Sunday, April 30, 2006


Anthony Garotinho starts a hunger strike

Anthony Garotinho, important Brazilian politician, announced yesterday that he is in a hunger strike.
Garotinho is ex-Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro; last elections, he ran for Presidency (finished third), and his wife, Rosinha Garotinho, was elected Governor of Rio.
Garotinho is again attempting to be candidate of his Party, PMDB, to the Presidential elections to happen in October this year.

Last month, Garotinho travelled around the country, to make contacts. A few days later, newspapers denounced that those travels were paid by "donations" of companies which, indeed, didn't exist (they were registered in the Commercial Bureau, but didn't have physical existance). Later on, it was revelead that those companies belonged to people who had connections inside the Government of Rio; there are suspicions that those people got some illegal public money, and gave a share to Garotinho.

Garotinho said that he didn't see any problem with the donations, but he would return the money.
Next, Garotinho said that there is a conspiration against him, and, to combat the conspirators, he would start a hunger strike.
To finish the strike, he has two demands: first, the elections must be accompanied by international observers; second, he demands space in what he calls main conspirators (Veja magazine and TV Globo) to present his defense.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Telê Santana died

Tele SantanaTelê Santana, the coach of the Brazilian team in the World Cups of 1982 and 1986, died yesterday, at age 74. Telê had been for nearly a month under intensive care of abdominal infection.

Telê had a mentality that football should be a show: fair play, but goal oriented. Zagallo, Parreira and Felipão, who won World Cups, are known for having a pragmatic mentality: winning by 1 x 0 is enough.
Much because of Tele's mentality Brazil lost the Cup in 1982: Brazil had the advantage of the tie against Italy, the game was tied, but Telê ordered the team to go ahead to win (and Brazil lost). He was recognized; in 1986, he was again invited to command the squad.

Telê had some success as player, defending Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Starting his career as a coach, he was Brazilian champion in 1971. A series of successes led him to the Brazilian team, in 1980.

After the two failures in World Cups, he went to São Paulo FC. In 1992 and 1993, São Paulo was bi-champion of the World Clubs Championship.


Brazil reaches self sufficiency in petroleum

Petrobras productionYesterday, April 21stst, President Lula turned the key which started out P-50, the largest Brazilian petroleum platform.
Brazil is now producing 1.8 million barrels a day, the samem volume consumed; by the end of the year, forecast is that Brazil will be producing 1.9 million barrels/day.
Today, 80% of the production comes from off-shore wells, and, of these wells, 90% are located in the Campos basin, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
President Lula celebrated the event by putting his hands on oil and stamping a Petrobras uniform; he repeated the gesture of President Getulio Vargas in 1953, when Petrobras producing their first barrels.

Petrobras was created in 1953. In 1995, the company lost the Constitutional monopoly; however, because of its large assets (Petrobras retained the budget, staff, wells and knowledge), no other company can face Petrobras in Brazil.

Self sufficiency is important, even more at these times of uncertainty (USA and Iran are currently having hard talks over Iran's intention to produce nuclear weapons), when the oil prices increase (this week, price reaches over US$70 for the first time ever).
Brazil is still paying the price of the first and second petroleum shocks, in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the country depended heavily on imported oil by then, and saw its foreigner debt increase very rapidly.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Prosecutor General indictes 40 people

For nearly a year now, Brazil has been watching a sequence of denounces against members of the Government and of the Parliament. By means of a process called "mensalão", the government would be using the administrative structure to collect illegal money and pay Deputies in exchange of votes.

When the first denounces appeared, the indignation of the population obliged President Lula to fire Minister José Dirceu, charged of leading the scheme, and also obliged Parliament to impeach a few Deputies, including Roberto Jefferson, the man who first spoke about the scheme.
However, many members of the government, including President Lula and José Dirceu, always denied the charges, claiming they were being unfairly charged by the "elites".

Three parallel lines of investigation were opened:
1)The Comission of Ethics of the Federal Chamber examined the accusations against all Deputies. In the beginning, three Deputies were impeached, and a few others resigned to avoid impeachment. However, as the indignation settled down, the Parliament became also more lenient: all Deputies who were judged by their peers recently were found not guilty.
2) Chamber and Senate created joint Probing Comissions. The Probing Comissions dont't have the power to condemn anyone; instead, they prepare a report which is sent to the General Prosecution.
A few weeks ago, one such report reaffirmed that there was a corruption scheme within the government, with the participation of important members of the Worker's Party, including José Dirceu, José Genoíno (ex-President of the Party), Delúbio Soares (ex-treasurer), Silvio Pereira (ex-secretary).
As usual, Government and PT denied the charges, again arguing that everything was only political manoeuver.
3) Criminal investigation. The body in charge of investigations denounces of crimes practiced by high authorities is the Procuradoria Geral da Republica (General Prosecutor of the Republic).

The Prosecutors worked in silence, behind the curtains. They have powers to lift bank, phone and tax secrecies. They can use the Federal Police to follow leads. They heard many people.

Yesterday, the General Prosecutor presented his first report.
He indicted 40 people, charged with several crimes, including corruption, laundering money, criminal administration.
Among the indicted, José Dirceu, José Genoíno, Luiz Gushiken, Roberto Jefferson, many other Deputies (including those who were found non guilty by their peers), Duda Mendonça and others.

Most previous charges were confirmed; new charges were added. The difference is that the charging now comes from an independent party. There is no more room for allegations of political biasing.

Read the full libel containing the names of all 40 indicted and all criminal charges: 40 indicted by corruption in Brazil.
Read also Bloomberg.

The case now will be examined by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Minimum wage: ideal and real

President Lula passed a Provisional Measure readjusting the minimum wage to R$ 350, from April this year until, probably, March 2007; at current conversion rates, this is about US$ 165 or 135 euros.
The complete text of the Provisional Measure is here; the new salary of R$ 350 had a significant readjustment from the former R$ 300.

According to DIEESE, a non-government economic institution, the minimum wage necessary to satisfy all the demands (food, health, habitation, transportation, leisure, clothes, etc) of a typical family (parents and two kids) should be R$ 1,489.33; read more about the DIEESE study on minimum wage and prices of essential food in Brazil.

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