Promised Land | Tyranny in Tocantins


An urgent question: Will Katia Abreu (PMDB-TO) be called upon to serve as Minister of Agriculture in the next Brazilian administration? Abreu is an unlikely bedfellow for a governing coalition led by a party with a history of championing agrarian reform and settlement of landless rural workers.

Along with presiding over the CNA lobbying group, the most powerful voice of agribusiness, Abreu is a sitting Senator and leader of the agribusiness benches in the legislature. That is to say, she is, paradoxically, someone with the luxury of lobbying herself and in charge of auditing her own compliance.

As her confirmation hearing nears, however, Abreu has been the object of concerted criticism by the social movements, as Conexão Tocantins reports. Liberation theologists Boff and Frei Betto have denounced the nomination in no uncertain terms.  As the Buenos Aires Herald reports,

[Dilma] declined to comment on the possibility of Senator Katia Abreu (PMDB) taking over the Agriculture Ministry. Reports about Abreu’s designation have led to widespread criticism from social organizations linked to workers’ rights, which believe she will favour big agricultural multi-nationals to the detriment of small producers.

Against this backdrop, some insight into the conduct of the latifúndio in some of Brazil’s remotest townships.

Promised Land

Source: Polícia Federal

Cuiabá/MT – The Polícia Federal today unleashed Operation Promised Land, whose objective is to take down a criminal organization responsible for fraudulent practices in the concession of lots earmarked for agrarian reform. It is thought that more than a thousand units are affected by the scheme. The damage to the  public coffers could reach R$ 1 billion.

Some 350 federal police are serving 227 bench  warrants: 52 for preventive custody, 146 for search and seizure, and 29 restraining orders. The warrants are being served in Mato Grosso (in  Cuiabá, Várzea Grande, Nova Mutum, Diamantino, Lucas do Rio Verde, Itanhangá, Ipiranga do Norte, Sorriso, Tapurah and Campo Verde) as well as Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Among the targets are eight civil servants. It is estimated that 80 farmers are involved in the scheme.

Investigations found that the criminal group, composed of farmers, corporate executives and agribusiness groups, worked to obtain a valid reconcentração fundiária o– reunification of lands –involving federal lands destined for agrarian reform. The suspects are charged with fraud, use of physical force and weapons violations. The land in question was sold cheaply or invaded by squatters.

Over the past ten years, in order to sustain illegal commerce and  concentration of lands earmarked for agrarian reform. The organization used false documents, simulated inspections, forged abandonment of claim contract and entered phony data into the System of Information for Agrarian Reform  (SIPRA/INCRA), making it possible for major landowners, agribusiness groups and even multinational corporations, to illegally occupy land belonging to the Union and destined for agrarian reform.

The PF also found that the scheme made use of corrupt INCRA agents, members of trade federations and civil servants operating in the city council and prefectures.

In the run-up to her confirmation hearings, Abreu has accumulated other accusations:

… she is suspected of ties to slave labor. In 2012, the State Regional Labor Superintendent freed 56 persons living in a state analogous to slavery on  the Agua Amarela farm in Tocantins. Investigations by labor inspectors discovered that, even though registered in the name of a front company, the property belongs to a Paulo Alexandre Bernardes da Silva Júnior andAndré Luiz de Castro Abreu, the Senator’s brother.

This scandal dates back to 2012. In 2013, as a federal deputy,

Irajá Silvestre Filho, better known as Irajá Abreu (PSD/TO), was sworn in as secretary of the recently created secretary of Agrarian Development and Regulation of Land Titles in the state government of Tocantins. In a joint statement, Via Campesina, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) and Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB) denounced the nomination by Governor Siqueira Campos (PSDB) and expressed concerned with the manner in which the distribution of land titles is being carried out, calling it “a legalization of squatting” on public lands.The Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) said the nomination concerned it, given that Irajá Abreu is the son of Senator Kátia Abreu (PSD/TO), president of the CNA and a principle leader of the so-called ruralist benches in Congress.

Rio | Full Metal Jacket


Announcement from the Brazilian Federal Police:

São Paulo/SP – Yesterday, the Polícia Federal seized 500 kg of marijuana and more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition reserved for military use at kilometer 30 of the Castello Branco Highway, near Barueri.

It was a joint action with the state highway patrol, which set up a roadblock to search for potential drug smugglers.

Around 10:00 a.m., after searching a number of suspect vehicles, a truck carrying soccer balls was pulled over at the roadblock. While searching the vehicle, the police found 500 kg of marijuana and more than 100,000 cartridges reserved for police and military use (9mm, .45, 556 e 762) to be used in pistols, submachine guns and assault rifles. Divided into 33 packages, the cargo weighed 758 kg.

Police discovered that the drugs and ammo were destined for Rio de Janeiro, where they would supply the Maré shantytown complex.

The driver was arrested on the scene and charged with drug trafficking. He will be transferred into the custody of the state prison system.

«Why America Is to Blame for Mexico’s Carnage» | Ackerman


Public relations disaster of the week, via Foreign Policy |  Why America Is to Blame for Mexico’s Carnage and Corruption.

The observation is part of a critical essay by John Ackerman of UNAM regarding the continuing corruption and violence in the neighbor to the south. It might be a good time to re-read Bordering on Chaos: Guerrillas, Stockbrokers, Politicians, and Mexico’s Road to Prosperity, by Andres Oppenheimer.

When Peña Nieto made the mistake of traveling to China and Australia to participate in the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and G-20 summits in the middle of the present crisis, Obama welcomed him with open arms and chose to plant trees side by side with him at China’s Yanqi Lake. Indeed, viewed from Mexico, the sight of Obama and Peña Nieto shoveling dirt side by side gave the impression that they were working together to fill in the numerous mass graves that have been discovered around Iguala in recent days.


SABESP | A Drought Foretold?

Sabesp | A Drought Foretold?

By: Felipe Bianchi | Barão de Itararé

Trans. C. Brayton

See also the New York Times … Sorry, wrong citation, although the times has covered the issue in the most cursory of manners. One of the other global dailies, as I recall, recently wrote about the aversion of local politicians to the “d” — drought — word.

In 2003, when Sabesp began selling its shares on the market, lawmakers and activists were already concerned about the priority afforded private interests over the universalization of access to water.

Though the crisis did not explode until 2014, the reasons for the serious drought conditions in São Paulo today reach back to episodes that have little to do with lack of rain or the whims of Nature.

Midnight Oil

One such episode took place in 2003, when Alesp, the state legislature, in a midnight vote, approved Law No. 410/2003, drafted by the PSDB and making it possible for Sabesp to sell its shares in the market. The tally was 55 votes to 22, in a session convened at 4:30 a.m. on August 27.

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Message 503 | A Paraguayan Coup d’Etat?


Blog da Cidadania, by Edu Guimarães:

503 Service Temporarily Unavailable

There is a saying in Brazil that often comes in handy in trying to navigate murky waters:

For our friends, anything; for our enemies, the Law

For several weeks now, blogger Luis Nassif and a handful of like-minded progressives has warned of a plot to carry out a “Paraguayan coup d’etat” to prevent the recently reelected president, Dilma Rousseff, from taking the oath for her second term.

The term refers to the removal of Lugo in Paraguay in an impeachment proceeding that lasted 48 hours, permitted only two hours for the preparation of the defense,  and was based on a flimsy theory of  crimes of responsibility.

As Edu Guimarães notes — in a post that is throwing  a «503 Service Temporarily Unavailable» message at the moment — the third element in a Paraguay-style end run around the Constitution lies with the justices of the TSE.

I translate. Continue reading

Neologisms Today | Petrolão


Source: José Antônio Lima | GGN

The Federal Police operation and the opinion of the Federal Public Ministry in the Car Wash case leave little room for doubt as to how thoroughly tangled up the Workers’ Party is in this investigation.

The treasurer of the party, João Vaccari Neto, is often cited and at least two ex-Petrobras executives  – Renato Duque and Pedro Barusco – are pointed to as PT go-betweens in a scheme to embezzle public funds.

Other subsidiaries of the partially state-owned oil company, according to the PF and the MPF,  were in the hands of the Progressive Party and the PMDB, revealing how the company was divided into fiefdoms by allied political forces.

There is no way to deny any of this, but an unfortunate result is that, in its eagerness to denounce the corruption of the PT, a number of news organizations are neglecting parts of the Car Wash and in doing so, are neglecting the truth.

The eagerness to frame the PT in this case, for example, is visible in the use of the term «petrolão» [… a reference to the «mensalão», the coinage has also been used to refer, for example, to the «trensalão», a huge cartel case involving São Paulo public transit. It is the tropical version of sticking a «gate» on everything  hinky.]

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Toucan Detente | “Never Will Have So Few Stolen So Little”


«An e-mail from Paulo Roberto Costa to Dilma Rousseff in 2009 indicates that she and Lula ignored [were unaware of] alerts about irregularities in Petrobras projeccts used by defendants in the Car Wash case»

«An e-mail from Paulo Roberto Costa to Dilma Rousseff in 2009 indicates that she and Lula ignored [were unaware of] alerts about irregularities in Petrobras projeccts used by defendants in the Car Wash case»

 In the midst of an ongoing moral panic campaign over corruption in Petrobras — a story mostly ignored by the Anglophone and European news media, or treated by stock pickers as a positive case — a dissident voice of the PSDB published a much remarked-upon appeal to partisan detente.

The guest column comes on the heels of an unfortunate tirade by Globo radio journalist  Alexandre Garcia last week, when he stated that |”the 53 million voters” who selected Dilma Rousseff are  “accomplices” of corruption at Petrobras, because the accusations against the state-owned oil company have been known since early this year. At Globo, the commentary was viewed as aggressive, exaggerated, and inopportune.

Globo has a history of calling its audience idiots, like the time Willian Bonner of the primetime news program Jornal Nacional said that his program had to be dumbed down because “our target audience is Homer Simpson.”

By: *RICARDO SEMLER, senior partner, Semco Partners

Source: Viomundo.

Translation: C. Brayton

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