Brazil: Election of Human Rights Commission President leads to protests

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Country protests against election of Human Rights Commission President; on Women’s Day, law makes basic dietary products untaxed;  Brazil may become the largest exporter of corn in 2013

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Election of pastor to Human Rights Commission leads to protests

Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and Brasília are just the largest, among the 16 cities, in which protests took place against the election of Marco Feliciano to the presidency of the Commission on Human Rights this week.

In Rio, over 350 people went to the streets, in São Paulo, the number was even larger: about 700 people went to the streets, interrupting traffic in the Avenida Paulista, one of the city’s main roads.

The election of Pastor Marco Feliciano to preside over the Commission of Human Rights took place on Thursday, March 7, causing great controversy in the country, and particular dissatisfaction among specific groups, including women, homosexuals and Afro-Brazilians.

The controversy arises from recurrent public statements of the deputy with regard to these particular groups. Among other comments, Feliciano has stated that: ‘above the African continent rests the curse of paganism, occultism, poverty, illnesses, AIDS, hunger… etc.’.

The Deputy also tweeted that ‘the rottenness of the feelings of homosexuals leads to hatred, crime and rejection,’ and that ‘HIV is the gay cancer’.

Beyond racist, sexist, and homophobic statements, the Assembly of God pastor is also known for collecting large sums of money from those who attend his sermons – even accepting postdated checks and credit cards (and their respective passwords).

Protesters have assured that the manifestations will continue to take place until Feliciano resigns or is taken out of office.

On International Women’s Day, President Rousseff announces basic dietary products will become untaxed

On her televised public pronouncement on Friday, March 8, International Women’s Day, President Dilma Rousseff announced that the government is passing a new law that will make 16 important dietary products free of taxes.

Meats, rice, beans, eggs, milk, coffee, sugar, flours, bread, oil, butter, fruits, vegetables, soap, toilette paper and toothpaste will all be tax free.

In announcing the measure, President Rousseff said: ‘With this, you, with the same income that you have today, will be able to increase your consumption of dietary goods and cleaning products, and even have some spare money to save or to increase the consumption of other goods.’

President Rousseff assured that this measure should reduce the prices of most dietary goods by 9.5%, and the price of hygiene products by 12.5%.

The President also stated that she was relying on businessmen to allow and guarantee that this reduction takes place. This new federal measure means that the government will not be receiving R$ 7.3 billion (US$ 3.75 bn) in taxes per year.

Slow down in American corn production, may lead Brazil to become largest exporter

Brazil has never produced, nor exported, so much corn: in 2012, the country exported almost 20 million tons of corn, double the amount of the previous year. The expectation that Brazil will continue to grow in the corn industry has led the US Ministry of Agriculture to announce that Brazil is likely to surpass the United States and become the largest exporter of corn in the world.

But the Brazilian comparative success is also a result of American bad luck. In 2012, the United States lost over 100 million tons of corn due to drought in the main productive regions.

This, of course, led to an increase in the price of corn – which stimulated production in Brazil. In 2013, Brazil is expected to produce 41 million tons of corn, a 5% increase in production when compared to 2012 yields.

Although Brazil’s position as the leading exporter of corn may be temporary, farmers and analysts are optimistic about the potential of corn as another great Brazilian export.

As Market Analyst Camilo Motter, stated: ‘We learned the lesson that we can be competitive, we can export our excess of corn, and we will not regress. Not long ago, our production of corn was basically for the domestic market because we were not competitive in terms of costs, logistics.’

About the Author

Maria Luiza Gatto
Maria Luiza Gatto is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, and a member of St. Antony's College. A comparativist, she analyses large datasets and field work-collected material quantitatively and qualitatively to study electoral systems, political institutions, women's political representation, gender-related policies, and Latin America. She currently teaches tutorials on Latin American Politics at the University of Oxford. She holds a M.Sc. in Politics Research (2012) from Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, and a B.A. (2011) from Barnard College, Columbia University.