Arguments For and Against Macron’s Mercosur Threat

French president Emmanuel Macron answers a question from a reporter in Helsinki, Finland, August 30, 2018
French president Emmanuel Macron answers a question from a reporter in Helsinki, Finland, August 30, 2018 (Office of the President of the Republic of Finland/Juhani Kandell)

French president Emmanuel Macron has threatened to hold up ratification of an EU trade deal with Mercosur unless Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro does more to fight fires in the Amazon Rainforest.

Canada, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands have backed Macron up. Germany is less sure. Donald Trump is expected to side with Bolsonaro at the G7 summit this weekend.

Here are the arguments for and against the threat. Read more

Brazil’s Presidential Election Is Up in the Air

Former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and Dilma Rousseff hold hands, March 17, 2016
Former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva and Dilma Rousseff hold hands, March 17, 2016 (Agência Brasil/José Cruz)

Brazil’s presidential election is less than four months away, yet it’s still far from clear what will happen. Read more

Chile Shows Better Way to Neighbors in Crisis

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Chilean president Michelle Bachelet attend a multilateral summit in Lima, Peru, November 20, 2016
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Chilean president Michelle Bachelet attend a multilateral summit in Lima, Peru, November 20, 2016 (Gobierno de Chile)

Whether change comes swiftly or slowly, a deafness to cries for change can discredit not just politicians or political parties but whole systems of government.

This has already happened in Venezuela. It’s in the process of happening in Brazil. Chile, however slowly, is showing a better way. Read more

Political Victory for Temer During Anxious Times for Brazil

President Michel Temer of Brazil gives a speech in Brasília, December 13
President Michel Temer of Brazil gives a speech in Brasília, December 13 (Palácio do Planalto/Marcos Corrêa)

Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, scored a major political victory last week when Congress passed a constitutional amendment that limits public spending for the next twenty years.

This was no small feat, given that 63 percent of Brazilians, according to one recent poll, want Temer out. Read more

Rousseff Leaves But Brazil’s Problems Remain

Brazilian Workers' Party leader Dilma Rousseff is interviewed in her office in Brasília, August 2
Brazilian Workers’ Party leader Dilma Rousseff is interviewed in her office in Brasília, August 2 (Roberto Stuckert Filho)

By the end of this month, not only will the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio have come and gone; it is also likely that the left-wing Dilma Rousseff will have finally been removed from the presidency.

Neither will occur without incident. Nor will they solve Brazil’s increasingly confused, complex and confrontational state of affairs, from a messy entanglement of impeachment proceedings to the possibility of fresh elections to the worst economic recession in Brazilian history. Read more

Brazil to Muddle Through After Rousseff Suspended

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil makes a statement in Brasília, April 18
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil makes a statement in Brasília, April 18 (Blog do Planalto/Roberto Stuckert Filho)

Brazil’s Senate voted early on Thursday to continue the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, forcing the left-wing leader to step down for six months in favor of her deputy, Michel Temer.

55 to 22 senators voted to suspend Rousseff, who was elected to a second term in October 2014.

The charge against her is that she fiddled the budget figures in an election year to mask a deficit.

But those allegations are almost beside the point, especially when more than half the legislators deciding Rousseff’s fate are themselves under investigation for bribery, electoral fraud or worse. The real issue is the president’s inability to stem Brazil’s slide into its worst recession since the 1930s.

Low oil prices and a sprawling corruption scandal at the state petroleum company where she used to be a board member have also cut off a source of patronage for Rousseff’s Workers’ Party. This, more than anything, may have convinced the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the country’s largest, to withdraw its support from Rousseff. Read more

The Origins of Brazil’s Political Dysfunction

Presidents John F. Kennedy of the United States and João Goulart of Brazil meet in Washington DC, April 4, 1962
Presidents John F. Kennedy of the United States and João Goulart of Brazil meet in Washington DC, April 4, 1962 (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

Brazil’s political dysfunction reaches far beyond the attempt to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Up to 60 percent of the 594 congressmen who will decide her fate are under some kind of investigation, whether on charges of bribery, electoral fraud or even homicide.

“The congressional pot is calling the presidential kettle black, except that the pot is much bigger and darker,” writes Uri Friedman in The Atlantic. Read more