Tag Archives: Brazil

Hypocrisy of the Brazilian Congress Not Made Clear in News Reports

dilma-rousseffNews stories out of Brazil are full of the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Roussefff. The stories cover the charges against Dilma (in Brazil they use first names for a second reference) and the reaction of the very frustrated Brazilian populace. What I have not seen much of, however, are reports about the people pushing for impeachment.

Let’s start with the prime motivator and leaders of the lower house of congress in Brasilia. Eduardo Cunha is from the opposition Democratic Movement Party and is facing his own charges of corruption.

The Wall Street Journal did a full story on Eduardo’s woes, but most publications either don’t mention it or drop it in near the end of the story. The Brazilian press, by contrast, have regular stories about the charges and the latest actions of the prosecutor to build a case.

The Guardian had a good summary of many of the pro-impeachment people in their story about the final vote (boldface mine):

On a dark night, arguably the lowest point was when Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right deputy from Rio de Janeiro, dedicated his yes vote to Carlos Brilhante Ustra, the colonel who headed the Doi-Codi torture unit during the dictatorship era. Rousseff, a former guerrilla, was among those tortured. Bolsonaro’s move prompted left-wing deputy Jean Wyllys to spit towards him.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, his son and also a deputy, used his time at the microphone to honour the general responsible for the military coup in 1964.

Deputies were called one by one to the microphone by the instigator of the impeachment process, Cunha – an evangelical conservative who is himself accused of perjury and corruption – and one by one they condemned the president.

Yes, voted Paulo Maluf, who is on Interpol’s red list for conspiracy. Yes, voted Nilton Capixiba, who is accused of money laundering. “For the love of God, yes!” declared Silas Camara, who is under investigation for forging documents and misappropriating public funds.

And yes, voted the vast majority of the more than 150 deputies who are implicated in crimes but protected by their status as parliamentarians.

At times the session exposed the farcical side of Brazil’s democracy, such as the Women’s party that has only male deputies, or the Progressive Socialist party that is one of the most right-wing groups in congress.

These are hardly supporters of democratic and clean government. Somehow, phrases such as “the notoriously corrupt” members of Congress — a phrase used by US news outlets, if they mention the corruption at all — just does not have the same impact as what The Guardian laid out.

To be clear, I am no fan of the PT, Dilma’s party, but for this congress to vote to impeach her over corruption goes way beyond the pot commenting on the hue of the kettle.

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Filed under Corruption, International News Coverage, South America

Connection: Jobs and Visas

Some time back the Orlando Chamber of Commerce did a study that showed for every 82 visas issued by the U.S. embassy and consulates in Brazil, one job is created in Orlando,Fla.

And look what we have now from Gallup: Orlando Tops Largest U.S. Metro Areas in Job Creation.

Orlando has recently experienced strong hiring growth in the hospitality and leisure sector — the greatest source of jobs in the area, which is known for its theme parks.

The growth in jobs in Orlando comes because foreign visitors want to enjoy all the theme parks in the area. (Think Universal Studios and Disney World.)

And as noted before, the people who issue those visas are U.S. Foreign Service officers. The problem is that no one seems to pay attention to the State Department budget or its staffing needs.

Orlando is a great example of a direct connection between the State Department budget and a local economy. Would be nice if more people (and news organizations) made the connection.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Jobs, Trade

Media lessons from ‘The Wright Brothers’: What historic stories are we missing today?

Steve Buttry once again nails it. Media lessons from ‘The Wright Brothers’: What historic stories are we missing today?

The lesson here is to be open minded and look for the unusual.

Today this can also be applied to looking for connections between international and local events.

Maybe local reporters may not be missing out on history, but they could be missing out on excellent stories by not digging deeper into local immigrant communities or economic connections with the rest of the world. (And again, I am not talking about Chinese-made products in the local Wal-Mart or the local Hyundi dealership sales.)

Many American companies are owned by foreign companies. Here is an excellent list: Ten Classic American Brands That Are Foreign-Owned

What they did not mention was how IBM sold off their computer operations to the Chinese company Lenovo. Or how Ben & Jerry’s is really owned by Unilever out of the UK or how a Chinese company now owns the AMC movie theater chain.

Yep, there are a lot of local-global connections, all that is needed is some imagination and willingness to look beyond the surface.

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Filed under Connections, International News Coverage

New map on impunity for Mexico and Brazil

Once again proof that all it takes is some encouragement and a few — VERY FEW — bucks to put together a major effort to expose violations of human rights, including freedom of speech and press.

Advocacy groups in Mexico and Brazil map attacks on journalists to counteract threats

The crowd-sourced maps will help journalists know more about the risks they might face as the enter an area before they start “doing journalism.”

The Mexican map — Perriodistas en Riesgo — was created in 2012 and focuses on where journalists are under threat.

According to the Knight Center:

Attacks are divided into four categories: physical, psychological, digital and legal. Each category can then be modified by multiple subcategories. For example, a physical attack could be a kidnapping, beating, disappearance, murder, etc, and one attack, such as a reporter being mugged and having his cellphone and laptop stolen, could be categorized as a physical and a digital attack.

The Brazilian map — Violacoes a Liberdade de Expressao — casts a much wider net. It only started in November 2014 but does look at all forms of violations of freedom of expressions, including attacks on journalists and legal proceedings designed to silence human rights advocates.

The items on the Brazilian site are confirmed by Article 19 before being posted to the site.

 

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Filed under Harassment, Killings, Mexico, South America

Uganda’s anti-gay law has roots in USA

Sometimes finding a local-global connection is not hard.

Today Uganda President Yoweri Museveni signed a law into effect that threatens jail terms up to life for anyone having gay sex. The law also allows authorities to toss into jail anyone failing to report any knowledge of gay activity. (Uganda’s Museveni signs anti-gay bill, defying donors, Washington)

On the bright side, the new law does not threaten death, as the first iteration in 2009 did.

And where did this great idea come from?

Well it seems that the religious right from the United States have moved their fight against “the gay agenda” from the States — where they are losing their bigoted/homophobic battle — to Africa, where already conservative societies are ready to show how tough they are.

Back in 2010, Jeffrey Gettleman reported for the New York Times on the influence of the U.S. religious right in creating  the atmosphere for the original legislation — that provided the death penalty for gays — to the version just signed into law. (Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push)

There is even a documentary of how the religious right pushed their agenda in Uganda: God Loves Uganda.

The BBC has a great piece from December 2013 about the law along with a map showing the dismal state of gay rights in Africa. (Ugandan MPs pass life in jail anti-homosexual law)

Besides activities of individual churches in Uganda, one of the main driving forces in setting the atmosphere for the legislation is a group known simply as The Family. One less kind term is The Christian Mafia(C Street politics: The Family sponsors death for homosexuals in UgandaThe Family is based out of a C Street house in Washington, DC and includes many of the power brokers in the city. 

And there is Jeff Sharlet’s account in his book The Family and in articles. (HarpersStraight Man’s Burden: The American roots of Uganda’s anti-gay persecutions)

Once the scope of the legislation was fully realized — and most likely the political fallout at home — The Family and many of its members came out against “Kill Gays” legislation. But did nothing to stop the legislation that is now law.

A major player in the religious right in the United States used its contacts and influence to promote an agenda that is the antithesis of peace and understanding — items I was taught are the foundations of Christian belief. I have seen hundreds of Christian organizations work in Honduras, Brazil and the Dominican Republic. It is true in some cases the individuals seemed to care more for passing out bibles than providing for the physical well-being of the people served. But by and large these are good people providing housing, medical care and education to people denied the basics by their own societies.

And The Family will say they also provide help to the poor. And they do. But they — and their followers/supporters — also bring hate and fear.

The link between what is happening in Uganda and the United States is direct. And it is a shame that an organization based in the United States with many members of Congress listed as members/associates has helped create an atmosphere of persecution that has now led to a law that could jail hundreds — if not thousands — for just being human.

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Filed under Africa, Connections, International News Coverage

New transparency law gives Brazilian voters look at corrupt practices

Great little piece on a new law is drawing attention to stuff Brazilian lawmakers tried to keep hidden. And it shows how getting even the weakest freedom/right of information law or transparency law enacted is a benefit. Once in place, people can use it to its limits and then lobby for changes that make it work even better. (That’s how the US FOI act evolved.)

Will Brazil’s Transparency Law Work?

The recently approved Transparency Law in Brazil has exposed that one-third of the 594 Brazilian federal lawmakers have pending cases in criminal and civil courts. Most of the criminal cases against the Senators and Deputies in Brasília involve corruption charges.

The Transparency Law was approved following the presentation of over one million signatures from the Brazilian people. The purpose of the bill is to expose members of Congress with criminal charges to the public. The law is seen as a filter of allegedly corrupt candidates with the hopes of discouraging them from seeking re-election.

Rest of story

The part I like is the enumeration of the crimes the solons were charged with and how many in each party were charged. (To be sure, being charged in a civil case is nothing. Until you remember that Brazilian law allows individuals to launch civil cases that would be considered criminal cases in other countries.)

The list reveals that 190 of the 594 Brazilian federal lawmakers have at some time been charged in criminal or civil cases. The list of crimes includes manslaughter, degrading practices, abuse of power, administrative illegalities, public funding abuse, and illicit enrichment. There is a total of fourteen different crimes on the list.

Furthermore, no party is absent from the list. PMDB, the largest political party presently in Congress with 101 members, has 36 politicians that have been charged. The ruling PT party of Dilma with 100 lawmakers has 28. PSDB, the main opposition force with 60 members, has 22 with pending charges. PR with 43 members has 14 charges, and PSB of 29 members has 12 charged.

But my favorite is Congressman, Natan Donadon, who is currently in jail but is still an active member of Congress and receiving his salary.

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Filed under Corruption, Freedom of Information, International News Coverage, South America

Orlando sees connection between Main Street and the rest of the world

A recent study by the U.S. Commerce Dept. for the Orlando visitors’ bureau showed that the Orlando area saw an increase in Brazilian visitors. According to the Orlando Sentinel, about 1.3 million Brazilians visited Orlando last year. That number accounts for about one-third of all South American visitors to the area.

Visit Orlando commissioned the study from the Commerce Dept. Because of budget cuts over the past decade, Commerce stopped studying specific numbers of foreign visitors, relying instead on estimates.

Other major foreign contributors to the Orlando economy are an estimated 1 million Canadians and 750,000 Britons.

It was nice to see a straight-forward article from a LOCAL reporter about a LOCAL benefit from an INTERNATIONAL connection. (Orlando tourism’s Brazilian contingent grows sharply with improved head count)

Too often, too many local news organizations fail to see the connections.

Granted, in Orlando it is hard not to notice that there are a lot of foreigners at all the various amusement parks. But what so many fail to notice is that all those visitors can only show up thanks to U.S. foreign service officers around the world.

These FSOs issue the visas that most people from around the world need to visit the US.

A study some time ago in Florida showed that for each 82 visas issued in Brazil, one job in Florida is created. And the US embassy and consulates in Brazil issues tens of thousands of visas each year. (Just do the math on the 1.3 million visitors in Orlando and you will see that about 16,000 jobs were created just from Brazil.)

So with this kind of job-creating power, why do so many in the Congress want to cut the State Department’s budget? (The Ryan Plan — the gold standard for the GOP — wants to reduce the State Dept. to about 30 percent of its current size in 10 years.)

But that is a different issue.

For now, the issue is LOCAL news organizations need to pay attention to how they are affected by INTERNATIONAL events and circumstances.

In the case of Orlando and Brazil, the only reason so many Brazilians are able to go to Orlando is because Brazil has become a more wealthy country with a growing middle class. (And yes, the visas.) And Brazil got that way thanks to a lot of international trade and training, that included programs from the States.

Think about it, countries facing revolutions or economic upheavals do not make it easy for people to earn enough money to visit the US and spend money.

So yes, American journalists must keep track of what is going on overseas because much of what happens elsewhere can — and often does — have a DIRECT effect on LOCAL economies and individuals.

 

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Filed under Connections, Jobs, South America, Story Ideas