What is going on in Brazil? I get conflicting reports from all sorts of packaged “news” organizations (CNN, BBC, CNBC, etc). In situations like this it pays to core down and view specifics. Here is what I think most people will agree upon. I will put this into bullet point form for more easy reading:
- Brazil is a managed economy and this type typically does not do well. The country is currently in a recession:
- Current inflation rate is 9.28%.
- Unemployment is close to 10.9%
- Economy is expected to contract 2% next year. This is partly due to China’s economic slowdown.
If you go to this web site http://www.focus-economics.com/countries/brazil
and look at the years of data you should see that in 2015 the country turned downward from prior years.
- Brazil has a very high corruption index (76/168). Keep this in mind because most of what you read about Brazil affirms this.
- Petrobras, the state controlled oil company, has links to prominent business and political figures involved in a huge corruption scandal.
- The Brazilian lower house voted to impeach the President Rousseff without stating the reasons. Quite a few members of the lower house are under investigation for being a part of the “Operation Car Wash scandal. It is now up to the upper house to take a vote.
- The president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has not been accused of any legitimate crime. Allegedly, the oligarch segment of Brazil has used her missteps and the countries recession to remove her and install “their” man.
- Rousseff, may have attempted to influence the Operation Car Wash investigation.
- She approved the purchase of a U.S. oil refinery for almost 30 times its value as part of a kickback scheme.
- Rousseff, has been forced to step down for six months while an impeachment trail takes place. The vice president, Temer, takes over power during this period, which appears to be the plan for deposing her. But, the new vice president certainly adds to Brazil’s problems by swinging the county to the far oligarch loving right.
- The one stellar decision she has not backed down from is to support the corruption investigations. These investigation might now be compromised with Temer in power.
- Brazil’s Planning Minister Romero Juca, who is Temer’s right-hand man, had to resign his minister position and go back to his senate seat because he appears to have discussed using Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment to derail a corruption investigation.
Here are possible options:
- It appears that the Brazilian lower and upper house have impeached the president in an effort to stop their own prosecution and install their right wing party which has a low national approval rating. During that time, Dilma Rousseff, has 180 days to present her defense while the vice president takes power.
- The Brazilian Electoral Court could disqualify the whole prior election based on election corruption; not likely. If this actually takes place then new elections would be called in 90 days.
- New elections could be called but there seems to be a political leadership vacuum.
- Still one more possibility is for Brazil to switch from a presidential system to a parliamentary one which would gain the country an easier method of switching leaders. I
- Another, rather remote possibility is the military will step in? Will they take any action? Ideally not. It is best that this problem be resolved by political means. Most national arm forces tend to support right wing politics. But, Brazil’s constitution states “the military are forbidden to belong to political parties”. Explicit in the constitution is the military duty as expressed in article 142 the military is “…intended for the defense of the country, for the guarantee of the constitutional powers, and, on the initiative of any of these, of law and order.” Will they step in and reinstate Rousseff on the grounds that she ousted illegally, a violation of the constitution? That move would strengthen the bond between the armed forces enforcing the Brazilian Constitution.
- Former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
- He has a very high approval rating.
- Implicated in the Operation Car Wash scandal.
- Wants to be reelected as president in the future.
- Current president, Dilma Rousseff, has been impeached (Possible coups).
In some peoples minds, she must go. She borrowed money form private banks to help the Brazilian economy. This method has been used by prior administrations and thought to be legal. But, the lower house has used this as an “excuse” to bring charges, allegedly, as a ploy to conduct a coups and install “their” guy, the vice president.
- Current vice president, Michel Temer.
He has an extremely low approval rating, below 10%. No one wants him to gain power.
He will possibly install oligarch loving restrictions upon the citizens:
- Lower taxes.
- Lower social spending.
- Appoint alleged incompetent ministers.
- Very conservative government.
- Social inequality.
- For the average person in Brazil, commodities have doubled while the ability to pay has decreased as jobs have diminished. The citizens feel squeezed and are really not happy with the way the country has been run.
- If the current vice president takes over power, there should follow decrease in social programs. The economy is expected to get worse.
- The Zika virus has moved into Brazil causing underdeveloped brains in new born babies.
Main Stream Media in Brazil
The Brazil main stream media, allegedly controlled by the oligarchy, support a coups of Dilma Rousseff. They state that her popularity is low but fail to report that large segments of the country support her.
There are some reports that intellectuals may support her, possibly because they see more of the landscape and everywhere else is less appealing.
Brazil Legal System
Not too many years ago all of these corruption cases, court trials and putting powerful politicians and leaders in jail would be unheard of. Today, the Brazilian legal system seems to be functioning quite well if you do not look too closely.
The University of Berkley published a document in 2010. Its final conclusion (page 18) reads “…-crime pays in Brazil”.
It seems, that for most Brazilians, the Olympics is of little concern because their nation has the car wash scandal, economic problems, and an alleged political coups taking place. When you have three fires raging, your last thought is to play in the pool.
Brazil seems to be a story of an ongoing conflict between corruption and those who are fighting against it. Just look at the vast number of other countries that are weighted down by powerful individuals who mainly look out for themselves and will rob their nations wealth when given the chance. What is surprising about Brazil is this country seems to be trying to fight against corruption. Sadly, I do not see a winner yet. The bad guys won the last move. I do hope the people of Brazil can eradicate this cancer.
Another lesson for me is how many news organizations seem to cherry pick this news story and allegedly snow the reader into believing they are getting a good picture in their minds of what is taking place in Brazil. This news story is rather difficult to cover because it has a lot of separate parts. The parts all do come together as a large puzzle. But that is no excuse to cut short the effort. Too bad most news organizations don’t take the time to more fully notify the reader but leave the Brazil puzzle unfinished.
(Update, December 7, 2017: Below I found that the links below do NOT work. I have contacted the source and asked for the new location or should I take the following down)
For a rather more complete explanation of the current Brazil problems, go to May 11, 2016 Background Briefing with Ian Masters, 3rd audio segment,
Brazil Poised For More Political Turmoil. The audio can be found here: http://ianmasters.com/sites/default/files/mp3/bbriefing_2016_05_11c_maria%20luisa%20mendonca.mp3
Another Internet article which seems to see most of the puzzle pieces is Foreign Affairs.
(Facts and opinions were effective at this Date: May 24, 2016)