Tag Archive | "brazil"

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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Brazil: Dictatorship Trial to go Ahead

The incident took place during the regime of João Figueiredo, Brazil's last military leader (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The incident took place during the regime of João Figueiredo, Brazil’s last military leader (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

For the first time, Brazil’s judiciary will open criminal proceedings against five military and one police officer for events that occurred during the country’s 1964-85 dictatorship.

The group are accused of a foiled bomb attack on a Rio de Janeiro convention centre on 30th April 1981, where 20,000 people were gathered for a Labour Day concert. However, the bomb exploded prematurely, inside the car of one of the agents, killing him and wounding another, Colonel Wilson Luiz Chaves Machado, one of the accused. At the time, the military junta blamed the attack on the radical left.

Judge Ana Paula Vieria de Carvalho has allowed the prosecution to move forward with the charges of manslaughter, criminal conspiracy, and transporting of explosives, among others.

She said: “The crimes of torture, murder, and forced disappearance committed by agents of the state as a form of politicla persecution during the dictatorship are crimes against humanity,” and as such don’t have a statute of limitations.

The Truth Commission, created in 2012 by President Dilma Rousseff, herself a victim of torture during the dictatorship, said that the decision was “a victory for those who fight for memory and truth in Brazil”.


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Brazil: More Violent Protests Rock World Cup Host Cities

Protesters in Sao Paulo yesterday (photo: EFE/Sebastiao Moreira/Télam)

Protesters in Sao Paulo yesterday (photo: EFE/Sebastiao Moreira/Télam)

Protests and strikes in at least a dozen cities across Brazil yesterday caused more disruption and violence less than a month before the World Cup begins. The diverse protests were broadly against the tournament, including the excessive costs of preparations and the deaths of several construction workers at the stadium sites.

The biggest marches were in Sao Paulo, where the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST) gathered an estimated 5,000 people in five different points of the city, including near the city’s Itaquerao stadium, which will host the opening match of the tournament. Up to 8,000 municipal teachers also staged a demonstration during the day to criticise a lack of investment in education. Other protests directly against the government’s management of World Cup preparations were held in the early evening, and ended in violent clashes with police and damage to several buildings.

In Rio de Janeiro, teachers and bus drivers staging a strike joined other social groups protesting on the streets, causing further traffic chaos in the city.

Smaller protests were held in other host cities for the tournament, including Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, and Brasilia, where several hundred people carried the names of nine workers killed so in the construction of the new stadiums. Meanwhile, in the country’s northern city of Recife, looting broke out as police continued a strike that began earlier in the week.

The protests come just days after an audit of spending on the World Cup showed surging costs, including the stadium in the capital Brasilia, which has tripled original estimated to reach US$900m. Data also showed that up to a third of this cost may be attributable to price-gouging, a term used for the overpricing goods and services, adding to public concern over corruption. Amid growing social unrest, figures released today by the central bank showed that economic growth slowed to an estimated 0.3% in the first quarter of 2014.

Protest groups warned that further demonstrations will be held before and during the World Cup. However, officials say the turnout for the “protest of all protests”, as the groups organising yesterday’s action called it, was not as high as expected, and far lower than the major protests staged in June 2013.



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