How to talk Brazilian politics at the holiday dinner table

. Dec 20, 2017
How to talk Brazilian politics at the holiday dinner table Brazilian politics can split families. Photo: Guilherme Stecanella

In a country marred by political polarization, mealtime conversations about Brazilian politics can quickly turn your house into the Thunderdome. But never fear, fact-checking agency Aos Fatos, a partner institution of The Brazilian Report, has come up with data to help you stand your ground when talking to that uncle who bases his opinions on faulty generalizations.

For the 2017 holiday season, Aos Fatos has selected a few topics that will certainly make you cringe – fearing that your family’s holiday dinner might end up in an awkward atmosphere.

« Lula’s was convicted by Federal Judge Sérgio Moro without any proof of wrongdoing »

Lula was found guilty of accepting a beachfront triplex apartment from a construction firm as a bribe (valued at BRL 3.7 million), paid in exchange for Lula’s actions to favor the company during his administration.

The Workers’ Party is not right when it claims that Moro’s verdict is only based on statements made by Operation Car Wash defendants during plea-bargain testimony. The judge cites several times documents found during sweeps at Lula’s apartment.

Moro used contracts between Lula, his wife, and the construction company to show that the former President didn’t pay for the triplex apartment – and yet was still its sole user. Documents in the name of Lula’s late wife, Marisa Letícia, were also admitted as evidence. Marisa’s tax returns and contracts with the construction firm helped incriminate Lula, according to Moro.

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« Is right-wing presidential hopeful Jair Bolsonaro corrupt? »

Jair Bolsonaro’s name appears on a list of bribes paid by the JBS meatpacking company to 28 parties during the 2014 election. This list was turned in by a former JBS executive, who added that each politician on the list was paid BRL 200,000. Bolsonaro officially declared the donation and isn’t, so far, a target of any authority.

In April, Bolsonaro was convicted to pay BRL 50,000 for having uttered racist comments. The congressman said he would appeal the verdict.

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« Did gas prices skyrocket during Dilma Rousseff’s or Michel Temer’s administration? »

According to Brazil’s National Petrol Agency (ANP), fuel prices, indeed, have never been higher. But no, they didn’t start to rise only after Dilma Rousseff was ousted from office in 2016. The rise is constant, having its highs and its lows – but always in an upward trend.

When we calculate the average price per administration, we also get to the conclusion that fuel was never as expensive as it is now. However, the biggest proportional rise happened between Dilma Rousseff’s first and second terms. Gasoline, for instance, rose by 21 percent over that period. Meanwhile, diesel rose by 28 percent.

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« Is the bill that would forbid abortions in all cases (including rape) based on qualified scientific data? »

In November, the House’s Justice Committee approved a bill essentially forbidding abortions in any case, including for rape victims. Defenders of the bill claimed that “in the near future, we will be able to develop human life outside of the mother’s body from conception – demonstrating that life starts at conception.”

In April, a study published in Nature magazine demonstrated the positive effects of the “Biobag,” an artificial uterus that was tested on eight premature sheep fetuses. After four weeks in the Biobag, scientists noticed no problem with the fetuses, even with their most vulnerable organs. The study’s lead author, Alan Flake, said that there was no possibility of a full gestation. “It’s complete science fiction to think that you can take an embryo and get it through the early developmental process and put it on our machine without the mother being the critical element there,” he says.

In May 2016, a group of American scientists managed to keep an embryo alive outside of a mother’s body for 13 days, but the research was interrupted as there is a 14-day limit for embryos to be kept alive in labs. It means that science has not advanced in this field as much as it could have due to ethical barriers.

Still, there are only a few studies dealing with artificial pregnancies. Today, researchers are more worried about decreasing fetus mortality and ensuring that the baby’s formation is complete – even outside of the uterus.

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« Will outsourcing make labor more precarious? »

When it comes to salaries, there are several differences in how workers are affected by the government’s bill allowing companies to outsource all kinds of labor – even core activities.

An August 2015 study published by Fundação Getulio Vargas, a think tank, reveals that while outsourced workers do get less money than the ones hired through the traditional labor legislation, that impact varies according to the worker’s level of qualification.

On average, outsourced workers receive salaries that are 17 percent lower. But when we exclude the impact of other factors, such as education level, age, and time in work, the impact goes down to 3 percent.

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« Do Brazilian men really work more than Brazilian women? »

Last year, Brazil’s Minister of Health claimed that “men work more than women.” A 2015 study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, however, begs to differ. According to the research, when we count both hours of formal labor combined with domestic labor, we find that women worked an extra 4 hours back in 2004. Ten years later, that gap was at 5 hours of extra work for women.

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« Did Lula and Fernando Henrique Cardoso also commit the same fiscal crimes Dilma Rousseff was impeached for? »

Dilma Rousseff was accused of conducting was is known in Brazil as “fiscal pedaling.” It consists of using state-owned banks to front funds required for paying general government obligations without officially declaring a loan, thus hiding these transfers from public scrutiny.

Fiscal pedaling under Dilma Rousseff was 35 times bigger than during the Lula’s and Cardoso’s administrations – combined. During Dilma Rousseff’s government, almost BRL 33 billion were “pedaled,” against BRL 933 million over the 16 years of Cardoso and Lula.

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Aos Fatos

Aos Fatos is a Brazilian independent fact-checking agency and a partner institution of The Brazilian Report. Aos Fatos is a signatory-member of the International Fact-Checking Network.

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