Numbers of the week: Nov. 2, 2019

and . Nov 02, 2019
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This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. Random numbers that help explain what is going on around the country. This week: 600 days of the Marielle Franco murders, interest rates at an all-time low, Brazilians leaving the country, fires in the Pantanal. 

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600 days

Monday will mark the 600th day since

the assassination of <a href="">Rio City Councilor Marielle Franco</a> and her driver, Anderson Gomes. The case is a paramount example of shoddy police work—even for Brazil&#8217;s already-paltry standards. Despite a few arrests having been made, we still don&#8217;t know exactly who killed Marielle —and, more importantly, who <em>ordered</em> the hit. All evidence so far points to a crime sponsored by the armed militias which dominate several areas of Rio de Janeiro and have deep connections to the city&#8217;s political establishment. Since the Marielle case was opened, several pieces of sealed information have been leaked to the press, as well as suspicions that militias have paid off law enforcement agents to tamper with police work. </p> <script src="" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <p>This week, the latest pathetic display of amateurism came after reports that the alleged driver of the crime&#8217;s getaway car <a href="">visited President Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s housing complex</a> hours before Marielle was killed. Prosecutors were quick to say that evidence proved the alleged connection between the president and the perpetrators didn&#8217;t exist. Still, the episode showed how porous the secrecy around the case is, which could lead Brazil&#8217;s Supreme Court of Justice—the second-highest in the country—to remove Rio&#8217;s police from the case and hand over jurisdiction to the Federal Police.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Institutional Act No. 5</h2> <p>Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro suggested that &#8220;if the left continues to radicalize,&#8221; his father, President Jair Bolsonaro, should enact a throwback version of one of the most infamous political instruments ever used in Brazilian politics: <a href="">Institutional Act No. 5</a>. Issued by the military dictatorship on December 13, 1968, it served to institutionalize the generals’ practices of torture, repression, and censorship, signaling the beginning of <a href="">Brazil’s Years of Lead</a>. After an intense—and expected—backlash, Eduardo offered a half-hearted apology, which wasn&#8217;t enough to prevent the House Speaker to evoke a possible punishment to the congressman. If the political establishment decides to push for sanctions (which could even lead to Eduardo Bolsonaro&#8217;s impeachment) <a href="">the president&#8217;s political strength would be put to the test</a>.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>5 percent a year</h2> <p>Brazil&#8217;s benchmark interest rate has reached a new all-time low: 5 percent per year. The move could bring a sort of revolution in the country: forcing investors to take more risks. According to economics professor Paula Sauer of the São Paulo Advertising and Marketing School (ESPM), over BRL 2.1 trillion is currently allocated in fixed-income funds. With historically low interest rates, however, these investments have almost entirely lost their profitability. Ms. Sauer says that funds with administration fees of 0.5 percent or more are no longer making investors money. Ironically, savings accounts—Brazilians&#8217; favorite form of investment—have become a bad choice to save money. At the current rates, a BRL 1,000 deposit would be worth just BRL 998 after 12 months.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the São Paulo benchmark stock index has reached new record highs, closing the day on Friday at 108,196 and reaching an intra-day high of 108,496.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>USD 10 billion</h2> <p>After visiting China and Japan, President Jair Bolsonaro took his roadshow on to the Middle East. After a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Mr. Bolsonaro announced that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund would <a href="">invest USD 10 billion in Brazil</a>. The President&#8217;s Chief of Staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, was quoted as saying a council with representatives of both governments will decide where the investments should be made. However, there is a consensus that infrastructure will be the initial target. Mr. Lorenzoni indicated that BRL 3 billion should go into the Ferrogrão railway (which connects Brazil’s <a href="">soybean-producing regions</a> to ports in the North).</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>462-percent bump</h2> <p>Data from the National Institute of Space Research (Inpe) shows that the number of fires in the Pantanal biome so far in 2019 is 462 percent higher than last year. 2018 was a quiet year as far as Pantanal fires were concerned, with only 1,507 cases. This year, with two months remaining, the region has already seen 8,479 blazes. Meanwhile, after the international crisis sparked by an uptick of <a href="">fires in the Amazon region</a>, October saw the lowest number of incidents for the month since 1998, indicating that the government&#8217;s strategy of deploying the Armed Forces has been successful.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>17 dead</h2> <p>Early on Wednesday morning, a &#8220;confrontation&#8221; between military police officers and criminal gangs in the northern city of Manaus left 17 people dead. No members of law enforcement were injured and the police vehicles used in the operation were completely unscathed. Local military police commander Ayrton Norte claimed that they had received a tip-off that &#8220;at least 50&#8221; armed criminals were in transit in the south zone of the city, and the group planned to attack a rival criminal faction.&nbsp;</p> <p>The North of Brazil is one of the <a href="">most violent parts of the country</a> and the latest figures show Manaus city has a murder rate of 55.9 per 100,000 inhabitants—if it were its own country, the state capital would be the third-deadliest nation in the world. To learn more about murder in Manaus, check out <a href="">our review</a> of hit Netflix documentary <a href=""><em>Killer Ratings</em></a>.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>22,327 people leaving</h2> <p>According to data from Brazil&#8217;s Federal Revenue Service, 22,327 citizens have filed definitive leave tax declarations so far in 2019. These documents are part of the proper procedure to be followed by people emigrating from Brazil and represent the &#8220;official&#8221; number of citizens to have moved to another country—though actual numbers are much higher. Regardless, the total of 22,327 people up to October 20 means that 2019 is on course to be <a href="">the biggest year for definitive exits from Brazil</a>, set to break the previous record of 23,231, set last year.

Euan Marshall

Originally from Scotland, Euan Marshall is a journalist who ditched his kilt and bagpipes for a caipirinha and a football in 2011, when he traded Glasgow for São Paulo. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics and the connection between the two, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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