Corruption

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — Brazil’s Supreme Court on Friday released the names of senior politicians it has authorised prosecutors to investigate for their alleged roles in a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal at state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Supreme Court minister Teori Zavascki granted investigations into 47 politicians, including 12 acting senators and 22 acting deputies, under Operation Lava Jato, or Car Wash, that is probing the vast alleged kickback scheme.

Some of Brazil’s top politicians — including acting and former congressional leaders, senators, deputies, ministers, governors, and even a former president — could now face prison sentences, if tried and convicted.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — Stocks and bonds of Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras slumped on Wednesday, after Moody’s stripped the company of its investment grade rating.

Petrobras shares on the São Paulo Bovespa stock exchange fell sharply on opening, and were still down 7 percent by 1 p.m. in the city (GMT1600), with the Ibovespa index down more than 1 percent at the same time.

The New York-based credit ratings agency announced late on Tuesday its decision to downgrade Petróleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is formally known, by two notches from Ba2 to Baa3 — from investment grade to speculative or “junk” territory. Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — The remaining two candidates in the Brazilian presidential race met with campaign teams on Monday to plan negotiations to secure rivals’ supports and redraw political battle lines ahead of the runoff on 26 October.

Sunday’s first-round vote saw incumbent and leftist Workers’ Party candidate President Dilma Rousseff take 41.5 percent of valid votes, but center-right Brazilian Social Democracy Party candidate and market favorite Aécio Neves performed unexpectedly well, finishing in second with 33.6 percent, forcing a fourth consecutive runoff between the two parties.

Former environment minister Marina Silva, running for the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), placed third with 21 percent of support, meaning elimination from the race.

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Anadolu Agency*

SÃO PAULO — Brazilian voters have been largely unmoved by accusations which surfaced this week of a major political scandal involving state-run oil company Petrobras, allegedly implicating an array of top political figures, the latest poll published on Wednesday shows.

The most recent Datafolha poll, which surveyed 10,568 eligible voters across the country on 8-9 September, shows a widening gap between the top two candidates in the first round — incumbent president and Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Dilma Rousseff, and environmentalist Socialist Party (PSB) candidate Marina Silva — who scored 36 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – Brazil’s Senate is set to vote on previously-shelved legislation banning corporate election donations after pressure from thousands of ordinary Brazilians, online activist network Avaaz reported on Thursday.

A group of 60 senators signed an urgent vote request for the newly-amended bill after receiving thousands of emails and phone calls as part of an online campaign spearheaded by the network.

“Our politicians have been for sale for far too long, with the World Cup stadiums showing how out-of-control this has become,” Avaaz campaign director Michael Freitas Mohallem said.

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Hundreds of people took to the streets of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and business centre, on Thursday night in a largely peaceful protest against the country’s hosting of the World Cup – which begins on 12 June this year at the city’s Arena Corinthians stadium.

See photos from the event

13 March 2014 - World Cup Protest in São Paulo, Brazil - Photo by Ben Tavener

World Cup Protest in São Paulo, Brazil. 13 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener.

The event, dubbed the “Third Act against the World Cup”, drew over 1,500 people onto the streets, according to police figures, although correspondents at the event say the figure appeared to be higher.

Police say 1,700 military police and riot troops were deployed to keep order, and differed greatly from the last anti-World Cup protest, on 22 February, when martial arts-trained police detained some 260 potential troublemakers in “kettles”, and tear gas and stun grenades were fired on protesters. This included at least five journalists, who were kept in the kettle despite showing their press passes.

Thursday’s march, which wound its way 10 kilometres through the heart of the city, saw only five arrests, according to police – one of which was a 15-year-old.

13 March 2014 - World Cup Protest in São Paulo, Brazil - Photo by Ben Tavener

This bank was vandalised in the mainly peaceful World Cup protest. Photo by Ben Tavener.

Military police were noticeably better behaved than before, and even acted with restraint when an explosive object – which police described as a type of ‘mortar’, was thrown at them on Avenida Paulista – the city’s central business street.

At least one bank – Banco do Brasil Estilo – was vandalised on Avenida Paulista, but businesses and wary onlookers – mainly workers and customers – were shielded by police while more volatile parts of the protest passed, with troops forming lines to seal off businesses and metro entrances.

‘No World Cup!’

The protest again ran under the banner of Não Vai Ter Copa – “There won’t be a (World) Cup” – and over 14,000 had signalled their attendance – or rather solidarity – on Facebook.

Brazil is spending R$33 billion (around US$18 billion) on the World Cup and many of the protesters are angry this money is not being invested into sorely-needed public services and infrastructure.

“I’m here not just because I’m against the World Cup, but because of everything that’s happening in Brazil, which hasn’t been going well for ages,” Débora Aoni, a 35-year-old actress from São Paulo, told an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the protest.

13 March 2014 - World Cup Protest in São Paulo, Brazil - Photo by Ben Tavener

Some 1,700 military police and riot troops accompanied the protest along its 10km course. Photo by Ben Tavener.

“We’ve got problems with transportation and infrastructure – nothing works,” Aoni continued.

“I hope a lot of people will join us at the next protest,” 24-year-old student Thiago Weber told AA. “I know people are afraid of the police but we have to stand up for our rights and our opinion about the government spending billions on this World Cup.”

This may well be helped by Thursday’s relatively uneventful protest – which both protesters and police will claim as a victory.

But while headline news in Brazil, Thursday’s protest was still a far cry from the hundreds of thousands of protesters than took to the streets in June and July 2013, during the World Cup warm-up, the Confederations Cup, but a fourth ‘Act Against the World Cup’ has already been called for Thursday 27 March.

And protests for the World Cup itself are more or less a certainty.

Unedited version of story written for Anadolu Agency

As many as 100,000 people took to the streets of both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on 17 June – and marches were held in at least 10 other major cities across Brazil – to protest again a range of issues, from the World Cup to government corruption – all of which were sparked originally by a 20-centavo increase in bus fares.

I accompanied the first half of the São Paulo protests around the Faria Lima area of Pinheiros.