Rousseff Is Ousted

In the end, it was all just a matter of time. After a few pro forma procedures, which paralyzed the country for most of the year, the Brazilian Congress voted today to oust President Dilma Rousseff.
For a 61 to 20 count, 81 Senators ignored calls inside and abroad against the measure, and impeached a leader who, less than two years ago, had been re-elected with over 54 million votes.
It was the end of a serendipitous and embarrassing process, which produced no recognized proof to justify such radical step, and wound up exposing the shameful underbelly of Brazil’s politics.
Accused on a technicality by a group of legislators with a particularly long rap sheet of law-breaking and misconduct, Rousseff goes down along a political project led by her Workers’ Party, that momentarily placed Brazil among the world’s most progressive nations.
Before being itself completely overwhelmed by its own misconduct and abuse of power, the party, known as PT, managed what many thought was impossible, and now more than ever, is unlikely to be repeated: lift an estimated 30 million out of extreme poverty.

As that was happening, though, it’s now obvious that an influential segment of the upper classes was not about to give up what it had consistently lost in the polls: government access. All it took was to channel popular dissatisfaction with PT to get it all neatly done.
It was, by all accounts, a coup, orchestrated by a coalition of parties that share one trait: none have convinced the electoral majority that they should be entrusted the reins of Brazil, (more)
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Is It Raining Yet?

St. Paddy Is Fine But
to Parade Is Optional

New Yorkers don’t usually complain about their city. They may not like what it’s becoming, but to speak evil of tourists, or say, The Bronx, may be grounds for a punch. Just don’t get them started about malls. Or the MTA. Tell no soul, but in certain quarters, parades belong to this list too.
Sorry, St. Paddy, and all those who helped build New York, but a lot of locals simply detest parades. And religious processions. Ticker-tape parades and dignitary visits too. Apart from marches, if there’s a crowd in one part of the town, I’ll be quick to run to the other side.
In the case of St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, such dislike has nothing to do with some moralistic aversion of public drunkenness, or all those incoherent ‘bros,’ or the retrograde core that fought, tooth and nail but lost, thank goodness, to prevent LGBT people from joining in, gladly.
The same about all the St. Pat’s related parades, the Eastern, the Tartan, and I’m sorry, but let’s include those ethnic and country-themed displays of people wearing funny hats, and yes, Thanksgiving too. There’s just no way I’ll withstand the elements and waste my day gawking at strangers.
If it sounds sullen, by all means, don’t let me stop you from going out there and do it like the Greeks and Romans; I’m just staying behind. And as I do when the United Nations is having one of those world leader summits, I’ll be at that cafe the other side of the park, bidding my time.

I’m probably one of those sorry sods who don’t see the point. Or maybe they evoke the frightening sound of military boots hitting the pavement, troops carrying heavy artillery, marching in unison, stupid displays of menacing power. Being from Latin America, I’ve learned to fear what comes next.
I can understand, and even join, a good Puerto Rican party in one of the boroughs, or a festive roda de samba and capoeira, full of happy Brazilians. Invite me for Margaritas at your backyards, on Cinco de Mayo, and I’ll show up with some friends too. Maybe I just can’t stand crowds.
We all have done it, at least once, usually dragged by some out-of-town relative. Yes, I’ve frozen my behind, behind a four-deep (more)
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Mantega Sees Brazil, Emerging
Economies Leading World Recovery

The Brazilian economy is on track for a sustainable rate of growth, boosted by strong domestic demand, Brazil’s Finance Minister Guido Mantega said in his keynote speech at the 2011 Brazil Summit, sponsored by the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce.
He said that Latin America’s biggest economy may grow at a 4.4% rate, which is considered a sustainable rate, based on the latest estimates for the country and the outlook Continue reading

Five Fine Stamps

Postal Service Pays Homage
to Latin American Music Titans

To label as “Latin” the music made by Latin American artists is nothing short than an empty generalization. But as the U.S. Postal Service stamp collection of five such legends shows, it’s clear that the endurance of their work went way beyond the limitations of the label and turned irrelevant even the Spanish and Portuguese languages through which they mostly Continue reading

Serious Business

A Global Toilet Day
to Raise Awareness

It takes just a quick glance at the toll poor sanitation causes to public health to realize how lucky we all are. What with flushing water, plenty of soft tissue and as much privacy as we think it’s our right to demand, it’s hard to imagine that we still need an annual day like Friday to call attention to such a vital issue. That’s exactly what the World Toilet Organization is trying to accomplish.
According to estimates, in the developing world, diarrheal diseases spread via feces kill more children than HIV/AIDS. In great part of African, Asian and Latin American countries, running water is a luxury, and people use nearby open air sewages is their toilets. And it’s useful to be reminded that, while we as we flush once more, not too far away Haiti is facing a cholera epidemic that can be traced directly to poor sanitation.
Along with access to clean water, proper nutrition and education, the right to have high standards of hygiene and improved sanitation should be inherent to human beings, if we expect to Continue reading

Murder Inc.

Drug War in Mexico Breeds
Murder, Art & Acts of Courage

The Mexican government’s catastrophically misguided efforts to curb drug trafficking has won no battle or shown little progress so far. On the contrary, the indiscriminate body count keeps multiplying, entire cities are being ravaged by impunity and corruption, and a once promising youth is trapped in the middle of its lethal crossfire.
While the Calderon administration, with no small help of the U.S., dump obscene amounts of dollars and human resources into sheer repression, growing demand from Continue reading


Brazilian Economists Concerned
About Inflation, Real Appreciation

A group of analysts focused on Brazil has expressed concerns about an increase in inflationary pressures, the appreciation of the country’s currency, and impact of foreign investments on the outlook for Latin America’s largest economy.
Eurasia’s Christopher Garman, TCW’s Marcela Meirelles, Citigroup’s Marcelo Kfoury and Citi Investment’s Jason Press debated their views in a panel discussion sponsored by the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce and moderated by Continue reading