SÃO PAULO — Report for The Monocle Daily radio programme on the inauguration of the Universal Church’s new ‘Mega Temple’ – a replica of the Temple of Solomon – in São Paulo.
Monthly Archives: July 2014
SÃO PAULO – Brazil has approved a record number of refugee applications, including for 532 Syrian nationals, the country’s National Committee for Refugees announced on Wednesday.
Some 680 applications for refugee status were approved on Wednesday alone, more than all applications given the green light in 2013, the committee, which is linked to the Brazilian National Justice Secretariat, said.
The raft of new approvals – the first since a new resolution simplified procedures set out by the country – means the Brazilian refugee population grew to 6,588, an increase of around 10 percent.
Brazil woke from a foreign policy slumber last week and waded into the world’s most complex geopolitical conflict.
As the number of civilian deaths in Gaza continued to climb to disturbing levels, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry issued a short statement saying it considered the “escalation of violence” between Israel and Palestine “unacceptable” and “strongly condemned the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip.”
Brazil said it would recall its ambassador in Israel for consultation — an act of protest in diplomatic terms — which effectively fractured ties with Israel. The Palestinians praised Brazil for the strong diplomatic gesture, but Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “Such steps do not contribute to promote calm and stability in the region,” provide a “tailwind to terrorism” and affect “Brazil’s capacity to wield influence.”
SÃO PAULO – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned Israel’s military offensive in Gaza as “disproportionate” and a “massacre” on Monday, joining international calls for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Speaking with journalists at a forum organised by the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, Rousseff said calls for an end to the bloodshed made by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made earlier on Monday were “extremely welcome”.
“I think what is happening in Gaza is extremely dangerous; it is a massacre. It is not a genocide that is being waged, but a disproportionate action,” Rousseff said, echoing statements released by the Brazilian foreign ministry.
SÃO PAULO – Israel has lambasted Brazil over a decision to recall its ambassador for consultations in protest at Israel’s ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Brazil’s actions “do not contribute to promote calm and stability in the region”.
“Rather, they provide tailwind to terrorism, and naturally affect Brazil’s capacity to wield influence,” the statement continued.
(UPDATE: Brazil is now studying its response to comments from Israel that it is “politically irrelevant”, possibly from President Rousseff personally, according to the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.)
SÃO PAULO – Market analysts in Brazil have predicted, for the first time, that the country’s economy will expand by less than 1% in 2014, according to a Central Bank report published on Monday.
Analysts now believe the Brazilian economy will grow by 0.97% this year, according to the bank’s most recent Focus Bulletin, after analysts cut their GDP (gross domestic product) growth forecasts for an eighth consecutive week.
The figures, based on a survey of around 100 Brazilian economists, are the worst estimate recorded since the Central Bank began publishing the data. Last week the figure stood at 1.05%.
The news is yet another blow to the economic credentials of the government of President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking re-election in October, and is also likely to hit confidence in Latin America’s largest economy, already hampered by low confidence and concerns over above-target inflation.
SÃO PAULO – The latest poll of voters’ intentions ahead of Brazil’s upcoming general elections released late on Thursday suggests that while incumbent president Dilma Rousseff remains in the lead by a comfortable margin, a second round would be required and is currently too close to call.
The latest Datafolha poll showed Rousseff, presidential hopeful for the leftist Workers’ Party, had fallen two points since the last poll at the beginning of July, with 36% of respondents’ votes.
Aécio Neves, Rousseff’s nearest rival from the right-leaning Brazilian Social Democracy Party, again garnered 20% of votes, ranking him second, with third place going to Brazilian Socialist Party candidate Eduardo Campos who dropped one point, to 8%.
BRASÍLIA – Brazil and China signed a raft of agreements at a signing ceremony in the Brazilian capital, Brasília, on Thursday, that was attended by presidents Dilma Rousseff and Xi Jinping.
Among the 32 agreements signed are contracts for the sale of 40 airliners by Brazilian manufacturer Embraer to China’s Tianjin Airlines, and 20 E-190 jets to ICBC Leasing.
China also signed commitments to a number of huge infrastructure projects in Brazil, including the building of a new intelligent, digital city in Tocantins state, and the installation of transmission cables to Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, on the Xingu River.