Articles by: Sean Power
The United States is courting Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, about U.S. business interests in the country. President Obama will meet with Rousseff in Brazil on March 19-20 to lobby for Boeing to get a multibillion-dollar contract to make 36 fighter jets for the Brazilian Armed Forces, and to broker other economic opportunities for U.S companies around offshore oil reserve exploration, improving its tourism and transportation infrastructure, and strengthening its security operations before and during the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
From November 24 through 28, police and military staged Rio de Janeiro’s largest armed offensive against drug traffickers in decades. The operation has been hailed as a turning point in Rio’s efforts to improve security before it hosts the 2016 Olympic games. However, the perception of greater public safety in Rio is credible only to those willing to look past both the human rights abuses carried out in its midst and the systematic corruption among Rio police that is linked to much of the major crime in the city.
As Brazil's Guaraní Kaiowá attempt to reoccupy their ancestral lands, acts of violence against them are virtually an everyday occurrence. Having been stripped of nearly all their land, which has been converted into cattle ranches, soybean farms, and most recently sugar cane fields for the production of ethanol, their homelands now are largely unrecognizable. Containing Brazil’s expanding ethanol industry as it seeks to devour more indigenous lands will not be on the to-do list of President-elect Dilma Rousseff. On the contrary, one of her campaign pledges was to expand the industry.
On October 3, Worker’s Party (PT) candidate Dilma Rousseff won the first round of Brazil’s presidential election with 46.9% of the vote. Paramount to Rousseff’s victory was her ability to convince voters that she represented the continuity of the policies of popular Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. It was initially thought that for many of Brazil’s social movements Rousseff's message of “business as usual” would be received unfavorably, given the lack of structural change during Lula’s two administrations. Yet, this has not been the case, and many of Brazil's social movements see in Rouseff the potential to usher in further social change, including land reform and a shorter work week.