The Failure of Counter-Majoritarianism in Brazil’s (Evolving) Legal Order

Law has failed Brazil in a moment of decisiveness. Brazil’s judiciary, like any other, is a counter-majoritarian institution – the last check on the mercurial majorities represented by parliaments and presidents. Yet this basic premise has been lost to frenzied majoritarianism. Yesterday, the prosecuting judge behind the ‘Car Wash’ scandal, Sergio Moro, acted in a decidedly majoritarian and legally irresponsible manner by releasing taped conversations between former and actual Presidents, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma...

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In Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro at noon today

Media Against Dilma – Brazilians For Change

Today, several million people are taking to the streets to protest a corrupt political system and a rent-seeking, bloated state. Let’s make this clear; Dilma is a poor political leader and her governments have precipitated nothing short of an economic fallout. But she is not the problem incarnate. My wife (and son) is at the protest in Copacabana Rio de Janeiro not because of ‘Dilma’, nor because of ‘the government’ per se, but because my wife and millions of others are fed up with what they see to be corrupt, wasteful and misguided...

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Four Crises

Brazil is currently experiencing three crises and is in danger of igniting a fourth, a crisis of civic polarization. Much astute writing about these crises has already been penned or spoken by the likes of my friends Matt Taylor, Octavio Amorim Neto, Carlos Pereira, and Globe and Mail correspondent Stephanie Nollen, among others. The first  crisis is the mysterious Zika epidemic upon which copious amounts of ink have been spilled and I plead layman’s ignorance. This tragedy has affected us personally, as we are delaying a second...

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Back, observing.

In 2013-14 the pressure to publish academically at the FGV became significant, as I was facing a ‘third year review’ – of which I still await (respectable) results. As a result of my publishing obligations and a still-in-progress national/international research project, I left off Observing Brazil. The tradeoff between doing academic scholarship and writing about current events is not easily negotiated. But as a result of Brazilian crises that are economic, political, medical, and, increasingly civic, I have decided to...

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Beginning to Explain the Ferment of Brazil’s Vinegar Revolt

Last post I briefly questioned why the Vinegar Revolt came to be. Protests still continue, and at one point last week over 80 major Brazilian urban centers coordinated massive marches – in Rio, close to half a million people turned out. These are the largest protests in Brazilian history and they signal a tectonic shift in Brazil’s political culture. It is an unbelievable time to be living in Brazil. Yesterday my buddy Chris Gaffney, a professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro and author of the blog...

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Vinegar Revolt

This is what people are calling the protests that are causing general upheaval in Brazil. The question is, why would a country at near full employment, whose average per capita income has nearly double over the last ten years, take to the streets in protest? The answers are curiously unsatisfying. From bus fares, to egregious public spending on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, to poor public services and corruption, the reasons for protests seem at once limitless and incoherent. What exactly is driving these protests? I’ll try...

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Update on the Performance of Brazil’s New Freedom of Information Law

Just a very brief update on Brazil‘s new Freedom of Information law (12.527), which took effect on May 16, 2012. During its first six and a half months of operation (2012-13), the federal government registered some 51,400 requests. The government claims to have answered approximately 95% of these requests. 4 of Brazil’s 27 states accounted for  approximately 60% of all requests. (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and the Federal District). As of January 2013, 15 states had not yet regulated the FOI law, and it is clear...

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