On April 25th Congress launched an inquiry into Mr Cachoeira’s political influence. It has convened an investigative committee that can look into or summon to testify anyone it wants, and has access to confidential bank, tax and phone records. So far it has named three federal deputies and two governors (as well as Mr Torres) as subjects of interest. It also plans to investigate Delta, a big Brazilian construction firm. One of the company’s former managers is now in jail after appearing in the wiretaps (The Economist).
Another day, another Brazilian sleaze scandal. At least, that’s what many foreign readers may be thinking. But the corruption case of Carlinhos Cachoeira stands out for its sheer scale — and the power his colluders apparently wielded. Cachoeira — a businessman known in the international press as “Charlie Waterfall” — has been in prison since March, accused of running illegal gambling operations and other offenses (Bloomberg).
For former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, corruption has increased in relation to what there was in his government. The “housecleaning” of President Dilma Rousseff is important, but he says “she may not be assessing the political risk that she is running.” “The Brazilian Congress is stronger than you think. If you do not have some ability to understand the role of Congress in the Brazilian system, you can get hurt,” said Fernando Henrique (Folha).
President Dilma Rousseff said she was appointing deputy Brizola Neto (PDT-RJ) as the new minister of Labor because she was certain he “would make a great contribution to the country.” She also thanked the former minister, Carlos Lupi, and the acting minister, Paulo Roberto Pinto, for their help in selecting the new minister (Agencia Brasil).
By the time midnight Monday, April 30, rolled around, a final total of 25,244,122 million Brazilians had sent in their 2012 income tax returns. That, at exactly 11:59:59 pm, was the official deadline. Almost all returns are filed via internet nowadays in Brazil (Agencia Brasil).
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Not everyone is confident about Brazil. Andres Oppenheimer, the Argentine-born American columnist for the “Miami Herald” and an expert on Latin America, has long been a skeptic. Oppenheimer quotes former president of Peru, Alan García, who jocked that the Brics –the world’s emerging powers made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa– would soon become the Rics, an anagram for the same group minus Brazil. He concludes that Brazil is a “temporarily disoriented giant”. Read Kenneth Maxwell´s opinion in Folha.
It might not seem that way when walking down the streets of Manhattan or Miami, but Brazilians are leaving the United States behind and heading home. A decade ago, places like Little Brazil near 42nd Street in Manhattan were loaded with Brazilian restaurants and shops selling everything from calling cards, to cameras to cheap cell phones and souvenirs. Today, Little Brazil is a shadow of its former self. The Brazilian restaurants are either half empty, or more full with tourists looking for a sugar-bombed caipirinha, than the Brazilians who live there. (And their picanha is nothing like the real thing. And come on, Pitu? Quem faça caipirinhas com Pitu? Ninguem.) (Forbes).
DEFENSE & SECURITY
The Brazilian armed forces have begun an operation in a vast area of the Amazon to tackle drug trafficking, logging and illegal mining. More than 8,500 troops are taking part in Operation Agata 4. They will be patrolling an area that stretches some 5,000km (3,100 miles) along Brazil’s northern border (BBC).
SPLIT SECOND POLLS
More than half of Brazilians over 55 suffer from high blood pressure, according to a major new national health survey.”This data shows how high blood pressure has become a main health issue in this new Brazil, which has more elderly and obese people than before,” says Brazil’s Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha (Folha).