Brazil. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Brazil include Independence Day (September 7) and New Year (January 1). President Lula da Silva, who, according to opinion polls, emerged as the clear favorite to win the first round of the October 1 presidential election, failed to achieve his own majority. Lula still won clearly with over 60% of the vote over his opponent Geraldo Alckmin in the second round on October 29. President Lula criticized a lot for neglecting his political opponents during the election campaign. Among other things, he refused to participate in the last live TV debate. Some corruption scandals within his own party PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores) also contributed. The scandals came to an end and at the end of March, Finance Minister Antonio Palocci was forced to resign after accusations of thumbing on the Bankruptcy Act in connection with a legal process he was involved in. He was succeeded by Guido Mantega, one of President Lula’s most faithful economic employees for many years. Despite the scandals, it was ultimately the support of Brazil’s poor, especially in the Northeast, that made the decision in the presidential election, not least thanks to the government’s popular cash support to poor families.
In May, a wave of violence of unprecedented type occurred in São Paulo when a criminal league, Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), launched a legitimate war against the police. At least 170 people were shot to death for a few days, most of the league members but also 33 police officers and 4 civilians. Several deaths were considered to have been committed by so-called death squads, ie. cops who conduct off-duty clean-up activities among criminals. The trigger for the wave of violence seems to have been that PCC’s imprisoned leader Marcos “Marcola” Camacho would be moved to a special security department, but PCC is also considered to have a political role. They are fighting for better conditions for interns in Brazil’s infamous and overcrowded prisons.
In February 2004, Juan Miguel Petit of the United Nations published a report criticizing the fact that sex tourism is one of the most frequent forms of sexual exploitation of minors in Brazil. The report also included a study on trafficking in children, prostitution and child pornography. It also noted that the 500,000 children working in private homes may be subject to sexual exploitation. Petit noted after his visit to i.e. Rio de Janeiro that “child prostitution is open”. Acc. The UN is due to the problems of marginalization, lack of respect for fundamental rights, poverty and the lack of mechanisms for safeguarding children.
In March, Brazil’s southern coast was hit by a cyclone. Government sources died 2 during the powerful and unusual storm and several disappeared. The bathing beaches had to be evacuated, more than 500 houses were destroyed and many more damaged. The electricity supply also extended in the southern part of the country. Two fishing boats sank and 10 sailors disappeared. The cyclone was formed 440 km out in the Atlantic Ocean and particularly hit the coastal cities of Santa Catarina and Río Grande do Sul. The US Hurricane Alert Center in Miami declared it was the first time they had detected such a meteorological phenomenon in the South Atlantic off Brazil.
During a visit to Sao Caetano do Sul south of Sao Paolo, Lula da Silva declared the same month that the popular dissatisfaction with his governance had not thrown the government into crisis. A poll had recorded that the president’s popularity had dropped from 39.9% in February to 34.6% in March. Another study pointed to the backing of the government from 66% in December to 54% in March. The government was heavily criticized by both the opposition, the government’s own support parties and by PT itself because of the government’s right turn in the economic sphere and its lack of results in the social sector. Added to this was a corruption scandal, which also involved the head of government, José Dirceu. He appeared in a video asking for money for himself and for funding the PT’s campaigns in 2002. Lula assured, that the criticism of his government was due to the upcoming municipal elections in October. Brazil’s economy declined by 0.2% in 2003, but according to. government would grow at 3.5% in 2004.
In August 2004, Brazil signed an agreement with Ecuador granting the state-owned oil company Petrobras the right to build infrastructure in one of the Amazon’s most ecologically important areas. Through the agreement, Brazil was also able to assist and restructure the Ecuadorian oil company, Petroecuador. Petrobras will build a road, a pier and a bridge in the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador. At the same time, Brazil must assist Ecuador in modernizing the country’s two state telecommunications companies. Lula stated in Quito that the agreement was an expression of truly economic integration between the two countries.
Environmental groups objected to the agreement not providing environmental guarantees to the national park. Yasuní is recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere, covers 982 hectares of rainforest, and is home to 90 species of reptiles and 500 species of birds. The environmental organization Ecological Action demanded a judge’s order issued to stop Petrobras. The organization argued that the area’s animals and the native population are threatened with extinction.
In October, Amnesty International announced that the clashes of gangs in the Ciudad de Dios favela in western Rio de Janeiro will end in a massacre if the government does not intervene. The human rights organization pointed out that the fighting between drug gangs in Vigario Geral and Parada de Lucas could cost a large number of innocent lives.
That same month, a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) visited the new fuel reprocessing plant Resende in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The IAEA experts verified that the techniques used were not used to remove material for military purposes. The government insisted that the country’s nuclear program only has energy purposes, but at the same time allowed only the experts a limited visual inspection of the centrifuges, thus protecting the plant’s technological secrets. Minister of Science and Technology Eduardo Campos stated that Brazil had invested almost $ 1 billion. US $ and several years of work in developing new uranium reprocessing techniques. He added that Brazilian centrifuge methods are 30% more effective than those used in other countries.