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 “Arguments For and Against Macron’s Mercosur Threat”

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 “Chile Shows Better Way to Neighbors in Crisis”

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 “Political Victory for Temer During Anxious Times for Brazil”

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 “Rousseff Leaves But Brazil’s Problems Remain”

Brazil to Muddle Through After Rousseff Suspended

Dilma Rousseff
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff answers questions from reporters in Brasília, March 11 (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 “Brazil to Muddle Through After Rousseff Suspended”

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 “The Origins of Brazil’s Political Dysfunction”

Rousseff’s Impeachment Might Solve Little

Dilma Rousseff
President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil answers questions from reporters in Ufa, Russia, July 9, 2015 (Blog do Planalto)

Lawmakers in Brazil took the first step toward impeaching President Dilma Rousseff on Monday when a committee voted to initiate proceedings to remove her.

A full vote in the lower house of Congress is expected later this week. If a majority votes to impeach, Rousseff would have to stand down pending a trial in the Senate.

Vice President Michel Temer would then take over. Business leaders are hoping that he will restore confidence and allow Brazil to start climbing out of the economic hole it has dug for itself under Rousseff.

Maybe. But there are many reasons to be skeptical. Read more “Rousseff’s Impeachment Might Solve Little”

Rousseff’s Future Uncertain After PMDB Defection

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff answers questions from reporters in Brasília, March 11
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff answers questions from reporters in Brasília, March 11 (Blog do Planalto/Roberto Stuckert Filho)

The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) pulled out of the Latin American country’s ruling coalition this week, forcing President Dilma Rousseff to scramble for new allies ahead of an impeachment vote that could be called as early as mid-April.

The president would need 172 abstentions or votes in her favor in the lower chamber of Congress to survive an impeachment motion.

Vem Pra Rua, a civil society group, estimates that currently only 119 lawmakers are firmly on Rousseff’s side. Another 128 are undecided. Many of them are PMDB deputies.

The impeachment proceedings are the public face of what is really a political struggle to push Rousseff out. The formal case against the president rest on the allegation that she used an accounting trick to disguise a budget deficit in 2014, the year of her reelection — hardly the sort of offensive that would seem to require her ouster when there has been plenty of actual abuse of power to go around. Read more “Rousseff’s Future Uncertain After PMDB Defection”

Rousseff’s Presidency in Hands of Big-Tent Allies

President Dilma Rousseff looks on as her vice president, Michel Temer, shakes hands with state officials in Brasília, March 2
President Dilma Rousseff looks on as her vice president, Michel Temer, shakes hands with state officials in Brasília, March 2 (Marcos Corrêa)

Dilma Rousseff’s presidency hangs in the balance this weekend as police in São Paulo needed to fire tear gas and water cannon to clear mass protests and the lower house of Congress starts impeachment proceedings.

Last week, as many as three millions Brazilians took to the streets to demand Rousseff’s resignation.

Her inability to lift the country out of recession and corruption scandals that have now even tainted her popular predecessor, Lula da Silva, have weakened Rousseff’s position.

Her faith rests with the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), the country’s largest political force and its perennial kingmaker. Read more “Rousseff’s Presidency in Hands of Big-Tent Allies”