In this week’s issue: The most important facts of the week. 


THE WEEK IN REVIEW

  • Petrobras. Brazil’s oil and gas company has lost the largest labor dispute in its history. The Superior Labor Court ruled that Petrobras must consider employee benefits as part of base salary, as well as pay a BRL 17bn fine to workers and increase its annual payroll by BRL 2bn. In January, the already-indebted company settled a lawsuit worth nearly USD 3bn with U.S. investors.
  • Interest rates. As predicted, the Central Bank kept the basic interest rate at 6.5%. The bank’s president, Ilan Goldfajn, previously stated that the institution wouldn’t use the interest rate to influence exchange rates. At the same time, he said the bank would increase its swap operations to hold down the USD.
  • Operation Car Wash. The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday that the Federal Police is also able to sign plea bargain agreements with defendants – a prerogative once exclusive to prosecutors. However, the Feds cannot offer immunity to investigation targets, as it is the prosecution that decides whether or not to press charges.
    </li> <li><strong>Workers&#8217; Party. </strong>On Tuesday, the Supreme Court acquitted Sen. Gleisi Hoffmann, chairperson of the Workers’ Party. She was accused of corruption and money laundering, based on a  series of (conflicting) statements by multiple co-defendants who then became collaborators. Members of the party saw this as a sign that the court could release former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from prison – his appeal will be judged on Tuesday.  However, Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin dismissed the process.</li> <li><strong>Mercosur. </strong>Mercosur countries, led by Argentina and Uruguay, have grown frustrated with the slow pace of trade negotiations with the European Union. The countries will now focus instead on signing new deals with China, a superpower that has increasingly enhanced its economic influence in South America.</li> </ul> <hr /> <h2>Urbanization in Brazil</h2> <p>The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics launched this week a map of the country&#8217;s urban agglomerations (centers with at least 100,000 residents). The chart highlights Brazil&#8217;s low population density &#8211; with only 25 people per sq km &#8211; as opposed to the 20,204 people/sq-km in Macau, the world&#8217;s densest place.</p> <p><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-24488" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/unnamed-6.jpg" alt="Urbanization in Brazil" width="750" height="682" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/unnamed-6.jpg 750w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/unnamed-6-300x273.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/unnamed-6-610x555.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 750px) 100vw, 750px" /></p> <hr /> <h2>In Brazil, candidates are allowed to ask for likes and money &#8211; but not votes</h2> <p>Brazil&#8217;s campaign calendar is very strict. Parties must register their candidates by  August 15, with the &#8220;actual&#8221; campaign only starting the following day. Right now, the country is in the pre-campaign stage &#8211; there is one small but significant difference between these two phases.</p> <p>In the pre-campaign, candidates are not allowed to ask for votes. Doing so &#8211; or even presenting themselves as candidates &#8211; could result in fines and, in extreme cases,  exclusion from the ballot. Brazil&#8217;s electoral legislation only mentions &#8220;explicit demands for votes,&#8221; so candidates can travel the country, make speeches, take part in debates and discuss public policies &#8211; as long as they keep the V-word out of it.</p> <h4>In search of likes</h4> <p>That&#8217;s why candidates are investing big bucks into sponsoring posts on <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/daily-briefing/2019/04/10/facebook-losing-steam-brazil/">social media</a>, mainly Facebook and Twitter. It&#8217;s a legal way to reach voters and broadcast their message to targeted audiences.</p> <p>A study by the Federal University of Minas Gerais shows that 12 of the 19  &#8216;pre-candidates&#8217; have already sponsored posts on social media since April. That is,  however, one of the only sources of information on the issue, as candidates, until  August 16, are not required to inform their expenses with ads.</p> <p>When the &#8220;real&#8221; <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/campaign-to-take-down-amazon-is-being-funded-by-amazons-biggest-rivals-2019-09-20">campaign</a> starts, they will have to declare any expense with  sponsoring posts as &#8220;electoral advertising.&#8221;</p> <h4>&#8220;Make a donation!&#8221;</h4> <p>New electoral legislation has introduced, for the first time in Brazilian history, the possibility of electoral crowdfunding. Only seven presidential hopefuls have created their campaigns, though. Since a month ago, people &#8211; <span class="il">but</span> <span class="il">not</span> companies &#8211; can donate up to BRL 1,064 via the internet. Anything above that must be wired through a bank.</p> <p>So far, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leads the race for donations, with BRL 280,000, with conservative candidate João Amôedo coming in second, with BRL 228,000.

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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.