Brazil. In early October, for the second time in three months, the Chamber of Deputies voted against putting President Michel Temer before state law for a range of crimes, including obstruction of justice. The president’s chief of staff Eliseu Padilha and the secretary of the presidential office, Wellington Moreira, who are both accused of the same thing, also succeeded. According to Countryaah.com, the decision meant that at least Temer would probably escape legal proceedings during the remainder of his presidential term ending 2018, while Padilha and Moreira were more uncertain. However, the vote figures showed that one of Temer’s government parties, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), was split on the issue. During the year, three smaller parties also left the government coalition, and to repair the coalition somewhat, Temer carried out a government reform in mid-October.
Otherwise, the year was constantly dominated by new scandals in the wake of the major corruption scandals in recent years, and which also showed Temer’s involvement. In May, for example, a secret recording of a call was unveiled in which the president authorized an illegal payment to the former Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, the now incarcerated Eduardo Cunha, who was driving in the judicial process against President Dilma Rousseff. The hearing with her predecessor Lula da Silva about his involvement in corruption began in May. Protests against the government also continued, with a general strike on April 28 that led to violence in, among others, São Paulo, and some of the most violent scenes ever in the capital, Brazil, were played on May 25, when unions demonstrated new reform packages.
In late September, at the request of Rio de Janeiro’s governor, the army stormed the city’s largest favela, Rocinha, where a conflict between rival drug gangs had escalated into a veritable war. Similar actions are increasingly occurring; as early as July the military was involved in the fight against violence. The outbreak of violence in Rocinha in September shocked the Rio Borers after the murder rate in the city began to decline since a pacification program (Unidades de Polícia Pacificadora, UP) was launched in 2008. Critics said the decision to send in military would only exacerbate the spiral of violence. At the same time, figures were published showing that 1,195 murders or deaths a week, or one every eight minutes, were committed in Brazil. The violence also harmed victims in the much strained prison system. At the beginning of the year, violence between various criminal gangs erupted at several prisons in the Amazon, Rio Grande do Norte and Roraima. A total of over 130 prisoners were killed.
President Temer’s decision at the end of August to allow mineral exploitation in the Renca National Park in the Amazon (with an area equivalent to the size of Denmark) attracted considerable international attention and consternation. An environmentalist senator called it the worst attack on the Amazon in 50 years. Following harsh national and international criticism, the decision was later withdrawn.
One scandal, which also had international consequences, was the disclosure in March in connection with a corruption legacy that 21 Brazilian meat exporters sold counterfeit, old meat. Several countries and the EU stopped all Brazilian meat imports and meat exports, which is one of the country’s most important sources of income, fell by 21% in one week. But several of the countries, including China, called for a halt after the government shortly withdrew the meat lots that were sold and published new control routines. The temporary trade stoppage had no major consequences for Brazilian exports; In April, a trade surplus of $ 7.14 billion was registered, the largest since 1989.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor arrested
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella has been arrested, just nine days before his term expires. The judge who has led the investigation accuses Crivella of leading a criminal organization from inside the mayor’s office, with the aim of enriching himself. Crivella, one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s close allies, claims he is being persecuted politically. During his re-election campaign, Crivella accused his opponent Eduardo Paes of corruption, saying he belongs in prison. Paes won the election with 64 percent of the vote against 36 for Crivella. Recently, the state governor of Rio de Janeiro was fired due to allegations of corruption (see August 28, 2020).
Bolsonaro: “Pandemic soon over”
President Jair Bolsonaro says that Brazil is in the final stages of the corona pandemic, despite the fact that infection and deaths in covid-19 continue to increase. According to Bolsonaro, the Brazilian government has been the best, or at least one of the best, in the world at dealing with the pandemic. The statement is criticized by the opposition, which points out that nearly 180,000 people have died in covid-19 in Brazil, the second highest figure in the world (after the United States) and a relatively high figure even per capita.
Call for mining in the Amazon
Indigenous leaders hand over a petition with more than 400,000 signatures to Congress, demanding that people engaged in illegal mining be expelled from Yanomami’s lands in the Amazon, as they spread the coronavirus. The collection of signatures has been going on since June and is a protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s support for an expansion of agriculture and mining in the rainforest. The corona pandemic has hit Brazil’s indigenous people hard. According to indigenous peoples’ associations and non-profit organizations, around 20,000 illegal miners live in the Yanomami area, a 96,000 square kilometer area on the border with Venezuela.