Impeachment divides Brazil in two.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of impeachment

Bench’s Senate after the impeachment process. Eduardo Cunha on the center of the image.

The political process of impeachment, intended to dismiss any person from the Executive Power, prescribed in Brazil’s Constitution, is regulated by 85th and 86th articles, which determine in which cases an impeachment process can be open.

The process was requested for the judges Hélio Bicudo and Miguel Reale Jr. and lawyer and University professor, Janaína Paschoal, who accused Russeff of violating fiscal laws by using funds from state banks to cover budget shortfalls, the manipulation of decrees of expenditure without the authorization of the Congress and the corruption in Petrobras. The complaint suggest, this can be considered as a “responsibility Crime”, one of the hypothesis in which a president can be impeach according constitution.

Actual Events and Current Situation

  • 12/02/2015, The President of Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, accepted one of the reports against the current president, Dilma Rousseff, which blames her on committing “responsibility crime”
  • 03/17/2016 A Special Commission was instituted to analyze the process of President’s impeachment, constituted by 15 sessions.
  • 04/11/2016: After all the sessions, the voting results of the Commission were: 38 votes in favor and 27 against opening the process. As the result was favorable, the process was authorized and proceeded to the Senate to be approved or refused now by Senators.
  • 04/17/2016 In the Senate, voting results were 367 in favor, 137 against, 7 abstentions and 2 absences.
  • 05/05/2016 Eduardo Cunha, Chamber of Deputies’ President, was deposed by the Minister of Supreme Federal Tribunal, Teori Zavascki, accused of obstruction of the investigation against him in an assumption involvement in the ’’Operação lava-jato’’ and for lying in the judgment on their accounts in Switzerland.
  • So far, the requesting is still in the Special Commission, now in the Senate, the next step is to vote in a Senate Plenary Session to decide over the continuity of the process.

Controversy regarding the legitimacy of the process

On Wednesday 11, the plenum of the Senate will decide whether Dilma is dismissed or not. In the case they decide so, she would be replaced by Michel Temer by a maximum of 180 days, while the Camera of Senators make final decisions. Following an IBOPE inform, 26% of Brazilian population still support Dilma, meanwhile only 8% supports Temer. In any case, the great majority agrees that the best solution is to celebrate new elections without any of them.

Regarding the legitimacy or not of the impeachment, the controversy lies on the fact that it is seen by Dilma´s supporters as a coup d`Etat due to the fact that opposition is mainly corrupt. The main promotor of the process, Eduardo Cunha, has been recently suspended because of corruption scandals as well.

Following article 85th of the Brazilian Constitution, the impeachment is an exceptional measure that can only be used in a few circumstances, including attempting against budget law. The debate is not clear, since Dilma’s government practices have not been proved to be criminal, but merely “Pedaladas fiscais” which would not constitute a reason enough to justify the impeachment.

Impeachment, as a political process, can only be resolved by the Congress and the Senate, as the Supreme Court has not jurisdiction to judge “crimes of responsibility”. It can regulate the procedural question but not the substantive one.

 

Brazil – A country divided by the World Cup.

Brazil is nowadays the centre of the world; the South American country, which is the biggest and both most populated and important of the area, hosts the FIFA 2014 World Cup for the second time in its history after organizing the 1950 tournament. It is also the first time in the area since 1978, when it took place in the neighbouring country of Argentina. The World Cup is the most important football competition in the world and will face 32 national teams from 5 different continents, which will fight to get to the final at Rio de Janeiro.

The reality is that Brazil does not appear on worldwide news because of a brilliant organization or because of the enthusiasm and acceptance of Brazilians, despite the country is worldwide known as “the land of football”. It is on the news mostly because of the opposite: there are numerous antigovernment protests and strikes almost every day in all the largest cities of the country, mainly in Rio and Sao Paulo, demanding so many different things.

Because of this worldwide attention that both the event and the hosting country are receiving, I decided to focus on its society and the division of opinions regarding the World Cup for this interview, so someone better than a Brazilian who has experienced the protests on his own city? The person in question was Thiago Lopes, a 22 years old student of International Relations, as me, at the Brazilian north-eastern city of Natal, which is one of the twelve hosting cities of the tournament.

Thiago

Thiago at the “Christ the Redeemer”, which has become an icon of Brazil.

I started asking him about the opinion of the society regarding the World Cup. He told me that at the beginning, when Brazil was elected to host the event in 2007 everyone was extremely happy about it, but of course things have changed; “All my friends are now against it. I honestly think there are more people hating it than liking it but after the World Cup really starts, people will be happier and will accept it because of our passion for football.”

But the truth is that the World Cup has started and there are still lots of people on the streets. That was our next step on the interview; the protests. “In 2013, with the Confederations Cup, we had the biggest protests in Brazil. In my city, Natal, people took control of various kilometres of streets until the end of the day – literally the whole city was there, screaming and complaining about several things at once: the World Cup, the politicians, the hospitals, the education… But after that, the protests decreased day by day because it began to be just a mess.” And that’s the truth, it became a completely mess because of the huge amount of things people started to complain about, as Thiago told me later: “Everybody protest together: I’m protesting against the World Cup, the person next to me is protesting for a better minimum salary, another one against politicians or improvements in hospitals and schools…That’s why it doesn’t work, they don’t focus on one aspect.”

Then we moved to the organization of the World Cup and the role played by both the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football in English) and the Government leaded by Dilma Rousseff. “Who does the World Cup benefit?” That’s the question many Brazilians ask themselves, so I did it to Thiago and he told me that three were the most favoured by the event: “it benefits politicians, FIFA and the tourism sector. The first one stole a lot of money during those days as it is a very corrupted state. FIFA is taking the control of the country without paying anything because we the Brazilians put the money. At the same time they are constantly making requirements that the country has to follow or they will cancel the whole thing, they are even closing some streets and of course they are the ones taking most of the money from tickets and merchandising. The last one, the tourism sector is taking advantage of it by disproportionately rising prices during the World Cup.”

So, those three were the ones pointed out by protesters, but mainly the Government of the country, that made lots of promises to Brazilians which most of them haven’t turned into reality, because as Thiago pointed out, they are still building many of the infrastructures, even the inaugural stadium at Sao Paulo; “they have built giant stadiums and airports, but honestly after the World Cup we won’t have a reason to use them. In my city, Natal, we used to have an airport just 15 minutes by driving and the new one is one hour away and located in an unsafe place. They even promised metros in every capital hosting the event but of course, that never happened.”

I wanted to finish the interview by asking about the repercussion of protests surrounding the World Cup on the image of Brazil, because at least before matches started it didn’t seem to lead to a positive one. Thiago consulted one of his economy teachers and they both thought that “Brazil is probably going to break this year because of the World Cup, we spent a lot of money and now everything is more expensive in comparison to last year: food, gas, public transport… Even my rent has increased and when I asked why so, the answer I got was – it is because of the World Cup.

The interview made me better realize how difficult is to organize a huge event like this one in a divided country as Brazil; but will the passion of Brazilians for football, almost considered a religion, make the World Cup a success for the country? To the contrary, will the huge protests of last year be repeated in an even bigger dimension? Just time will tell, but for sure, the whole world will centre its attention on one place, and that place is Brazil.

-Of course, I thank Thiago again for the interview–

Gonzalo Miró Martín

A View from Within

A fight starts for many reasons. Sometimes such reason can be resolved in a few minutes, but in some cases a fight can take huge dimensions with a lot of characters involved with the same objective: a fight for rights.

In Turkey such fight has been going on for several months, but it was in May that it really started and most of the protests took place around this date. Most of the reasons are about preservation of some places in Istanbul, such as Gezi Park, and the right to freedom of speech without the harassment of authorities. Also, the constructions of a third bridge and a third airport are also complaints of the protesters, in which such would provide less groves to be seen by satellites. Having said that, how is the perspective of a random student about such protests? Approval or disapproval? The following article will show this vision concentrating on the Turkish fight for rights and freedom of speech by way of interview.

The student in question is named Burak Mermi, a 21-year-old student of Publicity at Yeditepe University. He lives in the Asian side of Istanbul at Kadiköy, where he lived his whole life. The interview was made via skype, with pre-determined questions, and questions that developed into new ones.

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Burak Mermi

What is your position in relation to the demands?

I agree with all the demands, especially with the preservation of Gezi Park, which is a landmark of Istanbul. They want to turn the place into a dictatorship, but we won’t even let them start. They try to invade private life of people, with one of the ideas that women should have a minimum of three children. What good can come from that kind of government?

How did you end up knowing about the protests?

Only in social media, because all other media were showing little or nothing at all, just to protect the image of the city. That is why most of the protesters are young and students who are the demographic interested in that kind of media. CNN and NTV are good examples of biased media, who mostly only have interest in protecting the government’s image.

How was your involvement in the protests?

I went to the protests and prepared barricades to help against the police with some friends, but it was not of much help because they threw tear gas near us and we needed to disperse to protect ourselves. Me and my friends ran really fast without looking back, seeing that there is no way not to fear the police. Later we saw in the news that some were not as fast as us.

Do you have a lot of people you know involved? Friends or relatives?

Not that much, and I also don’t try so hard to convince them, because that kind of thing must come from within each person. It won’t make much of a difference if you just go because of influence. If you just go to take a picture and post it on Facebook and walk for fifteen minutes to then go home, you are better at your couch watching CNN.

Is there any other way to improve the rights of people instead of protesting?

Actually I don’t think there is another or better way to do it. What each one of us need to is keep going on and not forget about what we are fighting for. They can throw a bone at us and think that we will forget about the demands, but is our job not to, and to especially make them always remember what we are claiming for, so that the demands can be done.

The protests in Turkey influenced Brazil to start going out to the streets also. What kind of advice would you give out to them?

Mostly the same thing from the last answer(laughs), but also that if you are participating don’t ever go for violence, or you will end up giving them reason to do what they are doing.

I thanked Burak for his attention and he also did thanked me, saying also that he knows more or less about the situation in Brazil, mostly the corruption that occurs from time to time. He told me that if we ‘’nag’’ as much and as long as we can they would soon give up our rights. I thanked him once again.

Kim Gomes

Interview with Erwin Flores

During all this trimester, I focused on the region of South America and the Caribbean; so I decided to interview a man that was born in Brazil and that is currently living in Madrid.

Erwin Flores is the chief of the strategic planning of a multinational advertising agency, Lowe and Partners, known in Spain as Lola.

He was born in Rio de Janeiro, and passed all his childhood there. His family has Italian origins, even if his father is from Chile. Culturally and linguistically speaking is very mixed, and Erwin always had a big influence from European culture. That’s why, after all these years spent abroad, he finds Europe more interesting than Brazil. Because of the origins of the family, he’s been influenced by European culture.

He studied Communication Science at the Universidade Gama Filho, in Rio. When he finished, he moved to Italy.

He lived in Milan, Turin, Rome, Moscow, Prague and now Madrid.

The first question, maybe the most obvious one, was about the differences between Europe and Brazil. The main one is about the culture: Brazil is a new country that is recently emerging in the international system, while Europe has a long history behind (Italy is the best example of this). Brazil has a sense of history, past and traditions, that is less marked, and it lives in relation to its present. It invested, and it’s still investing, a lot in its present and strongly believes in its future and in what it will become.

He told me how was – and still is – living in Brazil. This is a huge country with lots of spaces, and so with very strong contrasts.

Moving is very limited because of the problem of security that is strongly felt in all the country.

Travelling inside Brazil is also expensive for the population. The contrast between who has and who hasn’t got money is very evident, and this takes also to other differences, besides the economic one.  There is a problem of education, not all the population can get access to public instruction. Just middle-high class got school education, and the other large part of the population didn’t: this created a “cultural abyss”, that still is a very discussed problem nowadays.

In Brazil there is also a difference between who has African origins or is mulatto and who has European origins: the first ones are sidelined in the society. This problem of racism has its origins in the Spanish and Portuguese Colonialism, which created poverty and exploitation. The conquistadores had no intention to make of South America a developed region, and this has persisted during the centuries. It looks like the Colonialism Era is not over, and white people still feel like the conquerors of the country.

Other big issues that come from inequality are the problems of the favelas and of the kid prostitution. These issues are actually problems in many other countries, but Brazil is “famous” because of these. Why do we talk about this especially in Brazil? Because it’s the biggest country in South America and one of the biggest of the world, and there are many metropolis and big cities – lot bigger than the Argentinian, Colombian or Chilean ones. This creates an affluence of people, looking for a job, from the countryside to these cities. They don’t always find one, so they start to live in the margin, creating what we now call favelas. In these places, these people live thanks to criminality, drugs and prostitution, even kid prostitution.

Even though the drug traffic is not a big problem as, for example, it is in Colombia, there are always more sorting centers for the exportation of drugs in other countries (especially US). The very urgent problem in Brazil is the progressive organization of criminality: street dealers are starting to organize themselves in paramilitary organization with real weapons, got from police officers or law enforcement corrupted.

Corruption in Brazil is very spread, and reaches even the political leaders and the regional administration.

It has its origins in the military dictatorship, last from 1964 to 1985. At the end of this period, there was the first opening of the foreign policy and of the market, giving start to treats between political men and industries, with the goal of ensuring the power to some of the interest groups, colluded to the policy.

The last 30 years of democracy tried to stem this previous situation, with no important results. Ten years ago got to power the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), a party of extreme left wing, with an ex syndicalist as president. The situation seemed to get better, and inequality was getting solved.

Even though, they didn’t succeed because they got corrupted, and now people have lost their hope.

Since the last decades, the international image of Brazil has improved and it’s part of the BRIC. It’s an emergent country, but it’s different from China or India: these two countries are advancing to a balance between all the economic sectors and are getting to the market equilibrium. In Brazil it’s not like this.

Brazil still depends on the exportations of commodities (iron, aluminum, wood, and agricultural products as soya and coffee). It’s getting richer by exploiting nature but it’s not improving the infrastructures. That’s because there isn’t a global vision, a ruling class with enough foresight to plane a growing strategy for the next 50, 60 years.

From this it comes the always less importance of Brazil in the international system, and it can’t get out of the condition of exporter of commodities.

The opinion of Brazil is generally negative, according to Erwin, because in general politic men and ruling classes are not looking for solutions to the problems in the society, that are still affecting strongly the population, the economy and the lifestyle.

 

Sara Lorenzini

 

“Brazilians are the ones who will enjoy the least” – says Lucas Alegria about the World Cup

Lucas Alegria

Lucas Alegria

Generally, there are two ideas that come to people’s minds when thinking of Brasil: the one of the nation that has amazing natural views, the biggest rainforest, the samba rhythm that is contagious to everyone on the carnival and the happiest and most receptive people on the world; and the one who sees the country as a dangerous place, full of thieves everywhere, lots of favelas and people that speaks Spanish. As incredible as it seems, some people actually believe that Spanish is Brazil’s official language. As someone who live’s in Brazil, I must say that the way that people see the country is wrong. We have many more good things than what mentioned before, and, unfortunately, more problems than just violence and the lack of public security. The country also suffer from poor public education and health systems. Ironically, this is the same country that has been waiting to host one of the biggest events on earth: the FIFA World Cup.

As this is a very controversial subject to the world, it would be good to expose an inner point of view. Being so, I decided to interview Lucas Alegria, of age 20, which is Brazilian. This choice was made because even with his passion about soccer, he has a very interesting opinion on what is to happen next year. Lucas is at his sixth semester of studies at FEI University Center, where he learns civil engineering. As most of the Brazilians, he loves soccer and is very excited about the World Cup. But despite of his excitement, there is also a big concern.

When asked about his opinion if the country would succeed in the gigantic task that is to host an event of this scale, he said: “the Cup itself I believe will be a success, but the post World Cup will be a failure. We will inherit debts, stadiums and facilities left aside and forgotten. Facilities that were built with public money.” Clearly, this worries him. The majority of the Brazilians think of their government as a lazy and unserious organization, where most of the members are corrupt. This is where his fear from a bad succession to the event comes from.

According to his opinion, there are some other problems that may occur during the FIFA World Cup. “Principally on game days, when people will not want to work,” he says. Speaking of public security, he expressed to not believe in a proper solution from the police in case of protests and mass thefts, which are “likely to happen,” for example. And, despite knowing up close the public transport system of São Paulo, the city he lives, he believes that people are not going to complain about traffic jams and overcrowded stations, because everyone will be in a “party mood.”

Recently, the stadium set to be host of the very first game of the World Cup faced a sad event. Part of the East side of the complex was strongly affected when a crane fell over it, killing two workers that were on a break. Even after being said by Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s President, that this will delay the delivery date of the stadium until the middle of April, Lucas isn’t worried. “It’s easy and quick to deliver a project when the city council can take more money from public funds,” he said. “Besides, São Paulo has two other bigger and more modern stadiums that could host a World Cup opening,” he added.

By the way he sees it, “Brazilians are the ones who will enjoy the least, being the ones left with debts, the ones who spent money badly, the ones who suffered from corruption [as mentioned before, corruption is something that is expected by every Brazilian, no matter when], and, at the end, not even being able to go to our country’s game.”

All the investments made on the infrastructure of the cities where the games take place, the construction of stadiums, roadworks, airports and telecommunication systems are being paid with public money. But Lucas is positive about this, since he believes that this is going to “provide improvements to every participating city and also move the national economy.”

Talking about economy, he said that he’s in favor of the World Cup, however, investments should be chosen more carefully. “If [the country] made the necessary investment in other areas such as health services and education, this investment for the World Cup would not be a big fuss. The problem is that they have invested more in this event than in necessary areas such as those just cited.”

We’ll wait and see. Let’s hope that the 2014 Brazil World Cup provide’s everyone better memories than bad ones. After all, we can always solve everything with our famous “Brazilian way” of doing things.

Christian L. Bender

“It’s easy to buy a girl, it’s like buying chocolate”

With this disheartening statement, Carlos Da Bomba, youth counselor, describes perfectly the current problem of child prostitution and abuses in Brazil.

Since 1949, prostitution in this country is legal but it is illegal to operate a brothel. Prostitution is very common and it’s very spread all over the country: 15% of Brazilian women and 10% of the total Brazilian population work as prostitutes.

According to a survey done in 1998, 64% of the population thought that prostitution was “immoral”, but nowadays 59% thinks that “prostitutes should be free to do their job if they like it”.

Life conditions in Brazil are so hard and complicated for women, that many of them have no other options than becoming prostitutes. The causes are many: maltreatment, abandonment, poverty, especially the lack of education brings to this only solution.

Image

The legalization of the prostitution took to the problem of the child trafficking and abuse.

In fact, Brazil is the second country after Thailand with this problem, and authorities think that it will get even worse in the next years.

In 2014 and 2016, the Football World Cup and the Olympic Games will take place in Rio de Janeiro, and this will bring a lot of tourists in the country, that will not look only sports, but also for kids.

“We are looking for a way to avoid this”, says Edivaldo Tauares, member of the Child Rights Advocacy. He works in the area of Recife, and he says that here kids are in danger and the World Cup will bring an injury in the community.

The increasing number of tourist has flood the north-east of Brazil, that doesn’t only take to the child traffic, but also to the drug trafficking and to the human trafficking.

Da Bomba continues saying that the situation in this area is “out of control”. Taxi drivers, hotel workers and drug dealers form an underground network, which directly connects the supply and the demand.

A total of 1.819 businesses in the Brazilian national roads, encourage the child prostitution. They are truck shops, spas, shops, restaurants, hotels, clubs, overpasses, shops in rural locations, with weak presence of the State and without Police control or health centers.

Most of these businesses are located in urban areas (45,5%), while the 31% is in the rural zones.

 

 

The UN estimates that almost 250.000 individuals are sexually exploited in Brazil, especially in the regions where Europeans and Americans go. In these regions, where the level of poverty is extremely high, kids – even of 12 o 13 years – find prostitution as an easy way to make money.

Even if the government is trying to protect prostitutes and their rights, it’s not solving the problem of child prostitution. This issue is getting worse and worse with the years, and tourism and foreign people do not help to win the battle against it. Otherwise, they support the abuse of children and teenagers, without realizing the terrible injuries that these children have in the future.

Reform of the Security Council?

The debate if Brazil should have a permanent seat in the Security Council nowadays is an issue that is receiving more and more attention from the international media. Brazil is part of a branch of countries that are named BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). These countries are major powers that are becoming more and more important and influential in the international panorama. Of these three countries, Russia and China are already part of the Security Council as permanent members with veto right.

In the last couple of years there has been talks and discussion about adding more members to the permanent council. There is a sensitive issue due to the importance of being part of this council. The resolutions are law abiding and their effects are really important. Well, the international relations trend suggests that in case of enlarging the members they should be Germany, Brazil, India and Japan. In 2004, these four countries, also known as the G4, claimed that the Security Council has to be reformed. They suggested that the Security Council should be extended from five permanent seats up to eleven. The six new seats should belong to the G4 states as well as to two African countries. Moreover, they want to dispose the veto right.

But does Brazil deserve the responsibility of being member of the council? Let’s have a look deeper into the country. With a population of almost 200 million and the biggest economy in Latin America, is the most influential country of South America. It has a lot of resources and despite of its poverty, the policies from the state are beginning to be appreciated in the general improvement of the conditions. Furthermore, Brazil had an impressive growth of its economy despite the global crises. However, it has a less power and influence in the military aspect. Although being the second biggest country in the whole continent after US, they lack of nuclear powers and they fall behind other countries such as Germany, Turkey or Israel.

But should the military aspect decide if I country can have a permanent seat? And why do the five permanent member still have the veto right?

In my opinion, I think that the structure of the Security Council is not up to date anymore as it was constructed after World War II. Nowadays, the world has changed and more countries became more important. Even though they have also ten members which are not permanent, the five permanent’s power and influence is too high. Moreover, I think that the veto right is a big problem, because it delays or even stops resolutions. But it also has to be considered that the Security Council probably would not exist without it as the political situation was not stable enough when the council was formed. Although there are several reasons against a reform, I support the idea of Brazil and the other G4 countries as it would help to improve the security in the world.