TIME brazil

Brazilian Man Confesses to 39 Murders

BRAZIL-CRIME-SERIAL KILLER-ARREST
Alleged serial killer Tiago Gomes da Rocha, center, suspected of killing 39 people, is escorted by police officers at the Department of Security, a day after his arrest, in Goiania, state of Goias, Brazil, on Oct. 16, 2014. Evaristo Sa—AFP/Getty Images

“We have been shocked by his coldness,” said a police official

A 26-year-old Brazilian man who allegedly killed at least 39 people in the span of three years has been taken into custody by local authorities.

Security guard Thiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha confessed to the murders after being arrested in the central city of Goiania, the BBC reports.

“We have been shocked by his coldness,” a police official who witnessed his interrogation told Brazilian television, saying that Gomes da Rocha referred to his victims by numbers one to 39.

He reportedly targeted women, homeless people and homosexuals, going up to his victims on a motorcycle with his face covered. He would then shoot them and leave without taking any of their possessions, although police said he would often demand valuables.

Other than the killings, he is also suspected of carrying out over 90 robberies.

[BBC]

Read next: Brazil Announces First Suspected Ebola Case

TIME ebola

Brazil Announces First Suspected Ebola Case

Electron micrograph of Ebola virus
A scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus buds from the surface of a Vero cell of an African green monkey kidney epithelial cell line. NIAID/EPA

But the case isn't confirmed yet

Brazil is treating its first suspected case of the Ebola virus, the country’s Health Ministry announced Thursday night.

A 47-year-old man arrived in Brazil on Sept. 19 from Guinea and reported he had a fever on Oct. 8, within the 21-day Ebola incubation limit. He has no other symptoms, like bleeding or vomiting, but has been put in isolation and flown to the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rio de Janeiro per the country’s security protocol.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are the three West African countries hardest hit by the virus.

Brazil’s Health Ministry will hold a news conference on the case at 10 am on Friday.

 

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Presidential Election, Round 2: It’s the Economy, Estúpido

Brazil's President and presidential candidate for the Workers' Party Dilma Rousseff, speaks during a meeting with Governors and Senators elected in the first round of general elections, in Brasilia, Brazil on Oct. 7, 2014.
Brazil's President and presidential candidate for the Workers' Party Dilma Rousseff, speaks during a meeting with Governors and Senators elected in the first round of general elections, in Brasilia, Brazil on Oct. 7, 2014. Evaristo Sa—AFP/Getty Images

The economy takes center stage as incumbent President Dilma Rousseff takes on business-friendly challenger Aécio Neves in a runoff election Oct. 26

Brazil’s faltering economy will be high in voters’ minds when they return to the polls Oct. 26 for a second-round face-off in the country’s presidential election.

President Dilma Rousseff, whose Workers’ Party has run Brazil since 2003, won 41.59% of votes cast in a first-round poll on October 5 — not quite enough to beat outright Aécio Neves, a business-friendly candidate who was twice governor of Minas Gerais state. Neves, who had been trailing in third place in polls, came second with 33.55% in the latest in a series of upsets in a volatile campaign.

Neves’ resurgence can partly be explained by the worrying state of the country’s economy. The country is technically in recession, having retracted 0.6% in the second quarter of this year, and 0.2% in the first. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund revised its prediction for Brazil’s 2014 GDP growth down to 0.3%, from the 1.3% growth it had estimated in June.

“In Brazil growth is very low. This puts the advance of social programs at risk,” said Ricardo Ismael, a political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. Inflation is also running above government targets, at 6.62%.

Many voters, especially those in the upper classes, see Neves as a safe pair of hands. His Party for Brazilian Social Democracy ran Brazil from 1995-2002 under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Cardoso had won a first-round vote in 1995 after the ‘Real Plan’ he coordinated as Finance Minister ended hyperinflation. His government stabilized the economy and introduced much-needed economic reforms. But the Left attacked the party’s privatizations of state companies and lack of focus on social policies.

On Monday, Rousseff resurrected that attack, alluding to “ghosts of the past” and noting that inflation had reached 12.5% in 2002. “They never put the poor in the budget. All the social policies were restricted, made for few people,” Rousseff said. Her party’s flagship income support program, the Bolsa Família, or ‘Family Purse,’ has lifted millions of Brazilians from poverty. The president has said in campaigning her opponents would end it.

Neves countered with a broadside over the stagnant economy and a corruption scandal which has linked payments to politicians from the Workers’ Party and other coalition parties to inflated contracts from state-controlled oil company, Petrobras. His program maintains the Bolsa Família.

“Brazilians are very worried with the monsters of the present,” Neves said in a speech Monday. “High inflation, recession and corruption.”

Rousseff was initially favorite to win this election. But when the Brazilian Socialist Party’s Eduardo Campos, a ‘third way’ candidate who was in third place in polls, was killed in a plane crash on Aug. 13, his running mate Marina Silva took his place, tripled his share, and was soon polling equal with Rousseff and ahead in a second round vote.

But Silva’s campaign faltered under a barrage of attacks from the Workers’ Party, and Neves was able to present himself as a stronger candidate for change, with a tough performance in the last two television debates. He rode a last minute wave of support to second place. Silva fell to third with 21.32% of the vote, only slightly more than she achieved in the 2010 election, when she also finished third. Brazilians also voted for governors, Congress and state assemblies.

“The electors that were anti-Workers’ Party became more sympathetic to Aécio,” said Ismael, using the candidate’s first name, as is commonplace in Brazil. “He managed to convince in this sense.”

Neves now has three weeks to prove his point. But in a sign of widening voter apathy, 39 million Brazilians either abstained, or voted for nobody – more than the 35 million that voted for Neves.

TIME Food & Drink

Coffee-Bean Prices Have Hit Their Highest Level in More Than Two Years

Devastating drought threatens Brazils coffee production
Coffee sales this season will be down after southeastern Brazil deals with one of the worst droughts in decades. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Projections for continued drought in Brazil mean they'll likely rise again

Arabica-coffee prices reached their highest level in 2½ years on Monday, after projections for more dry weather in Brazil sowed worries about lackluster future harvests, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Arabica coffee ordered for delivery in December ended on Monday at $2.2080 a pound on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange — the highest price since February 2012, WSJ says. A commodities strategist betting on the futures market also told WSJ he expects coffee-trading prices to rise from here, to $2 to $3 a pound next year.

For cup-of-joe consumers, though, the effects will not be immediate. WSJ reports that Starbucks has already fixed prices with suppliers to meet its needs in 2015, though prices for 2016 are still in the works.

The recent coffee harvest in Brazil was the smallest in three years and follows Brazil’s worst drought in decades. Brazil is the world’s biggest exporter of coffee beans, though the largest importer to the U.S. market — where Americans spend about $40 billion a year on coffee — is Mexico, the U.S. National Coffee Association says.

[WSJ]

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Tight Presidential Election Is Headed for a Runoff

First Round Presidential Elections Held In Brazil
Brazilians wait in line to enter a polling station in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro on the day of the presidential election on Oct. 5, 2014 Mario Tama—Getty Images

Leftist incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took the top spot in the first round but failed to get an overall majority

Brazil’s presidential election is headed for a runoff after incumbent President Dilma Rousseff took the top spot in the first-round on Sunday but failed to get the majority needed to win overall.

Rousseff, of the leftist Workers’ Party, won 41.4% of the vote in the tight race, riding the success of her social-welfare programs, the Guardian reports. She will duel with Aécio Neves, of Brazil’s pro-business Social Democratic party, who took 33.7% of the vote in a last-minute and unexpected surge.

The first round of the election closes an agonizing campaign season full of unexpected flips and flops, including one candidate’s death in a plane crash, another’s homophobic rant, and another candidate’s ties to a massive oil scandal.

The coming election — a squaring off between Brazil’s established left and the right — will be a disappointment to voters who had backed third candidate Marina Silva, a former Environment Minister who had at one point led the polls.

Rousseff is projected to win in the coming runoff, though Neves may further harness resentment toward the incumbent administration for continued sluggish economic growth, the New York Times reports. Silva may also choose to throw her weight behind Neves, the Guardian adds.

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Rousseff to Face Neves in Runoff Vote

Updated Sunday, Oct. 5

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s presidential election has been forced into a runoff vote because no single candidate won a majority of the vote.

With 92 percent of the vote counted, President Dilma Rousseff has won 41 percent of the first-round vote Sunday, according to results from Brazil’s top electoral court, which oversees elections.

She will face Aecio Neves of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, who had 34 percent of the vote. Neves comes from a long line of Brazilian politicians.

There aren’t enough uncounted votes for any other challenger to surpass either Rousseff or Neves.

Neves staged a strong comeback to make it to the second round.

He overtook former Environment Minister Marina Silva, who just four weeks ago held a double-digit lead over him and looked like she might win the presidency.

Brazilians voted Sunday in the contest to determine the next leader of Latin America’s biggest nation.

TIME brazil

Marina Silva Speaks to TIME as Brazil’s Presidential Race Enters the Homestretch

Brazilian Socialist Party presidential candidate Marina Silva attends a Mass for late presidential candidate Eduardo Campos at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia, Brazil, Aug. 19, 2014.
Brazilian Socialist Party presidential candidate Marina Silva attends a Mass for late presidential candidate Eduardo Campos at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia, Brazil on Aug. 19, 2014. Eraldo Peres—AP

Thrown into the contest after the sudden death of Eduardo Campos, Silva has shaken up a race that until recently looked like a walkover for President Dilma Rousseff

Marina Silva was the running mate of the Brazilian Socialist Party’s presidential candidate Eduardo Campos when he died in a plane crash on Aug. 13, less than two months before elections on Oct. 5. His sudden death and her subsequent entry into the race changed the dynamic of the election. Silva tripled Campos’ share in the polls, and quickly surged ahead of the incumbent, the Workers’ Party’s Dilma Rousseff, though, with two days to go until the vote, Rousseff has now edged back ahead. As the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2010, Silva, who grew up in poverty in the Amazon rainforest, took 19% of the vote. This year, Silva could force a second round run-off with Rousseff. A former Brazilian environment minister credited with helping slow deforestation in the Amazon, Silva spoke to TIME about her proposals for the weak Brazilian economy, her thoughts on Brazil’s relationship with the U.S., and her upbringing deep in the Amazon rainforest.

On what she would do to put Brazil back to the path to growth after it tumbled into recession this year:

“The most important thing now is to elect a government that can give a clear signal that it will establish the fundamentals of our economy, maintaining the autonomy of the central bank, securing this autonomy, and passing a strong signal that we are going to control inflation, that we are going to reduce interest rates, and this would certainly resume our investment capacity. Resuming our investment capacity, we are going to return to growth.”

On where Brazil went wrong:

“While various countries in the world during the crisis that began in 2008 were doing their homework to gain musculature and go back to growth, Brazil under the current government underestimated the crisis. And in underestimating the crisis, did not do what it needed to do. And now when all of them start to recuperate from the crisis, Brazil is suffering the consequences.”

On Brazil’s relationship with the U.S.:

“The United States is an important country from the economic point of view, from the cultural point of view, ecological, and it is desirable that this partnership should be increasingly deepened, safeguarding the interests of both parts.”

On the 2013 allegations that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on Brazil’s President Rousseff and state-controlled oil company Petrobras:

“This created great discomfort in our diplomatic relations but we have to work so that this mistake can be repaired. Obviously for it to be repaired there needs to be a gesture from the country that committed the invasion of spying. And we have the opening for this episode to be overcome in the best possible way and we will always defend our sovereignty with vigor, the protection of our interests, but we don’t think this should deepen the crisis, the separation. Very much on the contrary, we want space for cooperation.”

On whether she would have cancelled a state visit to Washington as a result of the scandal, as President Rousseff did:

“Any government that feels invaded has to have a strong gesture. You can’t suffer an invasion of the protection of our security in terms of information without a strong reaction. I don’t imagine that if the United States had been spied on, that it wouldn’t have had a strong reaction.”

On the mass street protests that swept Brazil in 2013:

“What society was demonstrating was that in Brazil, in the world, there is a big change underway. A new political animal is emerging. This new political animal no longer moves in the way it used to, directed by the parties, by the unions, by the NGOs, or by charismatic leaders. This new political animal, that is mobilizing in the whole world, in the United States, in Europe, in Asia, in Brazil, is the fruit of the technological changes that happened, which provided communication from person to person, as in the case of the internet. They are authors, they are mobilizers, they are protagonists, they are people who do not want to be political spectators, they want to take on a political role, live, experience.”

On growing up in a family of rubber tappers in the Amazon forest:

“It was a very significant life, with many difficulties, but at the same time, with a lot freedom, with a lot of creativity, with a lot of learning, a lot of affection. I was a very stimulated child. We were eight siblings. Seven women with me and a man—except that my brother was one of the youngest. From the age of four, for five years, I was raised with my grandmother, in a house in the middle of the forest, a wooden shack on stilts, that was some 15 minutes from my father’s shack.”

On what she learned from her childhood:

“When I left the forest at 16, I was illiterate in modern literacy, but I was already a PhD in native stories. I learnt a lot with my grandmother who was a traditional midwife. I learnt a lot with my shaman uncle. I learnt a lot with my father. I learnt a lot with the forest. This was my universe.”

TIME

Feel Good Friday: 25 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From back to school to Burning Man, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Presidential Race Upended by a Dark Horse

BRAZIL-CAMPAIGN-MARINA SILVA
Marina Silva, the presidential candidate of the Brazilian Socialist Party Miguel Schincariol—AFP/Getty Images

The campaign has only just begun, but Marina Silva, who was handed the Brazilian Socialist Party's nomination after her running mate died in a plane crash, is now the candidate to beat

On the streets of central Rio de Janeiro this week, a man pushed a wheeled garbage bin that had been converted into a mobile sound system and was blasting a hip-hop-style campaign jingle. Two unsmiling clowns handed out election leaflets for a state deputy. Campaigning has officially begun in Brazil for Oct. 5 elections, and the noise level has significantly increased.

But this time around, there is little attention being paid to the habitual joke candidates — the three bin Ladens, Jesus, or São Paulo state-deputy candidate Paulo Batista, who flies through his homemade campaign video, zapping communists with red laser beams fired from his eyes.

Instead it is the gale of popular support whipping up behind environmentalist Marina Silva that is making all the news. The latest poll on Aug. 29 put Silva neck and neck with incumbent President Dilma Rousseff — both have 34%, leaving third-placed Aécio Neves with 15%. In a second-round simulation, Silva had 50% to Rousseff’s 40%.

It has been an extraordinary turnaround. Rousseff’s Workers’ Party (PT) has run Brazil since 2003, and the President looked like a sure thing for re-election until Aug. 13, when a small plane carrying then third-placed presidential candidate Eduardo Campos crashed, killing all seven on board. At the time, Rousseff led with 38%, and Campos, a former governor of Pernambuco state who was pushing a third-way platform for his Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), had just 9%.

His death catapulted Silva, his running mate, into the election. She had polled nearly 20 million votes in the 2010 election as a Green Party candidate and accepted a role as Campos’ vice-presidential candidate when attempts to found her own Sustainability Network party foundered. Now this former Environment Minister, who was raised in an illiterate, desperately poor family of rubber tappers in the Brazilian Amazon, is favored to win. Her name was chanted by some of the 130,000 mourners at Campos’ funeral.

The extent of her rise is all the more remarkable given PT’s status as a formidable political machine. Its large umbrella of coalition parties is campaigning with over five times the allotted television advertising time of Silva’s PSB.

“It is a public-opinion phenomenon … an epidemic,” says Jairo Nicolau, a political scientist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “This is the first time this happened in a presidential election.”

Rousseff is also facing a perfect storm of negative coverage. Not only has Brazil’s economy retracted for the second quarter running, putting the country technically in recession, but she was also embarrassed by comments alleged to have been made by a disgraced member of her party last week.

José Dirceu, former chief of staff to PT’s phenomenally popular ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — known simply as Lula — recently called her “Lula in a skirt,” according to a blog written by Fernando Rodrigues on the UOL news site. Dirceu, jailed with other PT bosses last year in a major vote-buying scandal, has denied the comment, but the phrase has stuck.

Memories of that scandal haven’t helped. In a recent interview on TV Globo’s prime-time Jornal Nacional news program, Rousseff refused to condemn party workers who had hailed Dirceu and other jailed PT bosses as heroes. “Perhaps the biggest PT mistake is not to have criticized themselves over corruption,” says Nicolau.

That’s especially pertinent given Rousseff’s party’s ambitious reform proposals. The PT wants to form a constituent assembly to carry out political reform with public financing for campaigns to avoid “strategies based on purchasing power.”

Silva’s reforms are no less ambitious. Her “new politics” agenda seeks a five-year mandate instead of the current four, and she says she will not stand for re-election. Her party’s program promises transparency in the funding of electoral campaigns and easier rules for referendums. “One of the most important projects, at this moment in the history of Brazil, is that we can renew politics,” Silva said in her own Jornal Nacional interview.

Silva is picking up support from disaffected urban voters who flooded Brazilian streets in protests in 2013, and a middle class tired of corruption scandals like the one that saw Dirceu jailed. “Society does not recognize itself in the parties, and does not recognize itself in the way politics is going,” says Ricardo Ismael, a political scientist at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

She has also been polling well among Brazil’s increasingly influential evangelical Christians. She is herself evangelical — although there is also an evangelical candidate, Everaldo Dias Pereira, better known as Pastor Everaldo, who is trailing with 2%.

(Her desire to appeal to religious voters seems to have affected her agenda, somewhat. When the PSB program was launched on Aug. 29, it included proposals to legalize gay marriage and criminalize homophobia. That might have angered evangelicals but could have given Silva more support among liberal urban voters. A day later, however, Silva withdrew the proposals as a “mistake.”)

But perhaps the most important issue in this election is the economy. Rousseff and PT have been buoyed, in recent years, by the stable economy and economic growth it enjoyed for a decade. The party used that economic growth to fund programs like the Family Purse income-support scheme to end social exclusion. A generation of poorer Brazilians advanced to a lower-middle class, called Class C. GDP growth peaked at 7.5% in 2010.

Brazil isn’t growing anymore, though, and the economy’s stagnation is now one of Rousseff’s biggest problems. “This is an extremely vulnerable point in Dilma’s campaign,” says Paulo Fábio Dantas Neto, political scientist at the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador.

It’s one that Silva has been able to capitalize on. Markets rose this week on what is being called the “Marina effect” — the market-friendly PSB manifesto promises an independent Central Bank and more public-private partnerships to promote more much needed investments in infrastructure.

While Neves and his center-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) have tried to take a business-friendly approach, voters are now primed to dismiss him as business as usual. “The electorate does not want more PT and will not vote for Aécio,” says Ismael. “Marina fills a space for those who want to change but do not want the PSDB.”

So is Silva a sure thing? Not necessarily, says Nicolau, who advises that Brazilian public opinion has shown itself volatile in recent years. The mass street protests of June 2013 dissipated rapidly. World Cup disappointment just prior to the tournament turned to pride once the tournament began.

“It is very volatile for some feelings, some perceptions. Today Marina is a phenomenon, but she could deflate,” he says.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser