Brazil’s Political Crisis Simplified

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So the mainstream media has been taking coverage of the US Election which is justifiable. The fiasco of the US election has surely entertained so many people around the world over the past three months with the crazy remarks of Donald Trump to the clashes between Sanders and Clinton. However, there is a country that is going through the same situation like the United States. That country is Brazil. The country that is known for the Amazon, football and carnivals. Now Brazil is going through a political crisis as we speak which has not gotten much media attention as it should. Protests have been happening across the country for weeks if not years with the allegations of corruption within the Brazilian government that has rocked the country. However, let’s give some context.

Brazil is the largest country in South America in terms of both land mass and population. It is the fifth largest land mass country in the world and is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Brazil’s land mass is the equivalent of Nigeria nine times its size. Brazil has the population of over 200 million people making them the fifth largest in the world and the largest in Latin America. Brazil is similar to the United States in terms of its demographics within its population with whites, blacks and Pardo (Mixed race).

Brazil’s history is similar with those in Latin America having experienced military coups over its history. Brazil’s democracy is very young with its present constitution formed in 1988. Over the past 13 years, Brazil has been ruled under the Workers’ Party. The Workers’ Party is a center-left party that was very popular largely due to former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva or Lula. Lula was President from 2003 to 2011 and was very popular. Lula was a Union worker before he became President. Under Lula, Brazil’s economy grew to become the 8th largest in the world, his social programs became very popular and lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Brazil’s reputation alongside Lula grew around the world. Brazil is part of the economic alliance B.R.I.C.S which is the growing economies in the world and won the rights to host the World Cup and Olympics in 2014 and 2016. At the end of Lula’s term, his approval rating was over 80%. He was succeeded by his Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff has been President for 5 years and is Brazil’s first female President.

The political scandal in Brazil involves politicians like Rousseff, Brazil’s construction companies, and Petrobras. Petrobras is a public owned oil company which is the largest in Brazil. The corruption scheme was between 2004 to 2014 when oil prices were high which benefited the country. Construction companies charged Petrobras with enormous sums which benefited their executives with inflated contracts. Those in Petrobras were rewarded with bribes which went to politicians as gifts or donations to their campaigns. The total amount is estimated to be between $800 million to $5.3 billion.
This has undermined Rousseff’s administration with 15 members of her cabinet being investigated for the scandal and leaves a huge possibility of her being impeached. Her popularity is at an all-time low with two-thirds of the country demanding her to impeachment. Rousseff is also investigated as she was part of the Board of Directors during that period. It also damaged the reputation of the Workers’ Party which is seen to stand up against corruption and for the working class and minorities. A few days ago, Rousseff appointed Lula as her Chief of Staff but was blocked by a federal judge as Lula may have been involved in the scandal as well. The scandal also includes opposition parties who gained bribes in order to beat the Workers’ Party.

The scandal has further increased the problems in Brazil. The country is divided through racial and class lines. Its economy is in its worst recession in decades along with hosting the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The country is also heavily affected with the Zika Virus. The scandal has affected the country with protests for and against Rousseff which leaves a blank future for Latin America’s most powerful country.

For more Info, here’s a video about the scandal explained by Hank Green of Vlogbrothers

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