Jair Bolsonaro was targeted by many Carnival parties

In today’s issue: Bolsonaro: After golden shower, a dig at democracy. Brazil’s new strategy to push out Maduro in Venezuela. Cases of femicide up in Brazil.


Bolsonaro: After golden shower, a dig at democracy

Less than 24 hours removed from the controversy sparked by a pornographic tweet, President Jair Bolsonaro managed to do worse. During a speech at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro to honor Brazil’s

Marine Corps, he said that &#8220;democracy and freedom only exist when the Armed Forces want them to.&#8221; The phrase obviously did not sit well, in light of Brazil&#8217;s rich history of military coups. It also infuriated the government&#8217;s military wing—which nevertheless publicly backed the president.</p> <p>The speech was to be complimentary of the Armed Forces, as Mr. Bolsonaro asked them to make sacrifices in the name of his pension reform push. Instead, it sparked reactions in Congress—once again raising questions about whether or not the government will have the political strength to pass said reform. As it is, the administration is already having a hard time to consolidate its support base—controversy only gives congressional leaders more leverage in negotiations.</p> <p>Government officials are increasingly concerned with Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s social media posting and improvised speeches. Many are reportedly frustrated that the president is managing to turn positive headlines—such as a military president asking the Armed Forces to rally around a much-needed pension reform—into negative narratives for the administration.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Go deeper:</strong> <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/03/07/bolsonaro-armed-forces-speech/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Jair Bolsonaro puts his foot in it (again) with Armed Forces speech</em></a></li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Brazil&#8217;s new strategy to push out Maduro in Venezuela</h2> <p>In its latest attempt to speed up the downfall of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the Brazilian government is working on a new piece of legislation to impose immediate sanctions (such as placing under investigation or freezing assets) on companies suspected of connections with corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorism. While the rules would be for companies from any country, the target is reportedly Venezuela.</p> <p>Government sources also say the administration is preparing a &#8220;blacklist&#8221; of individuals and companies connected to Mr. Maduro. The idea is to forbid them from entering Brazil—as Colombia and Peru have done.</p> <p>Next week, Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo will head to a summit of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), in which he will try to sway Russia and China away from backing Mr. Maduro. The Brazilian diplomacy believes that, if opposition leader Juan Guaidó ensures that contracts signed by Mr. Maduro will be respected, the two powers—who are also Venezuela&#8217;s top creditors—could switch allegiances.</p> <p>In the latest chapter of Venezuela&#8217;s collapse, all but one of the country&#8217;s 23 states suffered from a prolonged power outage—with the capital, Caracas, staying in the dark for reportedly 6 hours.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Go deeper:</strong> <em><a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/01/24/brazil-spotlight-venezuela-regime/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Brazil may be in the spotlight if Venezuela shifts</a></em><a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/01/24/brazil-spotlight-venezuela-regime/"><em> regime</em></a></li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Cases of femicide up in Brazil</h2> <p>While the overall number of murdered women went down in Brazil last year—4,254 cases against 2017&#8217;s 4,558—there was an increase in the number of femicides, that is, hate crimes based on gender. Such cases went from 1,047 in 2017 to 1,135 last year, according to a study by the University of São Paulo and the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety (FBSP).</p> <p>Numbers show that gender inequality remains a deep issue in Brazil. In Latin America&#8217;s wealthiest country, 4 out of every 100,000 women are killed—a rate 74% above the international average. And that happened despite a clear advance in terms of legislation, with harsher laws against domestic violence (2006), rape (2009 and 2018), and the recognition of femicide (2015).</p> <p>Experts support more public policies destined to curb violence against women, as well as considering the specificities of this type of violence: 71% of femicides are committed by current or former partners.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Go deeper:</strong> <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/03/04/brazil-carnival-free-harassment/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Brazil mobilizes for a harassment-free Carnival</em></a></li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul> <li><strong>Corruption.</strong> Government officials believe that Tourism Minister Marcelo Antônio will soon be fired from the cabinet due to an electoral fraud scandal. A second candidate of his Social Liberal Party (PSL, the president&#8217;s party) accused him of using dummy candidates to siphon public money from electoral campaigns. Mr. Antônio is being investigated by the Federal Police. <a id="nw" name="nw"></a></li> <li><strong>Labor.</strong><strong> </strong>Informality has increased in wealthier regions of Brazil since 2016. In states like São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, informal labor has grown by roughly 4%—two times more than the national average. In poorer states, the economy is already largely informal. In Pará, for instance, 61% of workers are not registered—thus not protected by social security.</li> <li><strong>Indigenous.</strong><strong> </strong>Brazil&#8217;s agency for indigenous affairs has launched its biggest operation in 20 years to make contact with isolated Amazon tribes. The agency wants to prevent conflicts between the Korubo do Coari and the Matis, who are engaged in land disputes. The operation is an exception to the usual &#8220;zero contact&#8221; policy with isolated groups.</li> <li><strong>Automakers.</strong><strong> </strong>After Ford announced it is abandoning its São Bernardo do Campo plant, São Paulo Governor João Doria is launching a tax cut program for automakers that invest at least BRL 1bn in the state and create at least 400 jobs. Since Ford&#8217;s decision, Volkswagen has looked for more tax incentives in order to enhance production in Brazil.</li> <li><strong>Trade.</strong><strong> </strong>President Jair Bolsonaro has declared war on Ecuador&#8217;s bananas. Despite imports of the product amounting to only USD 78,700 in January and February combined, the president decided to slap protectionist measures on the fruit to please local producers (some of whom are his personal friends)—in yet another episode of disagreement with Economy Minister Paulo Guedes&#8217; philosophy.

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.