Brazil: visit by David Cameron
The British Prime Minister has visited Brazil with a delegation of business leaders; President Dilma has again been defeated on the forest code; but remains exceedingly popular among the people.
British Prime Minister visits Brazil
After attending the keynote speech of the opening session of the UN general assembly (as usual delivered by Brazil), David Cameron flew to Brazil with a delegation of more than 50 business leaders.
Foreign Secretary William Hague had criticised the lack of attention paid to Brazil. After his own visit, and trips by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Prince Harry, the PM is now the fourth high-level state or government representative from Britain coming to Brazil in recent times.
Cameron was clear about his objectives, saying that his visit was about British jobs, British growth and the British Economy.” Bilateral trade has increased by 10% over the past year. Nevertheless, the UK currently represents only 1.5% of Brazilian imports, considerably less than Germany’s 6.4%.
The Prime Minister and his delegation visited Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, and São Paulo. Aside from trying to stimulate exports in the defence industry, they also explored opportunities for investment in the oil and gas sector. During one of the press conferences, Cameron denounced Brazilian protectionism.
President defeated again on forest code
On Tuesday, the Senate concluded their voting on the Forest Code decree the President had issued on the 25th of May. Decrees (in Portuguese: medidas provisórias – MPs) need to be approved within 128 days.
The MP had vetoed some of the articles of a new Forest Code that Congress had passed in April, replacing the existing code from 1965. Among other changes, the new law granted amnesty to landowners who had illegally deforested their grounds, as well as reducing the portions of land to be replanted by them.
Dilma did not veto any of the amnesty provisions, but increased the proportion of forest that would need to be regrown (see Brazil: Dilma might veto new forest regulations).
The Senate has now modified the MP in accordance with agreed on with the House, reducing once again the reforestation of banks of rivers wider than 10 metres from 20 to 15 metres. On wider rivers, the requirement was scaled down from 30 to 20 metres. Farmers are now also allowed to include fruit tress in a portion of this reforested area.
The government floor leader in the Senate, Eduardo Braga from the centrist PMDB, the largest coalition partner of Dilma’s Workers Party, said that addition vetoes might now be possible.
The President is under pressure from the increasingly powerful and organised agrarian lobby, led by Senator Katia Abreu, President of the National Confederation of Farmers. At the same time, environmental organisations are demanding better protection of Brazilian forests.
Dilma unusually popular
Both Dilma’s work as President and the performance of her government continue to be highly valued by the Brazilian people. The most recent Ibope poll, released last Wednesday, estimated a government approval rate of 62%. This includes respondents evaluating the government as ‘good’ and ‘excellent’.
The rate has climbed by 6% since March. It is considerably higher than both Cardoso’s and Lula’s approval 1.5 years into their first term. Their rate stood at only 38% each.
Dilma’s personal approval is still at 77%, the same as in March and in June, when the survey was last taken.
Asked which current news story or event they regarded as the most significant, the single largest group of people mentioned the mensalão corruption scandal (see Brazil: Supreme Court starts mensalão trial).
Seven years after the corruption schemes was uncovered, the trial against several of the accused has finally begun this summer. Among them are many former high-ranking figures of the governing Workers’ Party. Yet the results from the Ibope poll seem to indicate that President Dilma has remained unscathed by the scandal.