Brazil Update #3
Zika and the Olympics
In Copenhagen in 2009, Brazil won the privilege of hosting the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. The games will begin on the 5th of august, but have been facing some serious threats, like not being able to be on schedule and waters in the Guanabara bay being polluted. Most severe of all though is the threat of the Zika virus, that has been plaguing the country for quite some time now. Despite only show mild symptoms such as fever or a rash, the virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth abnormality that causes an underdeveloped head and brain of the child. The Zika virus therefore poses the real threat to pregnant women.
The World Health Organization received an open letter, signed by 150 health experts, that warns against the risk of transmission related to an event like the Olympics where thousands of people from all over the globe will gather and potentially carry the virus to their domestic countries. However, WHO doesn’t feel that the Olympics have to be postponed or relocated. This too goes for UN, from which a spokesperson said that stopping the games would not prevent the spread of the virus.
Political and Economical Situation
The ongoing impeachment process of president Dilma Rousseff is entering its last phase. On May 12, the senate voted 55 to 22 to begin the actual trial. This has resulted in Rousseff being suspended for up to six months and in this time vice-president Michel Temer, from PMDB, will act as commander in chief, while the trial is finishing up. Rousseff herself claims to have made errors, but denies to have been involved in any criminal activity. She and her supporters even speak of the impeachment as it being a “coup”. While Temer’s allies are trying to counter the argument by saying that the impeachment was constitutional and necessary to address the political paralysis that has been one of the factors for the financial crisis in Brazil.
This new interim government is already in a vulnerable state as two ministers have already lost their minister posts as a consequence of leaked tapes, linking one of them to the corruption scandal and the other to planning the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff.
For the fifth straight quarter, the Brazilian economy shrank again, early in 2016, but now Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles is saying that Brazil could be on its way of the recession. The new interim government has a long term solution, being a ceiling on public expenditure and reducing the role of the state, which will leave more room for private investment.
According to Presidental Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha, Brazil might be able to balance its budget by as soon as 2018 without having to raise taxes. Seen in light of the just revealed deficit of $170 billion reais from last year, many economists believe that without immediate cuts in expenditure and tax increases, it could take years for Brazil to get back on track.
Written by Simon Oscar Brandi