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Brazil

Geopolitics

Meet Brazil's "WhatsApp Aunts And Uncles" — How Fake News Spreads With Seniors

Older demographics are particularly vulnerable (and regularly targeted) on the WhatsApp messaging platform. We've seen it before and after the presidential election.

-Analysis-

SAO PAULO — There's an interesting analysis by the educator and writer Rafael Parente, based on a piece by the international relations professor Oliver Stuenkel, who says: “Since Lula took the Brazilian presidency, several friends came to me to talk about family members over 70 who are terrified because they expect a Communist coup. The fact is that not all of them are Jair Bolsonaro supporters.”

And the educator gives examples: In one case, the father of a friend claims to have heard from the bank account manager that he should not keep money in his current account because there was some supposed great risk that the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would freeze the accounts.

The mother of another friend, a successful 72-year-old businesswoman who reads the newspaper and is by no means a radical, believes that everyone with a flat larger than 70 square meters will be forced to share it with other people."

Talking about these examples, a friend, law professor Gilmara Benevides has an explanation: “Elderly people are falling for fake news spread on WhatsApp."

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The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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Will Bolsonaro And Family Flee To Italy?

With risks of arrest rising after the violence in Brasilia, many wonder if the former Brazilian president and his family will seek refuge in Italy, where they would qualify for citizenship and a friendly government is in charge.

Days after their father’s election loss, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro and his younger brother Eduardo were spotted at the entrance of the Italian embassy in Brasilia.

“I have no intention of leaving Brazil,” the Senator and eldest son of President Jair Bolsonaro insisted to the journalist of Brazilian weekly magazine Metropoles, who’d seen the brothers arriving at the embassy.

“My family has Italian origins and I have the right to apply for Italian citizenship. This procedure started in September 2019,” the 38-year-old Bolsonaro added.

That was November, nine days after Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat by Lula da Silva, but well before their father took refuge in Florida — and the events of Sunday, where Bolsonaro supporters assaulted the nation’s top institutions in the capital, leading to mass arrests.

Questions are circulating in Italy and Brazil about whether the Bolsonaro family (he has five children from three marriages) is considering seeking asylum in Italy, which they not only claim ancestral connections but also now has a friendly right-wing government in charge, headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. "Italian Citizenship to Bolsonaro: Here's What Could Happen," headlined Milan daily Il Sole 24 Ore this week.

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Have No Doubt: Bolsonaro's Fingerprints Are All Over The Brasilia Assault

Emulating the Trump-inspired attack on the U.S. Capitol, the assault of a right-wing mob on government buildings in Brasilia took its cue from former president Bolsonaro's longstanding contempt for democratic institutions.

-Editorial-

In defeat, authoritarianism is unable to reflect, let alone peacefully hand over power. In Brazil, we have just seen the sadly predictable consequences of years of questioning the legitimacy of elections and their institutional guarantors by the departing right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

In an echo of events in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of Bolsonaro's supporters stormed the premises of Brazil's Congress, Supreme Court and the offices of his duly-elected successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The similarity with the assault on the U.S. Capitol after the Trump presidency is no coincidence.

Fascist-style regimes copy each other's clumsy, violent and painful methods.

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In The News

"Crime Contra O Brasil" - 21 International Front Pages Of Brasilia Riots

Newspapers in Brazil, as well as elsewhere in North and South America and Europe, marked the unprecedented attack on Brazilian democracy.

Calm was restored in Brazil’s capital Brasilia, a day after thousands of supporters of former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro invaded and vandalized the presidential palace, the country's Congress and the Supreme Court.

Police arrested an estimated 400 protesters. Newly-reelected President Lula's condemned the rioters as "fascists, fanatics" whom he vowed to punish "with the full force of law." World leaders meanwhile also denounced the assault, which U.S. President Joe Biden called "outrageous" and Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez a "coup attempt."

Meanwhile, Bolsonaro — who flew to Miami last week ahead of Lula's inauguration — offered a muted and delayed criticism of the attack.

This is how newspapers in Brazil, Latin America and the rest of the world featured the unprecedented attack on the government’s sites on their front pages.

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Geopolitics
Pierre Haski

Hard Lessons From Brazil’s Attack On Democracy

What do we make of the echos from the U.S. Capitol assault on Jan. 6? Will Lula be able to heal Brazil's democratic institutions?

Brazil’s democracy has survived. But just like the U.S. after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, two years ago almost to this day, Brazil will have to overcome a political crisis that targets the foundations of its democratic system.

This dark Sunday for Brazilian democracy looks like the chronicle of a political catastrophe foretold. All of the elements that we saw during the wake of Donald Trump's presidency in the U.S. can be found in Brazil. And just like in Washington, a state that is finally more resilient than the insurgents thought — and above all, a military that did not respond to their calls.

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Society
Jones Manoel and Tiago Paraíba

To Tackle Hunger, Brazil Needs To Tackle Racism First

The fight against hunger should be a top priority in Brazil — provided it's addressed as a whole. And to do that, the country needs to face its structural racism issues, an issue newly-reelected President Lula da Silva vowed to tackle.

It’s 2023, and over half of Brazil’s population is impacted by a hunger crisis. That is the shocking news from the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (PENSSAN).

After making strides in the first part of the 21st century, by 2020, hunger in Brazil had returned to 2004 levels. But now the problem is even worse. According to PENSSAN, 125 million Brazilians, or 58% of the country, face food insecurity, defined in various stages of severity by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, with technical “hunger” being the most severe. The number of Brazilians facing hunger has jumped from 9% to 15%, a return to 1994 levels, which corresponds to 33 million Brazilians.

This stunning step backwards has occurred in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic is not solely to blame. An economic crisis, lack of agrarian reform, inflationary effects on the cost of food, and a systematic dismantling of public policy to assist poor families have combined to make a bad situation worse. In Brazil, already one of the most unequal countries in the world, that has meant that in the past two years an additional 14 million people have found themselves dealing with hunger on a daily basis.

In the 1940s, the doctor and anti-hunger activist Josué de Castro called Brazil “a country of the geography of hunger.” In Brazilian history — from the colonial period to the development of capitalism and the formation of the Republic — high prices, deprivation, a lack of access to basic rights, and hunger have been present in the daily lives of working people. Concentration of land-ownership and wealth in the hands of a few have marked Brazil’s history.

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Geopolitics
Marcos Peckel

Geopolitically, "Latin America" Does Not Exist

The election in Brazil of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) is being hailed by some as the confirmation of Latin American around a shared leftist project, yet even the left can't agree with itself. It's a story that goes back centuries, and can only change with a commitment to move beyond ideology.

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — In 1826, the liberator and then president of (a much larger) Colombia, Simón Bolívar, convened the Summit of Panama, in Panama City, with the aim of uniting the recently liberated provinces of the Spanish empire. Bolívar's guest list excluded the United States and imperial Brazil. In spite of good intentions, the summit proved an utter failure.

There was no Latin American integration then, nor is there today, 200 years on, as the continent remains fragmented and divided. In geopolitical terms, there is no Latin America.

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Economy
Luíza Lanza and Daniel Tozzi Mendes

Cracking Food Prices, On The Front Line Of Brazil's Egg Rush

With the price of meat on the rise, Brazilians have turned to eggs. The country is now producing 55 billion eggs a year, presenting challenges for farmers and raising questions of animal welfare. And in Brazil's "Egg Capital", the climate crisis is complicating matters further.

CURITIBA — "After the 15th, it's almost impossible to eat meat," says salesperson Cristina Souza Brito, as she leaves a supermarket in Curitiba, capital of the state of Paraná in southern Brazil.

“Chicken or beef is only available when the salary comes at the beginning of the month," she adds. "Then we get by with omelettes, fried or boiled eggs."

Since the beginning of 2021, this has been the routine in the house where she lives with her daughter, a niece and two siblings. Brazilians might be replacing meat with eggs because of their budgets: meat has increased in price above inflation and, in April 2022, it cost 42.6% more than in early 2020, according to the Institute of Applied Economic Research.

The group Food for Justice pointed out that at the end of 2020, eggs had been the food that Brazilians had been consuming more of (+18.8%), and meat recorded the biggest drop (-44%), which reinforces the idea of substitution between the two foods.

Health and economic crisis aside, Brazilians have never eaten as many eggs as they do now. Egg consumption in the country has more than doubled in the last 15 years, rising from the annual mark of 120 eggs per capita in 2007 to 257 in 2021, according to figures from the Brazilian Animal Protein Association. The current level of eggs consumed by each Brazilian over the course of a year is higher than the world average, which is 227.

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Future
Daniel Henryk Rasolt

Brazil, A Laboratory For The Boost Of Investing In Science — And The  Bust When You Don't

More than a decade ago, with the economy growing and political capital committed to public research and development, Brazil was the poster child for investing in the future. It was all bound to drop out quickly once the winds changed.

In 2010, Brazil’s economy was booming, students were entering higher education institutions at unprecedented rates, and quality research output was soaring.

At the time, I was visiting the country as a physics Ph.D. student, and I was struck by the enthusiastic optimism of the Brazilian researchers I met. Backed by increased government investment in science, they felt they were part of Brazil’s long-term transformation into a scientific and technological powerhouse, and a budding international hub of innovation.

Times have certainly changed.

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Ideas
François Brousseau

In Brazil And U.S., Elections As Stress Tests For Democracy

After the Brazilian presidential election and the American midterms, checking the temperature on the state of democracy in a world that has been heading in the opposite direction for too long.

-Analysis-

MONTREAL — Beyond climate change and the return of inflation, the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, we can add another element threatening the stability of the world: the backsliding of democracy and faith in a system based on the rule of law, free expression, and a sovereign choice of leaders.

The V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden publishes an annual report that has tracked this decline.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there was a growing desire for democracy around the world, and the number of people living under a system of freedom and the rule of law was on the rise. But that number has been decreasing since the beginning of the 21st century.

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Green
Luize Sampaio

Meet The Brazilian Waste Pickers Working In Dumps That “Don’t Exist”

Despite being forbidden since 2010, rubbish dumps are still a common feature on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. It's time to know the lives of those who scrape out a living there.

Brazil's Gramacho dump is the largest wasteland in Latin America. And yet, though millions of Brazilians know its name, for local and national government agencies, neither this nor any other dumps exist.

Many others are also large enough to have names — Itacoa, Morro do Céu, Niterói, Maré, and Praça do Lixão — and the waste pickers who work there and the poverty they hold is as real as the trash.

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