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August 14, 2011

Corruption threatens Brazil\’s Olympics and World Cup

Corruption threatens Brazil’s Olympics and World Cup

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wrote that “[i]t looks like corruption is increasing, but what really is increasing is the investigation and identification of criminals”.
Image: Agência Brasil.

Deputy Tourism Minister Frederico Silva da Costa was among 33 Brazilian tourism ministers and officials arrested for embezzlement of public funds on Tuesday. The operation extended across Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Macapa.

The arrests were made following an operation involving up to 200 police officers. Five wanted officials remain at large. Federal Police allege the officials were involved in a scheme that has the potential to destabilise the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The group are said to have used up to R$3.05 million (US$1.88 million, £1.16 million)—allocated in government funding to train almost 2000 taxi drivers, waiters and hotel staff in the lead-up to the events—for private gain.

Federal Police say they intend to charge all 38 (including the five not yet apprehended) with criminal associations, fraud and embezzlement. If found guilty, they face up to twelve years imprisonment.

This is the latest in a string of corruption scandals throughout the nation, which saw Transport Minister Alfredo Nascimento and thirty colleagues resign in July, while a senior Agriculture minister was sacked. A further scandal claimed the President’s chief of staff earlier this year.

President Dilma Rousseff wrote in “Conversation with the President”—her weekly column—that “[i]t looks like corruption is increasing, but what really is increasing is the investigation and identification of criminals”.

The arrests follow 63 similar anti-corruption operations carried out last year by Federal Police in conjunction with government organisations.

The nation now faces an uphill battle to be ready in time for the commencement of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Olypmic Games.



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August 5, 2010

21 sites added to Unesco World Heritage list

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bagrati Cathedral.
Image: Kober.

Unesco’s World Heritage Committee inscribed 21 new sites into the World Heritage list on Wednesday, during the 34th session of the committee’s meeting in Brasilia, Brazil under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Culture of Brazil, João Luiz da Silva Ferreira.

Three countries had sites added to the list for the first time: Tajikistan, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands. The Committee added four sites to the World Heritage in Danger list, including the Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Cathedral, both in Georgia. The Galapagos (Ecuador) were removed from this list.

Some of the newly included World Heritages are: Papahānaumokuākea (United States), el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Mexico), and São Francisco square (Brazil).

Unesco World Heritage sites have special cultural or physical significance as a place or region. Unesco conserves, names, and catalogues these sites for the common heritage of humanity. Italy ranks as the country with the most World Heritage sites, having 45 in total.

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December 27, 2005

Fire destroys a Social Security building in Brasilia

Fire destroys a Social Security building in Brasilia

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Brasília, Brazil – An building of the Social Security Ministry (INSS) in Brasilia was struck by fire Tuesday morning.

Firemen report that the blaze was started by an electrical short-circuit.

The INSS building was old and contained a large collection of state documents.

At the time of the fire, the building was unoccupied except for security personnel. No one was injured during the blaze.

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June 8, 2005

President Lula opens U.N. forum to combat corruption

President Lula opens U.N. forum to combat corruption

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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

São Paulo, Brazil — The Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva opened on Tuesday the 4th Global Forum to Combat Corruption in Brasilia, Brazil. The encounter is expected to last from June 7 to 10.

Lula inaugurated the event in company of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Undersecretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Maria Costa, and the Brazilian Federal Comptroller-General, Waldir Pires.

According to the organizers, the “Global Forum is the result of a worldwide policy to battle against corruption and money-laundering. In short, against those crimes that prevent the money collected by nations from being applied decently on behalf of the population”.

The forum, is sponsored by the Brazilian government and the United Nations. Around one hundred delegations from around the world are expected to debate improvements in anti-corruption methods and international cooperation.

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May 18, 2005

Landless Workers Movement marches to Brasilia in protest

Landless Workers Movement marches to Brasilia in protest

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Brasilia, Brazil — Thousands of members of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) completed their march to Brasilia on Tuesday, having started their 238 km journey on May 1. They demanded President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva meet land reform promises, and protested against the U.S. government and President George W. Bush.

The Brazilian government news agency Agencia Brasil reported that about 12,000 members of MST protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia. The group gathered garbage and burnt with it an American flag. According to Rosana Fernandes, an MST representative, they were protesting against American culture, politics and corporations.

Representatives of MST also met with Brazilian President Lula da Silva. According to Agencia Brasil, they presented four demands to the government: the restructuring of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), the execution of the National Plan for Agrarian Reform announced in 2003, the creation of a special line of credit, and changes in the definition of unproductive land for expropriation. MST claims that they reached an agreement with Lula, and that he agreed to spend about half, or 700 million reais ($282 million USD), of the land reform budget he froze in 2005. Agrarian Reform Minister Miguel Rossetto denied that a deal had already been made, but said that the meeting had been positive and a proposal would be offered to the MST on Wednesday.

During the protests some members of MST conflicted with police forces in Brasilia. According to the police, 20 policemen were badly injured and were hospitalized. Also according to the police, the incident started after some MST members attacked a police car near the Palace of Justice. A police officer that left the car to talk to the crowd was assaulted with punches and kicks. The mounted police came to help the trapped officers and dispersed the crowd. MST reported 32 of their members injured in the incident, although independent news sources report around 20.

The MST march to Brasilia was organized by Via Campesina, an international organization in support of rural worker’s rights and sustainable agriculture.

The MST’s leader João Pedro Stedile said that the MST must return home with their batteries recharged and increase the occupation of land in Brazil. [1]

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May 11, 2005

Critics against USA and Israel in Summit of South American-Arab Countries in Brazil

Critics against USA and Israel in Summit of South American-Arab Countries in Brazil

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia is hosting the Summit of South American and Arab Countries from May 10 to 11, according to the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva proposed the summit during his visit to several Arab countries in December, 2004.

According to Radiobras, President da Silva said in his speech during the opening ceremony of the summit, that it is necessary to define a new economic and commercial international geography. “We are searching for trade that is fair and balanced, rid of the subsidies imposed by the rich countries, and which assures the poor countries the benefits of globalization. We want to establish a new relationship of solidary collaboration with international financial agencies, and we are striving for the Mercosur and the Gulf Cooperation Council to be able to conclude an economic cooperation agreement”, da Silva said. [1]

Mahmoud Abbas said that Israeli troops should unconditionally withdraw from the occupied Arab territories. Abbas also proposed the creation of an Arab-South American bank.

The President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, said during his speech that Israel should leave the Palestinian territories. Bouteflika defended the criterion of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. [2]

Bouteflika said that the Palestinian situation is “a denial of justice” that can no longer be tolerated. A long round of applause from Summit participants followed his declarations. “We must find a definitive solution for everyone to do his best, to get Israel to submit to international law and accept the negotiated peace,” Bouteflika added. [3]

The President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez said that the Arab and South American countries are related because they both were subjected to exploitation by the richest countries. Chávez said that after World War II, South America has been victim of domination mechanisms by an international financial architecture and by an old international organizations structure. According to Chávez, there is no international democracy. [4]

Chávez said that South American and Arab countries are the biggest oil sources and that this fact stimulates the “American imperialist voracity”. [5]

According to the Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, the final document of the Summit of South American-Arab Countries will condemn terrorism. In addition, the document will include a paragraph about the “right of resistance to foreign occupation, according to international humanitarian law,” said the minister.

The minister said that the document will also mention the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, under dispute by Argentina and the United Kingdom. [6]

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April 29, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Latin America

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Latin America

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Friday, April 29, 2005

The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice began a five day trip to Latin America Tuesday. She is expected to visit the following countries: Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and El-Salvador.

She arrived at Brasilia Air Base today at 04:00 local time, and proceeded to a hotel in Brasilia.

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April 6, 2005

Brazil organizes Summit of South American and Arab Countries

Brazil organizes Summit of South American and Arab Countries

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Brazil – Brazil’s capital city of Brasilia is scheduled to host the Summit of South American and Arab Countries from May 10 to the 11th, according to the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations. The organizers say that South American and Arab Countries will discuss political, commercial, cultural, and scientific and technological cooperation.

The summit was proposed by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during his visit to several Arab countries in December, 2004. This was the first time some of the countries visited by Lula had entered into contact with a Brazilian ruler since 1876 with then Brazilian Emperor, Dom Pedro II.

During a visit to the headquarters of the Arab League, in Cairo, Egypt, Lula da Silva proposed the creation of a Summit of South American and Arab Countries. “The summit aims the creation of a new world where the Third World countries can have a new role”, Lula added.

The countries scheduled to meet next month are:

  • from South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.
  • from the Arab world: Algeria, Bahrein, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Some concerns from Israel and the United States have been raised since the announcement of the meeting. However the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations, Celso Amorim, said that the meeting is intended as a forum to discuss only cooperation between the two regions and it is not a political attack on Israel. “It is a meeting of two regions, which will discuss mutual cooperation”, he says.

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March 9, 2005

Trial of alleged Brazilian \”chainsaw massacre\” deputy begins

Filed under: Archived,Brasília,Brazil,Crime and law,South America — admin @ 5:00 am

Trial of alleged Brazilian “chainsaw massacre” deputy begins

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Wednesday, March 9, 2005 The trial of the former Brazilian deputy Hildebrando Pascoal was scheduled to began on March 8 at 8:30 AM in Brasília. However the trial began about an hour later, because Pascoal needed to talk to his lawyer.

Pascoal, the former police officer Reginaldo Rocha de Souza and the alleged drug dealer Alexandre Alves da Silva are in trial because they are accused of murdering the police officer Walter Ayala in September 1997.

There are several other serious accusations against Pascoal, including: dealing with the drug cartel, leading death squads, robbery and political corruption.

The case was widely discussed in Brazil because a witness (whose identity could not be revealed since its life was in danger) said that Pascoal personally cut off the arms and legs of a man with a chainsaw. Another one told Pascoal killed at least 60 people.

Pascoal says he is innocent and that all the accusations were forged by his enemies: the former Court President of Acre, Jersino José da Silva and the Federal Prosecutor, Luiz Francisco de Souza.

Pascoal has been in jail for about 6 years.

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February 9, 2005

Brazil dismisses English language skills on Diplomatic career admission

Brazil dismisses English language skills on Diplomatic career admission

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Wednesday, February 9, 2005

BRASILIA, Brazil –The Brazilian Ministry of External Relations decided to remove the English language knowledge section from qualifying tests required by the Brazilian school of diplomats, the Rio Branco Institute. The decision proved controversial among Brazilians.

In Brazil, those interested in following a diplomatic career first must study at the Brazilian school of diplomats: the Rio Branco Institute (IRBr).

After having passed the Rio Branco Institute’s (IRBr) entrance examination, the student becomes a Third Secretary. The career path then continues to Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counselor, Second Class Minister, and First Class Minister or Ambassador.

The candidate must fulfill the following requirements before signing up for the entrance examination to IRBr: be Brazilian by birth, have a clean criminal record, be up-to-date with military and electoral obligations, and have concluded a full undergraduate course recognized by the Ministry of Education before the date of inscription.[1]

The course of study is 2 years long. In the first year, the student has lectures in International Public Law, Economics, Brazilian Foreign Policy, History of International Relations, Theory of International Relations and Brazilian Readings, Diplomatic Language, English, French, and Spanish. For every three class hours on concepts, there is one lecture, seminar, workshop or debate guided by an expert in the field.

In the second year, the student develops his diplomatic professional skills. He works as a trainee in different units of the government and at Brazilian embassies and consulates in South America and Mexico.

The following written tests are part of the entrance examination: Portuguese, English, French and Spanish languages; History, Geography, Brazilian and International Law, Brazilian and International Economy, and International Politics. Also, the following oral tests are required: International Politics, English, and Portuguese language.

Until 2004, the English language tests could eliminate a candidate. However, on December 7, 2004, the Brazilian Minister of External Relations Celso Amorim changed the entrance examination rules. Failing the English test no longer removes the student from the program. [2]

The following tests can still remove a person from the program: Portuguese language, History, and Geography.

The Minister Celso Amorim explained his decision: “This is a democratic decision. I would rather have a diplomat who knows Portuguese and Brazilian History well than another one who knows English well”.

However, the decision proposed by the Ministry of External Relations caused some controversy.

The Senator and former diplomat Arthur Virgílio(PSDB) sent a letter to Minister Celso Amorim protesting against the change in the entrance examination to IRBr. He said that the minister’s decision is nonsense, a symbolic protest against the USA. The decision minimizes the importance of English in the world. According to him, the government is being underhanded. “The question is not to love or to hate the United States, but to recognize their enormous weight, until bothering, in the world-wide scenario,” he added. [3]

The journalist and high critic of the government and the Workers’ Party (PT), Percival Puggina, said: “On March 18, 2004, during a opening speech of a popular restaurant of Coca-Cola in Belo Horizonte [4], President Lula said: ‘I spent much time in my life thinking that if you wanted to be anti-American you should not drink Coca-Cola. Later, I got more mature and realized that there is nothing better than waking up at night and finding a Coca-Cola in the refrigerator.’ However, Lula’s anti-Americanism which still remains is more naive than not drinking Coca-Cola. The Ministry of External Relations under the rule of Celso Amorim gives us a clue when it eliminates the English knowledge skills as a requisite to the entrance at the Rio Branco Institute. I assume that this is a kick in both Bush’s groin and in Blair’s ankle. Camões is thankful, but he excuses the courtesy.”[5]

In an interview with the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, the Minister Celso Amorim told:”It should be explained that the English language was not removed from the examination, and it will not stop being obligatory; it will just not remove students anymore. Brazilian diplomats will still have to know English as well as other languages too. What the Itamaraty (the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations) decided was to take for itself the costs of the necessary complementation so that the diplomat has the domain of the language.” Amorim also added: ”There are many people who I knew during my life with all the requisites to be diplomats, but who had difficulty to pass in an examination of eliminatory English.”[6]

According to Amorim, the English language elimination test favors the children of diplomats. Ricardo Neiva Tavares, spokesman of the Itamaraty, says that with the changes candidates of all regions of the country can compete evenly to enter the diplomatic career.

The former chancellor Celso Lafer criticized the decision: “Portuguese is not the language used in international communication.” According to him, the change in the admission examination is a false idea of democratization.

Cristovam Buarque professor of University of Brasilia, senator (PT) and former minister of Education during Lula’s government said: “The knowledge of foreign languages, especially of English, is absolutely necessary to the diplomat. But this knowledge little says about the potential of creativity, knowledge, and ability of a youth who intends to enter the diplomatic course. Henry Kissinger, for example, would have been disapproved of in our course of diplomacy, since he still speaks with a German accent.”

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