Access to Technology versus Manaus: Brazil’s Conflicting Goals

Among the thirteen pillars of President Dilma Rousseff’s mandate,  number 7 and 8 are about education and technology: 7. To guarantee education for social equality, citizenship, and development. 8. Transform Brazil into a scientific and technological power. A goal that falls in line with both of these pillars is to make computers more accessible to kids. Brazil would be smart to follow the lead of the one laptop per child concept. Undoubtedly the most important learning tool available, a computer is a window into the  universe and a...

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How the Media Fragments Brazil

Today the Jornal Globo newspaper reported that 40 percent of Governors have their mandate threatened by legal proceedings against them. Most of these suits allege vote-buying or manipulation of the media during 2010 elections. Eight out of ten cases were initiated by political rivals, and two out of ten by the federal government. Oddly, no local civic organizations or news media outlets introduced legal proceedings against governors. Here, I explore some fragments of a media rationale for why local politics continues to look like the wild-west...

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A Freedom of Information Law in Brazil: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Article written for freedominfo.org, a site curated by the D.C. based National Security Archive,  18 April, 2011: Heartening events and significant setbacks added more drama to Brazil’s bid for a freedom of information (FOI) law this past week, but the overall outlook is considerably more promising now than before. Heartening Events: President Rousseff Declares Support for FOI bill President Dilma Rousseff confirmed her support for the FOI bill, (41/2010), which was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in April 2010 and has since been...

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Published at Brazil in Focus: Brazil needs a Tax Break

See the article, published on 12 April,  Brazil in Focus During a recent gathering of industrial leaders in Rio de Janeiro, Eliezer Batista da Silva mused that Brazil has the “taxes of Sweden and the services of Angola.” It’s an old saw, but it gained an extra bite in the mouth of Batista, a founder of the multinational mining conglomerate Vale and the father of Brazil’s richest man, energy mogul Eike Batista. While the elder Batista’s jab may sound like hyperbole, the comment fell on sympathetic ears at Rio’s Industrial...

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Narrowing or Widening the Fountainhead of Corruption?

One of the oldest tenets of corruption theory is that election campaign contributions constitute the fountainhead of corruption in government. To repay that three million dollar contribution of BankX, elected candidate X proposes a bill to lower taxes on bank profits. Simple stuff. Conventional thinking is that if you eliminate this patron-client relationship by financing campaigns with public taxpayer money, the result will be less corporate influence and corruption in government. But at what cost? Mexico’s system is completely publicly...

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