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Media Blitz 2014: Coffee, Cream and Sugar at Presidential Debates

A report on the current incarnation of the hoary old Café com Leite economic and political movements — a phrase used to describe the ideological dichotomies of the Old Republic of the late XIX Century.

(Milk stands for agricultural Minas Gerais while São Paulo still embraces the ways of  the fantastic, legendary coffee bubble.

The old coffee exchange still stands in the vicinity of Wall and Pearl Streets, I think. I just remember being surprised to come across an almost identical building in the port of Santos, with the same title.

Northeastern sugarcane completes the picture and I sigh after taking a cautious slurp.

My translation, with minor corrections to preserve the flow.

During the second round of elections,  (PSDB) will rely on support that far exceeds the numbers of its campaign supporters and militants.

According to the  Manchetômetro [Headline Watch],  which monitors  election media coverage  on a daily site, in a typical week has yielded a wealth of stories and articles contrary to reelection of Dilma. The group recently counted 79 negative headlines about Dilma and only 10 (ten) about the center-right Toucan candidate, Neves.

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Labor Relations | Chico The Vigilante


Source: CUT | Central Única dos Trabalhadores

Maintenance unions CNTV, Sindesv and Sindvig met this morning with the federal minister of labor, Manoel Dias, to debate and suggest measures that would regulate the hiring of watchmen during the FIFA Cup in Brazil. Estimates are that 50 thousands jobs will be created in this area during the Cup. Continue reading

Latifúndio | Counting the Beans

Senator Kátia Abréu: "Miss Deforestation"

Senator Kátia Abréu: “Miss Deforestation”

Source:  Brasil de Fato

At least six of the major foreign and domestic groups in the agribusiness, mining and firearms industries invested  R$ 1.395 million in the 2010 election campaigns of nine of the 17 federal deputies who signed  PLP 227.

The bill weakens protections of indigenous rights to ownership of their traditional territories.

Data from the federal elections tribunal (TSE):  See the complete list of campaign donors to the 17 authors of PLP 227.

Dozens of other companies and multinationals involved in grain, pesticides, meatpacking, mining and construction are well represented among the principal donors of the lawmakers who signed PLP 227. As the Parliamentary Agriculture Front denounces the supposedly corrupt interests of native peoples and environmentalists, without ever naming names, the TSE donation figures indicate who should really be questioned about conflicts of interest. Continue reading

Coverage | Rating Port Reports

Porto de Santos - Fotografias antigas

Via Observatório da Imprensa

By: Rolf Kuntz

Translate: C. Brayton

The Brazilian government is busy trying to stimulate the modernization of and competition among the ports, the stated goals of Provisional Measure 595, approved by a final vote in Congress on May 16.

Brazilian ports are among the best in the world at processing iron ore but occupy 35th place in the handling of containers, according to a study executed by FIRJAN and reproduced in the May 19 edition of O Globo.

To stimulate competition, however, it will be necesary to multiply access routes to various terminals, the Estado de S. Paulo warned in an article published the same day.

The contrast between coverage by the Folha and O Globo is striking: the Folha refers insistently to the current “chaos” as O Globo looks forward to an advance in the rankings, as follows.

Brazilian ports are experiencing a paradox. In port terminals for the export of iron, Brazil leads the world rankings in first, second and fifth place. Among ports that handle containers, it falls to 35th place, bringing up the rear in a study released by FIRJAN, the Rio de Janeiro industrial federation. Investments in increased capacity, modernization of equipment and improvements in electronic cargo handling could elevate Brazil to 17th place within three years. This leap, according to experts, could be favored by the MP dos Portos, approved last week in Congress.

Returning to the Estado analysis and its prognosis of “chaos”:

“The lack of alternative routes ends up overloading the southern and southeastern coastal ports, while other ports are practically idle.  In the area of grains, nearly two-thirds of production for export leaves the country through Santos (SP) and Paranaguá (PR). The rest is divided among 16 terminals scattered along the coast,” the article said.

With these articles, the two newspapers enriched the reader’s understanding one of the hottest and complex issues of the week, the vote on the Provisional Measure of the Ports. The major news organizations made a mighty effort over the course of that week to follow the voting in the two houses of Congress. Moreover, they took the trouble to explain the issue in detail and demonstrate to readers how important it was.

Hard Work

There were long, hard negotiations in the lower house. The government had failed to mobilize its congressional base of support. For this reason, a last-minute push was needed to obtain votes for the measure without agreeing to disastrous amendments.  MP 595 was to lose its validity at midnight on May 16.

An MP is a bill sent down by the executive to be voted by the Congress, with a time constraint. The mechanism is often criticized as an incursion of executive power into the powers of Congress.

With some of its main allies working against the bill, the government had to make concessions and promise resources for projects financed by budget amendments.

According to journalistic accounts, the Treasury is to release R$ 1 billion, and more political appointments are to be made. Debates in Câmara went on well into the night and the decisive session lasted 22 hours. Lawmakers were photographed sleeping on the floor of Congress, but sleep is a luxury reporters do not enjoy.

Observing this marathon was only part of the mission. Day by day it was necessary to explain the principal changes proposed, their consequences, and the probable reaction of the government.  It may be argued whether the effort was consistently successful, but the performance of the media was undeniable. It would be very difficult to obtain, in these conditions, a better result.  On May 17, the major dailies were still fixated on final approval of the bill, obtained quickly and with surprising facility by the Senate. The effort to translate the details of the text for the lay reader and to indicate the likely presidential vetos continued on Saturday.

Complex Agenda

On Sundary, the newspapers made space on the front page again for the topic.  “Brazil may advance in global ranking,” informed O Globo, with a jump head for an article on the classification and future of the ports. “New ports will require new roads and railroads,”, was the top headline of the Estadão. In a more discrete reference to the story, at the foot of the front page, the Folha de S. Paulo registered the statement: “‘I am not an evil genius’, said Eduardo Cunha, an opponent of the MP dos Portos”. Cunha leads the PMDB in the lower house of congress, the part of vice-president Michel Temer and the government’s most powerful ally. Its resistance was the principal obstacle to the approval of the measure.

Given the prospect that certain articles may be vetoed, there is much new material that will have to be explored and explained in subsequent editions. To date, the MP dos Portos is the most complete and best-organized governmental initiative to increase efficiency and competitiveness of the Brazilian economy.  But it is merely one part of a much broader agenda, as exemplified by the Estado’s story on the condition of access roads connecting to the terminals.

Odebrecht | Risks and Riches

Maracanã undergoes reconstruction

Maracanã undergoes reconstruction

2013 has so far been a time of trials for the Brazillionaire, a caste that has benefited significantly in recent years from the Lula government’s ambition to breed and incubate Brazilian multinationals with acquisitive power — think of JBS-Friboi’s takeover of the venerable Swift & Co.

The most visible sign of decline has been the performance of companies in the Eike Batista group, whose OGX petroleum subsidiary leads losses recently in the BM&FBovespa and is reportedly seeking outside and foreign investment.

Via Brasil 24/7.

With close ties to PT, Odebrecht carries $R 62 billion in debt

The Odebrecht group, which operates in the petrochemical and biofuels markets, produces nuclear submarines, participates in the management of the Maracanã football stadium and is one of the companies benefiting most from the amended Port Law, has run up debts equivalent to 3.5 times its net assets of R$ 17 billion.

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Eucatex | Twilight of the Maluf Family Empire?


If Mexico can finally imprison Elba Ester Gordillo, why shouldn’t the Brazilian finally bring down the notorious M.A.L.U.F?

The following excerpt is translated from the Estado de S. Paulo Portal ClippingMP. File it under «political grotesques».

SÃO PAULO – A São Paulo court has ordered the freezing of R$ 520 million from the Maluf family business Eucatex.

Or about US$ 260 million.  Eucatex, a eucalyptus grower, was founded by in 1951, thrived under the military dictatorship — which named Maluf mayor of the capital and later governor of São Paulo state. He is featured in a World Bank list of 150 notable corruption cases.

The measure was taken at the behest of the São Paulo state prosecutor’s office, which denounced insider transactions within the Eucatex group as part of a fraudulent effort to transfer Eucatex assets off the books and avoid payment of future court-ordered reimbursements as a result of various law suits against Maluf, accusing him of embezzling public funds while serving as mayor of São Paulo.

[The court] found that the prosecutor’s indictment demonstrates “the possibility of fraudulent reporting of assets” by Eucatex, but the ruling may be overturned if Eucatex can show that the penalty will drive the company into bankruptcy.

As the Folha de S.Paulo revealed in March, the prosecutor’s office believes that the family is trying to escape payment of court-ordered monetary awards by transferring assets to a newly founded member of the group, ECTX. Prosecutors see the transaction as fraudulent and believe its purpose is to “dehydrating” Eucatex of its assets.

Back in March, Eucatext VP José Antônio Goulart de Carvalho, denied the accusation. Goulart said the asset transfer to ECTX was undertaken because the new company would represent the vanguard of a new, more transparent governance model.

In July 2012, Eucatex transferred R$ 320 million of its assets to ECTX. In May and October, Eucatex released a Material Event statement to the market, saying it had initiated a “process of share reorganization” in order to transfer its assets.

ECTX, according to Goulart de Carvalho, is waiting for CVM authorization to launch an IPO in the capital markets.

Legal Troubles

Eucatex and the Maluf family are defendants in a case in which prosecutors have moved for the return of US$ 153 milhões that was supposedly stolen from the São Paulo city government, wired overseas and then funneled into Eucatex through various financial transactions.

There is also an open case on the Isle of Jersey involving the transfer of money by Maluf family members.

Overseas companies with ties to the Malufs have been ordered to reimburse US$ 28 million to the city of São Paulo, funds thought to be the fruit of fraudulent dealing involving the city government. These companies have appealed the decision.

In the present case, the Jersey court also ordered the freezing of Eucatex shares belonging to foreigners with ties to Maluf.

In a statement, Eucatex says it was not officially notified of the asset freeze involving R$ 520 million as ordered today by the São Paulo court.

There is another open case against Maluf, in fact, O Dia notes:

In the federal Supreme Court, Maluf and family were charged in 2011 on allegations of money laundering and using Eucatex to camouflage the misappropriation of public funds during Maluf’s term as mayor, from 1993 a 1996.

Maluf’s status as a sitting federal legislator entitles him to be tried by the Supreme Court.

Without Notice

In an official statement, the company says the motion to block its accounts has already been applied for by the prosecutor in 2009, and the application failed both in the first instance and on appeal.

According to Eucatex, the accusation is groundless given that the company’s net assets increased after the cretion of ECTX, from R$ 997 million in 2011 to R$ 1.1 billion at year’s end 2012.

“It should be recalled that Eucatex is a publicly traded corporation, with hundreds of shareholders, among them the federal legislator Paulo Maluf, who is not an executive of the company or even a member of  the board of directors,” the company added.

True: it is currently led by Maluf’s son Flávio. Interpol has an open arrest order on Flávio, from what I read. Otávio Maluf is chairman of the board.

The creation of ECTX was part of a general restructuring of the company with the goal of qualifying for the Novo Mercado listing segment of the São Paulo Stock Exchange, reserved for companies with superior governance standards and practices. The new company has been waiting since December for the CVM to rule on its registration as a publicly traded company.

The Ruralist | Potemkin Villager or Hero of Soviet Labor?


«Chemicals are the true friends of agriculture! They will provide us with centuries of grain!» —Soviet propaganda poster, 1965

I read it in the Folha de S.Paulo and used it to practice the WordFast online and Java editions.

I am surprised not to read more about this issue in the mainstream press. Carnaval is something of a sacred cow, obviously, despite worrisome ties to the underworld.

Columnist, lobbyist and federal Senator — all at once! — Kátia Abreu explains the importance of Vila Isabel’s victory in this year’s Carnaval parades in Rio.

Who is Kátia?

Kátia Abreu is a federal senator (PSD-TO) and leader of the rural benches of the Brazilian congress. She serves as president of the lobbying group CNA, the Confederação da Agricultura e Pecuária do Brasil. She writes a weekly column in the Saturday edition of the  ‘Market’ section.

Recalling the backgroundContinue reading