France's Emmanuel Macron (L) and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Frederico Mellado / ARG

Today, President Jair Bolsonaro at the G20. The investigation into a corruption scheme alleged headed by the Tourism Minister. And the government’s shrinking popularity.

At G20, Bolsonaro delegation hits back at criticism from Europe

It has not been the best of starts for Jair Bolsonaro and his team at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Rocked by the news that one member of his advance party had been arrested with 39 kg of cocaine in Seville airport earlier this week, President Bolsonaro then faced severe criticism from major European leaders on the country’s environmental policy.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the &#8220;<a href="">dramatic</a>&#8221; deforestation situation in the Amazon, before France&#8217;s Emannuel Macron went as far as threatening not to sign a pending EU-Mercosur free trade deal if Mr. Bolsonaro went through with his plan to remove Brazil from the Paris climate change agreement.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Surrounding controversy only increased when it was announced that a meeting between Mr. Bolsonaro and Mr. Macron, originally scheduled for this afternoon, had been canceled by the French delegation.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If Brazil&#8217;s diplomacy had been renowned for its conciliatory nature and ability to broker compromises in the 2000s and 2010s, Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s administration will do nothing of the sort. The president got off the plane in Osaka complaining that he was not at the G20 to &#8220;receive recriminations&#8221; from other heads of state.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, in response to Mr. Macron, the administration&#8217;s head of Institutional Security, General Augusto Heleno, hit back at France&#8217;s criticisms. &#8220;Environment policy is totally unfair towards Brazil. Brazil is one of the countries which most protects the environment in the world. Who has the right to talk about preserving the environment in Brazil? These countries who are criticizing us? They should go and find their own lot.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jair Bolsonaro met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Osaka today, where the two leaders discussed Venezuela, the U.S.-China trade war, and Brazil&#8217;s potential insertion into the OECD. Mr. Trump was invited to visit Brazil before next year&#8217;s U.S. elections.</span></p> <hr /> <h2><b>Feds get closer to Tourism Min. in dummy candidate probe</b></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Federal Police arrested one key advisor and two campaign coordinators of Tourism Minister Marcelo Álvaro Antônio yesterday, in connection with an investigation into the use of dummy candidates by the governing Social Liberal Party (PSL) in 2018&#8217;s elections.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Minas Gerais wing of the party, of which the Tourism Minister was the chairman, is accused of funneling money from the public electoral fund to companies linked to Mr. Álvaro Antônio, by way of using phony candidates.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reporters from newspaper </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Folha de S. Paulo</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> found that a number of female candidates for state and federal representative, running for the PSL, received disproportionate amounts of campaign funds and only ended up winning a few hundred votes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After yesterday&#8217;s arrests, the Tourism Minister was quick to claim that there was no connection between the Federal Police&#8217;s investigation and the work of the advisors in the department.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When news of the scandal broke, Jair Bolsonaro said that if anything appeared linking Mr. Álvaro Antônio to unlawful practices, he would not hold onto his job &#8220;for one day more.&#8221; With the arrest of his advisors, the Tourism Minister&#8217;s sacking is said to be imminent.</span></p> <p><b>Go deeper: </b><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dummy candidate scandal could lead to firings</span></a></p> <hr /> <p><b style="font-size: 3.6rem;">Bolsonaro&#8217;s rejection rates continue to rise</b></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a survey carried out by respected pollster Ibope last week, the percentage of Brazilians who classify the Jair Bolsonaro government&#8217;s performance as &#8220;bad/terrible&#8221; has increased once more, reaching 32%. This represents an increase of 5 p.p. from the agency&#8217;s last opinion poll in April.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s rejection rate has steadily increased over his first six months of government. In January, only 11% of the population regarded his work as &#8220;bad/terrible,&#8221; a group which has almost tripled now.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The president&#8217;s support has also seen a decrease, albeit less vertiginous. The percentage of people who regard Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s administration as &#8220;good/great&#8221; has dropped from 35% in April to 32% now, putting has approval and rejection rates on a par.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Curiously, Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s support has increased in the South region of the country—currently the only part of Brazil in which the president&#8217;s work is seen as &#8220;good/great&#8221; by over one half of the population. Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s approval ratings in the South currently stand at 52%, an 8 p.p. increase on April&#8217;s results.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In contrast, the Northeast region is where the president has the least support, with his approval ratings dropping from 25% to a paltry 17%.</span></p> <p><img src="" /></p> <hr /> <h2><b>Also noteworthy</b></h2> <p><b>Jobs.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> The Annual Commerce Report of Brazil&#8217;s Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) showed that while the sector is increasing working revenue, over 410,000 jobs and 80,000 companies were lost between 2014 and 2017.</span></p> <p><b>Central Bank 1. </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">In its quarterly inflation report, Brazil&#8217;s Central Bank reduced its 2019 growth forecasts for Brazil from 2% down to 0.8%. The bank&#8217;s Focus Report, which contains a survey of over 100 financial institutions currently has the year&#8217;s GDP growth pegged at 0.87%. After the country&#8217;s economy shrank 0.2% in the first quarter of this year, the Central Bank is not ruling out the possibility of a technical recession once the Q2 results are released.</span></p> <p><b>Central Bank 2. </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Economy Minister Paulo Guedes announced a plan to reduce reserve requirements of the Central Bank and free up a total of BRL 100m for financial institutions. The measure is intended to boost consumption and allow for more credit to companies and retail clients.</span></p> <p><b>Braskem.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> A judge in the north-eastern state of Alagoas determined the freezing of BRL 3.6bn in assets of petrochemical company Braskem in order to compensate local residents affected by cracks and sinkholes in the state. The company, which belongs to the Odebrecht group, mines salt in the state, which has been highlighted as the principal cause of the structural problems which have forced hundreds out of their homes.</span></p> <p><b>Heist.</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> A criminal gang of approximately 25 members attacked a bank in the Minas Gerais town of Uberaba, before entering a protracted shootout with military police officers. After negotiations, 10 members of the group turned themselves in and freed the seven people they had been holding as hostages, including a two-year-old child and a teenager.

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Daily BriefingJun 28, 2019

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BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.