News from Brazil

Politics & Government

In Brazil on February 4, 2011 at 10:15 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff told Congress that a major overhaul to streamline the country’s cumbersome tax system was essential to ensure sustainable economic growth (Reuters).

Two allies of President Dilma Rousseff won leadership posts in Brazil’s Congress, but both are seen as defenders of the status quo and unlikely to support reforms to boost business competitiveness (Reuters).

Just days after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated on new year’s day, thousands of activists from the Landless Farmers Movement (MST) took over three expanses of land and various government buildings, demanding the new president speed up the rate of land redistribution to the country’s landless farmers (Guardian).

Brazil is to provide free medicines for everyone suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes (BBC).

Read the key political risks to watch in Brazil at Reuters.

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INTERNATIONAL

At least once a week during her young presidency, Dilma Rousseff has met with trusted advisers to try to solve an intractable problem — China. Is the young marriage of China and Brazil already on the rocks, asks Reuters?

Relations with the US—which remain centrally important for Brazil—started out on a high note, when then President-elect Lula met with President Bush in the Oval Office in 2002. But they have soured in recent years and are today deeply strained, with Lula and his advisors sharing the blame with US authorities in Washington. Obama’s scheduled visit to Brazil in March provides a promising opportunity for both governments to begin repairing the deteriorated relationship (Inter-American Dialogue).

President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in March — in what will be his first trip to South America — could result in an improvement in Brazil-U.S. ties following a significant downturn over the past two years (The Miami Herald).

Mothers’ milk banks that are helping reduce infant mortality in Guatemala and are starting to be set up in Africa as well form part of the numerous social technologies developed by Brazil that are driving the fast growth of its international development cooperation (IPS News).

President Dilma Russeff said at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony that “The Holocaust is not and will never be just a historic moment.” “The duty of the memory should not be mistaken for passiveness of the ordinary remembrance,” said Rousseff, who started her term a month ago, at the Jan. 27 ceremony. “Memory is the human weapon to prevent the repetition of the barbarism” (JTA)

Apart from being a symbol of South American integration, a new Brazil-Peru road will also boost – potentially hugely – trade with Asia. China has already replaced the US as Brazil’s number one trading partner. With this road, Brazil will eventually have paved access to five Pacific-facing Peruvian ports (BBC).

Brazil will strengthen its cooperation with Peru, Bolivia and Colombia in their fight against drug production and trafficking, Brazilian Ambassador to Peru Jorge Taunay said (Andina).

In her first overseas visit as Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff ratified in Buenos Aires the “special strategic” relation with Argentina while her counterpart Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, CFK, called for an “increased productive integration” between the two leading Mercosur partners (Mercopress).

Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Héctor Timerman revealed that the trade deficit Argentina has with Brazil is “concerning”, and indicated that both nations are working “to reduce it” (Mercopress).

The political crisis in Egypt may cause damage to Brazilian producers of chicken, beef, iron ore, aluminum oxide and sugar, the Association of Foreign Trade of Brazil (AEB) (Xinhua).

Besides revealing that former president Lula was a fan of Wikileaks, this article in the Huffinton Post quotes Wikileaks documents showing how the US Embassy dealt with Brazil’s foreign policy officials at the time.

The Portuguese government will defend shareholders in Galp who seek to protect the company’s strategic interests, Economy Minister Jose Vieira da Silva said. A source told Reuters that talks between Italy’s Eni and Brazil’s Petrobras for the Brazilian company to buy Eni’s 33.3 percent stake in Galp have collapsed over the price of the stake (Reuters).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

DEFENSE

President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a comprehensive review of agreements reached in principle with France for the purchase of fighter aircraft, helicopters, warships and technology transfers leading up to the Brazilian manufacture of a nuclear-powered submarine (UPI).

Brazil’s nuclear and security industries are set to benefit from new agreements signed after a summit between Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Brazil’s recently inaugurated President Dilma Rousseff (UPI).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

RESEARCH

Other big oil companies, too, work with outside partners, pay for students and laboratories at universities and develop distributed computer networks. What makes Petrobras different is that it is doing all these things in Brazil, a country that spends little generally on research and development, educates few students to graduate level and lags in most areas of technology and development. Given the relative sizes of Petrobras and Brazil’s high-tech industry, that means the company could potentially change the entire culture of the country (The Economist).

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