Brazil by Alistair Galloway

The list of Brazilian politicians named in the ongoing Operation Car Wash corruption probe was leaked to the public, including figures such as former presidents and the current heads of Congress. On 30 March, Eduardo Cunha, former speaker of the lower house of the Brazilian Congress, was sentenced to prison for just over fifteen years under charges of corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion. Unions went on strike across Brazil in retaliation to impending pension reform that will raise the minimum age for retirement. According to a statement made on 11 March, current President Michel Temer and his family moved out of their official residence due to fears of ghosts. On 1 March, Argentina requested – and received – an explanation from Brazil’s government for allowing the British RAF to make flights from the Falkland Islands to Brazilian airports since 2015. An investigation by the federal police on 17 March resulted in the release of reports detailing corruption and unhygienic practices in the Brazilian meat industry, causing numerous countries to issue bans on Brazilian meat. As of 16 March, yellow fever cases were on the rise on Brazil, with 137 casualties. A cell phone video released on 3 March showed the beating and murder of a transgender woman on the streets of Sao Paulo, part of a recent trend in anti-trans violence. According to data released on 28 March, violence rose significantly in Sao Paulo in February 2017 when compared to last year. On 2 March, Brazilian police discovered an escape tunnel leading from a high security prison in Rio Grande do Sul. Brazil’s economic outlook continues to look poor following data released on 7 and 31 March showing a further fall in economic activity from late 2016 to early 2017. The central bank of Brazil announced possible plans to increase interest rate cuts further on 30 March. However, employment rose for the first time in nearly two years in February. Petrobras, the state run oil company, managed to reverse its losses in the fourth quarter of 2016 according to data released on 21 March. On 16 March, an auction of Brazilian airports raised 1.2 billion USD through private buyers. 

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Brazil by Alistair Galloway

Brazil’s former richest man, Eike Batista, was arrested and subsequently jailed under bribery charges, as part of the ongoing anti-corruption probe, Operation Car Wash. On 20 January, Teori Zavascki, the Supreme Court judge overseeing the Operation Car Wash investigation, died when his plane crashed into the sea. According to Attorney General Deltan Dallagnol, the probe is likely to double in size following the upcoming testimonies of former executives from construction firm Odebrecht. On 16 January Rolls-Royce announced that it would pay $25 million as part of a plea bargain for bribery and corruption charges. Prosecutor-General for Labour, Ronaldo Fleury, released a report condemning President Michel Temer’s proposed labour reforms. Brazil’s health ministry ordered 11.5 million doses of yellow fever vaccine in an effort to combat the country’s worst outbreak since 2000. A riot in the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex prison in the Amazon lasted for 17 hours, resulting in the deaths of 56 people and the escape of 184 prisoners. More prison riots followed across Brazil from 2 January to 14 January. A mass shooting occurred at a New Year’s Eve party in Campinas, resulting in the deaths of 11 people. On 11 January, the Maracana stadium was broken into and looted. Brazil’s unemployment rate reached a new record high of 12 per cent, between October and December 2016. The Brazilian trade ministry stated that Brazil’s trade surplus in 2016, was the largest ever recorded at $47.7 billion. The central bank made an unexpectedly deep cut to the main interest rate in an attempt to stimulate the economy.

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Brazil by Alistair Galloway

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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Brazil by Alistair Galloway

Eduardo Cunha, the former president of Brazil’s lower house of parliament, was voted out of the lower house by 450 members of parliament. Former President Luiz Inacio da Silva faces severe corruption charges that could result in decades in prison. Attacks in relation to the municipal elections for mayor and town council member sparked unrest and resulted in fatal shootings. President Michel Temer established nine new economic deals during a recent trip to China. Mercosur and the European Union continued discussions on a potential free trade agreement. The United States Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, met with Brazilian authorities to discuss possible economic strategies and fiscal policy.

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Brazil by Lewis McKinnon

August concluded the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff. Interim President Michel Temer continued to navigate turbulent political waters, as he attempted to propose economic reform. The World Health Organisation classified the Zika virus as low risk. The 2016 Olympic games brought heightened security risks, including kidnapping, terrorism, and theft. Second quarter reports showed that Brazil’s economy is retracting. Brazil’s second busiest container port will be sold for $1.1 billion. The Central Bank of Brazil met in attempt to slow inflation and discuss interest rates. 

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Brazil by Lewis McKinnon

Eduardo Cunha, President of Brazil’s Lower House of Congress resigned, with Rodrigo Maia elected to replace him. From 19 July to 29 July, the Lower House of Congress entered an unofficial recess. BRICS nations, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, held a policy planning session. Political, security, economic, and environmental situations pose threats to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian authorities arrested numerous individuals linked to the Islamic state; these individuals utilised mobile applications to discuss buying weapons and planning attacks. Petroleo Brazileiro (Petrobras) extended an offer on global notes. The Brazilian government is looking into selling airports in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to reduce the budget deficit. The Central Bank of Brazil held a technical presentation and monetary policy decision meeting. Goldman Sachs Private Capitol invested into Brazil transportation and trucking. 

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Brazil by Lewis McKinnon

The Brazilian Senate officially commenced the impeachment trial for suspended President Dilma Rousseff, therefore granting 180 days to conduct the trial hearings. Brazil’s wide-ranging corruption scandal continued as an array of corruption and money laundering charges incriminated 30 per cent of Brazil’s National Congress. According to the Brazilian Constitution, sitting President Michel Temer cannot be prosecuted for accepting bribes and seeking illegal campaign funding until after his term expires. Allegations incriminating Brazilian Tourism Minister, Henrique Alves, led to his resignation. An operation stemming from the larger investigation, Operation Car Wash, resulted in the arrest of Paulo Bernardo, the former Minister of Planning and Communications. The Brazilian Senate appointed a new president of the central bank in an attempt to foster positive economic externalities. The Banco Central do Brasil (The Central Bank of Brazil) met to discuss monetary policy and inflation control. Interim president Michel Temer proposed a constitutional amendment to foster economic stability by capping government spending. On 10 June, oil workers held a union strike against the interim president’s oil policies. China plans to relocate steel production operations to Brazil. The United Kingdom (UK) referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) sent economic shock waves across the globe and subsequently will result in short and long term consequences for Brazil. 

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Brazil by Lewis McKinnon

The impeachment commission in Brazil's Senate recommended the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. On 12 May, the Senate voted to place Rousseff on trial for breaking budget laws, with Vice President Michel Temer temporarily taking office for the duration of the trial. A Brazilian supreme court judge ordered the removal of Eduardo Cunha, the president of Brazil's lower house, as investigations into the Petrobras scandal continued. Jose Dirceu, former chief of staff to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was given a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted of conspiracy, corruption, and money laundering with regard to the Petrobras scandal. Security concerns persist as Brazil prepares to host the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian companies have reportedly recorded the lowest cyber-security ratings of any major global economy. Brazilian government officials launched a campaign to combat crimes committed against women. Brazil’s Institute of Geography and Statistics announced that the first quarter of 2016 recorded a 5.4 per cent economic decline when compared to the same period in 2015. Brazil's interim president, Michel Temer, announced plans for economic reform which included repealing nationalist oil legislation, reducing public spending, and stopping Brazil's sovereign wealth fund. 

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