Tag Archive | "brazil"

Brazil: Marina Silva to Replace Dead PSB Candidate

PSB presidential candidate Marina Silva (photo: José Cruz/ABr)

PSB presidential candidate Marina Silva (photo: José Cruz/ABr)

Former senator and environmental activist Marina Silva was appointed yesterday as the presidential candidate for the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB), after the death of party leader Eduardo Campos in a plane crash last week.

Silva’s joining of the presidential race changes the political landscape, complicating the so far comfortable position of favourite Dilma Rousseff. A recent poll for Datafolha, conducted after the death of Campos, shows that President Rousseff could obtain 36% of the votes in the first round on 5th October, whilst Silva comes second with 21% (12 points more than Campos), and Aecio Neves of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) a close third with 20% of the vote. However, in the event of a second round on 26th October -which would be held if no candidate reaches 50% of the votes- the poll suggests Silva could beat Rousseff by 47% to 43%.

Silva will be joined by vice-presidential candidate Luiz Roberto ‘Beto’ de Albuquerque, a deputy representing the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Albuquerque has been linked to the agribusinesses that environmentalist Silva opposes, which have contributed funds to his political campaigns. He is expected to mediate between Silva and the representatives of the rural sector.

Silva’s campaign team has decided to not accept funds from companies that produce tobacco, arms, and alcoholic beverages. She has also announced she will not campaign in districts where she disapproves of the local alliances established by the PSB, such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santa Catarina, and Paraná.

A “Black Woman of Humble Origins”

Marina Silva was born in 1958 in the city of Rio Branco, capital of the state of Acre, near the border with Peru and Bolivia. The descendent of black slaves and Portuguese immigrants, her father worked in the rubber plantations in the countryside and her mother died when Marina was 14.

At age 16, Silva moved to Rio Branco to get treatment for hepatitis, and there she learned to read and write. She then worked as a maid, obtained a history degree in university, and became involved in politics and unionism. In 1985, together with union leader Chico Mendes, she founded the local branch of the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT) and became a member of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT).

In 1988 Silva obtained the only left-wing seat in the local Rio Branco council, and in that same year her friend Chico Mendes was murdered. In 1990 she was elected to the state congress of Acre, and in 1994 to the federal Senate in representation of her state. In 2003, she was appointed by the newly elected president Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ Da Silva as Environment Minister.

During her term at the Ministry, Brazil reduced the rate of deforestation in the Amazon, created new natural reserves, and arrested hundreds of people for environmental crimes. However, she lost the battle against the expansion of transgenic crops and nuclear energy. Her relationship with other members of Lula’s government, such as then-minister Dilma Rousseff, was difficult, and she also denounced receiving pressure from some state governors who opposed her measures against deforestation in the Amazon. She resigned on 13th May 2008, citing differences with the Lula administration’s environmental outlook, and returned to her seat in the Senate.

In 2010, Silva ran for president in representation of the Partido Verde and obtained almost 20m votes (19% of the total). Back then, she expressed her desire to be “the first black woman of humble origins” to reach the Brazilian presidency.

Upon the announcement of her candidacy, Silva said that, if elected, she plans to favour technological development in the rural sector in order to increase productivity whilst decreasing the exploitation of natural resources and ratified her commitment to economic measures such as inflation goals, a floating exchange rate, and fiscal responsibility.

In terms of social policies, she has rejected reforms such as the legalisation of abortion, drugs, and homosexual marriage, based on her evangelical faith. Her religious views could cost her votes amongst the Catholic majority and socially progressive sectors, though they could attract the growing number of Evangelical Christians.

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Brazil: Married Couple Discover they are Siblings

Leandro and Adriana have been married for seven years and have a daughter together

Leandro and Adriana have been married for seven years and have a daughter together

In a story that has made waves around Brazil due to its Hollywood-like plot, a married couple from São Paulo have discovered that they have the same mother.

Adriana, 39, and her husband Leandro, 37, have known each other for ten years and have a six-year-old daughter together.

Adriana was abandoned by her mother when she was a baby, and was brought up by her father. Leandro lived with his mother until he was eight, and was then raised by his step-mother. Both knew their mother was called Maria, but thought that it was a coincidence as it is such a common name in Brazil.

After years of attempting to find her mother in vain, Adriana went on Radio Globo’s ‘The Time is Now’ programme in hope that by sharing her story her mother would come forward. And live on air the show’s presenter said: “We have a call. It’s your mother.” When the details were confirmed, both women were overjoyed that the family could be reunited, until Adriana asked her mother if she had any other children, and her mother said “Yes, I then had Leandro, but with another man, not with your father.”

The coincidence was too much, and it was later proven that Maria was indeed the mother of both Adriana and Leandro.

Two days later, Radio Globo went to Adriana and Leandro’s home, where they confirmed that the news, although shocking, has not changed their relationship. “Only death will separate us. This all happened because God wanted it to. Of course it would be different if we had known all of this before, but we didn’t and we fell in love,” Adriana said.

Their case is not isolated – and there is even a name for the phenomenon, called Genetic Sexual Attraction, which occurs when “two adults who have been separated during the critical years of development and bonding and are reunited alter as adults.”

In 2008, the story of British pair of twins who were separated at birth but who later married hit the headlines worldwide. They had been adopted by different families and completely unaware they were twins until after they were married. Their marriage was annulled.


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Brazil: BRICS Leaders Sign Accord to Create Development Bank

BRICS leaders in Fortaleza (Photo courtesy of MRE Brasil)

BRICS leaders in Fortaleza (Photo courtesy of MRE Brasil)

The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – countries that make up the BRICS group – today signed an accord to create a new development bank and reserve fund at the annual summit in Fortaleza, Brazil.

According to the declaration issued by the leaders, the new development bank will be aimed at “mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging and developing economies.”

The bank will have an initial authorised capital of US$100bn, with the first US$50bn of this to be fronted equally by the founding states. It will be headquartered in Shanghai, with the key posts to be held by nationals of each of the five countries.

The new institution will offer a financing alternative to US-based institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. The Fortaleza declaration also noted the group’s “disappointment and serious concerns” with the non-implementation of 2010 reforms at the IMF, saying it harmed the fund’s “legitimacy, credibility and effectiveness.”

“The BRICS Bank will be one of the major multilateral development finance institutions in this world,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Russia Today. “We want the global system to be more fair and equitative,” added Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.

The leaders also signed a treaty to establish a US$100bn Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CAR) to “help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net, and complement existing international arrangements.”

The BRICS countries represent a quarter of the world’s territory and 46% of its population. Trade between the five countries represented 16% of the global total in 2011, double that of a decade earlier.

As part of this year’s summit, the BRICS leaders will also hold a joint session with heads of South American states in Brasilia tomorrow. Today’s joint declarations highlighted the aim for closer ties with the region, and noted the importance of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in promoting peace, integration, and development.

However, before the summit BRICS leaders poured cold water on rumours that Argentina would be invited to join the group, saying further expansion is not on the agenda for now.

The next BRICS summit will take place in July 2015 in Russia.

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Brazil: Campaigning for October General Election Gets Underway

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Campaigning officially began yesterday for the general election due on 5th October, with incumbent president Dilma Rousseff favourite to win re-election.

Rousseff, representing the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), will be running against main rivals Aécio Neves of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB) and Eduardo Campos, of the Partido Socialista Brasileiro (PSB).

The most recent opinion poll conducted by Datafolha and published last week showed Rousseff holds a commanding lead, with 38% support, though this would not be enough to win outright in the first round. Neves, meanwhile, trailed with 20%, while Campos received 9%.

Choosing to launch her re-election bid via a new website yesterday, Rousseff said in a online video message that these elections would be one of the “most politicised in our history.”

“The most important thing is to turn this campaign into a great debate in support of Brazil. For me, this campaign must be one that recognises the value of politics, which is so important yet so discredited.”

Neves, actual senator and former governor of Minas Gerais, began his campaign in Sao Paulo with indirect criticism of the Rousseff administration for using the World Cup for political gain. “Some think they can confuse the World Cup with the elections. But no, Brazilians are smart and aware enough to see they are completely different things.” Neves added that the campaing would provide “an opportunity to debate proposals.”

Campos meanwhile launched his campaign in a favela (slum) on the outskirts of the capital Brasilia. “It cannot be that 35km from the Palacio de Planalto (government house) , you can find yourself in a neighbourhood where rubbish is not even cleared from the streets,” said Campos. “[The administration] should not even be running for re-election. It should be humble enough to admit its failure.”

On 5th October, more than 141m eligible voters will choose the president, 27 state governors, and legislators at both a federal and state level. If needed, a second-round run off to elect the president will be held on 26th October.

While candidates can now campaign on the streets, in newspapers, and online, the use of TV and radio for campaign messages is prohibited until 19th August.

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Brazil: Uncontacted Tribe Displaced by Amazon Logging

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil, May 2008. Photo courtesy of Survival International. ©Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

Uncontacted Indians in Brazil, May 2008. Photo courtesy of Survival International. ©Gleison Miranda/FUNAI/Survival

An uncontacted tribe living in the Amazon has emerged from the rainforest in Brazil near the Peruvian border and made contact with a settled indigenous community.

The news comes just days after FUNAI, Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Department, and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, warned of the serious risk of such an incident, in light of the failure of the Peruvian authorities to stop rampant illegal logging on its side of the border.

The group had been coming increasingly close to the settled Asháninka who live along the Río Envira in the Brazilian state of Acre, and news emerged this week that the group had made contact with the Asháninka on Sunday.

A specialist FUNAI team is in the area to provide help to the newly-contacted group, and a medical unit has been flown in to treat possible epidemics of common respiratory and other diseases to which isolated indigenous groups lack immunity.

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, who is from Brazil’s Acre state and who joined Survival to speak out for indigenous rights said: “I am from the same area as they are. It is very worrying that my relatives are at risk of disappearing. It shows the injustice that we face today. They are even more vulnerable because they can’t communicate with the authorities. Both governments must act now to protect and to stop a disaster against my people.”

As a result of aerial and land surveys, the Brazilian government has so far identified 77 uncontacted peoples, many of which only have a few dozen people remaining. One tribe in Rondônia state has only one lone man; known as ‘the Last of his Tribe’, who resists all attempts at contact. It is believed that many have stopped having children because they are constantly fleeing loggers and other intruders. The uncontacted Awá, who are the Earth’s most threatened tribe, hunt monkey and other game at night, in order to remain hidden.

According to Survival, introduced diseases are the biggest killer of isolated tribal people, who have not developed immunity to viruses such as influenza, measles, and chicken pox that most other societies have been in contact with for hundreds of years.

In Peru, more than 50% of the previously-uncontacted Nahua tribe were wiped out following oil exploration on their land in the early 1980s, and the same tragedy engulfed the Murunahua in the mid-1990s, after being forcibly contacted by illegal mahogany loggers.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said: “Both Peru and Brazil gave assurances to stop the illegal logging and drug trafficking which are pushing uncontacted Indians into new areas. They’ve failed. The traffickers even took over a government installation meant to monitor their behaviour. The uncontacted Indians now face the same genocidal risk from disease and violence which has characterised the invasion and occupation of the Americas over the last five centuries. No one has the right to destroy these Indians.”



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Brazil: Environmentalists link Deforestation to Flooding

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Map shows how the Bosque Atlantico has shrunk over the past decades (image courtesy of Fundación Vida Silvestre)

Environmental NGOs have publicly denounced the high levels of deforestation in Paraguay, Brazil, and north-east Argentina as being the principal cause of the devastating flooding in the region.

Nine people have died and thousands have been evacuated as a result of the floods, and a state of emergency has been declared in the south of Brazil.

Greenpeace and Fundación Vida Silvestre have pinpointed the loss of the native Bosque Atlántico and shift towards industrialised agriculture as being behind the high levels of water in the Paraná and Iguazú rivers.

Hernán Giardini, coordinator of Greenpeace Argentina’s Forests campaign, said: “Woods and rainforests, as well as being packed with biodiversity, play a fundamental role in climate regulation, the maintenance of sources and flows of water, and the conservation of the ground. They are our natural sponge and protective umbrella. When we lose the forests we become more vulnerable in the face of rains and we run serious risks of flooding.”

Whilst heavy rains are common in the region, four months’ worth of rainfall has fallen over the past few days, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change. The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that extreme weather phenomenons, such as increased rainfall, drought, and hurricanes, can be attributed to climate change, and the advance of the agricultural frontier, which has stripped the previously forested region bare, has increased the effects of these heavier rains.

On the Argentine side of the border, just 7% of the original 2m hectares of forest remain, whilst in Paraguay and Brazil the forest has been practically destroyed. The forest, located mostly in the province of Misiones, with a small part in the north of Corrientes, is one of the most biodiverse regions in Argentina, with over 550 species of birds, 120 mammals, 80 reptiles, 55 amphibians, and 200 fish. More than 200 tree species are also registered. 


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Brazil: State of Emergency After Severe Flooding in South

Nine people died and thousands were evacuated over the weekend after severe flooding led to a state of emergency being called in the southern Brazilian states of Paraná and Santa Catarina.

At least 110 cities in the region – including Paraná satate capital and World Cup host city Curitiba – have been damaged by flooding and landslides, affecting an estimated 55,000. Travel around the region has also been disrupted as roads and major highways are flooded and some bridges are impassable.

Bridge flooded near the city of Guarapuava, in Paraná (photo courtesy of Paraná state news agency)

Bridge flooded near the city of Guarapuava, in Paraná (photo courtesy of Paraná state news agency)

Paraná governor Beto Richa today decreed a state of emergency for the affected areas, diverting an initial R$6m (reals) for medical supplies. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff said that the federal government would offer “all the support necessary”, and help coordinate recovery efforts by different state agencies.

According to the national meteorological office, the flooding came after the region received more than double the monthly average rainfall between Friday and Sunday. The rains are expected to ease this week, though rising water levels in major rivers will still pose a threat.

Iguazú Closed

Meanwhile, in Argentina’s northwest, the Iguazú National Park today closed all public walkways around the waterfalls as the heavy rains caused the Iguazú river to swell dramatically. According to the park authorities, the river’s volume of flow today was almost 27 times the normal level. Park superintendent Juan Sergio Bikauskas said: “Faced with the extraordinary rise in the Iguazú river, we must priorities the safety of visitors and workers in the waterfall viewing areas. Afterwards we will run a check to gauge the material damage.”

The park’s jungle walkways and commercial centre will remain open, and accessible without paying the normal entrance fee.




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Brazil: Clashes Between Police and Protesters in Anti-World Cup March

Indigenous protesters clash with police in Brasilia (photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil)

Indigenous protesters clash with police in Brasilia (photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil)

Indigenous people dressed in traditional clothing clashed with police yesterday during a march in Brasilia. The incidents took place outside a new stadium built for the football World Cup.

The group of around 300 indigenous people, who were carrying bows and arrows, marched towards the Mané Garrincha stadium and were joined by protesters from the People’s Cup Committee. In an attempt to keep the protesters from reaching the stadium, the Military Police dispersed the crowds using tear gas. Protesters reacted by throwing the tear gas canisters back at the police as well as by throwing some arrows and stones. The incidents were broadcast live on television.

The Military Police informed that an officer was wounded in the leg by an arrow but is recovering favourably, and that a protester was detained due to the incidents. According to the Missionary Indigenous Council (CIMI), four indigenous people were wounded and one member of the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MST) was arrested.

The MST, which is part of the People’s Cup Committee, they were protesting against “the Cup’s crimes and violations, carried out by FIFA, by the federal government and the government of Brasilia, and by sponsors and contractors against the Brazilian people.” The indigenous groups were protesting against a bill which threatens to decrease the size of some indigenous communities.

As a result of the incidents, the opening ceremony of the World Cup trophy exhibition was cancelled.


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Brazil: Police in 14 States Go On Strike

Federal Highway Police take part in an assembly in Rio (photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Federal Highway Police take part in an assembly in Rio (photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Police in 14 Brazilian states are striking today, demanding improvements in their working conditions. The 24-hour strike comes just 22 days before the beginning of the football World Cup.

Later on today, at 3pm local time, police unions will stage a protest in the capital city of Brasilia, where they will be joined by the federal police. The military police have announced they are not joining the strike or the protest.

It is estimated that, in some states, up to 70% of police agents could join the strike. The states affected are Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Amazonas — all of which will hold World Cup games — Alagoas, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Paraíba, Rondônia, Santa Catarina, and Tocantins.

Upon announcing the strike, Janio Gandra, secretary general of the Brazilian Confederation of Civilian and Police Workers, said: “Do you know what will be the legacy of the World Cup for public safety? None. Crime rates will go down during the event and then everything will return to normal.” He accused the government of not having “a safety project aimed towards the interests of citizens, those who live here and pay their taxes, and they will remain unsafe” after the World Cup.Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo had said on 30th April that “the armed forces cannot legally strike. For that legal reason and because I don’t think that policemen who have sworn to respect their nation will want to expose their country to an unacceptable situation before the world, I don’t think they will strike during the World Cup.”

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Brazil: Another Indigenous Leader Shot in Mato Grosso do Sul

The burned remains of Paulino's car after December's attack (photo via MIC)

The burned remains of Paulino’s car after December’s attack (photo via CIMI)

Indigenous leader and activist Paulino da Silva Terena was shot yesterday outside his home in Miranda, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Paulino, a leading figure in the struggle to reclaim the indigenous Pillad Rebuá land, was hit twice in the leg, and is recovering after being released from hospital.

According to Paulino’s testimony, he was approached by strangers when leaving his house at the Moreira camp at around 4.30am. He shouted for help, and when others in the community responded, the strangers hid and fired a round of shots before escaping. Local authorities are treating the case as attempted murder, according to news portal Agencia Brasil.

Paulino has been attacked before, in December 2013, when he suffered burns after his car was set on fire. Paulino has also reportedly been included a programme of state protection for defenders of human rights since February 2013, as a result of death threats he received.

Paulino is part of a group of around 100 families that have been camping on the contested Pillad Rebuá land since late 2013. The dispute over the land has been going on for over a century. In 1904, the state recognised 10,400 hectares belonging to indigenous communities, a decision that angered local farmers. In the 1950s, the official demarcation of the land began, but has never been completed due to a number of legal obstacles. The continuous delays prompted a group of Terena Indians to move in and occupy part of the land last October.

There have been a number of violent attacks of indigenous communities in Brazil in recent years, as conflicts over land intensify amid an expanding agricultural sector. Many of these occur in Mato Grosso do Sul, where the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) recorded over half (317) of the 563 killings of indigenous people in Brazil between 2003 and 2012.



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22nd August marks the anniversary of the 1972 Trelew Massacre. We revisit a 2007 piece which followed Kristie Robinson as she accompanied a group of former political prisoners to Patagonia to commemorate the incident.

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