SÃO PAULO — Two court rulings in two days have raised the real possibility that Brazil’s already beleaguered president, Dilma Rousseff, could face impeachment proceedings.

The most immediate challenge comes from Wednesday’s ruling by Brazil’s top audit court that the government manipulated its 2014 accounts. The court said the book-cooking was aimed at covering up a widening fiscal deficit in order to justify maintaining social spending ahead of Rousseff’s narrowly-won reelection last October.

Rousseff summoned ministers to a meeting on Thursday to discuss the judgment’s implications.

Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — Brazil will cut its 2015 budget by a historic 69.9 billion Brazilian reais ($23 billion) to ensure the government hits its fiscal targets this year, planning minister Nelson Barbosa announced Friday.

The government also said the austerity measures, the biggest spending freeze in the country’s history, would act as a “first step” to returning Brazil to economic growth.

Barbosa said 38 percent (25.7 billion reais) of savings would come from cuts to the government’s Growth Acceleration Program – the ruling government’s flagship program funding new infrastructure projects.

Read Full Article

SÃO PAULO — Violent clashes involving members of the FLM social housing movement spread across central São Paulo on Tuesday, after around 200 homeless families were evicted from an abandoned hotel in which they were squatting.

It was the third time police had attempted to carry out the formal eviction of the FLM families from the Hotel Aquarius, following a court order demanding the building be taken back.

Violent clashes broke out early on Tuesday, and a number of people were arrested and injured, when police responded harshly to aggressions from the evictees, who hurled objects from the building, as well as rocks and paint at officers.

Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — Moody’s Investors Service changed its outlook on Brazil’s government bond rating from “stable” to “negative”, according to a company report released on Tuesday.

The New York-based ratings agency said Brazil’s “sustained low growth” and “worsening debt metrics” all contributed to a risk of reduced creditworthiness, which could “trigger a downward migration in its credit rating”.

“Moody’s expects that Brazil’s economy will continue to record low growth, and estimates that annual GDP [gross domestic product] increases are likely to remain below the country’s potential of around three percent,” the ratings agency said.

The company said it expected economic growth to expand by “less than one percent in 2014 […] the lowest annual rate since 2009” and that next year would see growth “below the two-percent mark.”

Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency – Image: Deforested area of Mato Grosso, photo by Ben Tavener

SÃO PAULO — Seven people suspected of orchestrating mass logging operations in the Amazon have been arrested as part of a long-running investigation, police in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso confirmed to the Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

Police chief Maria Alice Barros Amorim, who is coordinating the operation, told AA that in all 13 arrest orders had been issued in the state, meaning six individuals are still wanted in connection with logging and other environmental crimes.

Officers from the special environment police department have also carried out searches at 18 locations as part of Operation Fluxo Verde (Green Flow) and say “huge quantities” of illegally-logged wood have been found.

Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency

RIO DE JANEIRO – Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at anti-World Cup protesters who clashed violently with riot police at a rally near the Maracanã stadium in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, as the tournament final between Germany and Argentina was about to kick off.

As well as voicing anger over World Cup spending by the government, protesters also demanded an end to what they see as police repression and denounced the preemptive arrests of 37 protesters ahead of the rally.

The rally was held 1.2km from the stadium, and a mixture of military, riot and mounted police forces heavily outnumbered the 300 protesters present, some of whom identified themselves as from the anarchic “Black Bloc” movement.

Read Full Article

Anadolu Agency – Photo by João Paulo Amaro: floods in Iraí, Rio Grande do Sul

SÃO PAULO – The Brazilian government has officially recognised declarations of a state of disaster by two cities, as well as 124 municipalities’ state of emergency, in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Nearly 18,400 have now been forced from their homes, and although the rains have eased in and around the state, some 157 municipalities have now been affected, with 131 declaring a state of emergency, the G1 news portal reported.

The official recognition of the natural disaster means emergency federal funds can be released to local governments; the state has asked for R$19 million (US$8.5 million).

Read Full Article