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Numbers of the week: Oct. 17, 2020

. Oct 17, 2020
military inflation vaccine football jobs elections coronavirus deaths fake news UN charter coronavirus deaths Health Ministry data, economic reopening ... Brazil's numbers this week

This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: a smelly corruption scandal; record unemployment; Brazil’s newest billionaire; a hush-hush military exercise; and Brazilians’ mistrust of the press. 

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BRL 15,000 “between the buttocks”

This week, the government’s deputy whip in the Senate Chico Rodrigues was targeted

by a Federal Police investigation into the embezzlement of BRL 15 million earmarked for the fight against Covid-19 by members of Congress. Marshals found around BRL 30,000 in cash in the senator’s home, including BRL 18,000 hidden in his underwear and an extra BRL 15,000 soiled by being stashed “<a href="https://brazilian.report/cartoons/2020/10/15/giving-dirty-money-a-new-meaning-the-brazilian-report/">between his buttocks</a>,” according to the police report.</p> <p>Afraid of being tainted (pardon the pun) by the scandal, the government relieved Mr. Rodrigues of his deputy whip duties — and the Supreme Court ordered his suspension from office. But for the senator to be suspended, the ruling must be confirmed by the Senate floor.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>14 million unemployed</h2> <p>Over the past week, around 700,000 people joined the ranks of jobless workers in Brazil, bringing the total tally to a record-high <a href="https://agenciadenoticias.ibge.gov.br/agencia-noticias/2012-agencia-de-noticias/noticias/29181-desemprego-atinge-14-milhoes-de-pessoas-na-quarta-semana-de-setembro">14 million people</a>, or 14.4 percent of the Brazilian workforce. &#8220;The data suggests that more people are starting to look for work after months of social distancing,&#8221; said Maria Lucia Vieira, of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>9.7 million workers lost part (or all) of their salaries</h2> <p>Between April to September, 9.7 million Brazilian workers had their wages reduced or their <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2020/09/24/brazils-unemployment-rises-as-isolation-goes-down/">contracts suspended</a> by employers. The government has allowed companies to use this measure as a way of avoiding terminations —&nbsp;but some economists fear the move might only be delaying the problem.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Just 16 percent say news media is &#8220;very trustworthy&#8221;</h2> <p>A <a href="https://www.poder360.com.br/poderdata/61-dizem-que-informacoes-publicadas-pela-imprensa-sao-mais-ou-menos-confiaveis/">new poll</a> by PoderData asked 2,500 Brazilians from all states about their views on the press. Only 16 percent said news outlets are &#8220;very trustworthy&#8221; — down 4 points from September. Meanwhile, 61 percent say the media is &#8220;somewhat trustworthy.&#8221;&nbsp;</p> <p>Perceptions of the media are consistent across all educational levels. The outlying demographics are 16-to-24-year-olds and wealthier people — both groups which tend to place more trust in the news. Moreover, supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro are disproportionately less trusting of the press: 29 percent of them say media outlets are &#8220;not very trustworthy,&#8221; 17 percentage points more than among Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s detractors.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>50 cities reopen cinemas</h2> <p>All microregions within the São Paulo state have entered the <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/10/09/sao-paulo-reaches-penultimate-phase-of-covid-19-reopening/">second-to-last phase</a> of the state government&#8217;s reopening plan. In theory, all 645 municipalities can authorize cinemas to reopen — but mayors are treading lightly. So far, 50-plus Brazilian cities have given theaters the green light to reopen, including 11 state capitals. Cinemas, however, must observe strict safety protocols and force moviegoers to wear masks.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>BRL 20-billion net worth</h2> <p>Brazil has discovered another billionaire: 57-year-old retail mogul Ilson Mateus. He entered Forbes&#8217; billionaire list after disclosing the finances of his retail group, as part of <a href="https://exame.com/exame-in/ipos-grupo-mateus-faz-maior-oferta-do-ano-e-startups-testam-sua-vez/">Brazil&#8217;s biggest initial public offering</a> of the year — the Mateus Group is valued at roughly BRL 20 billion.</p> <p>Born in Maranhão, Brazil&#8217;s poorest state, Mr. Mateus started working at the age of 12 — and by his late teens he had an unsuccessful spell working as a gold miner. His empire started inconspicuously in 1986, by opening up a grocery store in Balsas, a city in Maranhão where soybean production was booming. Now, his group owns 137 brick-and-mortar stores in the North and Northeast region —&nbsp;a territory largely ignored by the high circles of financial markets.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>3,600 military troops</h2> <p>After the Brazilian government decided to <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/10/07/venezuelan-embassy-big-enough-both-brasilia/">make all Venezuelan diplomats <em>personae non gratae</em></a> in the country, the Army ran military tests in the Amazon, simulating war against a hypothetical “red country.” The operation involved 3,600 troops and was observed by members of the U.S. military. The exercise took place between September 8 and 22 — on September 18, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Brazilian-Venezuelan border, lashing out at the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro. </p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>11 infected cabinet members</h2> <p>Communications Minister Fábio Faria reported this week that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Thus, he entered the list of 11 cabinet ministers of the Bolsonaro government who have caught the virus. Last week, Mr. Faria was at a dinner party with other politicians and, shortly thereafter, several guests tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Ariádne Mussato

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