We need to talk about the military regime. I don’t think the issue has received the attention it deserves. Some stories from the period of dictatorship in Brazil are famous, such as the kidnapping of the American ambassador by the communist guerrilla, and how the US was a key supporter of the regime. However, many Brazilians are still unaware of the atrocities that happened from 1964 to 1985. Our neighbors, Argentina and Chile, have publicly examined the crimes committed against human rights during their dictatorships regimes but Brazil…let’s just say Brazil is not there yet. Open dialogue about the military regime remains limited and consequently, my generation—born after 1985—is at risk of forgetting what we as a nation have been through.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana words carry a timely lesson for Brazil as the country approaches the one-year countdown for its 2018 presidential election.
Vitória da Conquista, BA, October 8th: Child dies from stray bullet; two other teenagers are also shot.
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, November 29th: Five young men are shot dead inside car in the North Zone of Rio.
Porto Alegre, RS, December 8th: Dead boy in Vila Cruzeiro lost cousin in the same way three years ago.
When it took effect in 2012, Brazil’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was seen as a revolution in the fight against secrecy and bureaucracy. Yet, albeit necessary, the law has since proved to be insufficient in ensuring transparency and accountability in the public sector. In 2014, Transparency Audit Network, an initiative based at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in Rio de Janeiro, submitted over 500 electronically freedom of information requests to eight jurisdictions. Only 31 percent got full responses – a very low rate that shows governments still have a long way to go to comply with transparency regulations.
Brazil is South America’s largest economy, the seventh largest economy in the world, and was considered, for many years, as a favorite for investors. For the past decade, Brazil has benefited from a global commodities boom. During President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s two terms in office, Brazil enjoyed rapid economic growth by capitalizing off of soaring commodities prices and a booming China willing to purchase iron ore, oil, and soya beans from Brazil. Brazil’s commodities boosted tax revenue and the Lula administration was able to create a government cash-transfer program that helped 30 million Brazilians escape poverty. As a result, consumer spending expanded. More recently, however, Brazil’s economy has started to tank due to the commodities bust and China’s sluggishly performing economy. Making matters worse, Brazilian officials are indecisive on what actions to take to enhance economic performance.
A culture of corruption and a weak judicial system hinder Petrobras probe
by Enrique Xavier López
In Giant—George Stevens’ 1956 Hollywood blockbuster—oil tycoon Jett Rink, played by 24-year-old James Dean, is a man blinded by greed and corruption. In this classic rise-and-fall story, Rink is able to extend his wealth and influence beyond the oil business, where even the sitting governor and U.S. Senator of Texas are at his every beck and call. The climactic scene unfolds when Rink, who in his youth was a poor wildcatter, attends an Austin gala honoring his success. After a brief squabble with his longtime rival, Bick Benedict, Rink staggers into the party drunk, takes his seat at the head table, and then passes out. All the politicians and guests leave in disgust, and an almost incoherent Rink ends up speaking to an empty room.