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BRAZIL
Between violence and corruption
Latinamerica Press
6/3/2015
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Murdered reporter brought to light the corruption scheme between businesses and politicians.

Evany José Metzker, a 67 year old reporter, was found murdered on May 18 in the southern state of Minas Gerais. Metzker was known for his blog called “Coruja do Vale,” in which he published content related to crime and corruption, as well as criticism of politicians all over the country. On May 11, Metzker had published an article in which he argued that the government of Dilma Rousseff had knowledge about the recent cases of corruption in Brazil, quoting Alberto Yousseff, a money broker, who revealed the existence of the corruption scheme between the executives of large corporations and politicians that involved the state petroleum company, Petrobras.

According to the investigations carried out by Commissioner Fabricia Nunes, Metzker’s death would have “political motivations.”

International organizations issued statements about the murder. Carlos Lauria, Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned “the brutal murder” and demanded the Brazilian authorities “to leave no stone unturned in investigating this crime and all possible motives.”

Also, the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, invoked the authorities to conduct “a thorough investigation into this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

“It is important for society as a whole to avoid that those responsible for violent attempts to muzzle press freedom are not allowed to get away with their crimes unpunished”, said Bokova.

Violence against the press in Brazil has increased in recent years. According to the CPJ, at least 14 journalists have been assassinated for their work since 2011. The majority of homicides would have been committed by drugtraffickers as a reprisal for public denouncements by the press.

Another reporter also covering the news on crime was assassinated on May 26. Djalma Santos da Conceiçao, 53 years old, had a popular radio program in Salvador de Bahia, in the northeast, and was investigating the assassination of an adolescent at the hands of human traffickers.

The economy collapses
In addition to the corruption scandals involving large companies, such as Petrobras, with the government, Brasil is experiencing an economic slump and rising unemployment at the national level.

The Petrobras situation exploded in March 2014, when 24 people were arrested after a judicial investigation started the year before. The trail led to Yousseff himself, who was charged with money laundering and who revealed the scheme of corruption to the authorities along with the Petrobras’ former Director of Supplies, Paulo Roberto Costa. Among those arrested were businessmen belonging to large construction companies such as Odebrecht, Camargo Correa, Queiroz Galvão and OAS, that overcharged for works contracted by Petrobras. The money was spread among politicians and political parties including the governing Workers Party. The Public Prosecutor estimates that between 2004 and 2012 approximately US$8 billion were diverted.

The Supreme Court authorized the Police to investigate 48 legislators of the governing and opposition parties implicated in the diversion of the state company funds. Petrobras suffered losses of $7.2 billion in 2014, of which $2 billion was due to corruption.

The economic slow-down is also taking the toll to Rousseff. According to the Ministry of Labor, in the first trimester of the year unemployment has grown by almost 3 percent. With respect to inflation, the magazine Focus has predicted that this year the prices will rise to 8.4 percent, which is 6.5 percent more than was initially projected. According to Focus, this will be “the worse year for economic growth since the decade of the 1990s.” The International Monetary Fund has calculated growth of 0.3 percent for 2015.

In March, only three months after Rousseff started her second four-year term, more than a million demonstrators took to the streets in different cities throughout the country, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, demanding the resignation of the President.

In an interview with the Uruguayan newspaper, El Pais, the former president of Uruguay, José Mujica (2010-2015), stated that the political corruption in Brazil is “inexplicable.” The Rousseff government has only a 12 percent approval rate.

On May 26, four parties — PSDB, Popular Socialist, Democrats, and Solidarity — brought criminal charges against Rousseff before the Supreme Court. The following day, in a press conference in Mexico, the President affirmed that “society cannot coexist with corruption and impunity.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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Corruption scandals and economic slowdown are taking the toll to President Dilma Rousseff. (Photo: www2.planalto.gob.br)
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