News from Brazil

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on May 18, 2012 at 9:46 am

POLITICS

Brazil’s government must start to confront the country’s weaknesses. A 3.5% growth rate may seem lavish by Western standards, but it is below both what Brazil needs to be to continue recent social gains—and what it could be. Some of the sources of the faster growth of recent years may now be exhausting themselves (The Economist).

President Dilma Rousseff plans to cut and simplify taxes for electricity producers and distributors, two senior officials told Reuters, as part of a strategy to reduce Brazil’s high business costs and stimulate its struggling economy.

President Dilma Rousseff is facing one of the defining moments of her presidency as pressure builds on her to veto a bill that would open vast protected areas of forests to ranching and farming, potentially reversing Brazil’s major gains in slowing Amazon deforestation (The New York Times).

The Library of Congress will award the $1 million John W. Kluge Prize for lifetime intellectual achievement in the humanities and social sciences to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who had a distinguished international career as a scholar before twice being elected president of Brazil (The New York Times).

President Dilma Rousseff has launched a raft of social programmes for low-income families with young children.

Ms Rousseff said she would expand the popular social programme Bolsa Familia created by her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Families with children under six living in extreme poverty will get $35 (£22) a month for each family member. The government said the programme would benefit 18 million people (BBC).

A freedom of information law has taken effect in Brazil, challenging an embedded culture of secrecy and bureaucracy. Proponents, including President Dilma Rousseff, said the measure is nothing short of a revolution for a system that has kept tight control over information for decades (MercoPress).

Brazil said it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan. The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030. But the energy ministry’s executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years (AFP).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil escalated a growing trade fight with Argentina by throwing up extra bureaucratic obstacles to import certain perishable products, a senior government official told Reuters, imperiling its involvement in a major regional trade group.

A report by the Economist Intelligence Unit says that Brazil is among the worst at coping with the language barrier of the English-speaking world of business, and that deals are being hindered because of it. Experts are warning that, with increased international interest in businesses based in Brazil, the need to break down the barrier has never been more acute (The Rio Times).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

President Dilma Rousseff has inaugurated a truth commission to investigate rights abuses, including those committed during military rule. The four previous living presidents since democracy was restored in 1985 also attended the ceremony in Brasilia. The commission will examine the period from 1946 to 1988, but a military-era amnesty means there will be no trials (BBC).

Military rule spanned 21 years, from 1964 to 1985. More than 400 people were either killed or disappeared, while thousands were tortured. As the commission gathers for the first time, there is discomfort among some in Brazil’s military over what they perceive as an attempt at revenge by an ideologically-biased government. President Dilma Rousseff was herself arrested and tortured during the dictatorship (BBC).

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SCIENCE

Brazilian investments in research and development will go from 1.2% to 1.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) until 2012, said minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marco Antônio Raupp, at a public hearing held by the Committee on Science, Technology, Innovation, Communication and Computer Science. And half of such future percentage, according to the minister, should come from private investments (Federal Senate).

Reflecting the growing interest in Brazil – Canada’s third-largest trading partner in the Americas –30 presidents of Canadian universities recently participated in a delegation to that country organized by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The aim was to promote Canadian excellence in research, highlight Canada’s academic “brand” and encourage the formation of strong linkages between Canadian and Brazilian postsecondary institutions (Brazil Institute).

How do a $1,700 monthly scholarship, a three-floor apartment, free medical assistance and return-home trips to Brazil sound? School never sounded so good! These are some of the selling points the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), is using to attract Brazilian students. Located in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, KAUST aims to become one of the world’s Top Ten technology universities by 2020 (Folha).

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SOCIAL

Brazil’s Supreme Court voted unanimously to permit a quota system that would favour Afro-descendants in entering universities, ending an eight-year legal battle (MercoPress).

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