Archive for the ‘Brazil’ Category

Brazil’s Two Biggest Cities Roiled by Violence

| April 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

By LUCIANA MAGALHAES in São Paulo and  PAUL KIERNAN in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil’s two biggest cities were shaken by unrest on Tuesday, as a professional dancer’s death sparked a violent protest in a Rio slum that overlooks popular beaches, and armed men torched nearly three dozen buses at a depot outside São Paulo.

The incidents come less than two months before Brazil hosts soccer’s World Cup tournament, and underscore concerns about security during the event.

In Rio, officials closed off major thoroughfares in the area, as smoke from fires set by rioters in the hillside slum hung in the air steps from oceanfront hotels.

The riot started as a protest after the body of a professional dancer from the Pavão-Pavãozinho slum, Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, was found in a school Tuesday morning. Police said his injuries appeared consistent with a fall; protesters suspected that he had been murdered.

A police officer at the scene said suspected ... Read More

An Odd Hostility in the Americas

| April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


SAO PAULO, Brazil — Two vast countries in the same hemisphere, with the same can-do appetite for the future, populated by far-flung immigrants subsuming their differences into the same powerful sense of nationhood, with the same commitment to democratic governance and free enterprise, drawn to each other by the same mutual attraction among their peoples, find their relations at or close to an all-time low.

There may be more perplexing international relationships in the world than the troubled one between the United States and Brazil, but there are not many. A natural friendship has fissured under unnatural strain. A perverse estrangement prevails.

Brazil, a kind of tropical United States, finds it difficult to connect to Washington, and vice versa. The nation that might have been America’s closest ally (even without a formal alliance) among the rising powers is now ... Read More

What happened to Brazil?

| April 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN

By Global Public Square staff

The $32 million cable car in the video has not been used since 2012. There is a federally funded extraterrestrial museum, also abandoned. And there is a multi-billion dollar railroad. It was supposed to help farmers from impoverished remote areas transport soybeans. Construction began there eight years ago. Residents have been displaced, land wrecked, but the railroad will probably never be built.

What if we told you that these shuttered, big-ticket infrastructure projects are in the country that will host the world’s biggest sporting event in June? What in the world, right?

We’re talking about Brazil, of course, host of this year’s FIFA World Cup and the only major economic power in South America. There’s even speculation that bus and rail systems being built for the soccer tournament won’t be completed until after the games are over.

This is a big comedown for a country that was seen as an ... Read More

Brazil’s foreign policy stance leaves it in wings on global stage

| April 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
Financial Times

By Joe Leahy

This month, Brazil marks a particularly grim moment in its history. Fifty years ago, the country’s military took power in a coup that ushered in two decades of brutal dictatorship.

President Dilma Rousseff, who as a young leftist guerrilla fighting the generals was jailed and tortured, marked the occasion with a speech at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão airport earlier this month.

Shedding a quiet tear, she cited a song by the bossa nova artist Tom Jobim, “Samba do Avião”, that recalls the emotions of a Brazilian landing in Rio, saying the lyrics were about exiles returning home with the end of the military regime.

This was a gaffe – the song was written in 1962, before the coup. But the sentiment was clear: democracy may be messy, but it is far better than the horrors of dictatorship and authoritarianism.

How strange then that on the international stage, Brazil sometimes seems more at odds with ... Read More

Murders soar in Brazil World Cup city during police strike

| April 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


A police strike ended on Thursday after unleashing a surge in violent crime in Brazil’s third-largest city just two months before it is due to welcome hordes of football fans for the World Cup, authorities said.

At least 39 homicides were committed during the two-day strike in and around the north-eastern city of Salvador that added to fears about Brazil’s ability to ensure public safety during the global football tournament.

Violence swept the city after state police went on strike on

Tuesday night to demand better pay and other benefits, prompting the federal government to dispatch troops to restore order in Salvador and nearby towns.

Local media reported looting at supermarkets and stores, leading shop owners to close their businesses in a city that is one of Brazil’s most popular tourist destinations.

A coastal city of about 3.5 million people, Salvador was the first colonial capital of Brazil and is home to some ... Read More

Brazil’s Leader Holds Wide Lead Six Months From Election: Survey

| April 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

Despite a mushrooming scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras and bad news on the economic front, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is still the hands-down favorite to win the elections in October, according to a new poll on Wednesday.

If the vote were held today, Rousseff would win 40 percent of the ballots, while her two main rivals put together would get only 24 percent, not enough to force a run-off, the poll showed.

The survey last week by local polling firm Vox Populi indicated that rising inflation in a stagnant economy, coupled with bribery, money laundering and overpricing investigations at Petrobras have not undermined Rousseff’s popularity as yet.

The number of voters intending to back the left-leaning president for a second four-year term has fallen off just one percentage point since the previous Vox Populi poll in February.

But the expected candidate of the main opposition party, centrist Senator Aécio Neves also slipped one ... Read More

Latin America the World’s Most Violent Region

| April 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Latin America is now the world’s most violent region but is receiving less U.S. military and financial assistance, according to a recent report and other figures.

Latin America surpassed Africa as the region with the most murders per 100,000 people, according to the new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Several countries in the Western Hemisphere had murder rates that eclipsed 25 per 100,000 people in 2012, compared to the global average of about six.

The report said 30 percent of the homicides in the Americas could be attributed to a proliferation of organized crime and gang-related violence.

For example, Honduras had one of the world’s highest murder rates with 90.4 per 100,000 people. Mexican drug cartels and transnational criminal groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street gangs have infiltrated the country in recent years.

Some of the violence is fueled by those groups’ drug smuggling operations into the United States. ... Read More

Flexible friends

| April 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

China lends disproportionately to countries that lack other options

THE rise of China has changed every region. But it has reinforced patterns, too. China’s demand for commodities has entrenched Latin America’s position as a supplier of raw materials. The country guzzles oil from Venezuela and Ecuador, copper from Chile, soyabeans from Argentina, and iron ore from Brazil—with which it signed a corn-import deal on April 8th.

Chinese lending to the region also has a strong flavour of natural resources. Data are patchy, but according to new figures from the China-Latin America Finance Database, a joint effort between the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank, and Boston University, China committed almost $100 billion to Latin America between 2005 and 2013 (see chart). The biggest dollops by far have come from the China Development Bank (CDB). These sums are meaningful. Chinese lenders committed some $15 billion last year; the World Bank $5.2 billion in fiscal year ... Read More

Rousseff Loses Support for Brazil Election in Datafolha Poll

| April 7th, 2014 | No Comments »

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s re-election bid lost support in a poll conducted by Datafolha as faster inflation and slower growth damaged her government’s popularity. She still had more than the level of support a candidate will need to win the first round this year.

Rousseff’s support fell to 38 percent from 44 percent in February in a poll that pitched her against opposition candidates Aecio Neves and Eduardo Campos. Support for Senator Neves, from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, was unchanged at 16 percent. Former governor of Pernambuco state Campos garnered 10 percent, little changed from February, according to the April 2-3 survey of 2,637 people. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Rousseff, who is expected to run for a second term in October, has been struggling to contain consumer prices while reviving economic growth that slowed to an average 2 percent during her first ... Read More

Brazil and Mexico: Hope or hype?

| April 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »


Key points in this Outlook:

Key Latin American governments, such as Brazil and Mexico, must adopt economic, fiscal, and energy policies that will maximize job creation, sustainable growth, and energy self-sufficiency. The performance of Latin American economies has a disproportionate effect on US prosperity, heightening the costs of the Obama administration’s indifference toward the region. The American economy will benefit from more vigor and vision as US policy encourages economic partnerships with Latin America that cultivate a healthy private sector, energy interdependence, and greater competitiveness in a global market.

During the last three decades, most of Latin America has benefited from important gains in the consolidation of democratic institutions and implementation of orthodox economic policies that have tamed hyperinflation, reined in debt, and liberalized trade. Of course, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries are dramatic exceptions to this regional progress. Even in countries that generally have chosen a more ... Read More

Which Path Will Brazil Choose?

| April 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
Real Clear World-01


When Latin America’s most-populous nation was awarded the 2014 World Cup back in 2007, it was enjoying strong economic growth and being celebrated as a potential superpower. Brazil grew by 6.1 percent that year and by 5.2 percent the following year, and it suffered only a mild recession after the global financial crisis. In April 2009, Newsweek discussed its progress below the eye-catching headline “How Brazil Became a Superpower.” Later that year, Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, prompting then-President Lula da Silva to declare, “I’ve never felt more pride in Brazil. Now, we are going to show the world we can be a great country.” The Brazilian economy went on to expand by 7.5 percent in 2010, its highest annual growth rate since the 1980s.

Today, with the World Cup just a few months away, the euphoria of the Lula years seems a distant memory, as ... Read More

Machado llega a Brasil para denunciar situación venezolana

| April 2nd, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Brasilia – La opositora venezolana María Corina Machado llegó el miércoles a Brasil con el propósito de “denunciar como diputada” la “grave” situación que vive su país ante miembros de las comisiones de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado y la Cámara Baja.

“La visita es para atender una invitación de ambas comisiones y la intención es plantear, de manera muy directa y en su condición de diputada venezolana, la gravísima situación que vive Venezuela”, dijo una fuente próxima a Machado.

La dirigente opositora llegó a Brasil tras haber encabezado el martes en Caracas una marcha hasta la Asamblea Nacional, que la semana pasada la despojó de su investidura parlamentaria.

Esa decisión fue refrendada por el Tribunal Supremo de Venezuela y se apoyó en que supuestamente Machado infringió la Constitución, según la mayoría de la Asamblea, al aceptar que Panamá la nombrara su representante alterna para poder intervenir en una sesión de la Organización de Estados ... Read More

Brazil grows wary of Venezuela under Maduro, reduces support

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


(Reuters) - Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy and diplomatic power, has toned down its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro because of disappointment over how he is handling mounting economic problems and opposition-led street protests.

The shift, while subtle, has deprived Maduro of some of the regional backing he wants at a time of food shortages, high inflation and political uncertainty in the OPEC nation.

Broadly speaking, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff remains an ally of Maduro. While Rousseff is more moderate, both are part of a generation of leftist Latin American presidents who grew up opposing pro-Washington governments and believe they are united by a mission to help the poor.

However, Rousseff has been increasingly disappointed by some of Maduro’s actions and has reined in the more enthusiastic support that characterized Brazil-Venezuela relations under his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, according to two officials close to Rousseff’s government.

Rousseff is worried the Venezuelan government’s repression ... Read More

S&P Downgrades Brazil Credit Rating, Citing Weak Growth

| March 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


Standard & Poor’s cut the credit rating on Brazil’s long-term bonds to one notch above junk, citing deteriorating government accounts, rising debt and weakening growth, the latest rebuke for the nation’s once-vital economy.

The rating agency cut Brazil’s sovereign-credit rating to triple-B-minus from triple-B and said its outlook for Brazil was stable. Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings both have investment-grade ratings on Brazil with stable outlooks.

The downgrade marks a turnaround from 2008, when Brazil’s bonds were awarded investment-grade status amid the global financial crisis. The South American nation seemed to shrug off much of the global downturn, spurring an investor frenzy for Brazilian securities. Brazil soared to 7.5% growth in 2010.

But its economy has slowed sharply since, as the competitiveness of local manufacturers has slipped and government policies designed to restart it failed, souring investor optimism. Standard & Poor’s had warned about the possibility of a downgrade in ... Read More

Brazil scrambles to avoid power rationing as costs soar

| March 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


Brazil is fighting against time to avoid crippling power blackouts and electricity rationing as a drought prevents the world’s most water-rich nation from recharging its hydroelectric dams.

A decade of growth has diversified the electricity system away from hydropower, but policymakers, industrial companies and investors in the world’s seventh-largest economy may find little cause to relax.

Rio de Janeiro-based energy consultancy PSR puts the odds of rationing at nearly 1 in 4.

“Rationing or not, the drought’s impact on Brazil will be large,” said PSR Director Jose Rosenblatt. “There’s no way to avoid it.”

Hydro reservoirs, which generate two-thirds of Brazil’s power, are at near-record lows. To keep the lights on and factories open, all of the country’s main thermal power plants are running full throttle as an estimated 600,000 visitors prepare to arrive for the June start of the soccer World Cup.

The situation is already testing the ... Read More

Petrobras Puts Brazil President Dilma In Hot Seat

| March 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments »


Petrobras’ PBR +0.17% problems are becoming Dilma’s problems.

Brazil’s oil and gas major, Petrobras, can do no right. And now President Dilma Rousseff is being blamed for the problems. Of course, she is being blamed by politicians who don’t want to see her re-elected in October.  They probably won’t succeed at dethroning her, but one thing is certain: the deterioration of the shining star of Brazil’s state owned enterprises happened on her watch. This election season, Dilma isn’t the only one in the cross hairs.  Petrobras is now her problem, too.

Not long ago, as in 2007, Petrobras was heralded as the Latin America Aramco, finding oil deep under the ocean floor far off the coast of Rio and São Paulo states.  Goldman Sachs once put a $60 price target on the stock in early summer 2008. Today, Petrobras shares trade under $12, and its market cap is smaller than Colombia’s EcoPetrol EC +0.32%.

Over the last several weeks, ... Read More

Opinion: Venezuela trapped in violent stalemate

| March 24th, 2014 | No Comments »
Deutsche Welle


Venezuelan students have been protesting for nearly six weeks now. The government is using force to clamp down, and the conflict has reached total standstill. It can only be resolved externally, says DW’s Marc Koch.

Nothing works anymore. Venezuela is trapped. For weeks, the country has been teetering on the brink of a civil war. The hopelessly overburdened government of President Nicolas Maduro can think of nothing better than repression and outrageous rhetoric to solve the conflict with the protesting students. And Venezuela’s opposition is – once more – not able to present itself as a serious, democratic force and a realistic alternative.

No will for a solution

Barricades are set alight every night and people are dying in Caracas and other cities, but there is no solution to the political standstill. The student protests are yielding little for the country and their cause, though they have brought themselves some short-term international attention. ... Read More

Observers: Regional Democracies Must Address Unrest in Venezuela

| March 7th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Latin American observers are calling on regional democracies to address the ongoing unrest in Venezuela and take steps to defend democratic norms and human rights.

The Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council, composed of representatives from all 35 countries in the Americas, scheduled a closed meeting on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the request of Panama to discuss the Venezuelan crisis. At least 18 people have died in protests against President Nicolas Maduro and the country’s rampant crime, inflation, and shortages.

Maduro attributed the announcement of the OAS meeting to “moves by the United States government in accord with a lackey government of a right-wing president” and reacted angrily by breaking off diplomatic and economic ties to Panama. The meeting was already postponed a week after pressure from the Venezuelan government.

Maduro warned the OAS and Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza not to “intervene in Venezuelan home affairs.”

Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs ... Read More

Big Victory for Chevron Over Claims in Ecuador

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times


Since losing a $19 billion judgment in an Ecuadorean court three years ago, Chevron has drawn the condemnation of human rights and environmental activists by refusing to pay anything in fines or accept blame for polluting the Ecuadorean rain forest.

The award against Chevron was one of the largest judgments ever imposed by a court for environmental pollution, and it appeared to pit a mighty corporate Goliath against powerless peasants and the principal lawyer who represented them, Steven R. Donziger, as a brave David.

But on Tuesday, Chevron won a major victory. A federal judge in Manhattan ruled that a two-decade legal effort to punish the company was marred by fraud and corruption, making it increasingly likely that the oil company would be ultimately successful in beating back the legal and financial challenge.

In his nearly 500-page ruling, United ... Read More

Chevron Wins U.S. Ruling Calling Ecuador Judgment Fraud

| March 5th, 2014 | No Comments »


Chevron Corp. (CVX) won a U.S. judge’s ruling that a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment issued in Ecuador was procured by fraud, making it less likely that plaintiffs will collect the $9.5 billion award.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said today that the second-largest U.S. oil company provided enough evidence that a 2011 judgment on behalf of rain forest dwellers in the country’s Lago Agrio area was secured by bribing a judge and ghostwriting court documents. Kaplan oversaw a seven-week nonjury trial over Chevron’s allegations.

“The decision in the Lago Agrio case was obtained by corrupt means,” Kaplan said in an opinion that gave Chevron a sweeping victory. “The defendants here may not be allowed to benefit from that in any way.”

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, was ordered to pay $19 billion to a group of farmers and fishermen by the Ecuadorean court. The award was reduced to ... Read More

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