Historic Day for Truth and Transparency

Half a year ago I wrote about a historic week, the week of October 23rd. Brazil’s National Congress enacted a freedom of information law and a truth commission — two brave policy advances for a country marked by legacies of secrecy and authoritarianism. Today was a similarly historic day: the freedom of information law and the Truth Commission went into effect. President Dilma Rousseff struggled to hold back tears as she officially convened the Truth Commission. Tearful Truth Commission Beginnings A survivor of torture during...

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Brazil, Transparency and the Brasil Aberto Movement (Open Brazil Movement)

If President Dilma Rousseff’s government can meet expectations, Rousseff might just be remembered as Brazil’s first ‘transparency president’. The expectations of which I speak are not just those of Brazil – they are the world’s. On April 17th and 18th, more than 50 countries will meet in Brasilia to unveil their commitments to the Open Government Partnership (OGP)– the first ever multi-national, multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to advancing transparency, access to information, citizen participation and accountability in...

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Brazil’s Growing Car Obsession

My wife Carolina and I so far managed to avoid buying a car here in Brazil. It’s not that we have a strong aversion to owning a car; it would be great to have a little ride for weekend jaunts, but it’s just impractical. Happily, the cost-benefit does not (yet) make sense. I walk back and forth to work in 15-20 minutes, and do my grocery shopping within a six block radius. If we’re doing a long-haul trip, we fly. If we’re doing a weekend-scenic trip, we rent or go with friends. To get around town or back and forth from the...

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Threats to Broad Consultation and Participation in Brazil, Co-chair of Open Government Partnership

As co-chair of the Open Government Partnership, in a very few months Brazil will play host to a meeting among more than 50 countries participating in an unprecedented global initiative: a ‘multinational and multi-stakeholder’ effort to improve accountability, transparency, access to information, and greater participation in the affairs of government. A sort of club for countries committed to openness, the OGP was announced at the United Nations in September 2011 and will take on a more concrete character after the April 2012 meeting in...

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Police Strikes in Rio and Salvador — You Get What You Pay For

“You get what you pay,” is a saying that doesn’t have an exact translation in Portuguese, much like other words, such as ‘enforcement[1],’ ‘check’ (as in a ‘check on authority), and ‘accountability’[2]. If language fashions our world view, as linguists suggest, it may help us understand why most Brazilians react limply to gross inequities, malfeasance, and impunity, as exemplified by the police and fire brigade strikes crippling Salvador and Rio de Janeiro just one week before Carnaval. The Unacceptable Behavior of...

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Government to Expedite Work Visas, But Will It Validate You to Work in Brazil?

Globo newspaper reported today that new policies might soon open the door to fast-track visas for skilled workers. With recessions dimming prospects for professionals in both the U.S. and Europe, it is not impossible that Brazil may be about to experience a second golden age of immigration. Current visa and immigration restrictions reflect the sort of ‘Brazil for Brazilians’ policies emblematic of the last dictatorship (1964-85), during which time authorities drafted the current ‘Statute on Foreigners.’ A team within the President’s...

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