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Is another Brazilian President going down?

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It’s been a year of scandals and more scandals down in Brazil. As you may a recall, the president reelected in 2012 was recently removed over corruption.    

It appears that the new guy may be facing a load of problems as well. Corruption is knocking on his door, too.

To make matters more complicated, President Michel Temer ordered troops to put down a protest:   

Besieged by protests, Brazil’s president on Wednesday deployed federal troops to restore order in the capital, Brasília, after demonstrators calling for his ouster clashed with security forces.

Defense Minister Raul Jungmann went on national television on Wednesday afternoon to insist that President Michel Temer was only trying to restore calm in the capital by calling in the troops to patrol some areas. One of the city’s iconic modernist buildings, the Agriculture Ministry, was set on fire, and other government buildings were vandalized during the mayhem. Regional officials in Brasília put the number of protesters on Wednesday around 35,000.


“A protest that was supposed to be peaceful deteriorated into violence, vandalism and disrespect,” Mr. Jungmann said.

While supporters of the move say the capital must remain calm and functioning, the use of the armed forces in Brazil touches a nerve among critics of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, a period known for human rights abuses and the restriction of civil liberties.

Jairo Nicolau, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said the move to call in the armed forces was a “mistake.” 

It is probably a mistake, indeed.    

First, it is irresponsible for crowds to get out of control and attack property or security forces. So I understand the show of force to maintain order. 

Second, people in Brazil are frustrated with the corruption. It seems like a new scandal hits the front pages everyday.    

Third, the anger is also driven by a terrible recession, the worst in decades.     

As a Brazilian friend said: “It’s one thing to have corruption when the country is booming. It’s another thing to have these people steal money when the rest of us are suffering.”

So Brazil floats along but the anger is getting worse. Don’t be surprised if Brazil has a new president soon!  

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk), (YouTube) and follow me on Twitter.


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Written by scantojr

May 26, 2017 at 6:35 am

Brazil just gets More Interesting Every Week

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Like a good “telenovela”, this week’s episode about Brazil couldn’t be more interesting.

We learned that Supreme Court justice Teori Zavascki, was killed in a plane crash, as the New York Times reports:

The federal police have begun an investigation that will be closely watched across Brazil, given Justice Zavascki’s influence in Brazil’s legal system.

Justice Zavascki, who had kept a low public profile since being named to the 11-member court in 2012, was responsible for some of the boldest moves in Brazil’s judiciary in recent years, earning him a reputation as a judge prepared to curb abuses by influential lawmakers and business leaders.

In 2015, Justice Zavascki ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Delcídio do Amaral, a sitting senator from the leftist Workers’ Party, which was in power at the time. And in 2016, he ousted the speaker of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who had orchestrated the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.


Large portions of Brazil’s political establishment are on edge over revelations of bribery by Odebrecht, the construction giant that was one of the largest contractors for Petrobras, the government-controlled oil company. Justice Zavascki was overseeing the ratification of Odebrecht’s plea deal, in which dozens of Brazilian politicians are accused of receiving funds from the company, and some prominent figures suggested that the plane crash could have been a result of foul play.

We don’t know what caused the crash. It may have been a mechanical problem and nothing more than that. We may recall a recent story of another plane crash involving a popular soccer team from Brazil.

So let’s wait for the final report.    

Nevertheless, it will lead many to suspect foul play, such as a political assassination.

Justice Zavascki had a great reputation for honesty and was taking on some pretty big political figures. It is only inevitable that people will be very cynical about the whole tragedy.

So what happens next in this country? I don’t know but I promise that next week’s episode will be as dramatic as the last few.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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Written by scantojr

January 23, 2017 at 6:30 am

Brazilians feeling a little doomed these days

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(My new American Thinker post)

It’s been a terrible 30 months for Brazil.  

It sort of started with Germany humiliating Brazil at home in the World Cup. The score was 7-1 but most Brazilians will tell you that it was like 1,000 to 1. And I repeat that the game was in Brazil! Perhaps you remember the thousands of local fans with long faces and tears watching their team destroyed on the field. It was like watching Clinton supporters on election night.

Then came the zika virus scare that threatened the Rio Olympics. 

Then the terrible and horrific story of a plane crash involving a local “futbol” team in the middle of a historic season. No one will feel good about this apparent explanation for the crash:

The pilot of a plane that crashed late Monday while flying members of a Brazilian soccer team to a competition in Colombia pleaded to make an immediate landing because the aircraft was out of fuel, according to a recording leaked to Colombian news outlets on Wednesday.

Last, but not least, corruption is once again blowing up national politics. The allegations are against the current President Michel Temer who replaced the recently impeached president Dilma Rousseff.      

Here is the latest from Simon Romero:

Much of the increasing nervousness in the capital, Brasília, stems from a sweeping corruption investigation that, despite the change in administrations, has refused to go away.

Politicians are so anxious that only hours after Mr. Temer declared three days of official mourning for a shocking disaster — the crash of a plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team to play in the final of an international tournament — Brazilian lawmakers held a marathon session until 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Their focus: gutting the authority of prosecutors and judges who are investigating politicians in corruption cases.

After learning how their lawmakers had spent the night after the tragedy, many Brazilians were furious.

“The entire political structure is corrupt,” said Marcos Defranco, a civil police investigator in São Paulo. 

“It’s like chasing rats out of one hole and straight into another. The attitude of Congress in their vote the other night shows their fear.”

How do you say “drain the swamp” in Portuguese? Or “kill the rats”?

Like their neighbors in Argentina, many Brazilians are starting to figure out that these political games are a serious drag in their economy.     
In 2013, Forbes published a well-circulated article calculating the cost of corruption:

A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country’s total GDP. The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.

If the numbers of the FIESP study are to be believed, just in 2013 something between $32 billion and $53.1 billion can be accounted as “corruption money,” which, it is important to remember, gets out of circulation that hits growth. To put into perspective, if that money was invested in Brazil’s precarious education system, the number of Brazilian students enrolled in elementary school could be improved from its current 34.5 million to 51 million.

Should that money be invested in the public health system, the number of beds available in Brazil’s public hospitals could almost double, from 367.397 to 694.409. That same money could house more than 2.9 million Brazilian families, and if invested in sanitation it could reach an additional 23.3 million households that aren’t on the public sewer system.

Brazilians have a reputation for smiling, dancing, and just being fun people to be with. Don’t be surprised if they look a little gloomy these days.    
A Brazilian did tell me at church the other day that maybe this whole experience with politics and corruption will teach his countrymen a big lesson.   He is hoping that his countrymen take politics more seriously and demand more accountability from their leaders.

Let’s hope that’s the case. In the meantime, Brazil is doom and gloom from Manaus on the Amazon River to Porto Alegre all the way down the coastline. 

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.


Written by scantojr

December 5, 2016 at 6:31 am

FIFA is just another ugly four-letter word

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May 31, 2015 at 5:00 am

Posted in Brazil, FIFA and corruption

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The elections in Brazil plus other US-Latin America stories

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October 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

The left wins, and that is really bad news from Brazil

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What a way to spoil a Sunday evening.  I just got word that Brazil wants to continue living in the past:

“The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Rio de Janeiro says it was the tightest of contests, but in electing Dilma Rousseff, Brazilians had opted for continuity and backed a system and party that has brought economic growth and generous welfare programmes.

But, he continues, Brazil looks and feels divided – whereas Dilma Rousseff did well in the poorer northern states, her opponent took many of the wealthier and more developed southern parts of Brazil.

Aecio Neves, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), was the governor of the southern swing-state of Minas Gerais for eight years.

Correspondents say wealthy Brazilians were more likely to back Mr Neves, who had vowed to put the economy back on track after four years of low growth rates with the country now technically in recession.

The election campaign has been marked by aggressive accusations on both sides, a rivalry that reached part of the electorate, with nasty disputes proliferating on social media, says the BBC’s Julia Dias Carneiro in Rio de Janeiro.”

Again, this is a bitterly divided country.   

Can reelected President Dilma Rouseff make this work?  

Let’s hope so but I am not optimistic.   

As a Brazilian friend told me last week, we are two countries, or one half that works and the other half is dependent on government.   My friend is not optimistic about his country either.

Like Argentina a hundred years ago, a country that was once projected to be a great superpower, Brazil will continue to be that country with great potential that never quite makes it.  Unfortunately, just a bit over half of its citizens continue to vote for those who tell them what they want to hear and keep the dependency going.  They win elections but the country will never be great with this kind of leadership.

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

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October 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

Posted in Brazil

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The Cuba embargo PLUS US-Latin America stories of the week

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October 15, 2014 at 11:00 pm

The left and Brazil’s elections

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October 15, 2014 at 9:30 am

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Brazilians vote and now comes a runoff

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October 6, 2014 at 6:00 am

Posted in Brazil, US-Latin America

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Wednesday: Brazil. Colombia, Argentina and other US Latin America stories

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June 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm