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10 facts about corruption in brazil
As the largest nation in South America with a population of over 200 million, Brazil’s importance on the global stage is clear; however, corruption charges and convictions have riddled the country’s reputation. In 2014, one of the worst economic recessions in Brazil’s history hit it and left it in a state of political and economic instability along with ongoing corruption investigations. It is just beginning to recover. These 10 facts about corruption in Brazil serve to better understand one of the world’s most influential, and most corrupt, global players.

10 Facts About Corruption in Brazil

  1. Major corruption scandals have entangled Brazil’s last three presidents: Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received a conviction in July 2017 on charges of receiving over $1 million in kickbacks which he put towards renovating his beachfront apartment, with additional charges of money laundering. Brazil impeached his successor, Dilma Rousseff, in 2016, for mismanaging the federal budget in order to hide the extent of the country’s deficit. Brazil arrested her successor, Michel Temer, in March 2019 (only three months after leaving office) on charges of funneling an estimated $470 million into a criminal organization he spearheaded.
  2. Many recent corruption charges have emerged from Lavo Jato, also known as Operation Car Wash: Conceived in 2014, this operation’s original focus was on exposing a car wash money laundering scheme. Results from the investigation indicted hundreds of government officials and business elites spanning 12 countries in one of the largest corruption scandals in Latin American history. By October 2018, Lavo Jato had resulted in over 200 arrests made on the basis of corruption, abuse of the international financial system, drug trafficking and money laundering. The arrest of former president Michel Temer is a direct result of Operation Car Wash.
  3. The working class felt the consequences of Operation Car Wash: Almost half of state-owned oil-giant Petrobras’s employees received lay off after Operation Car Wash exposed the extent of bribes taken by Petrobras in exchange for giving government contracts to Odebrecht, a construction company. The more than 100,000 laid-off employees, not directly involved in the corruption efforts, had to find new work during one of the largest economic downturns in Brazil’s history as a result of Petrobras’s corrupt actions. Executives from both companies face prison time (a U.S. court has even fined Odebrecht $2.6 billion for it to pay to U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities).
  4. Brazil’s domestic corruption affects many countries: Operation Weak Flesh, an investigation launched by Brazilian officials announced in March 2017, has exposed Brazilian companies JBS and BFR, the world’s largest beef and poultry exporters, to public scrutiny, bringing Brazilian corruption further into the global spotlight. JBS and BFR bribed quality inspectors to approve the exportation of spoiled meat which they exported around the world, including to the U.S. The U.S. has since banned JBS and BFR products. Authorities have arrested the Batista brothers, heads of JBS, for insider trading and lying to authorities. They also charged JBS $3.16 billion in fines for bribes totaling $600 million spread across nearly 2,000 officials.
  5. Economists indicate that political instability caused by corruption contributed to Brazil’s recession: Consumer confidence drops in conjunction with political crises, resulting in GDP losses. For example, the value of Brazil’s currency dropped eight percent after a recording implicating Michel Temer in a bribery scheme released in May 2017. The election of current president Bolsonaro has been described as one of the most politically polarizing and violent elections in Brazil’s history. Bolsonaro himself was a victim of such political violence; he suffered a stabbing during a campaign rally in September 2018. Continued political instability and violence will breed further economic havoc, according to economic experts.
  6. Corruption places Brazil’s indigenous community at risk, as well: Current president Jair Bolsonaro’s agenda involves the loosening of current deforestation regulations that may result in denial of indigenous peoples’ land claims. Experts agree Bolsonaro’s election was in response to public frustration with government corruption. Threats of illegal deforestation to indigenous reserves have increased since Bolsonaro’s election, causing indigenous groups and NGOs to mobilize around the issue. Bolsonaro has plans to drastically cut funding for Brazil’s two agencies responsible for defending the Amazon from intruders; in response, a group of indigenous people has created the Forest Guardians, an unsanctioned patrol group set on defending indigenous lands from criminal intruders Bolsonaro’s campaign promise to limit regulations on deforestation and public land mining may embolden.
  7. The “Brazil Cost” was a common term to describe the price of bribery in Brazilian business: While Operation Car Wash has exposed many high-ranking political and business elite, the systemic extent of Brazil’s corruption crisis goes far beyond the elite; the “Brazil Cost” applies almost universally across businesses. Some companies even had the “Brazil Cost”, an estimate on the amount of money they would need to spend on bribes, built into their business models and compliance systems.
  8. There is hope, though: The results of the Poverty Action Lab’s study outline successful methods for corruption reduction: prior audits of Brazilian municipalities reduce future corruption, local reporting on corruption reduces corrupt activities in surrounding areas and corruption can be limited by increasing the perceived legal costs. While Brazil has yet to implement them on a large scale, these findings could help curb the corruption problem plaguing Brazil from the municipal level to the country’s highest-ranking officials.
  9. Brazil has already implemented real anti-corruption measures in an attempt to halt further corruption: Transparency International implemented a package consisting of 70 anti-corruption measures for the 2018 election. Alongside these measures, the Clean Tab policy, originally created by Brazilian officials in 2010 (but increasingly relied on since Operation Car Wash’s findings) have categorized politicians according to whether or not they have been involved in corruption scandals. Brazil denied entry to hundreds of candidates in the 2018 election due to prior instances of corruption (although many of these candidates appealed the decision and ran despite their “Dirty Tab” status).
  10. Anti-corruption laws are making headway: An anti-corruption law passed in August 2013 now holds people who give out bribes equally responsible to those public officials on the receiving end. Although Brazil proposed the law in 2010 and passed it in 2013, the country did not enforce it until a wave of anti-corruption protests in 2015, evidence of the difficulties in changing an aspect of a political culture that is so institutionalized. Prior to the passage of this law, Brazil did not recognize a corporate liability for bribery. The law also punishes corporations rather than individuals, meaning firing one employee does not rid the company of responsibility. As a result, corporations are spending more on compliance than ever before. From 2014 to the end of 2017, 183 cases occurred against corporations under this law, resulting in millions of dollars worth of fines. Experts are calling this new age of transparency and regulation the age of compliance.

Above are 10 facts about corruption in Brazil, but the problem and potential solutions are much more vast. While these 10 facts about corruption in Brazil paint a picture of the extent of the problem, one cannot overstate corruption’s tangible impact on the lives of everyday Brazilians. With each new election comes renewed fears of corrupt activities; nevertheless, innovative preventative and corrective initiatives are flowing freely, and a corruption-free future for Brazil is more likely than ever.

– Erin Jenkins
Photo: Flickr

How Dilma Rousseff's Impeachment Impacts People Living in Poverty and What Can Be Done to Help
Dilma Rousseff, president of Brazil since 2011, has been impeached after breaking rules surrounding manipulation of the federal budget. More specifically, it is believed that she masked the full extent of Brazil’s economic crisis when she ran for re-election in 2014.

Prior to Rousseff’s impeachment, she argued that if she were to be impeached, Brazil’s economic troubles would only worsen. This is because a governmental change this big is felt most strongly by the poorest in society, who are most dependent on the federal government.

Rousseff’s successor, Michel Temer, stated that he hopes to reduce public spending by increasing taxes on the lower and middle classes. He also stated that social programs aiding the poor will not be immune from budget cuts.

One example of a social program helping Brazil’s poor is Bolsa Familia. During her tenure, Rousseff was an advocate for this program, which gives stipends averaging $50 per month to 47 million Brazilian citizens — nearly 25 percent of the country’s population. Dilma Rousseff had recently increased spending toward this program by 9 percent and had also reworked the definition of poverty in order to allow more people to qualify for benefits.

The only conditions for citizens to receive Bolsa Familia’s benefits are that their children be vaccinated and regularly attend school. Despite the fact that the funds help lift people out of poverty and improve community infrastructures, the social program still requires public spending.  According to Temer, this kind of program will not be immune from spending cuts, which could seriously impact the millions of citizens who rely on government assistance for survival.

On a more hopeful note, Temer is confident that he can help Brazil make an economic recovery, despite the ramifications the poor may face. He intends to reform Brazil’s costly pension system, possibly by defining a minimum age of retirement.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Temer’s ideologies and proposed policies, it is reasonable to believe that major policy changes are the only way to get out of an economic depression. Temer has been vocal about his preparedness to make these major policy changes. While they may negatively impact Brazil’s poorest citizens in the short run, the country’s economy may ultimately recover, resulting in a better quality of life for all.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr

Brazilian Education Reform
Brazil had a series of tumultuous months with the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and installment of current President Michel Temer. Brazilian education reform is one of the main issues from the previous administration that Temer and his government want to change.

Ambitiously, on Sept. 23, Temer proceeded to restructure the educational model for Brazilian public schooling. Currently, the high school dropout rate in Brazil is at 11.9 percent, and the new president hopes that a new approach will reduce that number.

The new plan is becoming a controversial issue in Brazil due to its radical change in curriculum. The Ministry of Education published the proposed changes in high school curriculum without adjustments to the Official Diary of the Union.

The proposed plan states that the mandatory classes are designed to include Portuguese, English and mathematics. The new education initiative vaguely mentioned the natural sciences, leaving it unclear if they will be required courses as well.

Article 26, paragraph 2 and 3 state that art education will be compulsory and part of the curriculum for both early childhood and primary education. However, it is unclear whether art study will be a high school requirement.

In addition to the arts, the discussion of removing physical education from the curriculum is also a possibility.

Depending on a student’s interests, classes focused on foreign languages, natural sciences, humanities and vocational studies will be offered as options. The reasoning behind the change in programs is to engage students in becoming more proficient in the one area of study that calls their attention.

It is hopeful that recent Brazilian education reform will yield positive results despite the skepticism it has received. The influence of this ambitious program will be understood as more development details are released.

Mariana Camacho Lopez

Photo: Flickr

History of Global Goals for Sustainable DevelopmentThe history of global goals for sustainable development is relatively recent. Building on the original Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000, which the world planned on achieving by 2015, the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals have drastically affected the way nations evaluate poverty, climate change and inequality and injustice.

The Global Goals have a much broader sustainability agenda than the MDGs. They address the root causes of poverty directly, as well as recognize the need for development that is universal and may be applied to all nations. Using the history of global goals for sustainable development, governments can be more effective when adopting certain initiatives.

World leaders first adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015.

The United Nation’s Development Program aims to carry out these Global Goals by providing support for governments, as well as ensuring transparency by the U.N. when it comes to the planning process.

The Untied States has begun the work to achieve these Global Goals through initiatives such as the Feed the Future Initiative. Established for several different nations, this initiative works to address the root causes of hunger by training farmers not only in sustainable farming and living, but also regarding their own healthcare. The 2015 report estimates that about 55 percent of the Feed the Future Initiative’s beneficiaries have been able to rise above the extreme poverty threshold of the US ($1.25 USD per day).

However, nations such as Brazil are taking the development of these Global Goals even further.

In 2015, Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, the first Head of State to address the General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, used her time to emphasize her nation’s improved economy after their 2008 economic crisis and its efforts to provide for the migrants of Europe.

She focused on Brazil’s measures to lower taxes, expand credit, strengthen investment and stimulate household consumption. She also focused on her nation’s efforts to reduce 43 percent of its greenhouse gas emission by 2030.

Brazil even co-sponsored with the UNDP the “Implementing the SDGs: Integrated Approaches” session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya in this year. The session focused on discussing universal tools to advance the 2030 agenda through holistic approaches to the environment, and in doing so, not just eradicate poverty, but also accelerate environmentally sustainable growth.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr

brazil's economy
One month has passed since the international event that drew the world’s eyes to one country—Brazil. The World Cup came and went, and with the disappointing performance of Brazil in the semi-finals, the country has seemingly little to celebrate as the tourism funds fail to revive Brazil‘s economy.

The ruling power of Brazil shifts based on economic performance under the party, and with elections coming soon, current president Dilma Rousseff is facing the frustration of the nation. The failure of the Worker’s Party combined with economic distress and slumping growth could potentially mean the end to her party’s 12 year reign in office.

Rousseff’s voter tactics are far from complex: she’s simply begun throwing money at those who show signs of loyalty to her, such as the northern region of the country that benefits hugely from social welfare. Mixed reviews of such behavior are shown in CEO of DMS Funds Peter Kohli’s statement to Forbes: “During the last few months, Rousseff has been handing out cash to the poor in a blatant attempt to buy votes.”

This last-ditch effort to retain voters shows the financial promise many thought the World Cup would bring has fallen through, leaving the government with little left to show for themselves. The Wall Street Journal reports that the expectations for Brazil’s gross domestic product have suffered massive reductions: “[Economist] Mr. Salomon now projects the nation’s economy will expand just 0.7 percent, down from 1.7 percent.”

Already behind schedule for their next international hosting event, the 2016 Summer Olympics, it’s unclear whether Brazil will see the same luck with finishing production in the nick of time. For the World Cup, stadiums were unfinished as teams began arriving in Brazil, and with many speculating at the enormity of the Olympics, the sights are set high for the presentation Brazil offers.

Rousseff is facing a difficult crowd to win her next term, after being booed by thousands in the opening ceremony for the World Cup. She also faces scrutiny for her policies surrounding heavy government presence and intervention in the oil industries, partly contributing to the economic slow down seen in the lowered gross domestic product.

The vote is split so severely that when President Rouseff suffers a drop in the polls, the stock market rises. This is heavily denied by the Finance Ministry, but the numbers have continually proved otherwise.

Brazil did not expect a negative economic impact from the World Cup, but that is the direction they are heading in. In defense of the outlook for the Summer Olympics, Brazil successfully quelled the prospective riots that could have injured or frightened tourists, along with few major hitches during the actual event.

There is a possibility that Brazil will be able to turn it around in order to economically benefit from the Olympics. Time will tell as the next presidency is determined and reforms are in the making.

Elena Lopez

Sources: Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg
Sources: Bloomberg

Joyce_Hilda_Banda_feminist
With each May comes college graduation, where young women across the United States will enter the period of their lives in which they must begin to consider the future.  These women will begin to marry, attain their first real jobs, move away from their families and pursue further education.  During this time of transition, many will encounter the realities of gender inequality: reconciling children and career, lower pay, pressure to marry and harassment and discrimination at the workplace.

Here are a few modern feminists to look to for guidance:

1.  Sarojini Sahoo – India

Throughout her writings, Dr. Sahoo discusses the idea of feminism as independent of male hegemony.  Instead, she advocates for financial liberation and the rejection of double standards in human sexuality.  Sahoo, who has a master’s and a doctorate in Oriya Literature as well as a law degree, writes with an undeniable boldness in describing the sexual nature of her characters and addressing the fears of rape and social condemnation.  She was named one of the 25 Most Exceptional Women of India by Kindle Magazine, and certainly not without reason.

2. Leila Ahmed – Egypt

The rise of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt brought great change to Dr. Ahmed’s young life. She became the first professor of Women’s Studies in Religion at Harvard, where she wrote Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate.  The book, considered the most comprehensive of its kind, examines the gender stereotypes both within and outside her religion.  Ahmed has shared her opposition to Western assumptions about the role of women in Arab society–an issue any feminist would do well to ponder.

3. Dilma Rousseff – Brazil

Few presidents have a history with an underground resistance against military dictatorship, but even fewer are also women.  In 1970, Dilma Rousseff spent three years in a prison in which she was tortured.  She led the Board of Petrobras before winning the presidential election in October 2010.  Since taking office, Rousseff has fought for the reduction of poverty, the improvement of national education and the empowerment of women.

4. Joyce Hilda Banda – Malawi

Serving as the first female president of Malawi – a conservative and male-dominated country – is an accomplishment many said Banda would never achieve.  The stubborn Banda refused to resign after taking office upon the sudden death of her successor. In the same manner she refused to stay with an abusive husband or apologize to Madonna.  Before having been constitutionally elected vice president, she founded the National Association of Business Women and the Joyce Banda Foundation to help educate children.  The Hunger Project awarded her the 1997 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger.  As president, she has decriminalized homosexuality, sold the presidential jet and 60 government limousines and refused to allow the International Criminal Court indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to enter Malawi as part of an African Union Summit.

Although these women represent only a fraction of the world’s women worthy of admiration, their work can serve to inspire.

– Erica Lignell

Sources: Sarojini Sahoo, About, University of Minnesota, BBC, LA Times, Forbes, Independent
Sources: The Guardian

While the world looks at Brazil in excitement for the FIFA World Cup, national dissatisfaction persists among many of its citizens. People from all walks of life are taking part in demonstrations, strikes and riots to have their voices heard.

The protesters had several specific issues they want dealt with but were able to agree that the common factor amongst their concerns was rooted in the economics of hosting the tournament. Many believe Brazil should not be hosting the World Cup when its economy is too weak to uphold the country’s needs.

Citizens’ discontent regarding the decision to host was made clear at the Confederations Cup (a World Cup “dress rehearsal”) in 2013, at which over a million people protested in dozens of Brazilian cities to demand better public services.

Since then, protests have increased in number and severity, with many being organized by unions, leftist parties and activist groups. In the weeks leading up to the opening games, police, teachers, bus drivers and bank security guards have gone on strike due to World Cup related issues.

On May 26, protesters surrounded the World Cup squad’s hotel and later the squad’s bus when en route to a training camp. The protesters chanted things like “There will be no World Cup, there will be a strike” and placed stickers on the team’s bus.

On May 27, about 1,500 people were part of a demonstration that blocked one of the main roads near the National Stadium. Once the police intervened, the streets were filled with a variety of people, including cops on horseback, indigenous leaders with bows and arrows and dissatisfied teachers. A popular chant was “Who is the cup for? Not us! I don’t want the Cup, I want money for health and education.”

Groups of educators have been on strike since May 12, believing that the $11 million budget for the month-long tournament should be allotted to more worthy causes, such as education for the children or better working conditions and pay raises for the teachers.

Recently, the indigenous population of Brazil has decided to use the protests to bring light to their problems. Around 100 ethnic groups joined in the demonstrations to fight for the protection of the Amazon Rainforest. They have accused President Dilma Rousseff’s government of stalling the demarcation of their ancestral lands in order to pursue large-scale farming.

The protests are not expected to let up any time soon, so the government is increasing the police force and security, with 157,000 soldiers and police dedicated to maintaining order during the tournament. The added security has caused additional economic controversy, with the civilian police force requesting an 80 percent pay raise during the World Cup.

Brazilian soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo expressed that citizens should not blame the country’s problems on the World Cup when they existed beforehand:

“This is what people should understand: it’s down to governments. The governments they have elected. It’s nothing to do with football or the World Cup.”

A slightly different angle is expressed by Eric Cantona, former soccer player, stating that he believes the protests will continue despite FIFA executive committee vice president Michel Plantini’s requests, but that “people just need to be heard, and they will be heard thanks to the World Cup.”

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: Daily Mail, ESPN FC, BBC 1, BBC 2
Photo: Sports Illustrated

Dilma_Rousseff_scandal_Brazil
Allegations of corruption on behalf of the Brazilian oil and gas giant Petrobras has unsettled the political opposition in Brazil. The controversy comes amidst allegations that the current President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, drastically overpaid Astra Holding for Pasadena Refining, Inc., when she was a member of Petrobras’ Board of Directors in 2007.

Petrobras paid almost $1 billion for the refinery, even though two years earlier the company was sold to Astra Holding for $42.5 million. This wide gap in the sale prices of Pasadena has drawn ire from many of Rousseff’s political opponents.

Following the discovery of the misconduct, the senior executive of Petrobras, Nestor Cervero, was forced to step down and Paulo Roberto da Costa, a former executive director of Petrobras, was arrested on charges of money laundering during his tenure at the company. There are also five federal investigations of Petrobras, including one by the Congressional Budget Office in Brasília.

Political opponents of Rousseff are taking advantage of this discovery by unleashing disparaging remarks about the Brazilian president ahead of presidential elections in October. Rousseff is expected to be a favorite to win the election, and opponents are attempting to whittle her down by focusing press attention on the scandal.

Aecio Neves, the main opposition candidate of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, has called for a parliamentary investigation into the scandal, and has criticized the decision to buy the refinery even though information given to Petrobras was incomplete.

Petrobras also faces allegations that Petrobras employees received $139 million in bribes in exchange for granting oil platform and drilling contracts to SBM Offshore, a Dutch company.

Petrobras has diminished in value over the past few years. In 2008, its shares were trading at $60 and today they trade for less than $12. The market cap has declined by 51 percent in the past three years, and has a debt of $22 billion, a 30 percent increase over 2012 levels. Such a level of debt has resulted in a warning by the financial counsel that the credit rating of Petrobras might soon be downgraded.

According to analyst Jõao Augusto de Castro Neves, Rousseff is not likely to lose her re-election bid in 2014, but her opponents will try to use this issue to continue exerting consistent pressure on her administration in the hopes of currying favors or ministerial positions.

— Jeff Meyer

Sources: Forbes,  ft.com
Photo: Portaldeangola

poverty in brazil
Poverty in Brazil impacts all aspects of the country. Last month, thousands stormed the streets of Brazil to protest increased transportation fares. As the protests persisted, the causes of the protests expanded to include government corruption, poor social services, and high taxes, while meanwhile, billions were being spent to host the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Amidst this public upheaval, President Rousseff’s approval rating slipped from 73.7% to 49.3% in July. During Rousseff’s election campaign, she promised to eradicate poverty, saying it would be her top priority in office. Many are upset that these changes have not come soon enough.

With some of the highest paid executives in the world and an appreciating currency, the Brazilian economy appears to be well off. In addition, poverty in Brazil has been halved in the last two decades. The government is credited with lifting 28 million out of extreme poverty and bringing 36 million into the middle class. But despite being the sixth largest economy in the world, Brazil’s GDP per capita ranks 100th, behind Iran and Costa Rica. In Brazil, poverty disproportionately affects the young and those in the northeast. 8.5% of the population (16.2 million) lives on less than $45/month. Of the 16.2 million living below the poverty line, 4.8 million survive on no income at all.

 

Poverty In Brazil

 

To put it simply, Brazil is a nation of stark contrasts. Although the nation has some of the wealthiest in the world, many more suffer from extreme poverty. 26% of the population still lives below the poverty line. Brazil spends a lot of money on social programs, but because these programs are pro-rich, Brazil’s poorest only see 13% of all total benefits compared to 24% at the top. Increased social spending would not alleviate poverty in Brazil. Rather, Brazil must restructure its spending to reach the poorest. Maercio Menezes, professor of economics at the University of Sao Paulo, told the BBC, “Brazil is one of the most unequal countries on the planet… The reduction (of poverty) that has been taking place in the past decades is minor. If you are born into a poor family it is very difficult for you to eventually become rich.”

In June of 2011, President Rousseff expanded the country’s aid programs to reach the nation’s poorest. Rousseff launched a multi-billion dollar social assistance program called “Brazil without Misery,” and its aim is to eradicate extreme poverty from Brazil by 2014. The program expands a cash transfer benefit program started in 2003 by the Bolsa Family, which provided families with cash benefits in exchange for keeping their children in school and following a simple health and vaccination program. Since the program’s inception, it has helped tens of millions of Brazilians by providing food and basic social services. But, according to President Rousseff, Brazil cannot be content with just a big social program – it must do more to reach the nation’s poorest.

“Brazil without Misery” is made up of three components. First, it extends the cash transfer program to reach more people. The program increases the number of eligible children per family from three to five, in order to reach an additional 1.3 million children. Second, the government aims to improve access to health services, education, and improved infrastructure (running water, electricity, sewage disposal). Lastly, the plan intends to improve the economic means available to Brazilians through job creation, vocational-training and microcredit. To assist Brazil, the World Bank has offered $8 billion towards the program.

Several weeks ago, Pope Francis made a visit to one of Brazil’s most infamous slums. The Brazilian government was most worried about protesters during the Pope’s visit, but the Pope showed support for the nation’s poor and even criticized the government for not doing enough. “Here, as in the whole of Brazil, there are many young people… You have a particular sensitivity towards injustice, but you are often disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of the people who put their own interests before the common good.”

In order to eradicate poverty in Brazil, it is clear that a social overhaul is necessary. The stark inequalities within Brazilian society keep the rich wealthy, but prevent the poor from attaining economic security. Social and economic restructuring will not come easily, nor will they come immediately. Moreover, Brazil will need to reassess “Brazil without Misery” once its term is up in 2014 to see if continuation or expansion is required to meet the needs of the nation’s poorest.

– Kelsey Ziomek

Sources:World Bank,Rural Poverty Portal,Rio Times,ISSA
Photo: Paraiba Paradise

brazil_president_dilma_rousseff_africa_debt_opt

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff recently announced that her country would offer several African nations almost a billion dollars in foreign aid. According to Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman, most of the aid offered will be in the form of debt forgiveness:  Brazil will cancel almost $900 million in African debt accumulated in the past 40 years.

Over the last ten years, Brazil‘s trade with Africa has increased fivefold, though the country’s increasing investment in Africa has not always been positively received. Mining operations in Mozambique by Brazilian MNC Vale and Australian Rio Tinto were blocked in April when community members displaced by the companies staged protests.

The debt forgiveness offer shows Brazil‘s increasing ties with Africa, in no small part due to the continent’s rich supply of natural resources. “To maintain a special relationship with Africa is strategic for Brazil‘s foreign policy,” Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman told reporters.

Countries benefiting from this cancellation include Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. These countries have rich resources of oil, coal, and natural gas, each reason for further economic development in Africa.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: BBC
Photo: Photo