News from Brazil

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on January 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

POLITICS

At first blush, it might seem like the clock is ticking on Fernando Bezerra’s days as a Brazilian Cabinet minister. Yet it appears that Bezerra, who has denied any wrongdoing, and most other ministers under a cloud of suspicion are going to keep their jobs. President Dilma Rousseff is backing off her plans for a major Cabinet reshuffle early this year, having decided that she needs their parties’ support to pass key economic legislation (Reuters).

But the government announced that Aloizio Mercadante, current Science and Technology Minister, will take over the Education Ministry, a move that is expected to usher in other cabinet changes. Fernando Haddad (pictured), until now the Education Minister, is leaving to run for mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, in local elections in October. Marco Antonio Raupp, current head of Brazil’s Space Agency, will be named as the new science and technology minister (Xinhua).

A federal court in northeastern Brazil has sentenced a former politician to 103 years in prison for killing a member of Congress so he could take her place in 1998 (The New York Times).

The Brazilian federal government paid oil royalties of R$12.99 billion in 2011, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) announced last week. This represents an increase of 31 percent from the previous year. The largest chunk, R$8.28 billion, went to states and municipalities with Rio de Janeiro as the state receiving the most at R$2.46 billion, up from R$2.03 billion in 2010 (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, has quickly stepped out of the shadow of her charismatic predecessor Lula. After one year in office, she is more popular than any former president was at this stage. She has surrounded herself with powerful women, who are now calling the shots in Brasília (Der Spiegel).

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INTERNATIONAL

The UK is launching its strongest diplomatic offensive in Latin America for two centuries, the foreign secretary has said as he visits Brazil. William Hague is the first UK foreign secretary to visit for six years. He said the UK welcomed Brazil’s “growing impact on the economic and political landscape of the world” (BBC).

Rising tension over a dispute between Britain and Argentina on the Falkland Islands overshadowed the first official visit by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Brazil. Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said all Latin American nations “back Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas and back the UN resolutions calling on the Argentine and British governments to hold talks on the issue” (AFP).

The Brazilian government is looking to change the way its immigration policy is oriented towards highly-skilled foreign professionals wanting to work in the country. Some commentators say that Brazil wants to lure skilled workers from Europe made unemployed in the economic downturn, at the same time as a crackdown against illegal workers has also been announced (The Rio Times).

Industry and Foreign Trade minister Fernando Pimentel expressed the Brazilian government’s deep disappointment with the latest Argentine legislation to be implemented on trade saying that Argentina is “a permanent problem” (MercoPress).

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica and former leader Lula da Silva, under treatment for larynx cancer, said in Sao Paulo that they would like to have a group of Latin American intellectuals involved in the discussion and promotion of regional integration as a doctrine (MercoPress).

Brazil is the new – and fairly unknown – kid on the block in Africa, but its activities are arousing a growing interest around the world. Considering that Brazil does not need to import energy nor food (important motivating factors for both China and India), what are Brazil’s interests in Africa? (Oliver Stuenkel in Postwesternworld)

Brazil remains open to offering assistance to ailing economies through the International Monetary Fund, though it is seeking a political commitment to reforming the institution as part of the discussions, a government official familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires.

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Embraer expects to sell its Super Tucano light attack aircraft to more NATO nations after clinching an order from the United States that lifted the company into the upper echelons of global defense contractors, a top executive told Reuters.

The Brazilian Navy took delivery of its first 7.6 m LAR-E (Lancha de Ação Rápida – Especial) protected light fast attack boat from the Base Naval de Val-de-Cães (BNVC) shipyard in Belém on 2 January. The LAR-E programme could see the construction of more than 300 units for the navy (Marinha do Brasil/MB), army and federal police (Janes).

Brazil is modernizing its navy with new acquisitions to continue expansion of the naval forces’ responsibilities in regular patrolling of lakes and rivers, a role normally played by the coast guard and other security arms of national defense (UPI).

Brazil and Colombia will enter into a bilateral border agreement to combat organized crime. The measure was discussed last Tuesday (Jan. 17) in Brasilia between the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim. The Colombian delegation is on an official visit to Brazil with the objective of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries (Portal Brasil).

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SOCIAL

Despite the considerable growth and social progress registered in the past years, inequality remains high in Brazil, a study said. Brazil has made significant efforts and achievements in poverty reduction in the past two decades, a study released by Oxfam said. “Brazil’s growth averaged 2.5 percent a year from 1990 to 2009 and was accompanied by falling inequality,” the study said. “Over this period, the proportion of Brazilians living in poverty was cut in half” (Xinhua).

Brazilian families’ economic vulnerability indicator fell 14 percent in six years, indicating significant advances in several aspects, a study said. According to the Brazilian Families’ Vulnerability study released by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea), the country’s vulnerability indicator dropped from 27 percent in 2003 to 23.1 percent in 2009 (Xinhua).

Facebook has passed Google’s Orkut as the most visited social network in Brazil, new figures suggest. Research from analytics firm Comscore suggests Facebook attracted 36.1 million unique visitors in December, against Orkut’s 34.4 million visitors (BBC).

Problems in the Brazilian public health system (doctors on strike, equipment and material shortfalls and, once in a while, someone dying in line waiting to see a doctor) could be resolved if corruption was eliminated. At least that is what 82% of the people interviewed in a public opinion poll said (Agencia Brasil).

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