Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Michel Temer’

Poverty and Violence

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 12th August, 2017

Brazil shooting smallThe local newspaper in Fortaleza is full of stories of gang warfare in the less salubrious parts of the city: fatalities, injuries and fights. The fact that many criminals in Brazil have access to guns contributes to the death rate. A friend of ours had his car hijacked at gunpoint the other night and many Fortaleza residents live in gated high-rise developments with security guards at the entrance 24 hours a day. But most of the victims of violent crime are not the wealthier members of society but rather the poor and especially the young; the victims and the perpetrators often resemble each other. One thing that unites many of them is a sense of hopelessness. Unemployment and especially under-employment rates are high and even middle-class families are finding it hard to make ends meet. Many food prices in our local supermarket here are higher than in the UK, yet most people’s incomes are nowhere near European levels. Lots of young men just hang around in the hope of getting odd jobs, such as guarding parked cars for a tip. Other young people take to drugs or prostitution, which form part of the criminal underworld, though underworld is perhaps the wrong word to describe it as it is so visible.

TemerPoverty and despair undoubtedly contribute to the level of violence that is endemic in so many Brazilian cities, especially at night. But there is something else which is significant and is mentioned to me again and again by people of all social classes: a seething resentment against politicians and others at the very top of Brazilian society who cream off billions of reais through corruption. President Temer avoided being sent to trial the other day, as a vote in parliament to commit him failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority. But everyone thinks the whole political establishment is rotten, irrespective of party. The difference between the crooks at the top and the petty criminals at street-level is that the top people don’t shoot each other, but buy each other’s favours instead.

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Brazil: Temer Holds On

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 3rd August, 2017

Michel TemerLast evening was quite surreal. I was at a local working men’s health club in Fortaleza where, in one room, men were taking part in a karaoke competition, while in another, people were crowded round a TV screen, watching a live broadcast from Brazil’s lower House of Congress in Brasilia. The shouting and catcalls from the MPs were even rowdier than the hullabaloo among the karaoke contestants. An electronic clapometer recorded the scores of the amateur singers, while on the TV screen, votes for and against sending President Michel Temer for trial on charges of corruption were recorded one by one. The latter took a considerable time, as many of the MPs insisted on making a speech outlining why they thought the President was a scoundrel or else much maligned, according to their own political loyalties.

Dilma Lula As the figures mounted, the MPs’ vote became as exciting as a Eurovision song contest, particularly as the “Yes” votes started to accelerate. But as a two-thirds majority was needed for the motion to begin proceedings against Mr Temer to be passed, it was in the end a lost cause — which prompted more shouting and jostling from the elected representatives. It should be remembered that Brazil’s last President, Dilma Rousseff, was ousted from power by Mr Temer and others, and that her predecessor, “Lula” da Silva has been given a prison sentence (against which he is appealing); corruption is at the centre of all these scandals. In fact, corruption is such a part of Brazilian political life, from the margins of billion dollar contracts to planning permissions at a local council level, that is surprising that the electorate bothers to vote at all. But another thing about last night struck me forcefully, which was that the besuited members of Congress, overwhelmingly white, overweight and puffed up like prize cockerels, bore precious little resemblance to the ordinary people I was with, both physically and in the way they behave. There is a huge gulf in this country between the governing and the governed and the shattered reputations of almost all recent senior politicians must surely lead to growing cynicism, then perhaps angry unrest.

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Brazil: Check Mate for Dilma?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 30th March, 2016

Dilma RousseffMichel TemerToday in Brazil the largest party in the country’s ruling Coalition, the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Mvcement Party), pulled out, declaring that the game is up for President Dilma Rousseff. Ms Rousseff is in danger of being impeached over allegations that she manipulated government accounts to hide a yawning deficit. The Brazilian economy has been contracting each year these last few years, following an earlier spurt of growth during which Dilma’s predecessor, ‘Lula’ de Silva, proudly declared that the country had grown out of its traditional syndrome of being ‘the country of the future — and which always will be!’ Opponents of Dilma’s Workers Party (PT) have accused Lula of pulling the strings since Dilma succeeded him, and that impression was hardly lessened when the other day she attempted to make him her Chief of Staff. Opponents derided this as an attempt to put him beyond the reach of Justice, and the matter will now be examined by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, millions of Brazilians have been taking to the streets in demonstrations and counter-demonstrations for and against Dilma’s impeachment. Whichever way it goes, one thing is sure: the PMDB’s withdrawal is a cruel blow for the chances of Dilma’s survival. But whether it amounts to ‘check mate’, as the PMDB is crowing tonight, remains to be seen. One clear reason the PMDB might wish so is because if Dilma is ousted, the PMDB leader Michel Temer, currently Brazil’s Vice-President, would succeed her as Head of State.

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