Dilma

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – With just a day to go, São Paulo is bracing itself for Thursday’s World Cup opening ceremony and first match of the tournament between hosts Brazil and Croatia.

The 25-minute opening ceremony will showcase the host nation’s “treasures: nature, people, football,” its Belgian artistic director Daphne Cornez was quoted by local media as saying.

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SÃO PAULO – The number of people set to vote for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at this year’s general elections has slipped to a 2014 low, according to a poll of voters’ intentions published on Friday.

Only 34% of Brazilians questioned said they would vote for a second term in office for Rousseff, the latest survey by media polling institute Datafolha of 4,337 people across Brazil revealed – down from 37% in early May, and 44% in February.

However, Rousseff’s closest rival presidential hopefuls, Aécio Neves and Eduardo Campos, also both registered a drop in support, unlike in May, when both made gains.

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SÃO PAULO (AA) – The President of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Joaquim Barbosa, the first black person to hold the position, is to retire in June, it was announced on Thursday.

Nominated to join Brazil’s highest court by former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003, Barbosa, 59, rose up the ranks to head the court as Chief Justice in November 2012.

He is one of Brazil’s most popular and influential public figures, and was voted in the top 100 influential men in the world by Time Magazine in 2013.

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Anadolu Agency

GUARULHOS, SÃO PAULO – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff officially opened a long-awaited new international terminal at São Paulo’s main Guarulhos international airport on Tuesday, three weeks before the country hosts the World Cup.

Rousseff said the new glass and steel terminal represented a transformation in the Brazilian population, more and more of whom are now able to afford flying as a travel option after 46 million Brazilians moved up on the social ladder into the economic middle classes.

“The changes that we have made here are part of the work done to address the real transformation seen from when we saw 36 million people travelling by plane at the beginning of the decade, to 111 million today,” she said.

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Folha newspaper, 1 April 1964.

Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, 1 April 1964: “Congress declares presidency vacant” and “João Goulart (JG) in Rio Grande do Sul (RGS) says he’ll resist”

Brazil has marked 50 years since the 1964 coup d’état which ushered in 21 years of military dictatorship and the disappearance or death of almost 500 people during that time.

Thousands of others were arrested, exiled, tortured and deprived of their political rights.

President Dilma Rousseff, who fought against the dictatorship before being jailed and tortured by the military, said at a special event at the Presidential Palace on Monday that the coup, known as the Golpe, had to be remembered as part of the process which led to Brazil clawing back democracy.

“We learned the value of freedom, the value of an independent, active parliament and judiciary,” Rousseff said in an emotional speech. “We learned the value of a free press, the value of voting.”

“What is required of us today is that we remember and tell the story of what happened: we owe this to all those who died and disappeared, to those who were tortured and persecuted, to their families, and to all Brazilians,” Rousseff concluded.

Tanks in Rio de Janeiro. Golpe 1964. Photo: Arquivo Nacional

Tanks in Rio de Janeiro. Golpe 1964. Photo: Arquivo Nacional

On March 31, 1964, troops led by General Olímpio Mourão headed for Rio de Janeiro from neighbouring Minas Gerais state to execute the coup which had been years in the planning.

Battling a spluttering economy and dwindling support President João Goulart, known as “Jango”, was ousted from power and eventually fled with his family to the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.

Investigations ongoing

Pedro Simon, who is still a senator at the age of 84 and was a personal friend of President Goulart, told UOL news website that the coup “took everyone by surprise” and that “no one thought things would erupt the way they did”.

Goulart died 12 years later in exile in Argentina, in what was reported at the time as a heart attack.

However, suspicions that he had been killed, possibly poisoned as part of Operation Condor to rid South America of left-wing politicians and their supporters, have never faded.

In March 2013, a National Truth Commission in Brazil, sanctioned by President Rousseff to investigate human rights violations for a period which includes the military dictatorship, announced that it would look into Goulart’s death at his family’s behest.  His body was exhumed in November and taken to Brasília for formal analysis.

There has been mixed reaction to the Commission, whose mandate includes attempting to establish what happened during the years of military rule through witnesses and re-examining available evidence.

Critics of the investigation from the military say they believe the inquiry is an attempt by the political left to exact revenge.

As recently as last week Colonel Paulo Malhães gave testimony to the Commission in which he admitted killing political prisoners and disfiguring and hiding their bodies.

Golpe anniversary protest. São Paulo. Photo: Estadão

Victims of the repressions mark the 50th anniversary of the Golpe at a protest in São Paulo. Photo: Estadão Conteúdo

Opening old wounds

But a 1979 amnesty law, according to which no one can be tried for any human rights abuses committed during the dictatorship, means that Malhães will not stand trial.

That’s one reason why the NTC has come under fire from relatives of those who were lost, some of whom believe it has done little more than open up old wounds with minimal gain.

And although there have been a small number of ceremonies and protests, including from the victims of the military era and others, unthinkably, urging today’s military to topple President Rousseff’s centre-left government by force, Brazilians appear by and large to have chosen to consign this chapter of recent history to the past.

Written for Anadolu Agency  |  SÃO PAULO  |  31 March 2014

A Brazilian journalist who organised an online protest voicing dismay at the results of a study on the attitudes of Brazilians towards rape and violence against women has received numerous messages from men threatening to rape her.

Nana Queiroz, 28, received the threats after her online protest Eu Não Mereço Ser Estuprada (“I don’t deserve to be raped”) went viral on Friday 29 March.

On Thursday a study by the IPEA revealed the attitudes of over 3,800 Brazilians across Brazil towards sexual harassment, rape and violence against women.

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Dilma tweets on violence against women.

President Dilma Rousseff vows ‘zero tolerance’ to violence against women, after a study showed many Brazilians still blame over 527,000 annual rapes on the victims’ dress sense and behaviour.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called for “zero tolerance” to violence against women on Friday after a study revealed that some 65% of Brazilians believe women “deserve to be [sexually] attacked” if they dress in a revealing way.

Rousseff made the comments after a study by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) was released on Thursday.

In the study survey carried out in mid-2013, 3,810 people – two-thirds of whom women – were asked their opinion on a number of statements concerning harassment and violence against women.

To the statement “Women who used clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked”, some 65.1% responded that they agreed totally or in part.

Some 58.5% also said they were in complete or partial agreement with the statement “If women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes”.

President Rousseff took to Twitter on Friday to say that Brazil as a society had “a long way to go on combatting violence against women”:

“The result clearly shows the burden of the laws and public policy in fighting violence against women. It also shows the government and society must work together to face down violence against women, both in and outside our homes.”

Ending a sequence of messages on her official Twitter account, the president called for “zero tolerance” towards the violence.

UPDATE: On the same day as President Rousseff’s comments, news of an online anti-rape protest hit Facebook and spread like wild fire, with the hashtag #nãomereçoserestuprada – or “I don’t deserve to be raped” and thousands of people showing their solidarity.

The study produced a complex and contradictory picture of attitudes in Brazil towards violence against women: over four-fifths of respondents agreed to some extent that “what happened between a couple in their home should not concern others”.

However, more than nine-in-ten believed that a man who beats his spouse should go to prison.

527,000 sexual assaults a year

The IPEA study concluded that Brazilian society still accepts a status quo where men rule over women but not if it extends to physical violence.

But with regard to sexual violence, most people still consider women to be responsible for such behavior if they wear provocative clothing or behave inappropriately, the study found.

A second IPEA study estimated that Brazil sees around 527,000 sexual assaults or rapes annually, but that only 10% of these cases are reported to police.

Carmita Abdo, coordinator of the Sexuality Studies program at the University of São Paulo (USP), said she was not surprised by the results, which show society still blames the victim for such cases of abuse.

“What leads to sexual harassment or rape is not the clothes that women wear but people who want to harass or rape,” she told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper.

Protests denouncing violence against women have been slowly garnering support in Brazil over the past decade, featuring in and amongst the array of grievances voiced by anti-government and anti-World Cup protests seen in the country since last June.

The global SlutWalk movement, which condemns those who believe a woman is at fault for rape because of the way she chooses to dress, has also had a presence in Brazil since 2011.

Extended version of report written for Anadolu Agency

Fewer than half of Brazilians are positive about the upcoming FIFA World Cup, a new poll by Datafolha published on Monday has shown.

Some 2,091 Brazilians across the country were asked about their expectations towards the tournament which begins on 12 June in São Paulo: only 46% were positive about the event – 13% said ‘excellent’ and 33% responded ‘good’.

Brazil World Cup fans. Photo from travelblog.org

Brazilians are torn over their expectations for this year’s World Cup. Photo from travelblog.org

Thirty percent of those questioned in the survey had no strong feelings either way, and the remaining 24% concluded the World Cup would be ‘bad’ or ‘awful’ – 8% and 16%, respectively.

It allows [us] to say that 30% [of those surveyed] have some reservations over, and 24% totally reject, the hosting of the World Cup in Brazil,” Datafolha Director General Mauro Paulina was quoted by Folha de S.Paulo newspaper as saying.

A breakdown of the survey showed that most positive evaluations of the World Cup came from those who had only basic education and those in the lowest two income bands – the so-called ‘D’ and ‘E’ economic classes.

The results for this latest survey are a far cry from a similar survey in November 2008, in which 79 percent of respondents said they were positive about the World Cup.

The survey also asked whether the respondents were interested in football and the World Cup: 76% said they were interested in football, and 81% said they had an interest in the tournament itself.

Some 82% of people said they planned on watching World Cup fixtures – which increased to nine-in-ten if only male respondents are counted.

Beset by problems

Although the survey clearly shows that Brazilians have an interest in both the sport and the tournament, it does appear to show only lukewarm confidence in the country’s ability to host the event.

This latest survey has highlighted the difficulty that both FIFA and the Brazilian government have faced in garnering support for the event, with a build-up beset by problems: from major delays with stadiums and the very unpopular overall R$33 billion (US$14 billion) price tag to a number of construction site deaths and the downsizing or scrapping of a number of associated infrastructure projects.

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

Protests against the World Cup, although smaller than in 2013, have continued in São Paulo. Photo by Ben Tavener.

Discontent over the preparation phase of the World Cup led to over a million Brazilians taking to the streets last June, in a show of anger against the government’s – and now, increasingly, FIFA’s – handling of the event.

Indeed, although mass protests against the World Cup have petered out, for now at least, a fourth round of protests against the World Cup – under the banner of “Não Vai Ter Copa” (“There Will Be No World Cup”) – is scheduled for Thursday in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and at least two other major cities in Brazil.

The survey comes as FIFA General Secretary Jérôme Valcke arrives in Rio for a week of meetings concerning the tournament’s final preparations.

Despite the negativity and many concerns by FIFA over the event’s preparations, President Dilma Rousseff has repeatedly promised a “Cup of Cups” and correspondents say that the World Cup will likely ultimately be saved by the country’s residual love for the game.

However, the Olympics, which are due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, may not fare as easily, as many of the sports are alien and not available to ordinary Brazilians.

Extended version written for Anadolu Agency