TIME brazil

Watch Tens of Thousands Demand Brazil President Rousseff’s Impeachment

Protesters say the President knew about a huge graft scandal at the state oil company Petrobras

More than 1 million people took to the streets across Brazil on Sunday to demonstrate against President Dilma Rousseff.

Many were calling for her impeachment over a massive corruption scandal while she was head of the state oil company Petrobras, Agence France-Presse reports.

Rousseff, 67, also faces anger over rising inflation and a weak economy, especially among lower-income voters who traditionally back her Workers’ Party, locally known as PT.

The biggest demonstration was in São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, where some 500,000 people took to the streets, dressed in the yellow and green of the national flag. “Get out, Dilma; get out, PT!” they chanted. Rallies took place in 83 other towns and cities across the country, including the capital, Brasilia, where 40,000 people marched toward Congress.

Opposition parties backed the protests but didn’t go so far as to call for the President’s impeachment.

Petrobras officials allegedly accepted bribes totaling a whopping $3.8 billion in exchange for contracts for refineries, oil tankers and deep-sea platforms, with payments channeled to powerful politicians and political parties.

An investigation into dozens of prominent political figures is under way, but the President, who was chairwoman of the company’s board at the time, has not been directly implicated and denies any involvement.

After the protests, the government said it would introduce measures to fight corruption and impunity.

[AFP]

TIME energy

Petrobras Scandal Goes Far Deeper Than Previously Thought

Drilling Companies At Rio Oil And Gas 2014 Expo
Bloomberg—Getty Images A Petrobras logo sits on display at the Petroleo Brasileiro SA trade stand during the Rio Oil & Gas 2014 Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 15, 2014.

As debt piles up and the corruption probe digs deeper, Brazil's oil giant is looking weaker by the day

The ongoing and seemingly widening scandal plaguing Petrobras is beginning to cause fissures in Brazil’s political system. New evidence suggests that the ruling political party may have been much more involved than once thought.

The state-owned oil giant is embroiled in a scandal over kickbacks, in which it would overpay contractors in exchange for bribes. Some of the money was also diverted to the coffers of Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT), the political machine that has run the country for over a decade.

Read more: Rolls-Royce Roped Into Petrobras Corruption Scandal

A former Petrobras manager spoke at a hearing on March 11 and admitted to having taken bribes as far back as 1997. Pedro Barusco said he took over $100 million in bribes over the years, but he dropped a bombshell on the hearing when he said that the PT probably accepted twice as much.

Barusco met directly with the PT treasurer and would discuss the specifics of how the bribe scheme would work. “That makes me estimate that between $150 million and $200 million went to the PT,” he said.

Read more: New Petrobras CEO Facing Widespread Disapproval

The scandal has the PT in a state of crisis. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has had no choice but to allow an investigation to unfold, which has now ensnared 47 top political officials and allies, including the most powerful members of Congress. To make matters worse, Rousseff’s coalition partners are starting to abandon her, which will make responding to the deteriorating economy politically difficult.

Along with a stagnating economy, the high cost of living, and a horrific drought facing parts of Brazil, the public is angry at the extent of corruption that appears to reach all the way to the top of the Brazilian political system. Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets this weekend to demand the resignation or impeachment of President Rousseff.

Read more: The Plot Thickens In Petrobras Corruption Scandal

But the President and her party are not the only casualties of the Petrobras scandal. Petrobras itself is in serious trouble. According to Galp Energia, a company that partners with Petrobras to drill for oil, the fallout from the scandal will likely delay four major offshore oil projects. That could significantly cut into Petrobras’ future production levels.

As debt piles up and the corruption probe digs deeper, Petrobras is looking weaker by the day. In late February, Moody’s downgraded the oil giant to “junk” status.

This article originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

More from Oilprice.com:

TIME brazil

Brazil Enacts Law Imposing Stricter Penalties for Violence Against Women

Dilma Rousseff
Eraldo Peres—AP Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff speaks during a signing ceremony for a harsher law against femicide, at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 9, 2015.

The new legislation is seen as a victory for Brazilian women

Brazil has passed new legislation that imposes harsher penalties for those who harm or kill women and girls.

President Dilma Rousseff signed the femicide law on Monday, saying it was part of the government’s zero-tolerance policy towards violence against women in a country where 15 women are killed every day, reports the BBC.

Under Brazil’s criminal code, femicide is now described as any crime that involves domestic violence, contempt or discrimination against women.

Aggravated murder charges will carry sentences of between of 12 to 30 years imprisonment.

The bill also includes longer jail terms for crimes committed against pregnant women, those under 14 years of age, women over 60 and people with disabilities.

Rights groups hail the law as a triumph for Brazilian women, days after International Women’s Day celebrations.

“The law identifies femicide as a specific phenomena. This kind of law is preventive in nature,” said the Representative of U.N. Women in Brazil, Nadine Gasman.

Brazil joins several other Latin American countries in enacting such legislation, including El Salvador, which has one of the highest murder rates of women in the world.

[BBC]

TIME indonesia

Bali Nine Arrive at Indonesian Execution Island as Jokowi Spurns Clemency Pleas

Australian death row prisoners Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar in Bali
Antara Photo Agency/Reuters Australian death-row prisoners Andrew Chan, center, and Myuran Sukumaran, left, are seen in a holding cell waiting to attend a review hearing in the District Court of Denpasar, on the Indonesian island of Bali, on Oct. 8, 2010

Despite taking a hard-line stance with foreigners on death row in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo has vowed to save the lives of his compatriots facing execution abroad

In the darkness of early morning hours Wednesday, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were woken by the Kerobokan prison guards in Bali. It took them 10 minutes to wash and dress for the transfer to Nusakambangan, the prison island in Central Java, where death-row prisoners are set to face the firing squads.

Chan and Sukumaran, sentenced to death in 2006 for drug trafficking, are among a group of 10 prisoners slated to be executed in Indonesia. Despite numerous and repeated pleas from across the globe to spare them — some of whom, like the two Australians, say they have reformed behind bars — Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, stands firm on his decision not to pardon drug convicts on death row.

On Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop offered to swap three Indonesian prisoners held in Australia in a last-ditch attempt to save her compatriots. Although no official response has so far been received, Jokowi told al-Jazeera that the foreigners’ executions would at least not take place this week.

Many, including local rights activists, have criticized Jokowi’s blanket rejection of clemency and called on the 53-year-old carpenter’s son to consider each case on its own merits. Foreign leaders from Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as musicians from Black Sabbath and Napalm Death (Jokowi is a big heavy-metal fan), have asked him to show mercy.

Jokowi announced in December that he wouldn’t give clemency to 64 prisoners on death row for drug-related crimes because Indonesia is in a state of “drug emergency.” He said 4.5 million people need rehabilitation and 18,000 people die every year because of illegal-drug use — a claim that, research analyst Claudia Stoicescu of Harm Reduction International points out, is based on “questionable statistics.”

Todung Mulya Lubis, lawyer for Chan and Sukumaran, questions the government’s decision to proceed with transferring the pair, known as the Bali Nine duo, to Nusakambangan while they are still waiting for the legal appeal process. “We still have hope, but we realize it’s only a miracle that can fulfill it,” Todung tells TIME. “They are now in Nusakambangan, and that means it’s just a matter of time [before the executions], likely to be days.”

Other drug convicts awaiting judicial reviews include a Filipina mother of two and a French citizen. Lawyers said Brazilian citizen Rodrigo Gularte should be exempted from the death penalty because he suffers from severe mental illness, but Indonesia’s Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo rejected this plea.

There are few public figures who openly criticize the death penalty in Indonesia, including Jakarta Governor Basuki T. Purnama, who was Jokowi’s deputy. Overall, however, Jokowi enjoys considerable public support for being “tough” on drug traffickers. On Dec. 24, weeks before six drug convicts were executed in January, he visited the headquarters of Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, the two biggest mass Islamic organizations in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, and received official blessing for his death-penalty policy.

Between 1999 and 2014, democratic Indonesia executed a total of 27 people, of whom seven were foreigners. In contrast, five of the six people executed on Jan. 18 were foreign citizens, and nine of the 10 set to be put to death this month are non-Indonesians. All of those executed or slated to be executed so far this year are drug convicts, while only seven of the 27 people executed in 1999 to 2004 were drug convicts. “With the focus on narcotics crimes, foreigners are likely to be executed,” says Dave McRae, senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute.

Under the presidency of Jokowi’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia didn’t carry out any executions from 2009 to 2012, or in 2014. As Yudhoyono pushed a policy to save Indonesian citizens on death row abroad, he gave clemency to drug convicts, including Schapelle Corby of Australia, a decision that stirred a firestorm of public hostility against foreign drug traffickers.

The Jokowi administration has announced 20 executions scheduled for this year — that doubles the existing record number in the post-Suharto-dictatorship Indonesia: in 2008, 10 prisoners were put to death, including the Bali bombers. “It is ironic,” Todung says, “that so many executions happen in democratic Indonesia.”

Notably, Jokowi’s hard-line stance jars with his repeated pledges to save the lives of Indonesians on death row abroad. On Feb. 27, Ajeng Yulia, a 21-year-old Indonesian, was sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking. Her case adds to the long list of Indonesian citizens facing execution outside their homeland — according to the Foreign Ministry’s count on Feb. 24, a total of 229 Indonesians have been sentenced to death overseas, including 131 for drugs cases. Jokowi, however, doesn’t appear to register the contradiction between vowing to save the lives of Indonesian citizens abroad while dismissing pleas from foreign governments on behalf of their citizens.

“We don’t have moral strength when we try to defend our migrant workers who are sentenced to death,” Todung says.

Instead, Indonesia has stepped up its nationalistic rhetoric. Jokowi shrugged off diplomatic repercussions from countries like Brazil, whose President refused to receive the Indonesian envoy’s credentials. “Don’t try to interfere,” Jokowi said Monday. “This is our legal sovereignty.” Armed-forces chief General Moeldoko dispatched four fighter jets to escort Chan and Sukumaran’s chartered plane en route to Nusakambangan. Says McRae: “This has become a political theater that Indonesian can stare down political pressure.”

TIME brazil

Judge Suspended in Brazil Tycoon’s Trial for Taking Defendant’s Porsche Home

Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista attends his court hearing next his lawyer during testimonies in Rio de Janeiro
Ricardo Moraes—Reuters Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista (R) attends his court hearing next to his lawyer during testimonies in Rio de Janeiro November 18, 2014.

Flavio Roberto de Souza said he was taking the car home because police had no place to park it

A judge presiding over the trial of one of Brazil’s biggest tycoons has been suspended after being caught driving the defendant’s high-end Porsche home.

Flavio Roberto de Souza was pronounced unfit to continue in the case against Eike Batista and will have all his decisions annulled, the BBC reports.

The judge said he was temporarily taking Batista’s Porsche home — one of the many super cars he had ordered confiscated from the Brazilian billionaire accused of insider trading — because the police had no place to park it.

Officials said a new judge will be appointed in the trial, which began in November.

Batista was once Brazil’s richest man, with a net worth of about $30 billion. He has denied all the accusations against him, and could face up to 13 years in prison if convicted.

[BBC]

TIME Photojournalism Links

The 10 Best Photo Essays of the Month

A compilation of the 10 most interesting photo essays published online in February, as curated by Mikko Takkunen

This month’s Photojournalism Links collection highlights 10 excellent photo essays from across the world, including Stephanie Sinclair‘s work on child and underage brides in Guatemala in the latest installment of her decade-long project spanning 10 countries to document the issue of child marriage around the world. In Guatemala, over half of all girls are married before 18, and over 10% under 15. Many girls marry men far older than themselves, end up withdrawing from school and become mothers long before they are physically and emotionally ready. Sinclair’s powerful pictures and accompanying video capture Guatemalan girls trying to come to terms with the harsh realities of early motherhood, especially for those who have been abandoned by their husbands.

Stephanie Sinclair: Child, Bride, Mother (The New York Times) See also the Too Young To Wed website.

Sebastian Liste: The Media Doesn’t Care What Happens Here (The New York Times Magazine) These photographs capture a group of amateur journalists trying to cover the violence in one of the largest urban slums in Brazil, Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro.

Ross McDonnell: Inside the Frozen Trenches of Eastern Ukraine (TIME LightBox) The Irish photographer documented the Ukrainian soldiers in the week preceding the most recent, fragile cease-fire.

Sergey Ponomarev: Pro-Russian fighters in the ruins of Donetsk airport (The Globe and Mail) Haunting scenes of the Pro-Russian held remains of Donetsk airport.

Alex Majoli: Athens (National Geographic) The Magnum photographer captures the people of Greece’s struggling capital for the magazine’s Two Cities, Two Europes feature on Athens and Berlin.

Gerd Ludwig: Berlin (National Geographic) Ludwig documents Germany’s booming capital for the magazine’s Two Cities, Two Europes feature on Athens and Berlin.

John Stanmeyer: Fleeing Terror, Finding Refuge (National Geographic) These photographs show the desperate conditions facing Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Edmund Clark: The Mountains Of Majeed (Wired RawFile) The British photographer’s latest book is the Bagram Airfield U.S. Military base in Afghanistan, which one held the infamous detention facility. Also published on TIME LightBox.

Sarker Protick: What Remains (The New Yorker Photo Booth) This moving, beautiful series documents the photographer’s grandparents. The work was recently awarded 2nd Prize in the Daily Life stories category in the World Press Photo 2015 contest.

Muhammed Muheisen: Leading a Double Life in Pakistan (The Washington Post In Sight) The Associated Press photographer captures a group of cross-dressers and transgender Pakistani men to offer a glimpse of a rarely seen side of the conservative country.

TIME brazil

Brazil Arrests U.S. Cult Leader Wanted on Child-Sex Charges

U.S. Marshals Service photo of Victor Barnard arrested late on Friday at Pipa beach in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil
Reuters Victor Barnard who was arrested on Feb. 27, 2015 at Pipa beach in the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.

Brazilian authorities said Saturday they arrested a self-professed minister put on a U.S. most-wanted list for allegedly molesting two girls in a “Maidens Group” at his religious fellowship in rural Minnesota.

A statement posted on the website of the Public Security Secretariat for the Rio Grande do Norte state government reported the arrest of Victor Arden Barnard, 53. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed the arrest in a statement.

The Brazilian statement said police captured Barnard late Friday in an apartment near a paradisiacal white-sand beach in northeastern Brazil. He was being held in the city of Natal to await extradition to face charges in the U.S., The Associated Press reported…
TIME brazil

Watch this Hilarious Reply to a Brazilian Politician’s Calls for ‘Heterosexual Pride’

“In a country like Brazil, with so many beautiful guys, it must be really hard to keep straight!”

Activists in Brazil have made a poignant parody video after a senior politician announced that there should be a day to celebrate heterosexual rights.

Eduardo Cunha, the president of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, asked the government to consider making Dec. 3 “heterosexual pride” day, reports the BBC.

Cunha’s remarks, not surprisingly, caused offense and inspired a group of filmmakers called Põe Na Roda to make a parody video exploring the fictional problems that straight people face.

Problems like, “Yesterday I was arrested because I was straight.”

The video has gone viral in the South American country, clocking more than 100,000 YouTube views in just a few days.

But the tongue-in-cheek video has a serious message.

“There’s no reason for straight people to have their own day,” Pedro Henrique Mendes Castilho, who made the film, told the BBC. “They have all the rights, they are not a minority group. I made the video in an ironic way to criticize [Cunha].”

[BBC]

TIME brazil

These Photos Show Just How Bad Brazil’s Drought Really Is

These photographs show the Cantareira reservoir in Sao Paulo, Brazil as the country experiences its worst drought in 80 years. The water levels in the reservoir, which is the region's main source of water, are currently at 6% of total capacity.

TIME brazil

5 Reasons Brazil Is Getting Close to the Brink

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a breakfast meeting with the media at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia
Joedson Alves—Reuters Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reacts during a breakfast meeting with the media at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Dec. 22, 2014.

The country is facing a perfect storm of negatives

Brazil is grappling with a lingering corruption scandal, colossal drought, and an unpopular president who is suffering the consequences. Here are five reasons the country’s prospects look increasingly grim:

Bleak economic outlook
The world’s seventh largest economy is off to a rough start in 2015. Within the first 10 days of February, Brazil’s Real lost a tenth of its value against the dollar. January saw the country’s inflation rate increase to 1.24% from 0.78% the previous month, the highest rate since February 2003. Brazil’s economy is hardly expected to grow this year: the IMF forecasts just a 0.3% increase in GDP for this major emerging market.

Water shortages
Brazil is suffering through a historic drought, making it likely that the government implements water and power rationing. In 2014, Sao Paulo suffered the worst drought in over 80 years; with peak rainy season now over, its main reservoir sits at 6% of capacity. Since hydropower accounts for some 70% of Brazil’s electricity, water shortages directly threaten the power sector too. A federal decision to withdraw fiscal subsidies from the power sector could raise utility prices by 40% this year.

Ominous hikes in poverty and public transportation
Brazil’s middle class has grown dramatically since the turn of the century, now accounting for about half of the population. As it grew, extreme poverty fell; the number of people unable to afford enough calories to avoid malnutrition has declined by more than two-thirds since 2003, when the center left Worker’s Party took office. But in November, Brazil’s government announced the first annual rise in extreme poverty on its watch, with the ranks of the indigent growing by 371,000 between 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, that bigger middle class has put bigger demands on public services. In 2013, hundreds of thousands turned out to protest bus fare increases and expenses surrounding the World Cup that took place the following year. Last month, the government announced bus and train fire hikes that are even higher than those from 2013—16.6% in Sao Paulo and 13.3% in Rio. And Brazil will host the Olympics next year.

Corruption isn’t going away
Campaigning for her re-election last year, President Dilma Rousseff touted the state-run oil company Petrobras for creating 74,000 new jobs. Yet, an ever-deepening corruption scandal has engulfed the company and the government. Prosecutors report at least $730 million in “suspicious payments” on Petrobras contracts; the former purchasing chief indicated that 3% of his division’s contracts were provided to Rousseff’s Worker’s Party and allies for personal use or campaign finance. According to federal prosecutors, there are 232 companies currently under investigation. In Brazil, endemic corruption is commonplace: bribery is an ingrained practice for those seeking licenses or currying favor with regulators. More than 20,000 government jobs are by appointment—compared to 5,500 in the United States—providing politicians with ammunition to reward allies or business partners.

President Rousseff takes the hit
Add up all these painful developments, and it’s no wonder that the tide has turned against Dilma Rousseff. Since narrowly winning reelection four months ago with 51.6% of the vote, her approval ratings have nearly halved. A recent poll revealed that the percentage of people who rated her performance as “excellent or good” declined from 42% to 23% in just three months; those who rated her presidential performance as “bad or terrible” spiked from 24% to 44%. Brazilians are losing faith in Dilma: 60% believe Rousseff lied more than she told the truth during her campaign, and 77% think Rousseff knew about the corruption at Petrobras, a company she used to run.

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