Brazil 2013 – 2015

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These 5 Facts Explain Brazil’s Crippling Scandals
(TIME) 24 July 2015

17 August
Despite protests, slog more likely than radical change in Brazil
(Reuters) With the country hobbled by legislative gridlock, a lack of viable alternatives to the established political parties and an economic reversal so complete that its currency is trading at a 12-year trough, there are no easy or fast fixes. …
Together, the problems amount to a giant reversal for a country that, buoyed by a commodities boom and a consumer binge, appeared ready to make a long-sought leap into the league of economic heavyweights when Rousseff first took office in 2011.
They have also left Brazilians frustrated by what they believe is a lack of leadership across the political spectrum. Two-thirds of them want Rousseff’s impeachment, polls show.
7 August
Brazil: The crash of the chicken
With its economy and politicians in trouble, is there any light at the end of the tunnel?
By Jean Daudelin [who] teaches on conflict and development at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He works on drug violence, Brazilian foreign policy, and international politics in Latin America
(OpenCanada) Cynics have long described Brazil’s development path as “the flight of the chicken:” brief spurts of growth, sometimes spectacular, followed by more or less brutal declines. After a tad more than a decade of expansion, the country is now going through one of those periodic crashes. …
Analysts are predicting between two and four years of recession while inflation has reached its highest level in more than 10 years. Tax revenues are down (minus US$37bn projected for 2015), June’s “primary” deficit—excluding interest payments—is larger than the worst predictions of analysts while the overall deficit of the public sector borders 7 percent of the GDP. The Real is down 40 percent since June 2014 and the index of São Paulo’s stock exchange—the largest in Latin America—has dropped 20 percent in dollar terms since January 1. Exports were down in 2014, especially for manufactured goods (minus 14 percent) and the country saw its first trade deficit in years. The current account shortfall, at US$93bn, reached 4.3 percent of GDP last year, the largest since 2001 and interest-rates stand at a world’s “best” 14 percent. The country has lost more than 300,000 jobs in the first three months of 2015, to the point where the absolute size of the formal labour market has shrunk for the first time in years.
Help won’t be coming from the government, which is instead ushering in brutal budget cuts that affect all programs, including health and education, while public investment, already insufficient, has dropped 37 percent in the first five months of 2015 (ECLAC). Understandably, given high interest rates and the general uncertainty, the private sector is wary of jumping in and foreign direct investment flows for the year are now lower than the current account deficit. No wonder Brazil’s credit rating could soon fall back to junk status.
Congress is as dysfunctional as ever, with the Presidents of both the Senate and the Chamber of deputies under investigation for corruption. And yet, to get the support that she needs to govern, Rousseff’s team is about to “give” the Congress’ most influential members control over the hiring of hundreds of employees in various state dependencies.
3 August
Brazil police arrest Lula minister in bribery scandal
(Reuters) Brazilian federal police on Monday arrested former government minister Jose Dirceu, one of the most senior members of the ruling Workers’ Party to be detained so far in a corruption scandal engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras.
24 July
Key moments in Brazil’s Petrobras corruption probe
(Reuters) Prosecutors and federal police in Brazil unearthed the country’s largest-ever corruption scandal by tying a ring of black-market money changers to a price-fixing and political kickback scheme at state-run oil firm Petrobras.
Executives from two dozen engineering firms are accused of inflating the value of service contracts and funneling the excess funds into their own bank accounts and to political parties, including President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.
On Friday, prosecutors presented formal charges against the chief executive officer of Latin America’s largest engineering firm, Odebrecht SA, and other senior executives who were arrested on June 19.
Below are key moments [going back to March 2014] of Brazil’s largest-ever corruption investigation, which prosecutors in the southern city of Curitiba expect to continue for another two years.
19 July
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has a challenging period ahead as political scenario called ‘the worst since the return of democracy’
Exposed by a multi-billion pound corruption scandal, a contracting economy and basement approval ratings, the Brazilian halls of power have become a real life House of Cards.
But amid dramatic political bluffing and posturing, the game is far from over for President Dilma Rousseff, who has to date maintained a remarkable poker face.
A recent survey found that just 9 per cent saw Ms Rousseff’s government as “great or good”, with 68 per cent assessing it negatively, just eight months into her term.
17 July
Indigenous People in Brazil’s Amazon – Crushed by the Belo Monte Dam?
(IPS) – Ethnocide, the new accusation leveled against the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, brings to light deeper underlying aspects of the conflicts and controversies unleashed by megaprojects in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
Federal prosecutor Thais Santi announced that legal action would be taken “in the next few weeks” against Norte Energía, the company building the dam, on the argument that its initiatives to squelch indigenous resistance amount to ethnocide.
“This will be an innovative legal process in Brazil,” said Wilson Matos da Silva, who has a direct interest in this “pioneer legal proceeding” as a Guaraní indigenous lawyer who has written about the issue in publications in Dourados, the city in western Brazil where he lives.
“Brazil has no legislation on ethnocide, a neologism used as an analogy to genocide, which is classified by a 1956 law,” said the defender of indigenous causes. “The object of the crime isn’t life, it is culture – but the objective is the same: destroying a people.
“Ethnocide only occurs when there is omission on the part of the state, which means it can be implicated in an eventual lawsuit,” added Matos da Silva.
The issue has been debated for some time now, especially among anthropologists, in international forums and courts. …
Belo Monte has been the target of numerous complaints and lawsuits that sought to halt the construction process. The company has been accused of failing to live up to the measures required by the government’s environmental authority to mitigate or compensate for impacts caused by the hydropower complex on the Xingú River which will generate 11,233 MW, making it the third –largest of its kind in the world.
11 March
Why Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff Is Failing
(Forbes) What many foreigners don’t know is that Rousseff spent three years behind bars in the early 1970s for fighting against Brazil’s dictatorship, a time during which she was repeatedly tortured by interrogators with electric shock to her feet and ears, and forced into the “pau de arara,” or parrot’s perch, a beam from which she was hung upside down naked, with bound wrists and ankles.
Rousseff went through all of that for an ideal — her love and confidence in Brazil — and also for believing that those in charge of the country at the time were damaging its future. But love and conviction have never protected anyone against the inconstancy of fate. So today Rousseff has found herself in a position where her actions, decisions and independent judgments are damaging the nation for which she so courageously fought almost five decades ago.
16 February
Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City
São Paulo Water Crisis Linked to Growth, Pollution and Deforestation
(NYT) Endowed with the Amazon and other mighty rivers, an array of huge dams and one-eighth of the world’s fresh water, Brazil is sometimes called the “Saudi Arabia of water,” so rich in the coveted resource that some liken it to living above a sea of oil.
But in Brazil’s largest and wealthiest city, a more dystopian situation is unfolding: The taps are starting to run dry.
As southeast Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving São Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cutoffs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

2014

16 December
Juruna people lose 30-year fight to stop Brazil’s Belo Monte dam – video
(The Guardian) The construction of Brazil’s biggest hydroelectric dam in Belo Monte, in the Xingu river basin, will cause major upheaval for the Juruna tribe. For three decades the indigenous people have fought developers over the Amazonian project but to no avail. Tribal leaders now admit that all they are fighting for is compensation for the end of their traditional way of life
27 October
Dilma Rousseff_ Brazil's Iron LadyDilma Rousseff: Brazil’s ‘Iron Lady’
(BBC) Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to be elected president of Brazil, has had her share of career ups and downs.
She first came to prominence as the protege of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s beloved former president who is better know as Lula.
But she has been unable to match his popularity – and her critics say she would not have been elected president without his support.
Despite social welfare reforms that have lifted millions out of poverty, Ms Rousseff has been lambasted for Brazil’s economic woes, including the country’s slide into recession.
As she won a second term in office with a narrow victory over her centre-right rival Aecio Neves, she was quick to pledge to be “a much better president than I have been until now”.
Brazil vote 2014Brazil’s presidential election — A riven country
In the absence of fully fledged structural reform, Brazil will continue to drift, putting jobs, incomes, as well as the PT’s cherished social programmes at risk.
(The Economist)  IT WAS a wild ride. After a tight and tetchy race, marked by innumerable twists and turns, Brazil’s left-wing president, Dilma Rousseff, was re-elected on October 26th to a second four-year term with 51.6% of valid votes. Aécio Neves, of the centre-right opposition, notched up 48.4%. It is the fourth election in a row won by her Workers’ Party (PT). But her margin of victory is the slimmest in Brazilian electoral history.
Perhaps Ms Rousseff’s victory was inevitable. Only three Latin American presidents have lost re-election bids in the past three decades. Odds are stacked in favour of incumbents, with all the machinery of power and patronage at their disposal. Ms Rousseff can point to record-low unemployment, rising wages and falling inequality under the PT’s watch. But Mr Neves, whom The Economist had endorsed as the better choice, put up a valiant fight, arguing, with good reason, that progress has stalled since Ms Rousseff was first elected in 2010.
The upshot is that the president will lead a riven country. She romped to victory across swathes of the poor north and north-east—helped by less fortunate Brazilians’ gratitude for the PT’s popular social programmes, but also her campaign’s baseless insistence that Mr Neves would do away with them. Most of the richer south, south-east and centre-west plumped convincingly for her market-friendly rival. In São Paulo, home to one-fifth of Brazil’s people and a third of its economy, he won by 64% to 36%; around the state capital a few fireworks and a march celebrating Ms Rousseff’s victory were mostly greeted by a resounding silence. In the south-east Mr Neves lost only in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, Brazil’s second-biggest state where he served two successful terms as governor in 2003-10—an inexplicable defeat that may have cost him the presidency. (The Guardian) Dilma Rousseff must now pull together a deeply divided Brazil
26 October
Brazil’s election pits ghosts of past against monsters of present as president leads polls
Brazilian voters electing a new president this weekend are being asked to decide what scares them least: the incumbent’s warnings about the “ghosts of the past,” or her challenger’s charges about the “monsters of the present.”
The latest polls give left-leaning incumbent Dilma Rousseff a slight edge in Sunday’s runoff vote to lead the world’s fifth-largest nation. But few people are counting out centre-right challenger Aecio Neves after a topsy-turvy campaign that has been the most competitive, divisive and dramatic since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985.
“The country is divided in two, with half feeling that social inclusion and protections are what matter most, and the other half believing that macroeconomic stability is more important,” said Carlos Pereira, a political analyst at the Gertulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil’s leading think-tank . “The candidate who convinces voters he or she is best prepared to combine these two beliefs and make them complementary will win Sunday’s election.”
The race turned dramatic after Eduardo Campos, a main opposition candidate, was killed when his campaign plane crashed in August. His running mate, renowned environmentalist Marina Silva, was thrust into his spot, and she immediately jumped to a double-digit lead over Rousseff and Neves.
Silva initially tapped into the discontent over poor public services that millions of Brazilians expressed in anti-government protests last year, but her campaign never found its feet and voters drifted away from her within weeks. That opened the gap for Neves to stage his surprisingly strong showing in the Oct. 5 first-round vote, coming in second and forcing Rousseff into a runoff when her first-place finish didn’t get an absolute majority.
15 July
Bidding for TroubleBrazil, Defeat and the High Cost of Hosting the World Cup
While President Rousseff may be able to weather her lowered popularity in the face of a disastrous World Cup, governments – particularly those of newly developing or under-developed economies – may now think twice about hosting the World Cup. Such second thoughts may be particularly weighty if the people in the host nation have any political decision-making power over the decision.
(Counterpunch) Seven years ago when Brazil was announced as FIFA’s selected host country for this year’s World Cup, Brazilians celebrated in the streets. The country’s then forward-looking President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva was in the midst of an economic boon that had catapulted the Brazilian economy into seventh place among the world’s largest economies. During the same time FIFA officials were greeted by what they proudly described to the media as “spontaneous celebrations” by Brazilians, polls revealed nearly eighty-percent support for the hosting of the Cup.
The subsequent announcement in 2009 that the Olympics would also be held in Brazil two years after the 2014 World Cup only compounded the excitement. By all accounts, Brazil was abuzz with anticipation.
In this election year, however, support for both hosting the Cup and the incumbent President Rousseff, who hails from the same Worker’s Party (PT) as her popular predecessor, have plummeted to low levels. Contrary to nearly anyone’s expectations, polls have demonstrated that most people in the very country that has enjoyed more World Cup victories than any other no longer wanted to host the tournament whose final match played out July 13. …
The nation’s youth, who showed up in droves to protests last year and at the start of the tournament, continue to be a glaring developmental hole for Brazil. While close to 40 million Brazilians have left poverty during Brazil’s rapid developmental climb since the turn of the century, the youth are often left out of this picture when it comes to long-term and stable employment. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, close to 42% of young people have to depend on the precarious informal economy for a livelihood.
12 June
The Passionate Eye: Battle for Rio
A pre-World Cup tour of Rio de Janeiro’s notoriously violent favelas and a look at what Brazil is doing to clean-up the city prior to hosting the world’s biggest football match.

Brazil World CupWhat’s the real cost of the World Cup?
(Stratfor) The camera crews, the football teams and an estimated 600,000 fans will soon be descending on Brazil as it hosts the 2014 World Cup. The paint may still be drying on some of the 12 match venues when the first goal is scored on June 12. Hosted at a cost of more than $11 billion, these games are the most expensive World Cup to date.
Disgruntled Brazilians, who are footing a large part of that bill, have mounted waves of demonstrations against the World Cup. And they likely will continue to do so, using the publicity from the event to draw attention to the issues of poverty, corruption and inequality that are as much a part of Brazilian society as football.
The World Cup story that will play out for the next month is clearly about much more than a sport. The larger story weaves together threads of economics, politics, security risks, infrastructure, social culture and geography.
• Will street demonstrations pose a risk to my safety if I go to Brazil?
• How might the infrastructure that was built with the World Cup in mind impact foreign trade and investments?
• Will the backlash against World Cup expenditures cost President Dilma Roussef a re-election this fall?
• What policy changes should – or can – the world expect before the Summer Olympics come to Brazil in 2016? (27 May)

Brazil in World Cup spotlight after 7 years of preparations
(AP) The sun rises Thursday on a tropical nation hosting its first World Cup in 64 years. Nearly half the world’s population, well over 3 billion spectators, is expected to watch soccer’s premier event and get a glimpse of the country that in two years will host the Summer Olympics.
But just hours before play begins, it still isn’t clear which Brazil we’ll see.
Will it be the irreverent nation known for its festive, freewheeling spirit? Or the country that for the past year has been a hotbed of fury over poor public services, discontent over a political system widely viewed as corrupt, and deep anger over the $11.5 billion spent on hosting the World Cup?
Perhaps, it will be both.
6 June
Strike tangles Sao Paulo again in run-up to World Cup
(Reuters) – Brazil’s biggest city confronted a second straight day of commuting chaos on Friday, as striking subway workers and a protest over housing conditions tangled the streets of Sao Paulo less than a week before it hosts the opening match of the World Cup. … a third of the city’s subway stops remained closed early in the morning. More than 200 kilometers (125 miles) of traffic choked city streets.
The strike already set a record on Thursday for morning gridlock in Sao Paulo this year and snagged several FIFA officials in over two hours of traffic as they arrived for a conference ahead of the World Cup.
World Cup organizers have urged soccer fans to use public transportation to stadiums on game days at 12 host cities, but just a fraction of the transportation projects promised for the tournament have been delivered.
16 May
Review: Brazil’s toughest tests lie off the pitch
(Reuters Review) Michael Reid’s astute new book has a stark warning: the country of samba, sex and soccer is teetering on a knife-edge. “Brazil: The Troubled Rise of a Global Power” explains why protests against this year’s World Cup are turning increasingly violent. Reid, a journalist for The Economist, persuasively urges a return to the broad liberal consensus that served Brazil so well between 1994 and 2006.
Brazil taxes and spends like a European country and shares other bad habits with the West. Yet it produces “distinctly Latin American” results, says Reid. GDP per person is still a disappointing $12,000, about two-thirds of the level of Argentina, and it remains the world’s twelfth most unequal country. The masses understandably want more opportunity, as well as better hospitals, schools and public transport.
The book’s central argument is that Brazil’s underlying problem is a dysfunctional political system, built on a “bastardised version of liberalism,” made illegitimate by patrimony and elitism.

2013

20 October
As Brazil’s Batista falters, Rio dream does too
(Reuters) – Investors who bet on Eike Batista have lost billions over the past year as the Brazilian’s ephemeral business empire imploded.
But they haven’t been the only losers – the onetime Amazon gold trader and former speedboat racer’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro has also been shaken by his rapid decline.
Beginning in 2006, Batista floated a series of mining, energy and shipping companies through share offers that by 2012 made him the world’s seventh richest man, valued by Forbes magazine at $30 billion. All the companies’ names, including that of his EBX conglomerate, ended in X, a letter he said symbolized the multiplication of wealth.
With the same verve he used to woo investors, Batista also became the biggest booster of a hoped-for revival in Rio, the verdant, seaside metropolis whose glorious past as Brazil’s capital and cultural center had in recent decades given way to crime, violence and the unfettered sprawl of slums.
16 October
Eike Batista, Brazil’s Former Richest Man, Loses More Chunks Of His Empire
As OGX’s shares started declining, Batista managed to amass billions in debt and personal liabilities. His fortune dropped even more after Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala converted an initial investment in EBX into debt. Mubadala restructured the $2 billion it had invested in March 2012 and no longer has equity in the company, reported Bloomberg.

Brazil’s Long To-Do List
Can Brazil build the massive infrastructure it needs to host the Olympics and the World Cup?
(Americas Quarterly) Never mind that the Brazilian government is trampling the homes and uprooting the communities of the poor in some inconveniently located favelas. Never mind that many of the million-plus residents of Rio de Janeiro’s shantytowns still find their lives controlled by violent drug gangs and that the crime rate in Rio ranks among the highest in the world. Never mind that 1.5 million Brazilians are scheduled to be relocated before 2014.
If Brazil’s dreams for these games became reality, here’s what would have to happen: Brazil’s post-1994 economic boom would have to accelerate, and the country would grow from an emerging market into a developed economy. That would enable Brazil to afford the estimated $1 trillion in public works spending to pay for renovation and construction of 12 stadiums and a massive overhaul of the national transportation infrastructure. The projected work includes: building new roads; creating a rapid-transit train between São Paulo and Rio, new subway lines in São Paulo (especially Line 4 from the airport to downtown), and new ports; and expanding 12 airports — not to mention building new hydroelectric plants and transmission lines to power it all. The investment and construction would generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs and investment opportunities would multiply. (June 2013)

Farming program helps indigenous Brazilians gain self-sufficiency
A program to help indigenous people farm more sustainably is showing results in Brazil. The program is showing farmers how to grow crops that provide income, thereby helping to self-finance reforestation projects. Thomson Reuters Foundation (7/17)

Needed in Brazil: Integrated Urban Transport System
(IPS) – Bus lanes, cycle paths and pedestrian walkways are viable solutions to the transport collapse in Brazil’s big cities. But economic interests, red tape and the lack of strategies for an integrated system are delaying a process that the protests raging across the country for the last few weeks have made an urgent issue. … The urban transport policy in this country of over 198 million people has prioritised car use since the 1960s, building more and more freeways and limiting the options for pedestrians and cyclists.
… But the problem is not just transport; it extends to urban planning as well. “People should live and work in the same place, to avoid unnecessary commuting. Increasing multiple use planning permission could bring about a 30 percent decline in average kilometres of car travel per person per day,” said Linke.
Expanding the railway systems is another challenge. According to an industry association report on metropolitan railways, passenger numbers are growing faster than facilities on the network, causing serious overcrowding for the population.
3 July
Digitally Enhanced Protest
(Open Canada.org)  Brazilian protesters jubilantly rallied around a constellation of causes including systemic corruption, poor services, insecurity, and runaway spending on mega sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Their voices were diverse, including left-wing and right-wing pundits as well as hacker outfits such as Anonymous. As the rallies grew in scope and scale, more extremist conservative voices emerged calling for, among other things, the death penalty, impeachment of leftist politicians and fewer taxes. While these latter groups were rebuffed, they are symptomatic of the widening of grievance claims in Brazilian society. In the process, innovative visualizations emerged that captured the spread of protests across Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Whatsapp. These spontaneous efforts underline the transformative effects of technology in shaping Brazil’s digital revolution.
There is little doubt that the protests have challenged the existing social order and alerted a new generation of youth to the unacceptability of the status quo. And many are threatening to continue demonstrating if their core concerns are not addressed, including tackling corruption within the ranks of Brasilia’s elites, the politicians and oligarchic business owners. They will undoubtedly take to the streets in 2014 and 2016 if their demands are not met, a possibility that terrifies a government concerned about preserving its nascent reputation as a modern global power. Whatever the future holds, the newly empowered people of Brazil are a force to be reckoned with, and one that could well set alight comparable movements across Latin America.
25 June
Brazil leader Dilma Rousseff promises reform referendum
(BBC) Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has proposed a referendum on political reforms in an effort to tackle protests that have swept the country.
… Ms Rousseff said the reforms would be broad and focus on five areas:
Fiscal responsibility: guaranteeing economic stability and curbing inflation
Education: investing 100% of Brazil’s oil royalties in education
Health: hiring foreign doctors to provide medical services in remote and under-developed areas
Constituent Assembly: establishing an assembly to eventually amend Brazil’s constitution to ensure reforms make it “from paper to practice”
Public transport: investing more than 50 billion reias ($25bn, £16bn) for new investments in urban mobility projects and to improve public transport
24 June
Inflation and Corruption Fuel Revolt Very thorough – and disheartening analysis
Brazil’s middle class is outraged over corruption and the feeling that none of the country’s new prosperity is trickling down to them. With the economy stagnating, the country urgently needs reforms.
(Spiegel) Brazil has always been a permissive society. Those who are rich are rarely held accountable for their crimes. Politicians invoke their parliamentary immunity and there are plenty of kleptocrats in the country’s town halls, governor’s palaces and the National Congress, the legislative body of Brazil’s federal government. According to a cynical Brazilian saying, “tudo acaba em samba” — everything ends in a samba. For decades, Brazil’s rich and powerful have relied on this culture of impunity.
It is also the fury over this mentality that is fueling the wave of protests rolling across the country. But the government has apparently failed to grasp this new development. It has reacted as usual: First, it tried to violently suppress the protests, then it tried to co-opt the protesters. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff praised the demonstrators, and the mayors of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro rescinded the bus fare hike.
The protests are rocking the country at a critical moment. The Brazilian economy is starting to falter. Last year, it only grew by 0.9 percent, making Brazil the laggard among the emerging economies known as the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Brazilian Billionaire Eike Batista’s ‘X’ Problems Keep Getting Worse
(Forbes) Already in cash flow trouble, OSX — and all six of Batista’s other publicly “X” traded companies, for that matter — also face the possibility of seeing the generosity of the Brazilian government towards his businesses reaching an end. According to the Financial Times, given the protests that took place in Brazil during the past few weeks over politicians’ ethics and the high cost and over-budgeting related to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it could be very difficult now for the state-controlled banks to throw a lifeline at Batista, whose companies have reportedly received more than R$10 billion (US$4.4 billion) from BNDES alone since 2005. More on Eike Batista

22 June
What do the Brazilian protesters want?

Brazil’s list of maladies is long and dismal, but the desires of many of the protesters seem to be contradictory
(The Guardian) Brazilians are fed up with Brazil, this Brics member country where 45% of households have no access to any sewage system, where just 10% of homicides reach prosecution stage. Our list of maladies is long, outrageous and, if you are a Brazilian citizen, very boring.
Nobody knows why the current violent social unrest has erupted. After all, it has been going on like this for quite a while. But no matter what you have read about our last 10 “booming” years, don’t forget that consumers are not citizens. If you earn £100 a month, any bank will offer you credit cards to let you buy almost anything, yet there is no doctor at the nearest public hospital when the Chinese motorbike you have bought under a 60-month instalment plan has nearly killed you thanks to a double-shift and an underpaid bus driver who had run a red light.
Brazil: clashes in Belo Horizonte as protests continue
(BBC) New clashes have taken place in Brazil despite President Dilma Rousseff’s attempt to respond to protesters’ demands and halt the violence.
19 June
Rio, the Olympic City, Is a Hub for Progress in Brazil
If you walk today through Complexo do Alemão—an enormous Rio de Janeiro shantytown, or favela, that was once the frequent scene of gun battles—you can see the changes.  Last Christmas eve, the Brazilian Symphony performed a classical music concert in the community that, until recently, was so dangerous that police were afraid to enter it. People in the neighborhood, many of whom had never been to a concert before, were delighted.
To reach the neighborhood, you can now take the newly-installed cable car that resembles a gondola at an Alpine ski resort. Not only does it spare you the long climb in hot December weather—it offers a terrific view high above the 3.5 square kilometer neighborhood where 69,000 people live. The glass window reveals a giant and densely populated favela composed of poor houses unevenly distributed along narrow streets and small corridors. It is a unique and complex human map of haphazard paths and supply lines for water, electricity and gas.
14 June
Brazilian Protestors Say It’s Not Just About the Price of A Bus Ride
Protests occurred in seven capital cities across Brazil yesterday in response to a ten-cent increase in bus and subway fares. However, such protests have been occurring around the country for several months now. In Porto Alegre in April, protests over the fare increase eventually led to its cancellation. Protesters say that the fare hike, a routine item in Brazilian bus company contracts, has become a tipping point for citizens bearing the cost of Brazil’s public improvements before seeing the benefit. …
Social media gave organizational strength to the protests and has served as a platform for Brazilians’ growing frustration with the rapidly-inflating cost of living. In April, an Internet meme of a tomato came to represent the growing cost of consumer goods. But last night’s events showed Brazilians trying a more traditional visibility tactic—taking to the streets. “We got off Facebook,” one sign in Rio read.

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