Brazil’s Supreme Court has opened the trial of 38 people in a corruption case that rocked the government of then-President Lula, in 2005. The defendants are accused of involvement in a scheme that used public funds to pay coalition partners to support the government’s agenda (BBC).
BBC Brasil explains the background: What exactly was the “mensalao” scandal?
Seven years after a corruption scandal rattled the government of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday began a landmark trial that could mar the wildly popular leader’s legacy. Brazilians still don’t know the extent of the infamous “mensalão” scandal, an alleged scheme to pay legislators a monthly retainer in exchange for their support in Congress (Reuters).
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Venezuela has joined Mercosur, six years after first applying to join the South American trading bloc. President Hugo Chavez went to Brazil for the ceremony, in his first official trip abroad since being diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago (BBC).
President Chavez said his country might sell crude oil to Brazil, which may in turn sell commercial aircraft to the Andean nation, as part of renewed trade ties between
the two countries (Reuters).
Paraguay has contested Venezuela’s Mercosul membership, winning support from top Uruguayan officials and Brazil’s opposition, who say Chavez’s human rights record and seizure of foreign-owned companies is anathema to a group founded to promote democracy and trade (Bloomberg).
But Argentine President Cristina Fernández said during a press conference held at the Mercosur extraordinary summit in Brasilia, that Venezuela’s entry to the bloc “strengthens the entire region” and creates a “new pole of power” at world level (MercoPress).
If there is any winner in Venezuela’s entry into Mercosur, it will be Brazil, and to a lesser extent, Argentina. They will both be able to sell food and manufactured goods to Venezuela at preferential tariffs (Miami Herald).
The Brazilian economic juggernaut has slowed this year, but Florida’s trade with Brazil still shows growth (Miami Herald).
DEFENSE & SECURITY
Brazil will help Haiti form a defense force that can eventually take over from the UN peacekeeping mission. Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim announced the decision during a meeting with his Haitian counterpart Jean Rodolphe Joazile. He said the Brazilian government would send a military mission to determine how Brazil could help the Caribbean country (Xinhua).
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There are about 1.3 million Brazilians dependent on marijuana, according to the 2nd National Survey on Alcohol and Drugs (Folha).