Category Archives: Brazil

(OBS) A saga do traficante de escravos portuense que deu a D. João VI o palácio que agora ardeu no Rio de Janeiro

(OBS) Um dos delatores da Lava-Jato disse aos investigadores que a corrupção no Brasil começou quando o traficante portuense Elias Lopes doou a D João VI o palácio que agora ardeu. Esta é a sua história.

Há um pecado original no edifício do Museu Nacional que no passado domingo foi devorado pelas chamas no Rio de Janeiro. O palácio passou a ser a residência da família real portuguesa pouco depois da sua chegada ao Brasil, em 1808. A forma como a quinta da Boa Vista foi oferecida ao príncipe regente, D. João VI, por um traficante de escravos nascido no Porto, e as benesses que o monarca lhe deu em troca levaram a que o caso fosse invocado, dois séculos mais tarde, por um dos implicados na operação Lava Jato, como sendo o início da corrupção contemporânea no Brasil.

Esse momento, recriado no 6.º episódio da série da Netflix “Mecanismo”, foi relatado à Folha de São Paulo por Carlos Fernando, procurador do caso Lava Jato: “Na primeira vez que nós conversámos com o Paulo Roberto Costa [ex-diretor da Petrobras] para negociar a delação premiada, ele falou: ‘Isso [corrupção] começou em 1808 com a chegada de D. João VI ao Brasil’. A Quinta da Boa Vista era de um mercador de escravos, que a ofereceu a D. João para morar. A partir daí o privado e o público misturaram-se para sempre no Brasil. Essas foram as primeiras frases do Paulo Roberto Costa”.

O edifício do Museu Nacional em chamas. Antes residiu aqui a família real portuguesa, graças à oferta de Elias António Lopes

“O mais soberbo palácio que há nas Américas, com mais de 300 janelas”

Não se sabe quem, há 210 anos, escreveu esta carta a partir do Brasil. É o relato mais detalhado da forma como Elias António Lopes ofereceu uma quinta a D. João VI em 1808, quando a família real portuguesa desembarcou no Brasil para fugir das invasões napoleónicas. O autor, que permanece anónimo, descreveu assim o acontecimento dirigindo-se a um irmão que tinha em Portugal:

“A primeira coisa notável que me lembra dizer-te é a generosa oferta que o Negociante e Cidadão desta Cidade, Elias António Lopes, fez da sua Chácara (Quinta) a S.A.R [Sua Alteza Real], e que o mesmo SENHOR se dignou aceitar. A dita Chácara é uma das melhores coisas que há para o sul. Está situada na bela planície de S. Cristóvão, distante desta Cidade coisa de meia légua à beira mar. No meio dela se eleva uma colina de espaçosa grandeza, sobre a qual está edificado o mais soberbo Palácio que há nas Américas; pois só a varanda que tem em roda, e são de arcaria, tem mais de 300 janelas todas envidraçadas. Quando S.A.R entrou ali pela primeira vez, disse a Elias António, que o acompanhava: ‘Eis aqui uma varanda Real, Eu não tinha em Portugal uma coisa assim’. ‘Hoje’, respondeu Elias, ‘hoje é que Vossa Alteza a faz Real com a sua presença.’” [grafia adaptada ao presente para facilitar a leitura]

“No dia seguinte às 9 da manhã foram levantadas as Armas Reais no próprio Palácio, e ao mesmo tempo subiu ao ar uma girândola de foguetes, que anunciou a todos esta inauguração. Desde aquele dia começou a chamar-se à dita Chácara Quinta de S. Cristovão”

De um lado, o mar; do outro, a floresta da Tijuca e o Corcovado. Não espanta por isso que tenha sido baptizada como Quinta da Boa Vista. Faltaria resolver a dificuldade do trajecto até à cidade, mas D. João VI mandou arranjar e iluminar todo o caminho com lâmpadas de azeite dos dois lados. A carta dirigida a um irmão em Portugal, publicada na obra “Relação das festas que se fizeram no Rio de Janeiro, quando o Príncipe Regente N.S, e toda a Sua Real Família chegaram pela primeira vez aquella capital” (Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro), dá detalhes sobre a festa de inauguração da quinta e a forma como a família real começou a habitar o espaço, dando prioridade aos jantares.

“Eu não tinha em Portugal uma coisa assim”, terá dito D. João VI quando viu a quinta em 1808

“No dia seguinte às 9 da manhã foram levantadas as Armas Reais no próprio Palácio, e ao mesmo tempo subiu ao ar uma girândola de foguetes, que anunciou a todos esta inauguração. Desde aquele dia começou a chamar-se a dita Chácara Quinta de S. Cristovão. S. A. R. tem ido lá jantar muitas vezes, e até já conseguiu de sua Augusta Mãe que fizesse o mesmo por três vezes, e toda a Real Família por outras muitas. Umas vezes vai por terra, e outras por mar. Tem lá criados da Casa, e tudo o mais que lhe é necessário. S.A.R mandou fazer na mesma um belo jardim, que dois regatos de cristalinas águas podem regar abundantemente.”

Por fim, o documento explica ainda o que Elias recebeu em troca do príncipe regente: cargos, honrarias e futuras fontes de rendimento. E isto foi só o início.

“A Grandeza desta Quinta poderá ser de uma légua em circuito, tudo planície, à excepção da colina em que está edificado o Palácio. S. A. R., querendo gratificar a Elias António Lopes generosa oferta, que os mesmos Fidalgos avaliam em 4000 cruzados, houve por bem nomeá-lo Comendador da Ordem de Cristo, Fidalgo da Casa Real, e Administrador da mesma Quinta.”

Agora o mesmo episódio narrado mais de dois séculos depois, na série Mecanismo, que tem feito sucesso na Netflix. Pode espreitar o trailer aqui:

Há um momento em que o procurador do escândalo de corrupção Lava-Jato pergunta ao diretor de abastecimentos da Petrobrás quando é que tudo começou. João Paulo Rangel, personagem inspirado em Paulo Roberto Costa, responde assim:

“Tudo começou em 1808 com a vinda de D. João VI para o Brasil… naquela época quem mandava eram os comerciantes, os traficantes de escravos, eles eram os donos do dinheiro… e um deles, o mais rico, chamava-se Elias António Lopes. Percebeu que a cidade não tinha muito a oferecer e cedeu a Quinta da Boa Vista para D. João VI morar com a sua família. Aí começou. Ele  (Elias Antonio Lopes) recebeu a Ordem Militar de Cristo e foi nomeado escrivão e tabelião de Paraty e Senhor de Tiradentes, Cavaleiro da Casa Real, Alcaide-Mor e também… provedor de seguros da corte e arrecadava impostos em várias localidades… e aí começa essa longa tradição que vem dar aqui…”

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Um escravo de Elias valia 118 sacos de farinha

Elias António Lopes chegou a ser o terceiro maior traficante de escravos na praça mercantil do Rio de Janeiro, segundo Manolo Florentino, historiador brasileiro, autor de Em costas negras e de várias outras investigações sobre o comércio de escravos. Elias tinha quatro embarcações: Europa, Paquete Infante, São João Americano e Deligente. Os seus navios negreiros iam a Goa e Malabar buscar tecidos, para usar como moeda de troca em Moçambique ou Angola, onde comprava os escravos que transportava até ao Brasil.

Numa expedição em 1812 para recolher 469 escravos em Moçambique, via Cabo da Boa Esperança, apenas 350 chegaram vivos ao Rio de Janeiro. Ou seja, em cada quatro escravos, um morreu.

Eram viagens feitas em condições duríssimas. Uma parte significativa dos escravos — amontoados e sem espaço para se movimentarem — não sobrevivia à travessia. Por exemplo, numa expedição em 1812 para recolher 469 escravos em Moçambique, via Cabo da Boa Esperança, apenas 350 chegaram vivos ao Rio de Janeiro. Ou seja, em cada quatro escravos, um morreu.

À chegada ao porto do Rio de Janeiro, os traficantes pagavam na Alfândega os direitos sobre os escravos, que eram depois expostos na Rua do Valongo, perante quem estava interessado em os comprar. Eram relativamente baratos, mesmo para famílias de classe média. James Tuckey, oficial da Marinha britânica, relatou que, em 1803, um negro adulto era vendido por 40 libras no Rio de Janeiro. Uma mulher era mais barata: 32 libras. Um rapaz custaria 20 libras. Já um negro que tivesse sobrevivido à varíola seria mais valioso, porque em princípio viveria mais anos.

Elias chegou a ter mais de cem escravos a trabalhar nas suas propriedades e embarcações

Eram avultados os investimentos na montagem de uma expedição de um navio negreiro, como enumerou Manolo Florentino:  aquisição ou aluguer das naus; formação do stock para assegurar a permuta e sustentar os intermediários; manutenção dos escravos durante a viagem; e seguro dos cativos e dos equipamentos usados na travessia. Mas o negócio proporcionava também margens elevadíssimas. Por exemplo, em 1814 Elias António Lopes vendeu 486 escravos que trouxe de Cabinda e facturou 45 contos de réis, um lucro assinalável para a época.

Entre 1790 e 1830, mais de 1.500 navios negreiros atracaram no Rio de Janeiro, com cerca de 700 mil escravos, muito usados nos trabalhos agrícolas em plantações longe da cidade.

Em 1808, quando a família real portuguesa chegou ao Brasil, dos 70 mil residentes no Rio de Janeiro metade eram escravos. O próprio Elias chegou a ter cem escravos a trabalhar nas suas propriedades e nas suas embarcações. Valiam ao todo 8 contos de reis. Por exemplo, os sete escravos marinheiros do Paquete Infante foram avaliados em 759$200, o equivalente a 832 sacos de farinhas ou 169 barris de carne seca, segundo o artigo Escravos, senhores e vida marítima no Atlântico: Portugal, África e América portuguesa, c.1760 – c.1825, de Jaime Rodrigues, professor de História da Universidade Federal de São Paulo. Fazendo uma conta simples, significa que cada escravo valia o mesmo que 118 sacos de farinha ou 24 barris de carne.

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Armas, religião, fortuna: a ascensão social de Elias no Rio

Elias terá começado a traficar escravos em 1795, mas chegou ao Brasil muito antes disso, em princípio em 1771, com 15 anos — é pelo menos essa a data de uma carta que dali enviou ao seu pai, segundo a dissertação sobre o negociante portuense da autoria de Nilza Licia Braga, investigadora da Universidade Federal Fluminense. Elias António Lopes nasceu na freguesia da Vitória, no Porto, em 1756, filho ilegítimo do capitão António Lopes Guimarães, que seria casado com outra mulher, e de Maria Antónia. Um documento que o jovem Elias terá levado para o Brasil foi um caderno comprido escriturado no Porto em 1739, o que indicia que terá recebido conhecimentos de escrituração mercantil através dos negócios do pai (que teria contactos no Brasil, a quem terá pedido que acolhessem e orientassem o filho nos primeiros tempos).

Em 1790 (com 34 anos) já surge referenciado como comerciante estabelecido na Rua Direita (atual Rua Primeiro de Março), a mais importante do Rio de Janeiro naquele fim do séc. XVIII. Nesse ano, recebeu do vice-rei e capitão general de mar e terra do Estado do Brasil, D. José de Castro, Conde de Resende, a patente militar de capitão de Rebelim do Moinho de Vento da Fortaleza da Ilha das Cobras. Em tempo de guerra, seria obrigado a residir nessa fortaleza, uma das 12 que protegiam a barra do Rio de Janeiro no fim do séc. XVIII.

“Melhorias progressivas do Palácio de São Cristóvão (Quinta da Boa Vista); de 1808 a 1831”. Ilustração de Jean Bapstiste Debret. Arquivo Nacional do Brasil/Biblioteca Maria Beatriz Nascimento

Além da distinção honorífica, o capitão estava isento de pagar certos encargos e terá tido outras vantagens materiais, relacionadas com a proximidade entre a sua fortaleza e o porto do Rio de Janeiro, onde fazia negócios. Por exemplo, armazenava pólvora num armazém no Forte da Ilha de Santa Bárbara, para a comercializar para as fortalezas localizadas na Baía de Guanabara, principalmente na Ilha das Cobras. Tinha farda, armas (dois espadins) e jóias, que deveria usar quando estava em funções (conservava, aliás, todos esses adereços à data da sua morte).

Também atingiu outro estatuto social através da religião. Quatro anos depois de ter sido apontado como capitão de uma fortaleza, entrou para a Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo (carmelitas). No livro 6.° de Entrada de irmãos e irmãs, regista-se que “tomou o hábito e professou” em 29 de Março de 1794, tendo pago 19$200 réis. Tinha em casa um oratório e várias imagens de santos, de anjos e de Cristo. Elias, que não se casou nem teve filhos, viria a ser sub Prior desta ordem em 1813.

Uma vez que a família era do Porto, Elias foi até dispensado por D. João de passar as provas da Mesa de Consciência e Ordens, que deveria ouvir várias testemunhas para determinar se o candidato era digno de pertencer à Ordem de Cristo.

“São estratégias típicas de um indivíduo querendo se inserir numa sociedade de Antigo Regime, de forte hierarquia social e de tradição senhorial e militar”, salientou Nilza Licia Braga, autora da dissertação intitulada “Entre Negócios e vassalagem na corte joanina: a trajetória do homem de negócio, comendador da Ordem de Cristo e deputado da Real Junta de Comércio Elias António Lopes“.

Em 1799, o vice-rei Conde de Resende já incluiu o nome de Elias António Lopes numa lista dos 36 homens mais ricos do Rio de Janeiro. Sete dessas fortunas, incluindo a de Elias, estiveram ligadas ao tráfico de escravos.

Embora já tivesse papel de relevo na sociedade brasileira, o grande salto do negociante portuense deu-se depois da chegada da família real ao Rio de Janeiro. O Paço Real, no centro da cidade, oferecia poucas condições de conforto e deixava a família de D. João VI muito exposta ao povo, pelo que foi facilmente aliciada com o palácio da Boa Vista. Em contrapartida, como forma de gratidão, D. João encheu Elias António Lopes de honrarias, cargos e fortuna. Começou logo por o fazer comendador da Ordem de Cristo, referindo expressamente a oferta da quinta como razão para a condecoração, mas frisando que essa “repartição” dos lucros de Elias com o Estado era feita com “notório desinteresse”:

“Atendendo ao notório desinteresse, e demonstração de fiel vassalagem, que vem de tributar à Minha Real Pessoa Elias António Lopes, Negociante da Praça desta Capital, no oferecimento que Me fez de um prédio situado em São Cristovão de distinto e reconhecido valor em beneficio da Minha Real Coroa, E desejando fazer-lhe honra e Mercê como ele merece por esta acção voluntária de repartir com o Estado os lucros adquiridos pelo seu comércio: Hei por bem fazer-lhe Mercê de uma Comenda da Ordem de Cristo das de África, que vagar podendo usar logo da Insígnia de Comendador, como também da Propriedade do Ofício de Tabelião Escrivão da Comarca e Almotaceira da Villa de Parati, logo que finde a arrematação, e de Administrador do referido Prédio.”

Uma vez que a família era do Porto, Elias foi até dispensado por D. João de passar as provas da Mesa de Consciência e Ordens, que deveria ouvir várias testemunhas para determinar se o candidato era digno de pertencer à Ordem de Cristo.

D. João VI, retratado ainda na Ajuda, antes da fuga da família real para o Brasil

A sequência de nomeações é impressionante nos anos que se seguem: depois da Ordem de Cristo, da administração da Quinta da Boa Vista, do cargo de tabelião em Parati, D. João VI atribuiu-lhe um dos dez lugares de deputado no tribunal da Real Junta do Comércio, Agricultura, Fabricas e Navegação (“atendendo ao merecimento e préstimo”, lê-se no despacho régio). Em 1810 foi feito fidalgo cavaleiro da Casa Real e passou a Alcaide-Mor e Senhorio da Vila de São José del-Rei, uma área riquíssima com grande potencial madeireiro e agrícola na comarca do Rio de Janeiro. Foi aliás o próprio Elias que pediu a D. João esta nomeação. O príncipe regente acedeu e justificou com “o zelo e honra” com que o negociante desempenhava as suas “obrigações de um útil e bom vassalo” e “muito especialmente pelas generosas demonstrações de afecto” que lhe dedicava.

Mas talvez a função mais rentável de todas tenha surgido a partir de 1810, quando se tornou responsável pela recolha de impostos em várias localidades, em conjunto com outros negociantes, que em troca recebiam uma percentagem das receitas que entregavam à Coroa

Contrariando um parecer negativo da Junta do Comércio, o príncipe regente nomeou ainda Elias para corretor e provedor-mor da Casa de Seguros da praça da Corte — o ramo segurador era fundamental para quem tinha actividades mercantis e investia largas somas nas expedições dos navios negreiros que iam buscar escravos africanos. Foi ainda nomeado conselheiro de Sua Majestade. E moedeiro, ou membro da Casa da Moeda, zelando por isso pela qualidade do dinheiro em circulação e beneficiando de mais privilégios especiais.

Excerto do edital publicado na Gazeta de Lisboa que justifica a atribuição de mais uma mercê a Elias António Lopes

Mas talvez a função mais rentável de todas tenha surgido a partir de 1810, quando se tornou responsável pela recolha de impostos em várias localidades, em conjunto com outros negociantes, que em troca recebiam uma percentagem das receitas que entregavam à Coroa. Elias recebia por exemplo um terço dos dízimos cobrados na Ilha de Santa Catarina e arredores; metade do Contrato da Dízima da Chancelaria da corte; 2/9 do Subsídio literário e do real da carne da corte; 2/9 do Contrato do Equivalente do Tabaco e Subsídio Pequeno; um quinto do contrato de cobrança do dízimo da capitania do Rio Grande de São Pedro do Sul; mais um quinto dos dízimos de São João Marcos e freguesias anexas; e mais 1/25 avos dos dízimos de São Gonçalo.

Quando morreu e foi feito o inventário da sua fortuna, foram encontrados registos de vários empréstimos que fez à Coroa, com indicações suas bastante claras e compreensíveis face a todas as benesses que recebeu: “Não cobrar”. Os 400 mil reis que a fazenda real devia a Elias estavam já no item de contas perdidas.

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A corrupção contemporânea no Brasil começou com a doação do Palácio a D. João VI?

Paulo Roberto Costa, o ex-diretor da Petrobrás que praticamente apontou Elias António Lopes como pai da corrupção no Brasil, não precisa de ser um grande conhecedor de História. Basta-lhe aliás ter sido leitor de Laurentino Gomes, autor dos best-sellers 18081822 e 1889. O jornalista brasileiro já considerou por várias vezes a corrupção no Brasil como “uma herança portuguesa”, a partir do momento em que os ricos da colónia financiaram o rei, em 1808, em troca de benefícios e de títulos de nobreza. “Durante os 13 anos em que a corte permaneceu no Brasil houve mais títulos de nobreza do que em todos os 500 ou 600 anos anteriores da História de Portugal. Houve uma troca de interesses e muita corrupção”, disse o autor ao DN em 2008.

Paulo Roberto Costa, ex-diretor da Petrobrás e delator da Lava Jato, que invocou Elias para justificar a corrupção no Brasil

Mais recentemente, em 2015, já com os escândalos de corrupção a abalarem a cúpula da classe política brasileira, Laurentino Gomes deu uma conferência no Rio de Janeiro para tentar responder às perguntas: “O Brasil é um país corrupto por natureza? Dá para mudar isso?” Voltou a 1808, para dizer que o regime de toma-lá-dá-cá se agravou com a chegada da corte ao Brasil, começando logo com o presente que Elias deu a D. João VI, “a melhor e maior casa da cidade, onde se situa hoje o Palácio da Quinta da Boa Vista, no bairro de São Cristóvão. Nos anos seguintes, esse traficante foi um dos homens que mais enriqueceu e mais ganhou títulos de nobreza no Brasil. Fez, portanto, um ótimo negócio”.

“Nos anos seguintes, esse traficante [Elias António Lopes] foi um dos homens que mais se enriqueceu e mais ganhou títulos de nobreza no Brasil. Fez, portanto, um ótimo negócio”
Laurentino Gomes

Já Nilza Licia Braga, a investigadora que estudou mais aprofundadamente Elias António Lopes, não o vê como pioneiro da corrupção. Invoca por um lado muitos exemplos de condutas ilícitas para benefício particular, ainda no tempo colonial, até mesmo de grandes autoridades portuguesas. Depois faz questão de o inserir na conjuntura histórica a que pertence. “Elias António Lopes reflete o seu próprio tempo, quando ele e muitos negociantes almejavam nobilitação por meio de mercês concedidas pela monarquia portuguesa. A mobilidade ascendente de Elias exemplifica que a permanência dos valores aristocráticos de Antigo Regime português se fazia presente no início do século XIX, quando os homens de negócio prestavam favores ao regente e em troca eram recompensados com mercês.”

Depois de ter consultado vasta documentação referente aos negócios do traficante de escravos, a investigadora ficou convencida que “Elias não se enxergava como um corruptor”, como disse ao Observador. “A prática de ser condecorado com mercês, a partir de contribuições financeiras à monarquia, era um hábito frequente entre os negociantes. Ele via essa prática de ‘favores’ à Coroa portuguesa como algo natural. Até mesmo o tráfico negreiro, que julgamos como um negócio desumano e inconcebível nos dias de hoje, era visto como um negócio lucrativo e permissivo na economia portuguesa, que era praticado em seus domínios ultramarinos na época colonial”.

“Elias não se enxergava como um corruptor. A prática de ser condecorado com mercês, a partir de contribuições financeiras à monarquia, era um hábito frequente realizado entre os negociantes”
Nilza Licia Braga

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A luta pela herança entre a coroa e os sobrinhos de Elias

Depois de ter oferecido a quinta a D. João VI, Elias António Lopes viveu apenas mais sete anos. Morreu repentinamente, a 7 de Outubro de 1815, e foi sepultado na casa de Profundis, na catacumba n.° 52 da capela da ordem carmelita de Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo, vestido com um dos seis hábitos da Ordem de Cristo que possuía.

Tomás Pereira de Castro Viana, um caixeiro de Elias, manteve os negócios do ex-patrão, incluindo a conclusão de uma expedição para ir buscar escravos a Cabinda, e ficou encarregue de fazer o inventário de todo o seu património. Duas semanas após a morte, em casa do falecido, Tomás jurou com a mão direita colocada nos evangelhos que não iria ocultar qualquer bem.

O inventário demorou quase dois anos, ficando apenas pronto em 22 de setembro de 1817. Quatro navios, 13 imóveis, jóias, carruagens, acções do Banco do Brasil e rendas que lhe deviam. Valor total: 236 contos. Descontadas as dívidas que Elias deixou por saldar, sobravam 66 contos — e uma luta por essa avultada herança.

Um mês e meio após a morte de Elias, D. João VI comprou aos administradores da herança duas propriedades coladas à Quinta da Boa Vista e também 95 escravos.

O inventário demorou quase dois anos, ficando apenas pronto em 22 de setembro de 1817: quatro navios, 13 imóveis, jóias, carruagens, acções do Banco do Brasil e rendas que lhe deviam. Valor total: 236 contos. Descontadas as dívidas que Elias deixou por saldar, sobraram 66 contos — e uma luta por essa avultada herança.

Uma imagem da Quinta de São Cristóvão em 1820

O facto de a morte ser inesperada justificará que Elias não tenha preparado um testamento. Como não se casou nem teve filhos, iniciou-se essa disputa entre dois sobrinhos (Joaquim António Lopes e Elias António Lopes, homónimo do tio), que reclamaram a herança, e o Desembargador Procurador da Coroa e Fazenda, que defendia que o património do traficante de escravos devia reverter para a coroa, porque os irmãos eram (tal como Elias) filhos ilegítimos. O pai de Elias, o capitão António Lopes Guimarães, era casado quando morreu em 1779, enquanto a mãe era solteira, pelo que Elias e os irmãos terão sido fruto de uma relação adúltera ou, de acordo com o jargão da época, de “danado coito”. Segundo o Procurador da Coroa e Fazenda, os irmãos e sobrinhos de Lopes não conseguiram provar legalmente que eram seus herdeiros.

O caso arrastou-se durante mais de quatro anos e só teve um desfecho em 1820, após uma intervenção do próprio D. João VI, que foi contra o procurador que defendia os interesses da coroa e deu razão aos herdeiros. Apesar de serem ilegítimos, os sobrinhos herdaram a fortuna deixada por Elias, graças à intervenção do príncipe regente a quem o negociante tinha doado a melhor quinta que havia no Rio de Janeiro.

(BBC) Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s presidential front-runner, stabbed at rally

(BBC)

Brazilian right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro gestures after being stabbed in the stomach during a campaign rally in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, in southern Brazil, on September 6, 2018.Image copyrightAFP/GETTY IMAGES
Image captionPresidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, pictured seconds after being stabbed in the stomach

The front-runner in Brazil’s presidential election, Jair Bolsonaro, has been stabbed at a campaign rally.

The far-right politician was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. A suspect was arrested.

Mr Bolsonaro had surgery for injuries to his intestines and is expected to recover, hospital officials said.

The controversial politician, who has outraged many in Brazil with racist and homophobic comments, has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.

The polls suggest he will get the most votes in next month’s presidential elections if former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva remains blocked from standing.

Left-wing Lula had been the long-standing favourite but he is currently in prison, appealing against a ban on his candidacy that was imposed after his conviction for corruption.

Some of Mr Bolsonaro’s past comments have caused uproar, including equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and saying a congresswoman was too ugly to be raped.


Campaigning from hospital and prison

Katy Watson, BBC South America correspondent, Sao Paulo

This is another twist – a dramatic one – in what has already been a turbulent campaign.

Jair Bolsonaro is the front-runner and he is in a hospital bed, while the only person thought to be able to beat him is Lula – and he is in a prison cell. It is a surreal situation.

One of Jair Bolsonaro’s key campaign messages is that he will try to turn around the growth in violent crime. The fact that he is now a victim himself plays into the hands of his supporters, who see this as a very important problem for Brazil to tackle. Everyone – including his detractors – has rallied around him to condemn the attack.

As it has happened so close to the October election, he won’t be on the campaign trail for the next week or so. Nevertheless, his supporters will be strengthened, seeing that his concerns are their concerns.

This is a crucial time for Brazil, as the country heads towards the most uncertain elections in decades.


How did the attack unfold?

Footage of the incident in the city of Juiz de Fora shows Mr Bolsonaro making a thumbs-up gesture and being held aloft by supporters when he is stabbed with what appears to be a knife.

He then doubles over with pain and his supporters quickly lower him to the ground and bundle him into a car.

After the attack, his son Flavio initially tweeted that the wound was “only superficial”, but he gave a more sombre assessment two hours later.

“Unfortunately it was more serious than we had expected,” he wrote. “He lost a lot of blood, arrived at the hospital with a [blood] pressure of 10/3, almost dead. His condition now seems stabilised. Pray, please!”

Hospital officials later said Mr Bolsonaro had suffered a “deep” and life-threatening stab wound in his intestines and was in a “serious but stable” condition.

A handout photo made available by the Military Police shows Adelio Obispo de Oliveira, suspected of allegedly stabbing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMilitary police released a picture of the man suspected of stabbing Mr Bolsonaro

He was recuperating well in intensive care after two hours of surgery, they added, but would spend at least a week to 10 days in hospital.

He has since been filmed in his hospital bed, making a hoarse statement. He described how what he thought was “just a blow” turned into an unbearable pain. He had “never hurt anyone”, he said.

Police said a suspect has been arrested and named him as Adelio Obispo de Oliveira, 40. Officials quoted by Reuters news agency said he appeared to be mentally disturbed.

He was manhandled and beaten by angry supporters of Mr Bolsonaro before being taken into custody.

People surround a man suspected of stabbing Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro (not pictured) as he was campaigning in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state, Brazil September 6, 2018Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionStabbing suspect Adelio Obispo de Oliveira was grabbed by members of the crowd
Jair Bolsonaro grimaces after being stabbed in the stomach in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, on September 6, 2018.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionIt took the crowd some moments to realise Jair Bolsonaro, top right, had been stabbed

What has been the reaction?

Mr Bolsonaro’s electoral rivals have all condemned the stabbing. Fernando Haddad, who is expected to replace Lula on the Workers Party ticket, said the attack was “absurd and regrettable”.

Speaking in the capital Brasilia, President Michel Temer said such an attack was “intolerable” in a democratic state and that he hoped Mr Bolsonaro recovered soon.

“Tolerance is a part of democracy. It is a part of the rule of law,” he said.

The president’s predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, warned that the attack must not go unpunished “because it must serve as an example so that it doesn’t happen to any other candidate”.

Supporters of Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro hold a vigil on Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 06 September 2018.Image copyrightEPA
Image captionSupporters of Mr Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo held a vigil for him

Who is backing him?

Mr Bolsonaro’s backers see him as a strong leader who would crack down on crime.

The 63-year-old, who is representing the Social Liberal Party (PSL), is followed by millions of Brazilians on social media, and many refer to him as the “Brazilian Trump”.

He also supports loosening gun control laws, and is backed by millions of evangelical Christians for his uncompromising anti-abortion stance.

The latest polls suggest he could win the first round, but is unlikely to be victorious in the run-off.

Nonetheless, stocks rose after the attack, as it was seen as increasing his chances. His free-market economics make him popular with investors.

How did he become a presidential contender?

A former army captain, Mr Bolsonaro entered politics in the 1980s to defend the rights of military personnel.

Brazil had just returned to democracy, and in 1989 held its first free presidential election.

Few imagined at that time that he could become a serious contender in a presidential poll. But the collapse of the Workers’ Party government and the impeachment of President Rousseff two years ago revealed the extent of political divisions in the country.

File photo: Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a campaign rallyImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMr Bolsonaro has performed strongly in polls ahead of next month’s election

Mr Bolsonaro’s outspoken rhetoric and his defence of law and order appealed to many who blamed the left for corruption and the economic crisis.

In 2011, he told Playboy magazine that he would be “incapable of loving a gay son” and that he would rather see such a son of his “die in an accident”.

In 2015, he was fined for saying in a newspaper interview that Congresswoman Maria do Rosario was “not worth raping; she is very ugly”.

He is currently being investigated for alleged racism over derogatory remarks he made about Afro-Brazilians.

(NationalGeographic) Fire Devastates Brazil’s Oldest Science Museum

(NationalGeographicThe overnight inferno likely claimed fossils, cultural artifacts, and more irreplaceable collections amassed over 200 years.

Major pieces of Brazil’s scientific and cultural heritage went up in smoke on Sunday night, as a devastating fire ripped through much of Rio de Janeiro‘s Museu Nacional, or National Museum. Founded in 1818, the museum is Brazil’s oldest scientific institution and one of the largest and most renowned museums in Latin America, amassing a collection of some 20 million scientifically and culturally invaluable artifacts.

The Museu Nacional’s holdings include Luzia, an 11,500-year-old skull considered one of South America’s oldest human fossils, as well as the bones of uniquely Brazilian creatures such as the long-necked dinosaurMaxakalisaurus. Because of the auction tastes of Brazil’s 19th-century emperors, the Museu Nacional also ended up with Latin America’s oldest collection of Egyptian mummies and artifacts.

Even the building holds historical importance: It housed the exiled Portuguese royal family from 1808 to 1821, after they fled to Rio de Janeiro in 1807 to escape Napoleon. The complex also served as the palace for Brazil’s post-independence emperors until 1889, before the museum collections were transferred there in 1902.

In a Monday interview, Federal University of Espírito Santo paleontologist Taissa Rodrigues said that some of the metal cabinets containing fossils may have withstood the fire, though it’s unclear whether the fossils inside survived. Duane Fonseca, a biologist at Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande, reported on Twitter on Monday that technicians had saved some of the museum’s more than 40,000 mollusk specimens.

But now, many of the fossils, the Egyptian collection, the museum’s invertebrate specimens, and more artifacts housed in the main building are probably destroyed. The museum’s fish and reptile specimens, herbarium, and library were housed separately and are thought to have survived.

“When I saw the news about the tragedy, I just started crying, and all my colleagues, other archaeologists I know in Brazil, they had the same reaction—that’s a loss for all the world,” says Maria Ester Franklin Maia Silva, a Brazilian archaeologist and Ph.D. student at the University of São Paulo.

An Irreplaceable Loss

It’s not yet clear how the fire started, but it did begin after the museum was closed to the public, and no injuries have yet been reported. Firefighters worked through the night to douse the burnt-out shell of the main building, but it seems the blaze has already seared a gaping hole in many scientists’ careers.

“The importance of the collections that were lost couldn’t be overstated,” says Luiz Rocha, a Brazilian ichthyologist now at the California Academy of Sciences who has visited the Museu Nacional several times to study its collections. “They were unique as it gets: Many of them were irreplaceable, there’s no way to put a monetary value on it.”

Museums are living, breathing repositories of who we are and where we’ve come from, and the world around us.

EMILIO BRUNA, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

“In terms of [my] life-long research agenda, I’m pretty much lost,” says Marcus Guidoti, a Brazilian entomologist finishing up his Ph.D. in a program co-run by Brazil’s Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.

Guidoti studies lace bugs, an insect family with more than 2,000 species worldwide. The Museu Nacional held one of the world’s largest lace bug collections, but the fire likely destroyed it and the rest of the museum’s five million arthropod specimens. “Those type specimens can’t be replaced, and they are crucial to understand the species,” he says by text message. “If I was willing to keep working on this family in this region of the globe, this was definitely a big hit.”

Paleontologist Dimila Mothé, a postdoctoral researcher at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, adds that the blows to science extend beyond the collections themselves. “It’s not only the cultural history, the natural history, but all the theses and research developed there,” she says. “Most of the laboratories there were lost, too, and the research of several professors. I’m not sure you can say the impact of what was lost.”

Brazil’s indigenous knowledge also has suffered. The Museu Nacional housed world-renowned collections of indigenous objects, as well as many audio recordings of indigenous languages from all over Brazil. Some of these recordings, now lost, were of languages that are no longer spoken.

“I have no words to say how horrible this is,” says Brazilian anthropologist Mariana Françozo, an expert on South American indigenous objects at Leiden University. “The indigenous collections are a tremendous loss…we can no longer study them, we can no longer understand what our ancestors did. It’s heartbreaking.”

On Monday, The Brazilian publication G1 Rio reported that ashes of burned documents—some still flecked in notes or illustrations—have rained down from the sky more than a mile away from the Museu Nacional, thrown aloft by the inferno.

Defunded and in Disrepair

This is not the first time in recent years that the world lost a natural history museum. In April 2016, India’s National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi was also destroyed in a fire. Nor is this the first time that fire has claimed an invaluable part of Brazil’s heritage.

In 2010, blazes ripped through the Instituto Butantan, a major biomedical research laboratory in São Paulo, destroying one of the world’s largest collections of venomous animal specimens. The fire vaporized more than half a million preserved snakes, spiders, and scorpions collected over a hundred years.

“This is far from being a problem unique to Brazil,” says the paleontologist Rodrigues. “Collections worldwide are at risk, and unless we take good care of them, these kinds of things will happen again and again and again.”

In a statement posted on Twitter, Brazilian president Michael Temer lamented the Museu Nacional’s loss as “incalculable to Brazil” and “a sad day for all Brazilians.” But the Brazilian government is facing mounting criticism over complaints that the tragedy was preventable.

Since 2014, the Museu Nacional hasn’t received its full annual $128,000 budget; this year, it received a paltry $13,000. In 2015, the Museu Nacional was forced to close its doors temporarily because it could no longer pay its cleaning and security staff. The museum’s curators had to crowdfund repairsto termite damage in one of the most popular exhibit halls, which contained the skeleton of a humpback whale and bones from the dinosaur Maxakalisaurus.

A full-size replica of the dinosaur Maxakalisaurus topai is seen on display at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2006.

PHOTOGRAPH BY VANDERLEI ALMEIDA, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In May 2018—on the eve of its 200th anniversary—ten of the museum’s 30 exhibits were closed to the public because of disrepair. At the time, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported that the museum had peeling walls and exposed electrical wiring. The two fire hydrants near the musem were reportedly empty, forcing firefighters to use water trucks and pond water from Quinta da Boa Vista, the urban park containing the Museu Nacional.

“In my point of view, Brazil had responsibility to keep these artifacts safe, [and] Brazil failed on that,” says Franklin Maia Silva.

‘We Lose Some of Who We Are’

Already, the Brazilian government has pledged that it will start studying how to rebuild the Museu Nacional. Folha de S.Paulo also reports that culture minister Sérgio Sá Leitão has called for inspections of other Brazilian museums’ fire protection systems.

But researchers point out that simply fixing the building will do little to fill the gaping hole in Brazilian science, especially as the country continues to slash research budgets. In March 2017, Temer cut science funding by 44 percent, to $1 billion—the lowest levels since 2005—and in late 2017, he proposed further cuts of another 16 percent. Some of the country’s research institutions have struggled to pay for basic amenities such as electricity bills, reports Nature.

“Science in general in Brazil is seen as something we don’t need to invest in,” says Rocha. “I hope [Brazilian leaders] open their eyes and see that it’s worth investing in, besides rebuilding.”

“First, there’s disbelief that they will really fund the reincorporation of the museum, and [my] second reaction is anger, because they knew the museum needed funding for years,” Françozo adds. “How do you ‘rebuild’ a 200-year-old collection that has burned to ashes?”

In the meantime, local students are working on a rebuilding project of their own: “In the face of tonight’s tragedy, the students of the museology course at UNIRIO [the Federal University for the State of Rio de Janeiro] are mobilizing to preserve the memory of the National Museum,” the Museu Nacional said in an email. “We ask everyone who possesses images (photographs/videos/even selfies) of the collection and exhibition spaces to share them with us.”

The students may well get a submission from Emilio Bruna, an ecologist at the University of Florida. Bruna’s work often takes him to Brazil, where he studies habitat fragmentation. But when he recently visited the Museu Nacional with his wife—a native Brazilian—and their children, the family strolled the halls as tourists.

“You walk through this building that was there at the origins of this incredibly rich and vibrant country, you saw people proud to see the fossils of Brazilian dinosaurs—of animals unique to their country. As soon as I found out [about the fire] and blurted it out, my son was in tears. He was just devastated,” Bruna says.

“Museums are living, breathing repositories of who we are and where we’ve come from, and the world around us,” he adds. “Those insects pinned in a drawer, or those fish in a jar, or a feathered cape you might see in a display case—that represents a little piece of who we are as a people, as humans, as part of a greater world.

“And when those specimens are lost, we lose some of who we are.”

(ZH) “The Situation Is Completely Out Of Control”: “Calamitous” Chaos Hits Brazil’s Shipping Industry

(ZH) Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing – in this case currency devaluation – for an export-driven economy? In the case of Brazil, it appears the answer is yes.

With the Brazilian real tumbling and foreign trade partners scrambling to benefit from the low FX-adjusted prices, Latin America’s biggest economy should be enjoying an export boom. Only, that is not happening as a result of chaos in the country’s logistics sector which started with a state of emergency following a trucker strike in May (and which required an army intervention) and has now gripped the country’s shipping industry.

As the FT reports, exporters eager to capitalize on Brazil’s weakening currency and bumper harvests are booking shipping, but then having difficulty finding the trucks to deliver their goods to port on time because of an ongoing dispute with drivers over freight prices, according to Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company.

The resulting competition for limited shipping space combined with uncertainty over truck freight prices has led exporters to over-book shipping by as much as 200% from 5 per cent normally, creating chaos and confusion at ports.

“What we see right now is the situation is completely out of control, and getting worse,” said Antonio Dominguez, Maersk Line managing director for east coast South America.

in a world of just-in-time logistics – without to no fail safe alternatives – and where even the smallest deviation from pre-planned norms tends to ripple and cascade not only across the domestic economy, but ultimately crippled global supply chains as well. This is what has happened to Brazil.

As a result, the 10-day Brazilian truckers’ strike has become what the FT has called “the most calamitous economic events” to strike the centre-right government of President Michel Temer, crippling second-quarter GDP, undermining investor confidence and sending the currency sliding even more (paradoxically making the problem even worse as exporters push even harder to sell their wares).

With even the world’s largest container shipping company in shock by what is taking place, it is no surprise that multinationals ranging from Unilever to Carrefour have been hard hit by the strike.

According to economists the worst effect of the shutdown was subsidies ceded by the government to truckers. These included a lower diesel price and a guaranteed minimum freight price that has raised transport costs for soy and corn exporters more than 800km from port by as much as 28%. To make matters worse, the price is being charged on return trips, even if a truck is empty.

“The tabela [minimum price] is creating a big pricing distortion,” said one executive from a freight company, who said the return charge in particular was “overkill”.

And since the minimum freight price was immediately challenged in the courts, leading to confusion over its enforcement and uncertainty in the market, it forced exporters and drivers into lengthy negotiations over every cargo.

Others – such as Maersk – disagree, and say the problem of over-booking has its roots as far back as 2016, when Brazil’s economy suffered the second year of its worst recession in history, leading shipping companies to cut back on the number of vessels serving the market. The economy began to rebound in 2017 and 2018 led by agricultural exports. But the overbooking problem only emerged this year after the truckers’ strike as exporters, desperate to secure limited space, began wildly over-booking despite being unable to predict with certainty when or what quantity of goods they would be able to deliver to port.

The result has been a truncated trade channel, and a nightmare for anyone involved with Brazilian logistics: Maersk said the overbook has led to 5% of cargoes being left behind each month because of the confusion, the equivalent one vessel going empty each month.

Container exports, which account for 80% of Brazilian trade, fell 6% in the second quarter of this year against the same period a year earlier, down from 6% growth in the first quarter.

The biggest irony of all is that with the Brazilian real tumbling, Brazil should be enjoying an export boom, with US President Donald Trump’s trade war with China favouring Latin American soya bean producers, in particular.

“The currency continues to depreciate, so now it`s actually crossed the R$4 to the dollar mark, that’s extremely good for exports,” Maersk’s Mr Dominguez said. “But then every day is a challenge to be able to arrange a contract with a trucker out of the places where you have those commodities.”

The good news is that for now, in a worst case scenario Brazilian trade partners can still find alternative trade routes from other, just as cheap export sources.

The concern is that as the emerging market crisis spreads – and there is a reason why EM currencies are so low – the same pattern of logistical collapse will follow, as incumbent governments are overthrown and replaced with populist favorites, that focus on domestic needs at the expense of international trade. The concern is that with the world overly reliant on streamlined and functional just-in-time logistical supply chains, once a critical mass of logistics goes offline, global trade and commerce could suffer a catastrophic event, like the one David Korowicz described back in 2012 in “Financial System Supply-Chain Cross-Contagion: a study in global systemic collapse” which had this relevant excerpt:

The growing stress in our very complex globalised economy means it is much less resilient. Thus a small shock or an unpredictable event could set in train a chain of events that could push the globalised economy over a tipping point, and into a process of negative feedback and collapse.

(OBS) Ninguém pode fazer tanto mal ao Brasil como Lula – Rui Ramos

(OBS) Por piores que sejam os actuais governantes, nenhum pode fazer tanto mal ao Brasil como Lula. Basta que consiga divorciar uma parte da população da legalidade e da democracia.

A condenação do ex-presidente Lula da Silva, no Brasil, mostrou como a justiça não precisa de muito para ser politizada: basta que as suas sentenças tenham efeitos políticos. E para que tenham efeitos políticos, são necessárias apenas duas coisas: que o condenado seja um político, e que a condenação comprometa a sua carreira. A partir daí, haverá sempre quem pelos efeitos julgue as motivações: se a sentença teve um efeito político, então também teve uma motivação política. É difícil escapar a isto, sobretudo quando o acusado, como no caso de Lula, não hesita em fazer política para se safar. Condenado, propôs-se novamente à eleição presidencial, para perturbar os tribunais. Ameaçado de ser preso, refugiou-se no meio de uma manifestação, para inibir a polícia.

Tem-se dito que Lula, como presidente, fez muito bem ao Brasil. Sim, mas porque pôde distribuir por uma parte da população os resultados dos esforços de estabilização e de modernização do seu antecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Mas se usou o produto, não aumentou a produção, acabando por deixar o Brasil resvalar para a maior crise das últimas décadas. Os problemas legais de Lula são muito reveladores do que fez no poder. Lula e o PT chegaram ao governo no auge da “terceira via”. Em vez de destruir o  capitalismo, como recomendavam os marxistas de 1973, fizeram um capitalismo deles, combinando o domínio do Estado com a cumplicidade das grandes empresas. Não por acaso, Lula e Dilma tiveram como conselheiro económico o lendário Delfim Netto, um dos orientadores da Ditadura Militar (e agora também em apuros na Lava Jato).

Mas Lula nem por isso renunciou à demagogia revolucionária. Num país em transformação (a taxa de urbanização, por exemplo, subiu de 45% para 85% desde 1960), não faltam carências e frustrações. A demagogia é sempre fácil, mas  talvez no Brasil seja um pouco mais fácil. Por isso, o poder do PT foi Delfim Netto, mais o Movimento dos Sem Terra e todos os outros activismos identitários de importação norte-americana. Sem os escritórios, resta-lhes agora as ruas. Esse é o perigo que Lula sabe que representa para a democracia no Brasil. Quando Dilma foi derrubada no congresso, falou-se de “golpe”, como se, em vez de uma votação parlamentar, a tropa tivesse saído dos quartéis. Agora, Lula fez tudo para inspirar comparações com a sua prisão em 1980, como se o Brasil, em vez da democracia que é há 30 anos, continuasse em Ditadura Militar. Perdida a partida, resta desacreditar o jogo, para ver se é possível voltar a baralhar. O que Lula e Dilma dão a entender aos seus seguidores é que a democracia e a legalidade são apenas uma máscara para relações de força. A lição é óbvia: no fundo, só a força conta. Não os votos, não as leis, mas a força. É uma mentalidade de guerra civil.

As democracias são mais fáceis de destruir do que de construir. Construir uma democracia exige atitudes e comportamentos pouco naturais, como o de respeitar os adversários, mesmo quando odiosos, ou confiar nos procedimentos, mesmo quando frustrantes. Destruir uma democracia dá muito menos trabalho: é questão de dar largas ao rancor e à paranoia. Já não estamos em 1989, quando os muros caíam e a terra parecia destinada às democracias de tipo liberal. A história, afinal, não acabou. As ditaduras são outra vez uma alternativa. Lula tem a influência para criar no Brasil o ambiente para uma experiência dessas. Basta que consiga divorciar uma parte da população da legalidade e da democracia. Por piores que sejam os actuais governantes, nenhum pode fazer tanto mal ao Brasil como Lula. Diz ele que já não é uma pessoa, mas uma ideia. Mas há ideias más.

+++ (JN) Justiça brasileira congela bens de Lula da Silva

(JN) Justiça brasileira ordenou o congelamento dos bens de Lula da Silva e do Instituto Lula para pagar uma dívida de 30 milhões de reais (7,1 milhões de euros), confirmou o advogado de defesa do ex-presidente brasileiro, esta quarta-feira.

Um tribunal de São Paulo ordenou o congelamento dos ativos do antigo chefe de Estado, do Instituto Lula e da empresa LILS, para garantir o pagamento de uma multa determinada pela Justiça do país.

Em comunicado, a defesa de Lula da Silva disse que a investigação à operação Lava Jato quer retirar ao ex-presidente “qualquer possibilidade de defesa, privando-o de seus bens e recursos para garantir um débito fiscal que ainda está sendo discutido na esfera administrativa”.

Segundo o advogado de Lula da Silva, Cristiano Zanin Martins, “o ex-presidente não tem os valores indicados no documento e a decisão do bloqueio foi contestada pelo recurso”.

“Nem o Instituto Lula nem Paulo Okamotto (presidente do instituto Lula) têm 30 milhões de reais”, afirmou em comunicado a organização liderada pelo ex-presidente.

Lula da Silva, que governou o Brasil entre 2003 e 2010, está preso desde sábado passado na sede da Polícia Federal de Curitiba, onde começou a cumprir uma pena de 12 anos e um mês de prisão por corrupção passiva e branqueamento de capitais.

A Justiça brasileira já o condenou em duas instâncias num dos processos da operação Lava Jato em que foi acusado de receber um apartamento de luxo para favorecer contratos da construtora OAS com a estatal petrolífera brasileira Petrobras.

A defesa considera que a condenação não tem “base legal” e que a prisão vai contra a “presunção de inocência garantida na Constituição”.

Desde a sua detenção, Lula só recebeu a visita de seus advogados e o tribunal proibiu a visita de nove governadores de Estado, três senadores e um líder do Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT).

+++ (BBG) Brazil’s Right Comes Roaring Back as Lula Goes to Prison

(BBG) Further political upheaval is on its way in Brazil, if recent party-swapping by lawmakers is any guide to October’s elections.

After years on the ropes, the right is poised to come roaring back, based on the sharp rise in legislators joining conservative parties as shown in a Bloomberg tally of their own reports. And with former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva now in jail, and likely barred from standing in the elections, the left is starting to fragment.

Longstanding, implacable opponents of Lula’s Workers’ Party, the center-right Democratas party has seen its number of federal deputies almost double in recent weeks — from 21 to 41 — as legislators take advantage of Brazil’s pre-election transfer window to find a party likely to boost their prospects. Around 60 federal deputies, or almost 12 percent of the lower house, have swapped political parties over the past month with right-wing parties proving the big winners. What’s not clear is whether this surge merely represents a backlash to 13 years of PT rule or a deeper shift in Brazilian attitudes toward the role of the state.

“The left is going to face a big challenge in the 2018 elections, especially if Lula remains in jail for a long time,” said Rafael Cortez, a political analyst from Tendencias. “There’s been a much greater mobilization of organizations linked to the right.”

Once one of the largest parties in Congress, representing around one fifth of the lower house, the DEM had been in decline since Lula’s victory in the 2002 elections. Now, it senses an opportunity.

“It’s a conservative party, which maintains social and moral values and defends private initiative,” said DEM lawmaker Alberto Fraga. “The collapse of the PT shows that our approach was right.”

Other right-leaning parties, whose candidates have been advocating a leaner state, tougher policing to combat crime and a more business-friendly environment, have also seen a dramatic rise in their members. Four years ago, the Podemos party did not exist and now it has 18 deputies. The PSL, aided in large part by the affiliation of presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, has grown from one to ten.

Meanwhile, left-leaning parties, which have championed social welfare, government intervention in the economy and labor rights, have seen a decline in support. The PSB, the new home for possible presidential candidate — ex-Supreme Court president Joaquim Barbosa — saw its numbers fall from 34 to 26 deputies. Rede, the political vehicle for presidential candidate Marina Silva, also saw two of its four lawmakers leave the party.

The ideologically flexible MDB party of President Michel Temer is now at its lowest ebb since 1999, with 55 deputies in the lower house after 15 departed and 5 joined. The exodus was prompted at least in part by fears that the party is now identified with the corruption scandals that have rocked the Temer administration.

The decline of the MDB means that the PT is now the largest party in the lower house, with 60 lawmakers, or just under 12 percent of the chamber. “The size of the caucus shows the party is alive,” said PT Deputy Ze Geraldo.

Still, the PT has been hemorrhaging support since the last elections, losing eight of its legislators since 2014. The latest x-ray of the current political landscape will come on Sunday, when Datafolha polling firm is expected to release the first public opinion survey after Lula was arrested.

+++ (NYT) Brazil’s Ex-President, ‘Lula,’ Can Be Jailed, Court Rules

…Any day now…

(NYT) BOA VISTA, Brazil — Brazil’s top court ruled early Thursday that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can be sent to prison while he continues to appeal his corruption conviction — an explosive decision that upends the nation’s politics and appears to quash his bid to return to power.

There was more at stake than the legal fate of Mr. da Silva, 72, a towering and divisive figure in Brazilian politics who has a considerable lead in the polls for October’s presidential election.

The 6-to-5 ruling against the former president, who has called his prosecution an underhanded ploy to keep him off the ballot, is likely to call into question the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of many Brazilians.

“No matter how many roses the mighty kill, they will never manage to stop spring,” Mr. da Silva’s Workers’ Party said in a statement posted on Twitter after his fate became clear.

Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia Antunes Rocha cast the deciding vote after midnight, at the end of a marathon session.

The country is still deeply divided over the impeachment of Mr. da Silva’s chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office in 2016 on charges of manipulating the federal budget to hide the nation’s growing economic problems.

Her ouster put an end to 13 years of governments led by the leftist Workers’ Party, a period when Brazil’s economy soared, millions of people entered the middle class and the country’s profile rose on the global stage.

But enormous corruption scandals and the worst economic crisis in decades left Ms. Rousseff and her party battered, with little support to fend off a power grab by their political rivals.

Mr. da Silva, who is known commonly as Lula, has been trying to reclaim the presidency. But last July, he was convicted of corruption and money laundering, and sentenced to almost 10 years in prison. In January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the conviction and increased the sentence to 12 years.

Photo

Supporters of Mr. da Silva gathered outside his residence in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, on Wednesday. CreditAndre Penner/Associated Press

Mr. da Silva, who served as president from 2003 to 2011, appealed the sentence to the country’s top court, the Supreme Federal Court, asking to be allowed to remain free while additional appeals are pending — a process that could drag on for years.

That forced the justices to wrestle with a question with far-reaching implications for scores of other powerful figures ensnared in the large-scale corruption investigation known as Car Wash, including the current president, Michel Temer: At what point in the appeals process may a defendant be imprisoned?

On Thursday, the court gave its answer: It decided to maintain the status quo, which holds that defendants can be imprisoned after an appeals court upholds a verdict against them. With the ruling in hand, Sérgio Moro, the federal judge who presided over Mr. da Silva’s trial, is expected to issue an arrest warrant for the former president in a matter of days.

“Don’t think the fight will be easy,” Mr. da Silva told supporters at a rally in Rio de Janeiro on Monday. “It’s O.K. if we lose one round, but we cannot lose our willingness to fight.”

Prosecutors regard Mr. da Silva’s case as the highest-stakes prosecution in their long crackdown on corruption, an effort that enjoys widespread support among Brazilians.

If the court had allowed Mr. da Silva to remain free, it would have enraged the crusading prosecutors and judges who have tried since 2014 to stamp out Brazil’s entrenched culture of graft.

Thousands of the former president’s critics demonstrated Tuesday night, demanding that the justices uphold their 2016 ruling that allows trial judges to jail defendants after a first appeal has been rejected. More than 5,000 prosecutors and judges have signed a petition supporting that position.

But Mr. da Silva still commands the loyalty of millions of Brazilians. His supporters contend that removing the country’s most popular presidential candidate from the ballot would be an affront to democracy. They say the case against him is nothing more than political persecution, and they vowed to take to the streets if the court ruled he can be imprisoned.

Before the ruling, Chief Justice Rocha called for calm in a rare televised speech.

“We are living in times of intolerance and intransigence,” she said. “The strengthening of Brazilian democracy depends on civic unity for the peaceful coexistence of everyone. Different opinions must be respected.”

Justice Roberto Barroso, who voted against Mr. da Silva, noted that the president left office with high approval ratings and an impressive set of accomplishments.

Photo

Brazil’s army chief, Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, made a rare incursion into politics Tuesday night, saying that the armed forces “repudiates impunity.” CreditUeslei Marcelino/Reuters

“We are not debating about a political legacy,” he said. “It is whether jurisprudence that the court settled must be applied to all people. It is a test of our democracy.”

The ruling does not technically disqualify Mr. da Silva’s candidacy. Instead, it preserved the legal status quo, which allows trial judges to seek arrest warrants for defendants convicted of white-collar crime once an appeals court has upheld the verdict.

A different body — the Supreme Electoral Tribunal — will review each candidate’s eligibility forms starting in mid-August. It is widely expected to reject Mr. da Silva’s bid for office under the “clean slate” law, which disqualifies anyone who has a criminal conviction that has been upheld by an appeals court.

Legal experts say that Mr. da Silva could try to fight the electoral court’s ruling if he remained free, but that his imprisonment makes that quest all but impossible.

“The Brazilian people have the right to vote for Lula, the candidate of hope,” Mr. da Silva’s party said in a statement issued early Thursday as it vowed to “defend this candidacy in the streets and in all spheres.” The statement added: “He who has the backing of the people, who has the truth on his side, knows that justice will ultimately prevail.”

Thousands of people on both sides of the issue had gathered in Brasília, the capital, for the court’s decision.

Passions have been running high as Mr. da Silva’s candidacy has become increasingly embattled. Last week, the former president’s campaign buses were hit by gunshots as he campaigned in southern Brazil. No one was hurt.

Gen. Eduardo Villas Bôas, the chief of the army, raised tensions higher still with his posts on Twitter on Tuesday, declaring that the military “repudiates impunity.”

It was a rare venture into politics that was widely interpreted as saying that the Supreme Federal Court should rule against Mr. da Silva.

In a country that was ruled by the military from 1964 to 1985, critics reacted with alarm, calling the comment inappropriate pressure at best, and at worst a veiled threat of military intervention if the former president prevailed in court.

Photo

A protest against Mr. da Silva in Sao Paulo, ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on whether he should start a 12-year prison sentence for corruption, potentially upending this year’s presidential election.CreditMiguel Schincariol/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rodrigo Janot, a former attorney general, responded on Twitter. “This definitely isn’t good. If it is what it seems, another 1964 would be unacceptable,” he said, referring to the coup that ushered in Brazil’s military dictatorship.

But many others backed the army chief. His posts were shared more than 10,000 times and liked by more than 20,000 people in just three hours.

Many people, including other military leaders, posted messages with their support. “We’re in the trenches together!!! We think alike!!! Brazil above all!!!” wrote Gen. Antonio Miotto.

In Mr. da Silva’s trial, Judge Moro found that the former president had accepted bribes — in the form of an oceanfront apartment — in return for steering contracts to a construction company.

The corruption allegations against Mr. da Silva are only a small part of the wide-ranging Car Wash investigation.

The inquiry, which began in 2014 with a seemingly routine look into money-laundering accusations, has ensnared scores of powerful business executives and politicians across the political spectrum.

But Mr. da Silva’s case carries tremendous legal and political implications for the country.

In an editorial published in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper on Wednesday, Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge said that allowing defendants to remain free after repeated appeals had been rejected was an “exaggeration that annihilates the justice system because then justice is delayed, and for this, it fails.”

Jorge Oliveira, 50, a former army paratrooper, said he hoped that Mr. da Silva would be jailed soon and that his downfall would be the first step toward a drastic political transformation.

“The guy needs to be jailed,” Mr. Oliveira said. “Then a general needs to take power, oust Temer, hold things together for three years and call for new elections.”

Jéssica da Silva Facundo, by contrast, said she had been rooting for Mr. da Silva, largely out of nostalgia for the prosperity Brazil experienced during his time in power.

“Despite the fact that he stole, during his government I was doing better,” said Ms. da Silva, who is not related to the former president.

P.O. (WSJ) Killing of Brazilian Activist Sparks Outrage and Protests

I am afraid this is only a confirmation that Brasil is not a viable country anymore.
Not as a politically organized union, or even as a Country.
Not viable to live, nor viable to invest.
I lived in Brasil more than 40 years ago, for a couple of years.
When i left i said that ,in my opinion, all the levels of the Brazilian society, from the street shoe polisher, to the President were corrupt.
People said i was exagerating…
Unfortunatly nothing works anymore.
Rio de Janeiro has been controled by drug lords for years now.
The police and the army have been infiltrated by criminals.
The rule of law is not enforced anymore in large parts of the Country.
Unfortunatly…
Do any of you have any doubts anymore…?
I don’t think so.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(WSJThousands mourn Marielle Franco, whose death threatens to become a rallying point for further protests ahead of presidential elections

Demonstrators gather Thursday in Rio de Janeiro to protest following the death of Councilwoman Marielle Franco.
Demonstrators gather Thursday in Rio de Janeiro to protest following the death of Councilwoman Marielle Franco. PHOTO: DADO GALDIERI/BLOOMBERG

SÃO PAULO, Brazil—The shooting of a Rio de Janeiro activist and critic of police abuses has caused angry outbursts across Brazil and deepened concerns over President Michel Temer’s use of the army to control violence, ahead of national elections in October.

Marielle Franco, a Rio city councilwoman and a prominent defender of Afro-Brazilians, was shot dead in her car Wednesday night along with her driver, in what human-rights groups fear was a politically motivated execution in retaliation for her criticism of police violence.

Her death threatens to become a rallying point for protests over violence and racial inequality in Brazil ahead of the presidential elections, exacerbating the Latin American nation’s volatile political situation.

“It was a brazen act, a planned crime, against a member of the legislature, a councilwoman with a thunderous vote, a crime in full view of all, defying democratic institutions,” said André Luis Machado de Castro, the top public defender in Rio state.

Brazil’s President Temer on Corruption and Being Unpopular

Brazil’s President Michel Temer is the most unpopular leader to have held the post, according to opinion polls. He tells WSJ’s Stephen Fidler why the rating doesn’t concern him and why he would prefer to face former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the polls.

Mr. Temer’s move a month ago to place the military in charge of public security in Rio has exacerbated anger about police brutality and the excessive use of force in the slums, said Silvio Cascione at political-risk advisory firm Eurasia Group. It has also given the country’s fragmented leftist parties a potentially powerful unifying theme, he added.

The president’s decree was in response to increasingly frequent shootouts and robberies in the city of Rio, which saw 2,125 violent deaths in 2017, a 37% increase since 2014. While Brazil’s wealthier, and typically whiter, citizens largely support a tougher approach to crime, the victims of excessive police force are typically the poorer black inhabitants who have struggled to speak out, experts say.

Ms. Franco, a 38-year-old rising star of Brazil’s Socialism and Liberty Party, had been one of the most vocal critics of the rise in killings by the police, of which 154 occurred in January in Rio state, a 57% increase over the same month in 2017, according to official data.

After her death, thousands of Brazilians took to the streets of the major cities Thursday night and planned further acts, calling for an end to the high number of killings by the police.

“While the demonstrations were clearly nonpartisan, with widespread support from mainstream media, they struck a chord with leftist parties, which have been questioning the intervention and are longtime critics of Brazil’s trigger-happy police culture,” Eurasia Group’s Mr. Cascione said.

Ms. Franco—a black, single mother born in one of Rio’s largest favelas—was heading home after attending a black-women empowerment event in downtown Rio when her car was attacked. She was the 40th local politician to be killed across Brazil since the beginning of 2017, according to a study by Brazil’s Globo news website published Saturday, which tracked the deaths of councilors and ex-councilors as well as mayors and ex-mayors.

“A person shot her directly in the head through the car’s tinted windows,” said one person close to the investigation. “They knew exactly where to shoot to get her head, they shot to kill.”

Mais um homicídio de um jovem que pode estar entrando para a conta da PM. Matheus Melo estava saindo da igreja. Quantos mais vão precisar morrer para que essa guerra acabe?

Ms. Franco was popular with many left-wing Brazilians, running for public office for the first time in 2016 and shocking much of the city’s political class with her landslide victory.

Her death comes at a critical moment for Brazil’s leftist parties, which are struggling to mount an opposition to a growing number of centre-right and socially conservative candidates ahead of October’s elections, said Rafael Alcadipani, an academic at Brazil’s Getulio Vargas Foundation.

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Workers’ Party remain the left’s strongest contenders, but the working-class icon is widely expected to be banned from running or even jailed after his recent conviction for corruption in relation to the country’s “Car Wash” bribery and kickback scandal.

“Brazil’s left has been placed on the defensive because of what happened to Lula—but Marielle’s death may be the cause that brings them back to the streets,” Mr. Alcadipani said.

Federal and Rio state police said they are investigating the deaths of Ms. Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. Raul Jungmann, who heads the federal government’s Public Security Ministry, said Friday that police were trying to discover the origin of the bullets used, which he believes may have been stolen several years back from a shipment destined for police forces in Brazil’s capital city Brasília.

Groups that monitor alleged police abuses—including extrajudicial killings by police, which in Brazil are among the world’s highest, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council—called on authorities to immediately and transparently investigate the case.

“It looks very, very bad given the context, given who she was and how outspoken she was,” said Daniel Wilkinson, managing director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch in New York. “One of the concerns now is whether there will be a serious investigation.”

In the city of Rio, people see the attack on Ms. Franco as “a crime against the democratic institutions of this state,” said Mr. de Castro, the public defender. “This naturally creates a very fragile situation for everyone who works in the human-rights movement in Rio de Janeiro.”

Just a day before her death, Ms. Franco had lamented the slaying of a young man, possibly at the hands of police, as he was leaving church. “How many more need to die for this war to be over?” she said on her official Twitter account.

Security experts and human rights activists warn that the military intervention in Rio state could lead to greater human-rights abuses, citing the sharp increases in violence in Mexico, Venezuela and other countries as a result of such tactics.

“It’s been a disaster in the past and is likely to be a disaster now,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

(FSP) Brazil’s Economy: From Zombie to Walking Dead

(FSP) The OECD published its Brazil 2018 survey just as the country released figures showing its economy grew 1 per cent last year, its first year of expansion since 2014.

But before celebrating the revival from economic zombie to high-growth economy, it is worth looking at some of the distortions illustrated in the survey. They hint at the deep malaise that still lies at the heart of Brazil’s economy.

Exhibit one is how much Brazilians overpay for consumer goods and services, a factor that increases inequality and costs in the economy.

For instance, a humble Toyota Corolla in Brazil, which produces the vehicle, costs more than $45,000. This compares with Mexico, which also produces Corollas but where they cost just over $30,000, or in the US, where they cost $20,000.

Other Brazilian price distortions include mobile voice services, which in Brazil are nearly twice as expensive per minute as those in Argentina and eight times US rates.

The list goes on. Manufacturing companies in Brazil spend an average of nearly 2,000 hours a year preparing their taxes compared with 800 for Venezuela and less than 200 for the US.

Brazil has the highest applied import tariffs of the countries listed in the report, about double the level of China and four times that of the US.

Brazil has not gained new markets for its exports in recent years. In terms of imports and exports as a percentage of gross domestic product, Brazil is the least open country on the OECD’s list, less even than Argentina.

On the fiscal side, Brazil’s budget is a study in how not to develop a country. In 2016 it spent 16 per cent of its budget on interest payments on government debt, which is held by investors, business and upper middle class savers.

This was more than on education (12 per cent) and health (12 per cent). In fact, interest payments were the second biggest outlay in the budget, beaten only by social benefits (35 per cent), which were mostly pensions.

Given that Brazil’s pension system is one of the world’s most unjust, benefiting disproportionately relatively better off public servants who can retire in their mid-50s, Brazil’s budget actively benefits the wealthy over the poor and leaves no money for investment.

The OECD report predicted Brazil’s GDP growth would pick up to 2.2 per cent this year and 2.4 per cent in 2019. This is a walking dead recovery for an economy emerging from its worst recession in history and looking to at least return to its previous size.

Brazil has undertaken some reforms, says Jens Arnold, one of the authors of the report. These include reducing the subsidy implied in loans from development bank BNDES.

If Brazil is to rediscover its animal spirits, the next government will have to become a champion at unwinding more of the economy’s terrible distortions, starting with pensions.

+++ P.O. (BBG) Lula’s Request for Habeas Corpus Denied by Top Brazil Court

P.O.

I am afraid Mr Lula da Silva is going to be detained and go to jail as soon as his appeal process with the Federal Supreme Court is ruled on.

No way around it.

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(Bloomberg) — Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice turned
down a request for a preventative habeas corpus, filed by
lawyers on behalf of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Judge Humberto Martins, the vice president of the court,
wrote that such a plea is only applicable when there is “a
concrete threat of prison imminent” in a statement published on
the court’s website. The possibility of immediate imprisonment
does not appear to be present, the note stated.
Last week, an appeals court unanimously upheld Lula’s
conviction for corruption and money-laundering and extended his
jail time from nine and half years to 12 years and one month.
The judges also ruled that the 72-year-old leftist leader could
be jailed as soon as his appeals process cames to an end. On
Friday, a federal judge ordered the seizure of Lula’s passport
and barred him from leaving the country.
The ruling drastically reduced the chances that Lula will
be eligible to run for the presidency this year, though his
lawyers have vowed to challenge the decision. The front-runner
by a wide margin in opinion polls, Lula accepted the Workers’
Party nomination the day after the court’s judgment. Lawyers for
the ex-president filed a request for habeas corpus at the
Superior Court of Justice earlier on Tuesday.

+++ (AP) Undeterred by failed appeal, Brazil’s da Silva vows to run

(AP) Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is charging ahead with his plans to run for Brazil’s presidency again, even after an appeals court unanimously upheld a graft conviction against him and added years to his prison sentence.

Da Silva, who was wildly popular as president in 2003-2010 and has been leading the polls for October’s presidential election, was defiant in the face of Wednesday’s court ruling. The case alleged that while president, da Silva traded favors in return for the promise of a beachfront apartment. It is just one of a series of graft allegations against him amid a mushrooming corruption scandal that has taken down top politicians and business executives in Latin America’s largest nation.

“I am not worried about whether I will be a candidate for president or not,” da Silva told a crowd of supporters in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night. “I want (the judges and prosecutors) to ask for forgiveness for the quantity of lies they told about me.”

His Workers’ Party declared its intention to register him as its candidate in August and scheduled a meeting for Thursday to discuss plans.

“We will fight in defense of democracy in all forums, in the judiciary and mainly on the streets,” party chairwoman Gleisi Hoffmann said in a statement. “If some think the story ends with today’s decision, they are very wrong because we do not surrender before injustice.”

Da Silva’s defense team said the decision by the three-judge panel was political and denounced the ruling as a “farce.” They vowed to take the case to Brazil’s Supreme Court and even the United Nations.

That raised the specter of months of uncertainty ahead of the vote and even potentially unrest.

Under Brazilian law, a criminal conviction that has been upheld on appeal makes the person ineligible to run for office, although da Silva still has several avenues to still get on the October ballot by appealing to higher courts. Ultimately, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal makes decisions about candidacies, and the Supreme Court could also weigh in on the case.

Oscar Vilhena Vieira, dean of the law school at Fundacao Getulio Vargas university, said it was likely da Silva would eventually be barred from running, but maybe not until weeks before the election.

“We will have a difficult year, but I think in the end the election will take place and people will accept its results,” he said on a conference call with reporters organized by the Wilson Institute in Washington,

In deeply polarized Brazil, the case is part of a larger narrative, with supporters and detractors of da Silva offering their own interpretations. Da Silva and his supporters say the other corruption charges brought against him are an attempt to keep him from returning to office. They argue it is part of a conspiracy by Brazil’s elite to keep out a president like da Silva who focuses on the poor and levels the playing field in one of the world’s most unequal nations.

Detractors note that da Silva and his left-leaning Workers’ Party were running the country while a widespread corruption scheme siphoned billions from state oil company Petrobras and helped Latin America’s largest economy fall into its worst recession in decades.

Tensions were high Wednesday as the judges met in Porto Alegre, a southern city. Helicopters buzzed the skies, police patrolled on horses and sharpshooters took up positions outside while the judges spent the morning hearing arguments over da Silva’s conviction on corruption and money laundering charges. Prosecutors argued da Silva was promised a beachfront apartment, owned by construction company OAS, in exchange for contracts. In plea bargain testimony, the company’s CEO said the apartment was slated for da Silva.

Da Silva and his lawyers have always argued the case defied logic, saying he never owned the apartment.

In the end, all three judges voted to uphold the conviction and lengthen the jail time to 12 years and one month, an increase of more than two years from the sentence levied in July.

“Nobody can be absolved just because he’s powerful,” Judge Leandro Paulen said, referring to da Silva’s large following.

Experts said da Silva was unlikely to be jailed while pursuing further appeals.

Over the last several years, the “Car Wash” corruption investigation has landed dozens of Brazil’s elite, from businessmen to politicians, in jail. Several construction companies formed a de facto cartel that decided which would get inflated government contracts that included billions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to politicians, company officials and political parties in the form of campaign contributions.

(BBG) Lula’s Hopes of a Comeback Crushed By Unanimous Court Ruling

(BBG) Bloomberg’s Raymond Colitt says the odds are heavily against Lula running for president in Brazil.

A Brazilian appeals court unanimously upheld a graft sentence against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, all but killing his chances of bidding for the country’s top job.

All three judges voted to deny Lula his appeal against a criminal conviction for accepting an upgrade to a beach-side apartment along with other benefits from a construction company in exchange for favors. They also voted unanimously to increase his prison sentence from nine and a half years to over 12.

In a speech to supporters in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night after the verdict Lula proclaimed his innocence, compared himself to Nelson Mandela and said his conviction was a conspiracy by those opposed to the rise of the poor. At a separate press conference, his lawyers said they would use all legal means to overturn the court’s decision.

Lula’s Worker’s Party issued a statement saying it would fight in defense of democracy “in the courts and principally on the streets”. While there have been demonstrations both for and against the former president across the country, there have been no reports of violence.

At stake is not only the legacy of the 72-year-old former union leader, but the future of Latin America’s largest economy. With elections scheduled in October, Lula currently leads the opinion polls and has pledged to roll back the market-friendly reforms of President Michel Temer, including spending caps and the deregulation of the labor market.

While Wednesday’s verdict doesn’t rule him out of the running for good, it does represent a significant blow to his chances. “With this decision, the market sees the chances of Lula’s participation in the election as very low,” said Pedro Paulo Silveira, the chief economist of brokerage Nova Futura.

The ruling is also likely to fragment the left, according to Marcos Montes, leader of the pro-government PSD party in the lower house of Congress. “Many people who were by his side in the search for power are starting to distance themselves as they don’t see him returning to power,” he said.

The Sao Paulo stock exchange closed on a record high and the real was up 3 percent. While Lula was a Wall Street favorite during his two terms in office from 2003 to 2010, he recently turned to his more radical group of supporters for political survival.

Security has been tight around the courthouse in Porto Alegre, with sharpshooters on rooftops, naval ships patrolling nearby waters, and police cordoning off an area some 2.5 kilometers wide to keep protesters at arms length. Thousands of Lula’s supporters camped out in Porto Alegre during the trial, but dispersed shortly after the verdict came in.

Brazilian society is deeply divided over Lula, a savior of the poor to some and a reckless populist to others. The latest Datafolha survey showed 36 percent of voters would back him in October’s election, roughly double that of his nearest rival, right-wing Deputy Jair Bolsonaro. But 39 percent of those questioned in the same survey said they would not consider voting for him under any circumstances.

Brazilian law determines that anyone with a criminal conviction that has been upheld in an appellate court cannot run for elected office, but Lula’s likely appeal will buy him time.
Leaders of the Workers’ Party say they will launch his presidential candidacy on Thursday.

P.O. (CNBC) Boeing and Brazilian plane maker Embraer in talks over a potential tie-up

P.O.
…The end of the Brazilian dream…
…If not now , in another situation…
…Once a company says it is willing to be taken over it will be, sooner or later.
There is no going back to the former status.
It is one more consequence of the madness of the Lula/Dilma era.
They bankrupted Brazil and pushed it down to a lower league of Countries.
What an idiocy and what a waste.
Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(CNBC) Boeing and Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer said Thursday that they are in discussions about a potential tie-up.The talks are ongoing, but the companies cautioned in a joint release any deal would be subject to the Brazilian government, regulators and each companies’ boards and shareholders. The talks have been happening for some time, sources familiar with the situation told CNBC.

Shares of Embraer surged as much as 25 percent in midday trading.

Boeing could face a challenge in gaining Brazilian government approval to buy the country’s aviation giant. Reuters, citing a government source, reported Brazil is open an Embraer partnership — but not a total sale of the company. Any deal which transfers control of Embraer is out, according to Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Boeing is open to protecting jobs, the Embraer brand or structuring a deal that will maintain Brazilian government interest in the company’s defense business.

Embraer’s commercial aviation CEO, John Slattery, said at the Dubai Airshow in November that the Airbus deal for control of Bombardier’s CSeries should generate a higher level of activity for Embraer.

The deal in progress would be a boon for Boeing’s current offerings due to Embraer’s strength in regional jets. Embraer rivals Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier in commercial jets with 100 to 150 seats, a product that is center stage of a bitter trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday finalized duties of nearly 300 percent on passenger jets made by Bombardier, a win for Boeing, which lodged the complaint. The suit alleges Bombardier received unfair government subsidies and dumped narrow-body jets below cost to No. 2 U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines. The Commerce Department first recommended the duties on Bombardier’s CSeries jets earlier this autumn.

Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare on Thursday defended the discounting of new airplanes. Bellemare doesn’t deny that Delta received a good price, saying early customers for a fresh product rarely pay list prices. Steep discounts are common in the industry, to draw interest and attention to new planes.

Bellmare told CNBC that Bombardier has “an aircraft that nobody produces except Embraer. The real competitor to this aircraft is Embraer, it’s not Boeing.”

“There’s no case here,” Bellemare added, calling the complaint “ridiculous.”

(PUB) Um país do futuro – Francisco Assis

(PUB) O Brasil precisa de um compromisso histórico entre aqueles que continuam a representar uma esperança de dignidade da esfera pública.

Em fuga de uma Europa moralmente arruinada, Stefan Zweig encontrou no Brasil o derradeiro lugar do seu exílio desesperado. Fascinado pelo país, dedicou-lhe um livro que se tornaria imediatamente célebre e polémico. Alguns críticos denunciaram o carácter excessivamente elegíaco da obra. O que é certo é que ela permaneceu como uma referência e o seu próprio título se impôs como um sinal: Brasil, um país do futuro. Não sendo esse o sentido que o autor lhe pretendeu atribuir, acabou por se afirmar a ideia de um país em perpétua construção e permanentemente adiado. Como se a promessa do futuro significasse sobretudo um desmesurado falhanço histórico.

O Brasil está a atravessar um dos momentos mais difíceis da sua história. Há duas semanas atrás tive a oportunidade de o visitar e de constatar presencialmente o estado de profunda degradação institucional e política que só tem paralelo com o grau de conflitualidade que percorre a sociedade brasileira. Apesar dos grandes avanços ocorridos sob as presidências de Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula da Silva e Dilma Rouseff, há fracturas, atavismos profundos e hábitos comportamentais perversos que subsistem num país que está muito longe de corresponder ao estereótipo idealizado de um espaço de encontro multicultural pacífico. Basta olhar um pouco para além do Brasil de bilhete-postal para perceber o peso do racismo étnico, cultural e social, a magnitude da corrupção, do nepotismo e do clientelismo, a fragilidade extrema do mundo institucional.

Como seria de prever, Michel Temer não conseguiu sobreviver à vontade de ser Presidente da República a qualquer preço. É certo que preside — e que dirige um governo de qualidade muito duvidosa —, mas não dispõe do mais leve respeito popular e transporta consigo a permanente suspeita da ilegitimidade moral da sua própria condição presidencial. Temer é hoje um político aprisionado pelos escandalosos acordos que tem sido forçado a fazer no Senado e na Câmara dos Deputados com o intuito de garantir a sua própria sobrevivência, e não dispõe, por isso mesmo, dos meios imprescindíveis para a mera dignificação do cargo que exerce. Nessa perspectiva, o Brasil é hoje um país à deriva, dirigido por zombies a quem não escasseiam provas dadas em matéria de nepotismo e corrupção. É triste mas é verdade.

Raramente um país com a dimensão e os recursos do Brasil viveu uma situação tão dilacerante no domínio da sua representação política democrática. A classe política brasileira, por motivos diversos que vão desde a natureza do sistema político e eleitoral, até à desmesurada influência pública de alguns meios de comunicação social e de algumas igrejas evangélicas onde predominam o simplismo conceptual e a demagogia sectária, não está manifestamente à altura das enormes responsabilidades que lhe estão cometidas. Há naturalmente excepções, algumas delas deveras significativas e que nos impedem felizmente de cair num cepticismo absoluto.

Na semana passada tive o ensejo de conhecer em Estrasburgo a ex-Presidente Dilma Rousseff, afastada do lugar para que o povo a elegera por um procedimento parlamentar se não ilegal, pelo menos flagrantemente imoral. Confesso que não tinha até essa ocasião a melhor das opiniões a seu respeito no plano estritamente político. Amigos brasileiros haviam-me vendido a ideia de uma mulher excessivamente dogmática, propensa a comportamentos sectários e pouco dada à promoção do diálogo, quer com apoiantes, quer com adversários. Depois de a ter ouvido numa sessão pública e de ter conversado longamente com ela num jantar promovido por alguns deputados europeus socialistas, entre os quais se incluía também o meu colega e amigo Carlos Zorrinho, fiquei com uma visão completamente distinta acerca do seu carácter e da sua personalidade política. Dilma é superiormente inteligente, revela uma seriedade extrema na acepção mais exigente do conceito, inscreve-se doutrinariamente na linha do socialismo democrático e deixa transparecer uma sensibilidade social própria de uma figura política decente. Terá cometido erros, mas é claramente alguém que se situa muito acima da média da vida política do seu país, quer intelectual, quer moralmente.

O Brasil precisa de uma espécie de compromisso histórico entre aqueles que, um pouco mais à direita ou mais à esquerda, continuam a representar uma esperança de dignidade ao mais alto nível da esfera pública. Só assim poderá enfrentar com sucesso as ameaças extremistas e demagógicas que se adivinham no horizonte e resolver adequadamente os principais problemas que impedem a sua integração plena no mundo globalizado e que condenam à miséria grande parte da sua população. Há hoje naquele país um risco imenso: o de se acentuar ainda mais a clivagem entre a maioria da população, condenada a uma pobreza endémica e alienante, e uma elite provida dos recursos de capital financeiro, económico, cultural, simbólico e científico capaz de lhe garantir a integração nos grandes fluxos globais. O problema não é de agora, mas adquiriu no presente uma particular intensidade dadas as características específicas da nossa época.

Por muito que se tente criticar e até escarnecer da acção política levada a cabo pelos dois Presidentes eleitos pelo PT, não é legítimo ignorar o legado extraordinário que deixaram em matéria de promoção dos Direitos Humanos e de dignificação dos homens e das mulheres concretos do seu país. No Rio de Janeiro, há 15 dias atrás, uma professora de uma Universidade do Rio Grande do Sul dizia-nos com indisfarçável comoção: “Foi devido à acção do Presidente Lula que, pela primeira vez ao fim de muitas décadas a ensinar, tive alunos negros a assistir às minhas aulas.” Dilma Rousseff lembrava-nos na semana passada a sensação de plenitude política que a acometeu quando ela própria, na condição de Presidente da República, entregou o diploma de licenciatura a uma jovem médica negra brasileira. Essa jovem ter-lhe-á dito na ocasião: “O ter chegado até aqui significa que finalmente a Senzala está a entrar na Casa-Grande.”

Sabemos infelizmente que ainda há um longo caminho a percorrer para que a Senzala entre, de facto, na Casa-Grande. Há, porém, no meio das tão negras vicissitudes que afligem o presente brasileiro, quem esteja disposto a percorrer esse caminho. Ter conhecido e conversado com alguém como Dilma Rousseff aumentou a minha confiança no futuro desse imenso e tão próximo país que é o Brasil.

(JE) Tribunal adia para dezembro assembleia de credores da Oi

(JE) Esta foi a quarta vez que a assembleia geral dos credores da Oi foi adiada. Desta vez foi na sequência de um pedido de grandes credores da empresa, nomeadamente o Banco do Brasil. A nova data é 7 de dezembro.

A justiça do Rio de Janeiro decidiu adiar ontem, quinta-feira, pela 4ª vez a assembleia de credores da Oi. A Pharol, maior acionista da Oi, com 27%, acaba de enviar o comunicado à CMVM.

A Assembleia foi agora remarcada para o dia 7 de dezembro, com uma 2ª convocatória para fevereiro. Mas permanece o impasse entre credores e acionistas.

A decisão atendeu a pedido de credores, entre eles bancos como o Banco do Brasil, detentores de parte relevante dos créditos da dívida de mais de 64,5 mil milhões de reais (17 mil milhões de euros) da Oi.

Diz o comunicado que “o Juízo da 7ª Vara Empresarial da Comarca da Capital do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, perante o qual tramita a Recuperação Judicial, determinou o adiamento da Assembleia Geral de Credores, que se realizaria no dia 10/11/2017, em primeira convocação, e no dia 27/11/2017, em segunda convocação, para o dia 07/12/2017, às 11:00 horas, em primeira convocação (podendo continuar no dia 08/12/2017, se for necessário), e para o dia 01/02/2018, em segunda convocação (podendo continuar no dia 02/02/2018, se for necessário)”.

O governo brasileiro criou um grupo de trabalho, coordenado pela ministra da Advocacia-Geral da União, Grace Mendonça, na tentativa de construir uma solução para a Oi, que está em processo recuperação judicial com dívidas de mais de 64 mil milhões de reais. Uma das principais preocupações da ministra é negociar uma solução para a dívida de mais de 11 mil milhões de reais (2,9 mil milhões de euros) da operadora com a Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações (Anatel). A empresa também deve cerca de 20 mil milhões de reais (5,3 mil milhões de euros) a bancos públicos. A ministra voltou a dizer que não está trabalhar com a perspectiva de intervenção na Oi, avança a imprensa brasileira.

A ministra falou ontem depois do adiamento da Assembleia de credores para dizer que  a diluição das participações dos atuais acionistas da Oi é um dos cenários com os quais o governo trabalha para encontrar uma solução para a empresa. E que o adiamento da assembleia de credores da operadora para 7 de dezembro dá mais tempo para desenhar uma saída para a companhia. Com o novo prazo, a ministra acredita que chegará a um acordo sobre como tratar a dívida da operadora com a Anatel e com os bancos públicos no âmbito da recuperação, antes do dia 17.

A Oi apresentou nesta quinta-feira à Anatel detalhes do PSA assinado com o grupo de credores. No passado dia 3 de novembro,  o Conselho de Administração da operadora brasileira aprovou os termos finais de uma proposta de apoio ao plano de recuperação judicial (Plan Support Agreement — “PSA”), que será oferecida a todos os Titulares de Notes da Companhia. Mas a Anatel impediu a operadora de assinar o documento, que é uma espécie de pré-contrato, entre a Oi e credores. Pois pediu documentos que visam atestar que a aprovação e execução de proposta de apoio ao plano de recuperação judicial, conhecida como PSA, não oferece riscos à continuidade dos serviços da empresa.

O PSA é defendido pelo fundo Société Mondiale, do empresário Nelson Tanure, um dos principais acionistas da Oi.

Ontem, no Brasil, a Oi, recebeu da Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações (Anatel)  mais uma multa milionária. O regulador determinou que a Telemar Norte-Leste (a Oi) seja punida em 21,7 milhões de reais por não cumprir o Regulamento do Serviço Telefónico Fixo Comutado (RSTFC), além de ter de comprovar ter devolvido em dobro os valores que foram indevidamente cobrados aos seus clientes.

(ECO) Oi aprova novo plano de recuperação judicial

(ECO) Um aumento de capital de mais de dois mil milhões de euros, assim como a passagem de 40% da empresa para as mãos dos credores. Será este o plano de recuperação aprovado pela administração da Oi.

A Oi aprovou um novo plano de reestruturação que prevê um aumento de capital de nove mil milhões de reais, cerca de 2,4 mil milhões de euros, para fazer face à grave situação financeira da maior operadora do Brasil, assim como conversão de obrigações em capital. Este plano já terá sido aprovado pela administração da empresa, mas tem ainda de receber luz verde da Justiça e dos credores. A avançar, cerca de 40% da empresa poderá passar para as mãos dos credores da Oi.

OiOi

A notícia foi avançada esta terça-feira pela Bloomberg, que cita fontes familiarizadas com o assunto. A proposta deverá chegar ao tribunal já esta quarta-feira.

A ideia passa ainda por dar aos credores a hipótese de adquirir até 3,5 mil milhões de reais em ações e de converter parte dos 32 mil milhões de reais de obrigações em capitalJá os acionistas poderão injetar 2,5 mil milhões de reais de novo capital na operadora, que se vê a braços com uma dívida avultada a inúmeras entidades, incluindo a própria Anatel, o regulador brasileiro das comunicações.

Contas feitas, a proposta, totalmente realizada, terminará com os credores a deterem 40% da empresa, mas não é certo que haja uma aprovação da nova proposta da administração por estes. A votação deverá ser feita a 23 de outubro numa reunião de credores que já está agendada desde agosto.

A portuguesa Pharol, antiga holding da PT e que se encontra cotada na bolsa de Lisboa, é atualmente a maior acionista da Oi, com uma participação de 27%. Uma proposta desta natureza irá diluir a participação da Pharol na Oi.

(NYT) How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food

(NYT) As growth slows in wealthy countries, Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, contributing to obesity and health problems.

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Children’s squeals rang through the muggy morning air as a woman pushed a gleaming white cart along pitted, trash-strewn streets. She was making deliveries to some of the poorest households in this seaside city, bringing pudding, cookies and other packaged foods to the customers on her sales route.

Celene da Silva, 29, is one of thousands of door-to-door vendors for Nestlé, helping the world’s largest packaged food conglomerate expand its reach into a quarter-million households in Brazil’s farthest-flung corners.

As she dropped off variety packs of Chandelle pudding, Kit-Kats and Mucilon infant cereal, there was something striking about her customers: Many were visibly overweight, even small children.

She gestured to a home along her route and shook her head, recalling how its patriarch, a morbidly obese man, died the previous week. “He ate a piece of cake and died in his sleep,” she said.

Mrs. da Silva, who herself weighs more than 200 pounds, recently discovered that she had high blood pressure, a condition she acknowledges is probably tied to her weakness for fried chicken and the Coca-Cola she drinks with every meal, breakfast included.

Mrs. da Silva and other vendors like her make regular deliveries for Nestlé to a quarter of a million households in Brazil.

Nestlé’s direct-sales army in Brazil is part of a broader transformation of the food system that is delivering Western-style processed food and sugary drinks to the most isolated pockets of Latin America, Africa and Asia. As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India.

Planet Fat

Articles in this series are exploring the causes and the consequences of rising obesity rates around the world.

  • NESTLÉ GOES DOOR-TO-DOOR

    How Big Business Got Brazil’s Poor Hooked on Junk Food

A New York Times examination of corporate records, epidemiological studies and government reports — as well as interviews with scores of nutritionists and health experts around the world — reveals a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised across much of the globe. The shift, many public health experts say, is contributing to a new epidemic of diabetes and heart disease, chronic illnesses that are fed by soaring rates of obesity in places that struggled with hunger and malnutrition just a generation ago.

The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished.

“The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.”

Even critics of processed food acknowledge that there are multiple factors in the rise of obesity, including genetics, urbanization, growing incomes and more sedentary lives. Nestlé executives say their products have helped alleviate hunger, provided crucial nutrients, and that the company has squeezed salt, fat and sugar from thousands of items to make them healthier. But Sean Westcott, head of food research and development at Nestlé, conceded obesity has been an unexpected side effect of making inexpensive processed food more widely available.

“We didn’t expect what the impact would be,” he said.

Part of the problem, he added, is a natural tendency for people to overeat as they can afford more food. Nestlé, he said, strives to educate consumers about proper portion size and to make and market foods that balance “pleasure and nutrition.”

There are now more than 700 million obese people worldwide, 108 million of them children, according to research published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine. The prevalence of obesity has doubled in 73 countries since 1980, contributing to four million premature deaths, the study found.

Obesity’s Spread Across the World

Obesity rates in the United States, the South Pacific and the Persian Gulf are among the highest in the world — more than one in four Americans is obese. But over the last 35 years, obesity, defined as having a body mass index over 30, has grown the fastest in countries throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The story is as much about economics as it is nutrition. As multinational companies push deeper into the developing world, they are transforming local agriculture, spurring farmers to abandon subsistence crops in favor of cash commodities like sugar cane, corn and soybeans — the building blocks for many industrial food products. It is this economic ecosystem that pulls in mom-and-pop stores, big box retailers, food manufacturers and distributors, and small vendors like Mrs. da Silva.

In places as distant as China, South Africa and Colombia, the rising clout of big food companies also translates into political influence, stymieing public health officials seeking soda taxes or legislation aimed at curbing the health impacts of processed food.

For a growing number of nutritionists, the obesity epidemic is inextricably linked to the sales of packaged foods, which grew 25 percent worldwide from 2011 to 2016, compared with 10 percent in the United States, according to Euromonitor, a market research firm. An even starker shift took place with carbonated soft drinks; sales in Latin America have doubled since 2000, overtaking sales in North America in 2013, the World Health Organization reported.

The same trends are mirrored with fast food, which grew 30 percent worldwide from 2011 to 2016, compared with 21 percent in the United States, according to Euromonitor. Take, for example, Domino’s Pizza, which in 2016 added 1,281 stores — one “every seven hours,” noted its annual report — all but 171 of them overseas.

“At a time when some of the growth is more subdued in established economies, I think that strong emerging-market posture is going to be a winning position,” Mark Schneider, chief executive of Nestlé, recently told investors. Developing markets now provide the company with 42 percent of its sales.

For some companies, that can mean specifically focusing on young people, as Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International, described to investors in 2014. “Half the world’s population has not had a Coke in the last 30 days,” he said. “There’s 600 million teenagers who have not had a Coke in the last week. So the opportunity for that is huge.”

Industry defenders say that processed foods are essential to feed a growing, urbanizing world of people, many of them with rising incomes, demanding convenience.

“We’re not going to get rid of all factories and go back to growing all grain. It’s nonsense. It’s not going to work,” said Mike Gibney, a professor emeritus of food and health at University College Dublin and a consultant to Nestlé. “If I ask 100 Brazilian families to stop eating processed food, I have to ask myself: What will they eat? Who will feed them? How much will it cost?”

In many ways, Brazil is a microcosm of how growing incomes and government policies have led to longer, better lives and largely eradicated hunger. But now the country faces a stark new nutrition challenge: over the last decade, the country’s obesity rate has nearly doubled to 20 percent, and the portion of people who are overweight has nearly tripled to 58 percent. Each year, 300,000 people are diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition with strong links to obesity.

There are now more obese than underweight adults in the world. Sales of ultraprocessed foods have more than doubled over the last decade — even spreading into developing countries. Here’s what the junk food transition looks like in Brazil.By Neil Collier and Ora DeKornfeld

Brazil also highlights the food industry’s political prowess. In 2010, a coalition of Brazilian food and beverage companies torpedoed a raft of measures that sought to limit junk food ads aimed at children. The latest challenge has come from the country’s president, Michel Temer, a business-friendly centrist whose conservative allies in Congress are now seeking to chip away at the handful of regulations and laws intended to encourage healthy eating.

“What we have is a war between two food systems, a traditional diet of real food once produced by the farmers around you and the producers of ultra-processed food designed to be over-consumed and which in some cases are addictive,” said Carlos A. Monteiro, a professor of nutrition and public health at the University of São Paulo.

“It’s a war,” he said, “but one food system has disproportionately more power than the other.”

Door-to-Door Delivery

Mrs. da Silva reaches customers in Fortaleza’s slums, many of whom don’t have ready access to a supermarket. She champions the product she sells, exulting in the nutritional claims on the labels that boast of added vitamins and minerals.

“Everyone here knows that Nestlé products are good for you,” she said, gesturing to cans of Mucilon, the infant cereal whose label says it is “packed with calcium and niacin,” but also Nescau 2.0, a sugar-laden chocolate powder.

She became a Nestlé vendor two years ago, when her family of five was struggling to get by. Though her husband is still unemployed, things are looking up. With the $185 a month she earns selling Nestlé products, she was able to buy a new refrigerator, a television and a gas stove for the family’s three-room home at the edge of a fetid tidal marsh.

Mrs. da Silva with some of her children and a cousin in their home in Fortaleza.

The company’s door-to-door program fulfills a concept that Nestlé articulated in its 1976 annual shareholder report, which noted that “integration with the host country is a basic aim of our company.” Started a decade ago in Brazil, the program serves 700,000 “low-income consumers each month,” according to its website. Despite the country’s continuing economic crisis, the program has been growing 10 percent a year, according to Felipe Barbosa, a company supervisor.

He said sagging incomes among poor and working-class Brazilians had actually been a boon for direct sales. That’s because unlike most food retailers, Nestlé gives customers a full month to pay for their purchases. It also helps that saleswomen — the program employs only women — know when their customers receive Bolsa Família, a monthly government subsidy for low-income households.

“The essence of our program is to reach the poor,” Mr. Barbosa said. “What makes it work is the personal connection between the vendor and the customer.”

Nestlé increasingly also portrays itself as a leader in its commitment to community and health. Two decades ago, it anointed itself a “nutrition health and wellness company.” Over the years, the company says it has reformulated nearly 9,000 products to reduce salt, sugar and fat, and it has delivered billions of servings fortified with vitamins and minerals. It emphasizes food safety and the reduction of food waste, and it works with nearly 400,000 farmers around the world to promote sustainable farming.

In an interview at Nestlé’s new $50 million campus in suburban Cleveland, Mr. Westcott, head of food research and development, said the door-to-door sales program reflected another of the company’s slogans: “Creating shared values.”

“We create shared value by creating micro-entrepreneurs — people that can build their own businesses,” he said. A company like Nestlé can bolster the well-being of entire communities “by actually sending positive messages around nutrition,” he said.

Nestlé’s portfolio of foods is vast and different from that of some snack companies, which make little effort to focus on healthy offerings. They include Nesfit, a whole-grain cereal; low-fat yogurts like Molico that contain a relatively modest amount of sugar (six grams); and a range of infant cereals, served with milk or water, that are fortified with vitamins, iron and probiotics.

Some of the Nestlé products on sale at a store near Muaná.

Dr. Gibney, the nutritionist and Nestlé consultant, said the company deserved credit for reformulating healthier products.

But of the 800 products that Nestlé says are available through its vendors, Mrs. da Silva says her customers are mostly interested in only about two dozen of them, virtually all sugar-sweetened items like Kit-Kats; Nestlé Greek Red Berry, a 3.5-ounce cup of yogurt with 17 grams of sugar; and Chandelle Pacoca, a peanut-flavored pudding in a container the same size as the yogurt that has 20 grams of sugar — nearly the entire World Health Organization’s recommended daily limit.

Until recently, Nestlé sponsored a river barge that delivered tens of thousands of cartons of milk powder, yogurt, chocolate pudding, cookies and candy to isolated communities in the Amazon basin. Since the barge was taken out of service in July, private boat owners have stepped in to meet the demand.

“On one hand, Nestlé is a global leader in water and infant formula and a lot of dairy products,” said Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina. “On the other hand, they are going into the backwoods of Brazil and selling their candy.”

Dr. Popkin finds the door-to-door marketing emblematic of an insidious new era in which companies seek to reach every doorstep in an effort to grow and become central to communities in the developing world. “They’re not leaving an inch of country left aside,” he said.

Public health advocates have criticized the company before. In the 1970s, Nestlé was the target of a boycott in the United States for aggressively marketing infant formula in developing countries, which nutritionists said undermined healthful breast-feeding. In 1978, the president of Nestlé Brazil, Oswaldo Ballarin, was called to testify at highly publicized United States Senate hearings on the infant formula issue, and he declared that criticisms were the work of church activity aimed at “undermining the free enterprise system.”

On the streets of Fortaleza, where Nestlé is admired for its Swiss pedigree and perceived high quality, negative sentiments about the company are rarely heard.

The home of Joana D’arc de Vasconcellos, 53, another vendor, is filled with Nestlé-branded stuffed animals and embossed certificates she earned at nutrition classes sponsored by Nestlé. In her living room, pride of place is given to framed photographs of her children at age 2, each posed before a pyramid of empty Nestlé infant formula cans. As her son and daughter grew up, she switched to other Nestlé products for children: Nido Kinder, a toddler milk powder; Chocapic, a chocolate-flavored cereal; and the chocolate milk powder Nescau.

Joana D’arc de Vasconcellos with pictures of her daughter, Vittoria, and Nestlé products.

Ms. de Vasconcellos, right, has diabetes and high blood pressure. Vittoria, 17, has high blood pressure and weighs nearly 300 pounds.

“When he was a baby, my son didn’t like to eat — until I started giving him Nestlé foods,” she said proudly.

Ms. de Vasconcellos has diabetes and high blood pressure. Her 17-year-old daughter, who weighs more than 250 pounds, has hypertension and polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder strongly linked to obesity. Many other relatives have one or more ailments often associated with poor diets: her mother and two sisters (diabetes and hypertension), and her husband (hypertension.) Her father died three years ago after losing his feet to gangrene, a complication of diabetes.

“Every time I go to the public health clinic, the line for diabetics is out the door,” she said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a family here that doesn’t have it.”

Ms. de Vasconcellos previously tried selling Tupperware and Avon products door to door, but many customers failed to pay. Six years ago, after a friend told her about Nestlé’s direct sales program, Ms. Vasconcellos jumped at the chance.

She says her customers have never failed to pay her.

“People have to eat,” she said.

Industry Muscles In

In May 2000, Denise Coitinho, then director of nutrition for the Ministry of Health, was at a Mother’s Day party at her children’s school when her mobile phone rang. It was Nestlé’s chief of government relations. “He was really upset,” she recalled.

The source of Nestlé’s concern was a new policy that Brazil had adopted and was pushing at the World Health Organization. If adopted, the policy would have recommended that children around the world breast-feed for six months, rather than the previous recommendation of four to six months, she said.

“Two months may not seem like a lot, but it’s a lot of revenue. It’s a lot of selling,” said Ms. Coitinho, who left her position in 2004 and is now an independent nutrition consultant to, among others, the United Nations. In the end, infant food companies succeeded in stalling the policy for a year, she said. Asked about her story, Nestlé said that it “believes breast milk is the ideal nutrition for babies” and that it supports and promotes the W.H.O. guidelines.

It is hard to overstate the economic power and political access enjoyed by food and beverage conglomerates in Brazil, which are responsible for 10 percent of the nation’s economic output and employ 1.6 million people.

In 2014, food companies donated $158 million to members of Brazil’s National Congress, a threefold increase over 2010, according to Transparency International Brazil. A study the organization released last year found that more than half of Brazil’s current federal legislators had been elected with donations from the food industry – before the Supreme Court banned corporate contributions in 2015.

The single largest donor to congressional candidates was the Brazilian meat giant JBS, which gave candidates $112 million in 2014; Coca-Cola gave $6.5 million in campaign contributions that year, and McDonald’s donated $561,000.

A greeter at a McDonald’s in São Paulo. The company gave $561,000 to congressional candidates in 2014.

So the stage was set for a mammoth political battle when, in 2006, the government sought to enact far-reaching food-industry regulations to curb obesity and disease. The measures, growing out of the earlier breast-feeding policy, included advertising alerts to warn consumers about foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats, as well as marketing restrictions to dampen the lure of highly processed foods and sugary beverages, especially those aimed at children.

Taking a page from the government’s successful efforts to limit tobacco marketing, the new rules would have barred brands like Pepsi and KFC from sponsoring sports and cultural events.

“We thought that Brazil could be a model for the rest of the world, a country that puts the well-being of its citizens above all else,” said Dirceu Raposo de Mello, then director of the government’s health surveillance agency, widely known by the Portuguese acronym Anvisa. “Unfortunately, the food industry did not feel the same way.”

Loading a boat in Belém, Brazil, with Nestlé products bound for Muaná.

Candy and chocolate bars at a small grocery store in São Paulo.

Ana Cláudia Caranha and her son, Gabriel, returning from a store in Muaná, where they bought food for the week, including a number of Nestlé products.

The food companies took a low profile, mustering behind the Brazilian Association of Food Industries, a lobbying group whose board of vice presidents included executives from Nestlé; the American meat giant Cargill; and Unilever, the European food conglomerate that owns brands like Hellmann’s, Mazola oil and Ben & Jerry’s. The association declined to comment for this article.

During the early days of public hearings, the industry seemed to be negotiating the rules in good faith but behind the scenes, health advocates say corporate lawyers and lobbyists were quietly waging a multipronged campaign to derail the process.

Industry-financed academics began appearing on TV to assail the rules as economically ruinous. Other experts wrote newspaper editorial pieces suggesting that exercise and stricter parenting might be more effective than regulations aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

The industry’s most potent rallying cry, analysts say, was its strident denunciation of the proposed advertising restrictions as censorship. The accusation had particular resonance given the nearly two decades of military dictatorship that ended in 1985.

At one meeting, a representative from the food industry accused Anvisa of trying to subvert parental authority, saying mothers had the right to decide what to feed their children, recalled Vanessa Schottz, a nutrition advocate. In another meeting, she said, a toy industry representative stood up and assailed the proposed marketing rules, saying they would deprive Brazilian children of the toys that sometimes accompany fast-food meals. “He said we were killing the dreams of children,” Ms. Schottz recalled. “We were dumbfounded.”

Chastened by the industry criticism, Anvisa in late 2010 withdrew most of the proposed restrictions. What remained was a single proposal requiring that ads include a warning about unhealthy food and beverages.

Then came the lawsuits.

Over the course of several months, a disparate collection of industry groups filed 11 lawsuits against Anvisa. The plaintiffs included the national association of biscuit manufacturers, the corn growers lobby and an alliance of chocolate, cocoa and candy companies. Some of the lawsuits claimed that the regulations violated constitutional protections on free speech, while others said the agency did not have the standing to regulate the food and advertising industries.

Buying Nestlé cereals in a supermarket in São Paulo.

Although health advocates say the litigation was not entirely unexpected, they were blindsided by the response of the federal government’s top lawyer, Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams, a presidential appointee. Shortly after the proposed rules were officially published in June 2010, Mr. Adams sided with the industry. A few weeks later, a federal court suspended the regulations, citing his written opinion, which suggested that Anvisa did not have the authority to regulate the food and advertising industries. Mr. Adams declined to comment for this article.

Mr. Raposo de Mello, the former Anvisa president, says he was stunned by Mr. Adam’s change of heart, given the attorney general office’s longstanding support for Anvisa. Seven years later, with most of the 11 lawsuits still unresolved, the regulations remain frozen.

“The industry,” Mr. Raposo de Mello said, “did an end run around the system.”

In the meantime, the food and beverage industry became more aggressive as it sought to neutralize Anvisa, which it viewed as its greatest adversary.

In 2010, in the midst of the battle against the agency’s proposed regulations, a group of 156 business executives took its grievances to the campaign of Dilma Rousseff, who was running for president.

Marcello Fragano Baird, a political scientist in São Paulo who has studied the food lobby’s campaign against the nutrition regulations, said Ms. Rousseff assured the executives she would shake up Anvisa. “She promised them she would ‘clean house’ once elected,” he said, adding that he learned about the encounter through interviews with participants.

Ms. Rouseff won, and soon after her inauguration, she replaced Mr. Raposo de Mello with Jaime César de Moura Oliveira, a longtime political ally and a former lawyer for the Brazilian subsidiary of the food giant Unilever.

From left: Michel Temer, the president of Brazil; Dirceu Raposo de Mello, former director of Anvisa; Jaime César de Moura Oliveira, his successor; Dilma Rousseff, the former president of Brazil who replaced Mr. Raposo de Mello; Luis Ignacio Adams, the attorney general of Brazil. From left: Adriano Machado/Reuters; Agência Brasil; Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil; Apu Gomes/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images; Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil

A spokesman for Ms. Rouseff declined to make her available for an interview.

In 2012, Anvisa hosted a traveling anti-obesity exhibit at its offices. Titled “Lose Weight Brazil,” the exhibit extolled exercise and moderation as the keys to tackling obesity, but largely ignored mainstream scientific evidence about the dangers of consuming too much sugar, soda and processed food.

The exhibition’s sponsor? Coca-Cola.

Irresistible Foods, Fatty Diets

More than 1,000 miles south of Fortaleza, the effects of changing eating habits are evident at a brightly painted day care center in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. Each day, more than a hundred children pack classrooms, singing the alphabet, playing and taking group naps.

When it was started in the early 1990s, the program, run by a Brazilian nonprofit group, had a straightforward mission: to alleviate undernutrition among children who were not getting enough to eat in the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

These days many of those who attend are noticeably pudgy and, the staff nutritionists note, some are worryingly short for their age, the result of diets heavy in salt, fat and sugar but lacking in the nourishment needed for healthy development.

The program, run by the Center for Nutritional Recovery and Education, includes prediabetic 10-year-olds with dangerously fatty livers, adolescents with hypertension and toddlers so poorly nourished they have trouble walking.

“We are even getting babies, which is something we never saw before,” said Giuliano Giovanetti, who does outreach and communications for the center. “It’s a crisis for our society because we are producing a generation of children with impaired cognitive abilities who will not reach their full potential.”

Nearly 9 percent of Brazilian children were obese in 2015, more than a 270 percent increase since 1980, according to a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. That puts it in striking distance of the United States, where 12.7 percent of children were obese in 2015.

The figures are even more alarming in the communities served by the center: In some neighborhoods, 30 percent of the children are obese and another 30 percent malnourished, according to the organization’s own data, which found that 6 percent of obese children were also malnourished.

Children at the Center for Nutrition Recovery and Education with signs that say “Yum” after eating a cake made with fruit.

The rising obesity rates are largely associated with improved economics, as families with increasing incomes embrace the convenience, status and flavors offered by packaged foods.

Busy parents ply their toddlers with instant noodles and frozen chicken nuggets, meals that are often accompanied by soda. Rice, beans, salad and grilled meats — building blocks of the traditional Brazilian diet — are falling by the wayside, studies have found.

Compounding the problem is the rampant street violence that keeps young children cooped up indoors.

“It’s just too dangerous to let my kids play outside, so they spend all their free time sitting on the couch playing video games and watching TV,” said Elaine Pereira dos Santos, 35, the mother of two children, 9 and 4 years old, both overweight.

Isaac, the 9-year-old, weighs 138 pounds and can wear only clothing intended for adolescents. Ms. dos Santos, who works at a hospital pharmacy, shortens the pants legs for him.

Like many Brazilian mothers, she was pleased when Isaac began to gain weight as a toddler, not long after he tasted his first McDonald’s French fry. “I always thought fatter is better when it comes to babies,” she said. She happily indulged his eating habits, which included frequent trips to fast-food outlets and almost no fruits and vegetables.

But when he began having trouble running and complained about achy knees, Ms. dos Santos knew something was wrong. “The hardest part is the ridicule he gets from other children,” she said. “When we go out shopping, even adults point and stare” or call him gordinho, roughly translated to “little fatty.”

Isaac Pereira dos Santos, 9, weighs 138 pounds and can wear only clothing intended for teens.

Isaac eating salad at home. His mother, Elaine Pereira dos Santos, has been making him healthier meals.

At the São Paulo nursery, health care workers keep tabs on the children’s physical and cognitive development, while nutritionists teach parents how to prepare inexpensive, healthy meals. For some children, the center’s test kitchen provides their first introduction to cabbage, plums and mangos.

One of the fundamental challenges is persuading parents that their children are sick. “Unlike cancer or other illnesses, this is a disability you can’t see,” said Juliana Dellare Calia, 42, a nutritionist with the organization.

Although staff members say the program has made significant strides in changing the way families eat, many children will nonetheless face a lifelong battle with obesity. That’s because a growing body of research suggests that childhood malnutrition can lead to permanent metabolic changes, reprogramming the body so that it more readily turns excess calories into body fat.

“It’s the body’s response to what’s perceived as starvation,” Ms. Dellare Calia said.

Money Talks

Even as nutrition experts bemoan the growing obesity crisis — and the potential long-term medical costs — one aspect of Brazil’s processed food revolution is undeniable: The industry’s expansion provides economic benefits to people up and down the ladder. Nestlé, which says it employs 21,000 people in Brazil, two years ago started an apprenticeship programthat has trained 7,000 people under 30.

Near the bottom of the food chain is Mrs. da Silva, the vendor in Fortaleza, who feels optimistic about the future despite her mounting health woes. Life has been a struggle since she dropped out of school at 14 when she became pregnant with her first child. Now she talks about fixing the missing teeth that mar her tentative smile and buying a proper home, one that does not leak during heavy rains.

She has Nestlé to thank.

“For the first time in my life, I feel a sense of hope and independence,” she said.

Nestlé products waited for a saleswoman to deliver them to homes in Fortaleza.

She is aware of the connection between her diet and her persistent health problems, but insists that her children are well nourished, gesturing to the Nestlé products in her living room. Being a Nestlé vendor has another advantage: the cookies, chocolate and puddings that often sustain her family are bought wholesale.

With an expanding roster of customers, Mrs. da Silva has set her sights on a new goal, one she says will increase business even more.

“I want to buy a bigger refrigerator.”

(NYT) President Temer of Brazil Faces New Corruption Charges

(NYT

President Michel Temer of Brazil on Thursday was charged with obstruction of justice and being part of a criminal organization. CreditNelson Almeida/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — President Michel Temer of Brazil was slapped with a second round of corruption charges on Thursday, further tarring his standing as he struggles to finish out his term and put in motion an ambitious package of economic reforms.

During his final days on the job, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot charged Mr. Temer with obstruction of justice and with being part of a criminal conspiracy that involved a plot to prevent the authorities from learning about a wide-ranging kickback scheme.

Last month, Mr. Temer managed to avoid standing trial in a case based on the same investigation by persuading enough members of the lower House of Congress to block the charges from reaching the Supreme Court, the only court where sitting elected officials may be prosecuted.

The new charges cap an extraordinarily busy couple of weeks for Mr. Janot, whose term expires on Friday. He filed charges accusing Mr. Temer’s two predecessors, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of running a scheme that siphoned billions of dollars from Brazil’s treasury.

In the latest case against Mr. Temer, the lower house of Congress must once again vote on whether it should go to trial in the Supreme Court. While analysts believe that the president will avoid prosecution given Brazilians’ weariness of political upheaval, it is likely to come at a price and stand in the way of making headway on his reform agenda. He needs at least 172 of the 513 lawmakers to back him.

In June, Mr. Temer became Brazil’s first sitting president to face criminal charges when the attorney general charged him with accepting a $152,000 bribe. Last month, the lower house voted to spare Mr. Temer from standing trial in that case. In the weeks before the vote, Mr. Temer doled out millions of dollars in federal money to key congressional districts, in what some critics called an effort to sway lawmakers.

Mr. Temer has vehemently denied all allegations of wrongdoing and tried to have Mr. Janot removed from all cases related to him, arguing that the charges were politically motivated. This week, the Supreme Court denied the request.

Despite an approval rating in the single digits, Mr. Temer has rallied support among investors by portraying himself as the only leader capable of pulling Brazil out of the economic quagmire left by his predecessors from the leftist Workers’ Party. And while he has used up much of his political capital in Congress, a new twist in the investigation is expected to work in his favor.

Both the initial charges and this latest round are based on the testimony of top executives of the meat-processing giant JBS, Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley. As part of a plea bargain that enabled them to avoid prison, the brothers testified that Mr. Temer and several other politicians had accepted bribes.

As part of that case, Joesley Batista had secretly recorded a meeting Mr. Temer at his residence in Brasília. It was another recording, this one of Mr. Batista, that appeared to call into question the reliability of the witnesses.

In that recording, which surfaced last week and seemed to have been submitted to the authorities inadvertently, Joesley Batista suggests that he had improper contact with a former prosecutor from the attorney general’s office while he was seeking a plea deal.

After the new recording emerged, Mr. Janot revoked the immunity of Mr. Batista and the other person heard on the audio, Ricardo Saud, a former executive for J & F Investimentos, which controls JBS. On Sunday, they turned themselves in to the federal police. The two men are defendants in the latest case against Mr. Temer.

The recording reduces the “political punch” of the new charges, according to João Augusto de Castro Neves, the Latin America director at the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting company, “reinforcing our view that Mr. Temer will have an easier time defeating the second motion against him.”

(Magazine Notícias) Portugal: destino de casamento para brasileiros

(Magazine Notícias) Vêm à procura das praias e das arribas, das planícies e dos vinhedos, dos palácios e da história, do bom tempo, da gastronomia, da simpatia e da segurança. Vêm sozinhos para cerimónias recatadas ou com amigos e familiares para festas grandes. Vêm para casar – pelo civil, na Igreja ou apenas de forma simbólica – porque Portugal tornou­‑se, nos últimos anos, um destino procurado por noivos do mundo inteiro. No Brasil, têm aumentado os pedidos de informação sobre o país.

  • Mariana e Thiago (Thrall Photography) – 041

    Mariana e Thiago, naturais do Rio de Janeiro, casaram em Ponte de Lima, no norte do país, em setembro de 2016. Carregue nas setas para ver as imagens seguintes. | ©Thrall Photography

Texto Sónia Salgueiro Silva

Casar longe de casa, noutro país, pode parecer uma ideia estranha ou exótica, mas, nos últimos anos, Portugal tem estado no top das preferências quando chega a hora de marcar o local para trocar alianças. São cada vez mais, e das mais variadas nacionalidades, os noivos que procuram o país para viver esse dia. «Tem paisagens naturais encantadoras e um vasto património cultural, que proporciona uma variedade incrível», diz Manoela Cesar.

A especialista brasileira, autora do blogue Colher de Chá de Noivas, dedicado apenas a casamentos, garante que tem muitos leitores – mulheres, sobretudo – interessados em obter informações sobre cerimónias em Portugal. «Num país pequenino é possível encontrar desde praias maravilhosas a palácios e hotéis, que são os cenários com que todas as noivas sonham.»

É FÁCIL PARA UM ESTRANGEIRO CASAR­‑SE CÁ PELA IGREJA? «TIVEMOS DE FAZER O CURSO DE NOIVOS NO RIO DE JANEIRO E DE APRESENTAR O COMPROVATIVO DE BATISMO E DE CASAMENTO», EXPLICA MARIANA.

Mariana e Thiago (cujo apelido preferem não revelar) que o digam. Naturais do Rio de Janeiro, ambos de 32 anos, escolheram Ponte de Lima para a festa. «Queríamos criar um momento único, com amigos e familiares, que tivesse significado para a nossa história», explica a noiva. A vila minhota foi escolhida por ser a terra natal do pai dela. «O meu pai e os irmãos nasceram e viveram aqui antes de emigrarem para o Brasil.

Queríamos fazer a cerimónia na igreja onde o meu pai foi batizado.» Assim, a 10 de setembro de 2016, depois de já terem casado pelo civil no Brasil, a gerente de projetos e o economista disseram «sim» numa cerimónia religiosa, na Igreja Paroquial de São Julião de Freixo.

Mariana e Thiago casaram-se em Ponte de Lima. «Queríamos criar um momento único, com amigos e familiares, com significado para a nossa história», explica a noiva, natural do Rio de Janeiro. A vila minhota foi escolhida por ser a terra natal do pai.

É fácil para um estrangeiro casar­‑se pela Igreja em Portugal? «Tivemos de fazer o curso de noivos no Rio de Janeiro e de apresentar o comprovativo de batismo e de casamento», explica Mariana. O curso de preparação para o matrimónio é exigido em quase todos os países, mas as restantes instâncias variam consoan­te os países de origem. Rui Mota Pinto, o organizador deste casamento, ajudou Mariana e Thiago com a burocracia.

«Tenho um departamento de aconselhamento legal, porque essa pode ser a parte mais complicada», diz o wedding planner, que garante ter um volume de trabalho em que 80 a 90 por cento dos eventos são de estrangeiros. «Faço 12 casamentos por ano, mas tenho mais de 700 pedidos. Sessenta por cento dos destination weddings são simbólicos, os noivos vêm pela viagem, pela experiência e pelas recordações que criam.»

«OS ESTADOS UNIDOS SÃO LINDOS, MAS AS MARAVILHOSAS ARRIBAS E AS PRAIAS DO MEDITERRÂNEO SÃO IMBATÍVEIS», DIZ DEVIN.

Por isso, tudo na festa de Mariana e de Thiago foi preparado para que os convidados – brasileiros, portugueses e de outras nacionalidades – se sentissem felizes e de férias. Com direito a momentos em que sentiram que estavam numa colónia de férias (o transporte dos sessenta convidados entre a igreja e o local do copo­‑de­‑água foi feito num autocarro de turismo).

«Queríamos desfrutar do local e da companhia dos amigos e da família durante alguns dias, como se fossem férias, mas especiais», diz Mariana. Quem aceitou o convite não se arrependeu. «Em Portugal, tivemos uma semana de encontros, jantares, almoços e celebrações, unindo pes­soas queridas numa viagem que seria impossível organizar em condições normais. Mais do que apenas o nosso casamento, construímos memórias de viagens, férias e encontros para nós e para os convidados.»

Os brasileiros estão entre as principais nacionalidades que têm procurado Portugal para casamentos, a par de ingleses, franceses, turcos ou japoneses. «O interesse dos brasileiros em voltar a visitar Portugal tem despertado de há um tempo para cá. Acredito que se explica pela confluência de dois fatores: muitos noivos brasileiros querem casar­‑se na Europa e Portugal tem profissionais de grande qualidade, não apenas na parte da doçaria, o que já era de esperar, mas especialmente fotógrafos, estilistas e designers prontos para atendê­‑los», diz Manoela Cesar.

No seu blogue, colherdechanoivas.com, os posts com mais visualizações são precisamente os dedicados a destination weddings. «As fotos são bonitas. As noivas procuram um castelo, um palácio para chamar de seu. Elas querem ter um dia de princesa! As quintas e as paisagens rurais despertam o desejo de ter uma celebração ao ar livre. E em Portugal as noivas que preferem um casamento pé na areia vão encontrar praias fantásticas.»

A ex­‑jornalista, que criou em 2011 o blogue – uma referência em casamentos no Brasil, com 235 mil seguidores no Facebook e oitenta mil no Instagram, considerado um dos 99 melhores blogues e sites de casamentos no mundo nos Zankyou Wedding Awards de 2012, que premeiam esta indústria – adianta que este mercado movimenta anualmente vários milhares de milhões de euros naquele país e que o interesse dos leitores em destinos estrangeiros é crescente, com Portugal a ocupar um local de destaque nos pedidos de informações.

A ideia destes destination weddings – casamentos no exterior – explica­‑se com a necessidade que os noivos têm de ter um «casamento com significado». «Neste tipo de casamentos, a história do casal, de como se conheceram, a beleza da história de amor é colocada em evidência em cada detalhe. Não há melhor forma de celebrar do que com os amigos, numa viagem que possibilita o convívio com pessoas queridas.»

Devin Turner e Eric Robison, ambos de 33 anos, casaram­‑se no extremo oposto do local escolhido por Mariana e Thiago. Os norte­‑americanos optaram pelo Algarve para trocar alianças. «Os Estados Unidos são lindos, mas as maravilhosas arribas e as praias do Mediterrâneo são imbatíveis», diz a noiva, Devin.

A cerimónia decorreu a 15 de maio deste ano na Capela da Nossa Senhora da Rocha, em Porches (Lagoa). «Nós procurávamos um local que tivesse beleza, charme e um ótimo clima. Considerámos muitos lugares, incluindo Espanha e Itália, mas depois de uma extensa pesquisa percebemos que mais nenhum país tinha o caráter e o esplendor de Portugal. Quando descobrimos a praia de Nossa Senhora da Rocha sentimos que tinha de ser ali! Os penhascos, a areia, a água, a pequena capela… Era tudo perfeito!»

«MUITOS NOIVOS BRASILEIROS QUEREM CASAR-SE NA EUROPA E PORTUGAL TEM PROFISSIONAIS DE GRANDE QUALIDADE: NA DOÇARIA, FOTÓGRAFOS, ESTILISTAS E DESIGNERS PRONTOS PARA ATENDÊ-LOS», DIZ A BLOGGER BRASILEIRA MANOELA CESAR, ESPECIALISTA EM CASAMENTOS.

A paisagem era tão avassaladora que os noivos do estado do Kentucky resolveram não a estragar com mais nada. Ou com mais ninguém. Casaram­‑se os dois. Sozinhos. Sem arrependimentos. «O meu marido e eu sabíamos que queríamos um elopement num destino europeu. No início, a família ficou chocada, porque queriam partilhar o dia connosco, mas explicámos que queríamos um momento só nosso e comprometemo­‑nos a ter um operador de câmara para fazer um vídeo.»

Este é outro tipo de casamento em voga e também aqui Portugal se tem revelado destino de escolha. Adaptado a partir da palavra original em inglês, que significa «fuga», um elopement representa uma cerimónia mais intimista, simbólica, apenas com um celebrante. «São só os noivos, não há convidados e isso cria uma dinâmica totalmente diferente. Acaba por existir menos stress, conseguem namorar, aproveitar mais o dia e gastar muito menos dinheiro.

Por vezes, os casais que escolhem fazer um elopement têm alguns problemas familiares ou simplesmente não querem gastar um valor tão grande no dia de casamento. São menos tradicionais, mais aventureiros e mais descontraídos», diz a fotógrafa Adriana Morais, que no ano passado teve 18 casais estrangeiros como clientes.

«Por muito que tenhamos sentido a falta da família, foi agradável dizer os nossos votos de forma tão privada», diz Devin. «Senti­‑me mais descontraída e com a capacidade de adaptar a cerimónia às nossas personalidades, e ainda bebemos bom vinho.» Quando regressaram aos EUA, depois de dez dias de lua­‑de­‑mel pela Europa, voltou a pôr o vestido de noiva para, finalmente, comemorar a união com a família. «Convidámos duzentas pessoas, celebrámos com eles e vimos o vídeo que fizemos no Algarve.»

Guilherme Peixoto e Gabriele Boeira, de 32 e 35 anos, também quiseram casar­‑se sozinhos. Uma ideia que tomou forma desde que o casal de brasileiros pisou pela primeira vez solo nacional. Guilherme, que teve um bisavô português de Ovar, passou dois meses de férias no Estoril, em 2008.

Guilherme e Gabriele, brasileiros, casaram-se em agosto, numa cerimónia simbólica em Sintra. Ele tinha um bisavô português, mas foi sobretudo a paixão pelo país, que desenvolveram em férias anteriores, que os atraiu.

Gabriele tinha visitado Lisboa em 2014. Nessa viagem, a nutricionista viu uma noiva a sair do Mosteiro dos Jerónimos e imaginou que um dia gostaria de se casar em Portugal. Curiosamente, no final desse ano começava a namorar com Guilherme, o que viria a dar origem a uma celebração simbólica na capela em ruínas do Palácio de Monserrate, em Sintra, no início de agosto deste ano. Apesar de o casal ter pensado primeiramente em casar­‑se sozinho, isso acabou por não acontecer.

«Quando a mãe da Gabriele a viu experimentar o vestido de noiva no Brasil, emocionou­‑se e decidimos à última hora convidar os nossos pais. Sem eles não teria sido tão especial nem mágico como foi», diz o gerente de planeamento financeiro.

PORTUGAL TEM SIDO TAMBÉM ESCOLHA PREFERENCIAL DE NOIVOS ESTRANGEIROS QUE PROCURAM OUTRO TIPO DE CASAMENTO: A DOIS, SEM CONVIDADOS OU FAMÍLIA. POUPAM DINHEIRO E TÊM UMA CERIMÓNIA MAIS ÍNTIMA E SIMBÓLICA.

Os noivos que optam por casar no estrangeiro querem que a cerimónia tenha um significado especial, muito diferente do que seria se casassem no país onde vivem. Melissa queria isso mesmo: um casamento com significado. E queria casar­‑se na praia. Era o sonho que tinha. «Soubemos que isso era possível em Portugal.» Por isso, a 2 de agosto de 2014, a mexicana trocou alianças com o suíço Patrick Schoeni, de 34, numa villa em São João do Estoril.

Melissa é mexicana, Patrick é suíço. Queriam casar-se na praia e «soubemos que isso era possível em Portugal», diz ela. «Temos família na Europa, nos Estados Unidos da América e na América Latina. Mas Portugal pareceu­‑nos o melhor compromisso.»

O casal, que se conheceu através de um site de encontros, resolveu procurar locais para se casar e possibilidades não lhes faltavam. «Temos família na Europa, nos Estados Unidos da América e na América Latina. Mas Portugal pareceu­‑nos o melhor compromisso.»

Claro que esta decisão só foi tomada depois de verem várias fotografias… de praias. «Muitas vezes os noivos não sabem muito bem o que querem. Ou o que querem não tem nada que ver com eles. Eu começo por lhes pedir para desligarem a internet, para se concentrarem um no outro, pensarem como se conheceram, porque é que se apaixonaram… Só assim consigo criar o casamento perfeito», diz Rui Mota Pinto.

«Ja tínhamos visitado Portugal antes e ficámos apaixonados pela cultura, pela comida, pelo vinho, pelo fado», diz Nazli.

Também os turcos Nazli Eralp e Onur Mumcu, naturais de Istambul, escolheram o local para se casar em Portugal através de fotografias na internet. «Tínhamos visitado Portugal dois anos antes de nos casarmos e ficámos apaixonados pela cultura, pela comida, pelo vinho, pelo fado», explica Nazli.

NAZLI E ONUR CASARAM­‑SE HÁ UM ANO NUMA CERIMÓNIA CIVIL NA EMBAIXADA DA TURQUIA EM LISBOA E A FESTA TEVE LUGAR DEPOIS NO HOTEL DE TORRES VEDRAS. NO DIA SEGUINTE, A CELEBRAÇÃO CONTINUOU COM UMA CERIMÓNIA SIMBÓLICA NA QUINTA DE SANT’ANA. TUDO BASEADO NA TRADIÇÃO PORTUGUESA.

«Decidimos fazer a cerimónia em dois dias, com os nossos entes mais queridos, num local memorável, de preferência num vinhedo. Quando vimos a Quinta de Sant’Ana, em Gradil (Mafra) e o Hotel Areias do Seixo na internet percebemos que tinha de ser ali.» Nazli e Onur casaram­‑se há um ano numa cerimónia civil na Embaixada da Turquia em Lisboa e a festa teve lugar depois no hotel de Torres Vedras. No dia seguinte, a celebração continuou com uma cerimónia simbólica na Quinta de Sant’Ana. Tudo baseado na tradição portuguesa.

Maria José Ventura também é wed­ding planner e criou uma empresa, Prenúncio de Festa, para isso mesmo: organizar casamentos. Está habituada a receber noivos de fora e sabe o que eles querem. «Os estrangeiros estão abertos a que se faça o casamento deles na tradição portuguesa e vêm à procura disso. Normalmente, não conhecem a nossa forma de casar, mas adaptam­‑se bem.»

A tendência de casar em Portugal, diz a especialista, terá começado a espalhar­‑se «há dois, três anos». Paisagens, clima, paz e tradição gastronómica estão entre as razões principais. «Apesar de não sermos pessoas de peixe, tivemos peixe na ementa e estava muito saboroso», diz a noiva, Melissa, que entretanto já voltou a Portugal com o marido para a Festa de São João, no Porto.

«Se o casamento corre bem, os noivos e os amigos acabam por voltar a Portugal. Há muitos que acabam por investir cá a nível imobiliário», diz Maria José, que até ao fim do ano irá somar oito casamentos de estrangeiros (e mais de cinquenta de portugueses), tendo já 12 planeados para 2018.

«O nosso país saiu a ganhar com a insegurança da zona central da Europa. É seguro.» E isso é o mais importante para os noivos que vêm de todos os cantos do mundo. «No outro dia casei uns japoneses que vieram de férias, assistir ao festival NOS Alive [que decorre no Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Lisboa, no início de julho], e acabaram por se casar cá», diz Rui Mota Pinto.

Em 2016, segundo o Instituto Nacional de Estatística, houve 753 casamentos de cidadãos estrangeiros em Portugal. Dois anos depois o número chegou aos 1020, mas a partir daí, possivelmente devido à crise financeira que se abateu, o número diminuiu até 767 em 2013, começando novamente a subir a partir daí. Em 2014 registaram-se 856 casamentos de estrangeiros, 1057 no ano seguinte e 1082 em 2016.

Devin e Eric casaram­‑se em Porches, sozinhos. «A família ficou chocada, queriam partilhar o dia connosco, mas explicámos que queríamos um momento só nosso. Quando regressámos aos EUA, celebrámos com duzentas pessoas e vimos o vídeo que fizemos no Algarve.»

Adriana Morais é fotógrafa de casamentos e no ano passado fotografou 18 casamentos de estrangeiros – cerca de metade do volume de trabalho anual. Já fotografou uniões entre turcos, afegãos e tailandeses, sendo os ingleses e os americanos quem procura mais os seus serviços. «De há cinco anos para cá, cada ano que passa tenho mais noivos estrangeiros, comparando com os portugueses», garante. E repete o rol de razões que os clientes lhe apontam: cultura, comida, vinho, pessoas, fado, praia, campo… A tradição portuguesa, a hospitalidade e a simpatia vencem todas as barreiras que podem estar a ser criadas com a insegurança que se vive no mundo. «O Turismo de Portugal tem feito um ótimo trabalho a vender o país lá fora. Há uns anos muitos nem sabiam onde ficava Portugal e hoje todos querem fazer férias por cá. Para mim, este é um negócio de futuro.» Enquanto houver praia, sol e boa comida, Portugal promete continuar a dar a bênção a todos os noivos que o escolham para destination wedding.

A brasileira Manoela Cesar tem um blogue dedicado a casamentos e muitos leitores (sobretudo mulheres) interessados em casar em Portugal.

«Um país variado»

«Portugal tem paisagens naturais encantadoras e um vasto património cultural, que proporciona uma variedade incrível», diz Manoela Cesar. A especialista brasileira, autora do blogue colherdechanoivas.com, dedicado apenas a casamentos, com 235 mil seguidores no Facebook e oitenta mil no Instagram, garante que tem cada vez mais leitores – mulheres, sobretudo – interessados em obter informações sobre cerimónias em Portugal.

Rui Mota Pinto é wedding planner há 25 anos e garante que 80 a 90 por cento dos clientes são estrangeiros.

O que faz um wedding planner?

«Os noivos portugueses encaram o nosso trabalho de wedding planners como um investimento extra, mas a nossa função é tornar a boda mais barata, já que juntamos todos os serviços» diz Rui Mota Pinto. Procuramos, analisamos, fazemos as negociações…» Rui é organizador de casamentos há 25 anos, supervisionando os eventos para que os noivos possam estar disponíveis para viver o dia com tranquilidade.

«O wedding planner ajuda também a criar casamentos de sonho», diz o profissional, que foi já várias vezes premiado (venceu cinco galardões) nos Belief Awards, promovidos pela comunidade Internacional de Wedding Planners Belief IWP. Neste aspeto, os noivos estrangeiros são mais descontraídos do que os portugueses. «Eles sabem o que querem e confiam mais no nosso trabalho.

Decidido o tema, eles deixam­‑nos criar e isso permite­‑nos sair da habitual conceção de um casamento», diz Maria José Ventura, que há sete anos criou uma empresa inspirada nas tendências do Brasil e que tem crescido no setor do Cerimonial e da Assessoria nomea­damente para destination wed­dings.

Trabalham com vários locais de norte a sul de Portugal, mas é na Quinta do Lumarinho, em Sintra, que organizam a maior parte dos eventos, com o «catering de assinatura» que também fornecem.

Há cada vez mais profissionais a prestar este serviço em Portugal, mas Rui Mota Pinto lamenta o «muito amadorismo» que encontra na profissão. «Temos de
ter cuidado com o serviço que prestamos», diz Maria José.

Quanto se paga para casar em Portugal?

«Os noivos chegam até nós com um orçamento muito maior do que o dos portugueses e pedem uma decoração de sonho», diz Maria José Ventura, da Prenúncio de Festa. Depois as empresas desenham um programa. Os preços cobrados por Rui Mota Pinto (que tem três fees fixos de serviços) variam de acordo com as especificidades e o número de convidados. «A nível de custos, estamos no mesmo patamar da Espanha, e os estrangeiros não vão para lá. Somos procurados porque somos bons no que fazemos e temos um país incrível», diz o wedding tailor e planner, como gosta de se apresentar. Melissa e Patrick, por exemplo, gastaram cerca de quarenta mil euros.

«As nossas famílias [80 convidados] estavam contentes por estarem num casamento à beira da praia, numa cerimónia que não foi portuguesa nem americana, mas sim internacional, para agradar a todos». Mariana e Thiago gastaram cerca de vinte mil euros em hotéis, almoço de ensaio no dia anterior e cerimónia para sessenta convidados.

E ainda passaram duas semanas em Portugal. Pouco, quando comparado com os preços brasileiros. «Um casamento mediano no Brasil, nos grandes centros, sai a partir de cem mil reais [aproximadamente trinta mil euros]. A média para eventos grandes é em torno de duzentos mil reais [60 mil euros]».

Devin e Eric, que fizeram um elopement, um tipo de casamento mais simples, só os dois, gastaram apenas 3500 euros, mais o valor das viagens. «Achei Portugal muito mais barato do que os EUA e os vossos casamentos muito mais divertidos»,
diz a noiva.

No final do ano, Maria José Ventura terá somado oito casamentos de estrangeiros e já tem 12 planeados para 2018.

Um negócio de milhares de milhões

Em 2015, a indústria mundial dos casamentos movimentava anualmente 276 mil milhões de euros (segundo dados da consultora IBISWorld). Só o mercado brasileiro de festas e cerimónias movimentava em 2014, de acordo com uma pesquisa do Instituto Data Popular (Brasil) e da Associação Brasileira de Eventos Sociais (ABRAFESTA), perto de 17 mil milhões de reais, ou seja, perto de cinco mil milhões de euros. No mesmo ano, segundo um relatório da Exponoivos baseado em dados do INE, PORDATA e através de uma pesquisa realizada pela NewEvents Global junto dos operadores do mercado e dos noivos, Portugal gerava com este negócio pouco mais de 605 mil euros. Longe dos 990 mil euros e dos 985 mil euros que o mesmo mercado movimentava antes da crise, nomeadamente, em 1994 e 2004. «Do ponto de vista macroeconómico é de considerar a relevância do volume de negócio gerado pelo casamento em Portugal que contribui quase com 0.5% do PIB, assim como é gerador de milhares de empresas diretas e indiretas nos mais de 40 subsectores de atividade envolvidos nesta indústria», lê-se no mesmo relatório da Exponoivos (Estudo Económico e Social da Indústria do Casamento em Portugal nos Últimos 20 Anos).