Tag Archives: Dilma Rouseff

What Dilma Rouseff’s Fall Means For Cuba



Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s suspension from office is bad news for newly trendy Cuba, which despite a detente with Washington is feeling the pinch from a downturn ravaging allies’ economies and political fortunes in South America and Africa.

Friends such as Venezuela, Brazil and Angola for years used revenue from a commodities boom to pay for Cuban medical and educational services, turning it into the communist-run island’s main source of hard currency.

President Raul Castro’s detente with the United States has helped drive up tourism to record highs but income from the influx of foreign visitors were only about one-third of the $7 billion from health and education exports in 2014.

Over the last 13 years, Brazil’s leftist governments also provided at least $1.75 billion in credit on favorable terms, drawing fire from opponents who are also angered by a program that put 11,400 Cuban doctors to work in Brazil.

Those projects will now be re-examined after Brazil’s Senate voted on Thursday to put Rousseffon trial for breaking budget laws. She is now suspended from office while the trial takes place in coming months, and a likely conviction would end her presidency.

“There will be a short-term review of our Cuba policy, because the money has run out and because there are some serious governance questions regarding the loans. Everything will be put on hold,” said a Brazilian diplomat who served in Havana.

Some of Brazil’s loans bankrolled a major expansion project at Cuba’s Mariel port with 25-year repayment periods and rates of between 4.4 percent to 6.9 percent, Brazilian data shows. Critics say the terms are too generous given Cuba’s poor credit history.

Support from a bloc of leftist governments in Latin America since the turn of the century helped Cuba get back on its feet after the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a massive economic crisis in the 1990s. Improving relations with the United States and Europe hold the promise of new revenue, but for now Cuba’s economy will suffer as the tide turns against allies.

Centrist politician Michel Temer took over as interim president in Brazil on Thursday. His government is not expected to send home the Cuban doctors working in Brazil since 2013-14 but it will not hire any more.

“Obviously there will be no more Cuban doctors coming here in the future, because this model of assistance is questionable and there won’t be support for it, but I doubt any Cubans doctors will be booted out,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

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Bye, bye Dilma!



Dilma Rousseff suspended as Senate votes for impeachment trial

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff must step aside immediately following a vote in the upper house to move forward with impeachment proceedings stemming from allegations she broke budget laws.

Fifty-five of the 81 members of the upper house voted in favor of the motion early Thursday, with 22 voting against.

Speaking through the night, 71 of the chamber’s members made their cases ahead of the electronic vote, which took hours and ended, ultimately, in Rousseff’s temporary removal from office.

The country’s first female president will now face an impeachment trial and, for the duration of that process — up to 180 days — will be suspended from office.

Vice President Michel Temer will assume the presidency for the time that Rousseff is obliged to step aside.

The past few months have been a roller coaster for the embattled leader, who has been at the center of a fight for her impeachment, including procedural and legal appeals to annul the vote in the legislature.

The Senate and its committees will continue to work normally during this period.

What’s next?

President Rousseff will now have to step down while the impeachment trial proceeds. She retains her title as president by law, but she will not be fulfilling the duties of that office. Vice President Michel Temer will serve as interim president while the impeachment trial takes place.

In the next few hours, Sen. Vicentinho Alves will deliver the senate’s decision to Rousseff at her presidential office.

There, she will host former president and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, universally known as Lula, along with ministers and other authorities, to sign a notification telling her she needs to step aside for the duration of the impeachment trial.

She will then address the media, and vacate the presidential office. Following that, she will return to the presidential residence, Palacio da Alvorada.

CEO of the Brazilian company that built the port of Mariel was arrested on corruption charges

The CEO of Odebrecht, the company that built the port of Mariel in Cuba at a cost of $800 million and is currently involved in a $207 million expansion project at José Martí Airport in Havana, was arrested today in Brazil on corruption charges:

From Reuters:

Brazilian police on Friday arrested Marcelo Odebrecht, the head of Latin America’s largest engineering and construction company Odebrecht SA, local media said, pulling the most high-profile executive into the corruption investigation at state-run oil firm Petrobras.
Federal officers had orders to arrest a total of 12 people in four states and bring them to the southern city of Curitiba where the investigation is based, according to a federal police statement that did not give the names of the detained.
Odebrecht, which has 200,000 workers and a presence in 21 countries, said in a statement police had raided its offices in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and made arrests, but did not confirm any names. The company said the arrests were “unnecessary” because it was collaborating with investigators.
Local media also said Otavio Marques Azevedo, head of another large Brazilian contractor Andrade Gutierrez, was among those arrested. Andrade Gutierrez did not confirm the arrest in a statement but said it was collaborating with the investigation.
Neither Azevedo nor Odebrecht have been formally charged, prosecutors said.
The arrests were widely expected as the companies are already being investigated by the country’s comptroller general for participating in an alleged cartel of construction firms thought to have overcharged Petrobras and passed on the excess as bribes to executives and politicians.
But putting an executive as powerful and well connected as Marcelo Odebrecht behind bars is a significant development in a country where the wealthy have long been thought to enjoy impunity.
The 46-year-old Odebrecht is the third generation leader of the privately held company.
The so-called “Lava Jato” probe, centered on Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the oil major is formally known, has led to the indictments of more than 100 people and implicated dozens of politicians, most of them from President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.
Rousseff has denied knowledge of the corruption scandal and urged a thorough investigation.