Monday, August 29, 2005

 

Weekly Magazines

political marketingVeja #1920 wrote on the cover "Artificial Politician".
That´s a reference to the fact that politicians in Brazil are elected primarily on the artificial image that professional publicists create for them.
The reason for this is that most Brazilian political parties don´t have a programme, and there is no law to prevent politicians from changing parties. So, candidates in campaign stress much more his/her personal image ("I've built many roads", "I fought capitalism") than his/her political ideologies. An interesting note is that Fernando Henrique Cardoso spent the same amount of money (about US$ 40 million) to be elected in 1998 as Bill Clinton spent to be elected in 1996.
citibank scandalIsto É #1872: "How Citibank received a billionaire present from Brazilian Savings Funds".
According to the magazine, the biggest Brazilian Retirement Saving Funds (namely, the funds of the employess of Petrobrás, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal) commited themselves, by contract, to purchase shares of Brasil Telecom which belong to Citibank. The agreed price is much above the market price. This means that Citibank will profit over R$ 1 billion in the operation.
The case will be investigated by the Probing Comissions.
Época 380 also talks about the Retirement Funds: "The Route of PT Dollar".
The magazine investigates how the money from the funds may have been used by Marcos Valério to pay his illegal transactions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

 

Lula ratings take a nose dive

For the past three months, Lula's ratings have declined, but at a slow pace.
The last survey by Ibope, however, shows that over this past month (when the Investigatory Comissions presented their first reports), there was a steep fall.
lula government approval

Read more about the Lula's approval ratings.

Monday, August 22, 2005

 

Weekly Magazines

soccer and drugsFor the first time in months, one of the major Brazilian magazines doesn´t bring the Government scandal on the cover. IstoÉ #1871 brings the headline "Compromising conversations".

The police in Rio de Janeiro (authorized by a Judge) recorded phone conversations between drug dealers and a few personalities; among those, there are voices of football players Ronaldo, Romário, Júlio César (the goalkeeper of the Brazilian team) and Jorginho (the best player of beach soccer in Brazil).

In Brazilian legislation, there is a crime called "association with traffic"; people who don´t push drugs, but have any kind of proximity with them, may be charged of this crime. Some of the players were already heard by the Police, and alleged (truthfully, it seems) that they were participating of events on the poorer areas of Rio and just happened to keep an occasional conversation with the traffic dealers. It looks more like some police officer is trying to gain a few minutes of fame.

power and sexÉpoca #379 reads on the cover: "The Temptations of Power".
Last week, there were talkings about sex parties which happened in the posh hotels of Brasilia, promoted by members of the Worker's party, with participation of several politicians.
Jeane Mary Corner was a lady who, supposedly, was in charge of finding the girls for the parties. There is a rumor in Brasilia now that ms. Corner (and her phone books) have the power to take Representatives out of their offices and out of their marriages.

Palocci scandalVeja #1919 reads: "Denounces involve Palocci".
Antonio Palocci, Minister of Finances, is personally responsible for the Brazilian economy. He (and his crew) have maintained the tight fiscal police inherited from the previous government. Economic agents fear abrupt changes in Economy, if Palocci leaves.
Last Friday, Rogério Buratti, an ex-advisor of Palocci, accused the Minister of having received illegal money from contractors when he was the Mayor of Ribeirão Preto. Buratti says that the trash collecting company paid R$ 50,000 (about US$ 20,000) per month to a member of Palocci's staff, which passed the money to the Worker's Party.
On Friday, the stocks fell and the dollar rose.
On Sunday, Palocci called all TVs for a public interview. He vehemently denied the charges. He answered to all the charges posed by Veja. He said that the Economy of the country is ready to face any turbulence, including his own leaving. He allowed any reporter to ask any question about any matter.
This firm action of Palocci (very different from Lula and Dirceu, who never faced the media to talk about the scandals) calmed down the markets on Monday.
However, there is still much to be investigated about Palocci's past government in Ribeirão Preto.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

 

Protests against Lula

Protests in BrasiliaThe day before yesterday (August 16th), some NGO (such as UNE - Students Directory and CUT - main Union in the country) called supporters of the government to gather in Brasilia; the NGOs manifested that they were against corruption in Government, but they gave full support to President Lula. The police estimates that they managed to bring about 6,000 people, most of them affiliates with either UNE or CUT.

Yesterday, leftist Parties (all rather small, like PSOL, PSTU and PDT) called the population for a protest against the Government. They managed to bring about 12,000 people.
Read Voice of America.

 

Central Bank maintains interest rates

The COPOM - Monetary Policy Committee held their monthly meeting yesterday (August 17th) and decided to maintain the basic interest rates in 19.75%; this is the third month in a row that the rate is not changed.
As inflation continues declining (forecast for the next twelve months are now under 6%), Brazil maintains the status of country with the highest interest rate in the world.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

 

Pelé and Maradona meet

Pelé and Maradona togetherA Historical moment for the lovers of football.
Maradona is now a showman on the Argentinian Television. In his very first program, the main guest was Pelé; they met and talked like old friends.
There was no mention of "who is the best in the world". Pelé and Maradona talked about the relationships between Pelé and Fifa, about the affair of the match Brazil x Argentina in 1990 (when Maradona was accused of giving poisoned water to Brazilian players) and the recent involvement of Pelé´s son with drugs (Pelé said that Maradona, who is fighting a drug addiction, would be a good inspiration to his son).
In the end, they kicked some balls and posed for photos which will certainly enter History as the meeting of the best football players ever.

Monday, August 15, 2005

 

Weekly Magazines

Lula impeachmentVeja #1918 writes on the cover "The fight of Lula against the impeachment".
Veja considers that there are enough elements to start an impeachment process; the two last denounces against Lula were Duda´s declarations (see entry below) and Waldemar Costa Neto´s declaration published by Epoca that Lula knew that the Worker´s Party was paying R$ 10 million to obtain political support from the Liberal Party in the Presidential elections in 2002.

Lula purchased supportEpoca #378 writes: "The Confession". In an exclusive interview, the President of the Liberal Party Waldemar Costa Neto (who resigned from his Deputy term two weeks ago to avoid a process for anti-ethical conduct), declares that Lula and José Dirceu knew that the Worker´s Party paid for political support in 2002.
The vice-President José de Alencar is affiliated with the Liberal Party and also a successful businessman (he is the owner of Coteminas, a large textile company). During the campaign, Alencar was the capitalist side of the coalition. Now, Waldemar Costa Neto declares that the coalition was only possible because, after a long bargaining (initial asking was R$ 20 million), the Worker´s Party commited to paying R$ 10 million to the Liberal Party.
Liberal Party is one of the Parties accused of having received monthly payments from Valério to vote with the government; Costa Neto´s declarations suggest that, from the beginning, money was talking louder than political ideals.

Lula gaining timetIstoÉ #1870 says: "Lula is gaining time".

Saturday, August 13, 2005

 

Miguel Arraes dies

miguel arraesOn August 12th, ex-Governor Miguel Arres died at age 88.
Arraes was the Governor of Pernambuco when the Military Coup of 1964 ecloded.
Along with ex-governor of Rio Grande do Sul Leonel Brizola (who died in 2004), Arraes was one of the governors who resisted most to the Coup, openly admitting the hypothesis of taking arms to defend the law; Arraes had no support from the Army, and had to surrender and go to exile in Algeria.
Arraes returned to Brazil in 1979 and was elected Governor in 1986. Arraes was affiliated to Socialist Party, and had a popular appeal. He was elected once again in 1994, but lost the elections of 1998.
With the death of Arraes and Brizola, very few characters of the 1964 Coup are still alive.
Read this short biography of Miguel Arraes (in Portuguese).

 

Lula spoke to the Nation

At last, the President spoke to the Nation.
Since the inception of the crisis, the President had only spoken by means of advisors or in public events. For the first time, Lula spoke directly to the Nation (Duda Mendonça´s declaration, which for the first time involved the President directly with the crisis, was the main reason for this speech).
There was a meeting of the Cabinet on August 12th. Lula opened the meeting with a pronunciation.
First, reading a pre-written text, Lula recalled the recent good results of Brazilian economy. Then, still reading, Lula declared that he was terribly disappointed (the word in Portuguese was "indignado") by the recent revelations and he was feeling betrayed by people whom he trusted (he didn´t give any names).

In the end, after stopping reading, Lula said that "I dont´t feel ashamed to apologize. The Worker´s Party must apologize to the Nation. The government, if wrong, must apologize too".

The consensus among opposition and the media is that Lula´s speech was "too little and too late", far from enough to satisfy the public opinion.

Friday, August 12, 2005

 

Lula´s publicist admits crimes

Duda Mendonça is one of the most important men in Brazilian marketing.
He was the publicist who coordinated Lula´s campaign in 2002. Duda did a complete overhaul in Lula´s image: Duda was responsible, for example, for the creation of the motto "Lula Peace in Love", in contrast with the former, much more radical "I am against everything which has been made so far"; also, thanks to Duda, Lula started wearing Armani, toned down his voice, got a hair stylist, etc. Duda was also the director of all the TV sketches showing Lula during the campaign. It is a consensus that Duda Mendonça was one of the most important persons in the winning of Lula.

Duda´s partner was summoned by the Probing Comission, because Marcos Valério said that, by order of the Worker´s Party, he paid nearly R$ 15 million to Duda´s agency.
Duda went to the Comission, and declared that: he should be paid about R$ 25 million for his work during the Presidential campaign; in 2003, with Lula already in office, there was still a debt of R$ 10 million; Valério asked him to open a bank account in the Bahamas, and afterwards Duda received several deposits into this account, sent from several places around the world (Valério denied that he asked Duda to open the account, but confirmed that he sent the money).

These declarations brought Lula to the center of the crisis. So far, there were evidences that Valério and the Worker´s Party had collected illegal money to pay debts and to buy legislators, but there was no evidence against Lula.
Now, there are evidences that illegal money was used to boost Lula´s campaign. Moreover, that money was sent illegally to off shore banks, which, according to Brazilian laws, may characterize tax evasion, money laundering and other financial crisis.

Members of the Worker´s Party were seen crying in the Congress.
Members of opposition started talking openly about impeachment.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

Brazilian banks have record profits

The two major private Brazilian banks have reported record profits for the first semester of 2005.
Last week, Itaú announced profits of R$ 2,47 billion (a little more than US$ 1 billion); this was 35% more than same period last year, and the biggest profit ever of the bank.
This week, Bradesco announced profits for the same periof of R$ 2,62 billion; this is up 109% compared to same period last year, and is also a record.
Brazilian interest rates are still the highest in the world. Basic interest rate is running at 19.75%, while inflation estimates for the next twelve months are around 5.5%. This has caused side effects like the over evaluation of the Brazilian currency (last week, it reached a three year low of R$ 2.30 against US$ 1, versus a peak of nearly R$ 4 a few years ago), and now these record profits by banks.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

 

Biggest Bank assault in Brazil ever

Last weekend - 7th and 8th August -, the branch of Central Bank in Fortaleza was assaulted. Thieves robbed 150 million reais, about US$ 65 million at current rate. This was the biggest assault in Brazilian History, and the fourth in the world.
Investigations have shown that thieves rented a house near the Bank three months ago; they carved a tunnel 80 meters long, then opened a hole in the floor to reach the coffer; the tunnel had an structure to carry electricity, water and even air conditioned to the people working on it.
Estimated weight of the robbed cash is 3,5 tons. It would take a few vans to carry it all. The thieves were careful enough to start the robbery on Saturday morning, to have all weekend to carry the money.
Read what the Washington Post wrote about bank robbery in Brazil.

Monday, August 08, 2005

 

Weekly Magazines

LullaVeja #1916 brings on the cover the word "Lulla", the double "l" mimicking the style used by ex-President Fernando Collor, who was impeached in 1992. Veja sees similiarities between the two Presidents.

Brazil crisisLikewise, Época cover reads: "The crisis goes up the ramp"; this is a reference to the ramp which leads to the Palace of Planalt, the seat of the Executive Power.
So far, most denounces are directly related only to the Worker´s Party and some members of the Parliament. Época also sees the President of the Republic facing troubles in the near future.

Isto É #1869 mentions on the cover an article about the Political Reform in Brazil.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

 

Felipe Massa to go to Ferrari

This was supposed to be a secret: Brazilian driver Felipe Massa is going to Ferrari next year.
Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello, currently with Ferrari, is to sign a contract with BAR next year. The new BAR´s manager, Gil de Ferran - also a Brazilian who used to compete in the USA Indy category - invited his close friend Barrichello to join BAR. Ferran spoke to three times world champion Nelson Piquet, who leaked the news to the press.
In turn, Ferrari confirmed that another Brazilian, Felipe Massa, will drive a car in 2005. Actually, Massa has been contracted by Ferrari since 2001, when he was the test driver. In 2005, Massa was borrowed by Sauber, but was still linked to Ferrari.

Brazilians are big fans of Formula One; three ex-world champions were Brazilians: Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Airton Senna. Barrichello was a candidate to replace Airton Senna, but he failed.
Read more about Felipe Massa in Ferrari.

Monday, August 01, 2005

 

Weekly Magazines

IstoÉ # #1868: The Drama of the Innocents. A report about how the sons and daughters of the main involved in corruption denounces are dealing with the situation.

Jose DirceuVeja #1916 brings a photo of ex-Minister José Dirceu and the title: "The risk Dirceu".
According to Veja, Dirceu would be upset with President Lula, and could reveal facts to the Probing Comission, where he was summoned to speak this Tuesday.
UPDATE: José Dirceu spoke to the Comission on Tuesday, August 2nd, but didn´t attack the President. For the first time, José Dirceu and Roberto Jefferson met face to face; Jefferson reaffirmed his previous denounces, and added another one: Dirceu would have told Jefferson to send a representative of his Party, PTB, along with Marcos Valério, to talks with Portugal Telecom, in Lisbon. The purpose of the talk would be a financial donation from Portugal Telecom (which would be illegal, as foreigner institutions can not donate to Brazilian Parties) to PT and PTB; Jefferson didn´t give more details, and Dirceu denied the accusations.

rolling headEpoca #376 shows an image of a hanging rope, and says "The People wants Heads".
Last week, there were rumors in Brasilia about an agreement between politicians to bring mutual relief. Waldemar Costa Neto, who filed the ethical suit against Roberto Jefferson, would withdraw it; in turn, Jefferson would not file a suit against other politicians.
Update: much because of the outcry of the press, the agreement didn´t prosper. Waldemar Costa Neto resigned on August 4th, the process against Jefferson goes on, and PTB filed ethical suits against a few Deputies, including ex-Minister Jose Dirceu.

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