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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Freedom of Information Bill in Jeopardy as Rousseff Backtracks

[Published on by Greg Michener] President Dilma Rousseff reversed her support for expedited passage of a Brazilian freedom of information law this week, ceding to Senators’ desire to reappraise the law and include weakening amendments. The proposed changes to bill 41/2010 aim to eliminate time limits on how long information can be classified as secret and held from the public. Such amendments would contravene regional and national legal guarantees, in addition to delaying and enfeebling a prospective freedom of information law. About-face...

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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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Considering the Diversion of Public Monies in Brazil -A Cool US$35 Billion for Starters

US$35 billion of public monies stolen. A colossal affront to the cities and country they work for? Yes. Preventable? Not yet. The most significant news item on the diversion of public monies I have seen in some time appeared in yesterday’s Globo as the lead opinion piece: “The Indicators Show Billions Stolen.” The article cites grim figures: of 131 municipalities audited by the Comptroller General, 90 percent showed irregularities; and it is estimated that municipal officials and their accomplices steal 30% of federal and...

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