Numbers of the week: Nov 30, 2019

. Nov 30, 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 in Brazil. This week: Lula’s sentence extended, Brazil’s currency slump, volunteers freed in Amazon fire case, AIDS reductions, football bigwig banned, and the cost of doing business in Brazil. 

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17 years, 1 month and 10 days

On Wednesday, the appellate judges of a federal appellate court ruled to

uphold the conviction of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the corruption case concerning a ranch house in rural São Paulo. Moreover, the panel of three justices decided to extend Lula&#8217;s sentence, from <a href="">12 years and 11 months </a>in jail for passive corruption and money laundering, to 17 years, 1 month and 10 days.</p> <p>The decision does not affect the former president&#8217;s legal situation, however, and <a href="">he will remain at liberty</a>. A recent <a href="">Supreme Court decision</a> determined that prison sentences may only be executed after defendants receive a final and unappealable conviction, which saw Lula released from jail, having served 580 days of <a href="">another corruption sentence</a>—this time for receiving a beachfront apartment as a &#8220;favor&#8221; for benefitting construction companies.</p> <p>The decision was widely criticized by legal pundits, as the judges disobeyed another recent Supreme Court ruling stating that defendants who are accused by other defendants must provide their closing arguments last—which did not occur in Lula&#8217;s case. The judges claimed that the former president&#8217;s defense was not compromised by the order of proceedings. Some claimed the members of the TRF4 were using the media attention of the trial to gesture toward President Jair Bolsonaro, as a way of putting their own hat in the ring for the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>5.77-percent drop</h2> <p>This is how much the spot contracts for the USD rose against the Brazilian Real in November. The local currency has been hitting consecutive lows throughout the month thanks to a combination of factors, as we explained in our <a href="">November 21 story</a>. However, the slump was made worse by <a href="">remarks from Economy Minister Paulo Guedes</a>, who said the forex market would reach a new level in Brazil with lower interest rates. The Central Bank intervened and held several dollar auctions on the spot market, but the extra liquidity wasn’t enough to balance the market. As of Friday, the USD traded at BRL 4.24, after reaching up to BRL 4.27.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1016365"></div><script src=""></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>2 days in jail for &#8220;starting Amazon fires&#8221;</h2> <p>On Tuesday, the civil police in the northern Brazilian town of Santarém arrested four volunteer firefighters under suspicion of having purposefully burned down an area of the Amazon rainforest near the popular tourist destination of Alter do Chão in August. Just two days later, the judge who had ordered their preventive detention went back on his decision, releasing them while the investigation continues.</p> <p>The volunteers were taken into custody after the police claimed there was documental and photographic evidence that the quartet was involved in intentionally starting the fires in the Amazon rainforest, in order to receive donations from environmental NGOs. The case is sealed and the four deny all accusations.</p> <p>The incident gained nationwide repercussions because during the Amazon fire crisis earlier this year, President Jair Bolsonaro and many of his allies claimed that the uptick in fires was caused by NGOs, who he claimed burned areas of the Amazon in order to cast his administration in a bad light. Tuesday&#8217;s arrests served as validation for Bolsonaro&#8217;s supporters. This was short-lived, however, with the four being released after only 48 hours.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>22.8 percent</h2> <p>Between 2014 and 2018, Brazil managed to reduce AIDS-related deaths by an impressive 22.8 percent—translating into 2,500 lives spared thanks to treatment. The figure was released as part of the Ministry of Health&#8217;s 2019 Epidemiologic Bulletin, containing a wide range of statistics on Brazil&#8217;s fight against HIV/AIDS. The report comes in advance of awareness campaigns to mark World AIDS Day on December 1.</p> <p>Here are some of the main takeaways from the Ministry of Health report</p> <ul><li>Of the 900,000 Brazilians who lived with HIV in 2018, an estimated 135,000 were unaware of their condition;</li><li>Between 2014 and 2018, registered cases of AIDS in Brazil fell 13.6 percent to a total of 37,161;</li><li>52.7 percent of HIV patients in Brazil are 20–34 years old; 34 percent are men aged 25–39;</li><li>Cases of HIV among pregnant women increased by 11.5 percent between 2014 and 2018, yet cases in children under 5 fell 26.9 percent;</li><li>São Paulo has become the most populated city in the world to eliminate vertical HIV transmission (passing the virus from mother to child);</li><li>In the last 18 months, 70,000 PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) treatments were applied, as well as 60,000 PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) treatments.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>1 million Swiss Francs&nbsp;</h2> <p>Ricardo Teixeira, the former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), has been banned for life from any football-related activity by Fifa, picking up a CHF 1-million (BRL 4.25 million) fine to boot. The decision came as a result of a Fifa Ethics Committee investigation into corruption and kickbacks linked to television broadcasting deals, an offshoot of the Fifagate scandal of 2015, led by U.S. federal prosecutors and the FBI.</p> <p>Mr. Teixeira headed the CBF between 1989 and 2012, being endorsed by his ex-father-in-law João Havelange, who was Fifa president at the time. Mr. Teixeira oversaw two World Cup wins for the Brazilian national team (1994 and 2002), but his successes were vastly outnumbered by scandals—which ranged from a scandalous sponsorship contract between the Brazil side and kit manufacturer Nike, suspicions of vote-buying for the selection of World Cup host nations, to a ludicrous plan to <a href="">dodge customs taxes for himself and the Brazil football team</a> on their return from the 1994 World Cup.</p> <h2>BRL 1.5 trillion a year</h2> <p>Research from the Economy Ministry has estimated that companies operating in the country lose a combined BRL 1.5 trillion every year, with what is famously called the &#8220;<a href="">Brazil Cost</a>.&#8221; This is the name given to a series of bureaucratic and structural difficulties in doing business in Brazil, which sucks up the profits of business owners. One of the best examples of this &#8220;cost&#8221; concerns the country&#8217;s tax system: beyond an already high burden, the labyrinthine nature of the system means companies invest an average of 1,928 hours every year in order to remain compliant with tax legislation. This is 8.2 times the world average.</p> <p>The federal government has targeted bureaucracy and the Brazil Cost as one of its main goals for this administration, already pushing forward a number of measures to reduce red tape and decrease obstacles for doing business in Brazil.

Euan Marshall

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.”

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