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patrick83954
Contributor

The South America Crop Report for March 20, 2016

 

This week’s SACR covers Argentina’s second wheat shipment to North Carolina, Brazil's farmers joining the call for presidential impeachment, and Uruguay’s third pulp mill.

 

The South America Crop Report for March 20, 2016

 

 

Patrick Archer

Farms Uruguay

 

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Hobbyfarmer
Honored Advisor

Re: The South America Crop Report for March 20, 2016

Brazil's Political Crisis Deepens

 

Brazil's Political Crisis Deepens      03/18 06:17

   RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Brazil's political crisis deepened as a judge blocked 
the appointment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff 
to his successor just moments after his tumultuous swearing-in ceremony held 
amid heated protests.

   Current President Dilma Rousseff's opponents accused her of a transparent 
maneuver aimed at helping the once popular Silva avoid legal woes that saw him 
taken in for questioning in a sprawling corruption probe less than two weeks 
ago. Cabinet members cannot be investigated, charged or imprisoned unless 
authorized by the Supreme Court.

   Rousseff has insisted the Cabinet appointment has nothing to do with the 
former president's legal problems, saying Silva would help put the country back 
on track economically and spearhead the fight against attempts to oust her over 
allegations of fiscal mismanagement. The impeachment process moved a step 
closer Thursday as the lower house established a special commission on the 
matter.

   As the spectacle continued to play out, the simmering anger that bought an 
estimated 3 million people onto the streets in nationwide anti-government 
demonstrations over the weekend again spilled over, with protests flaring in 
Brasilia and Sao Paulo, where demonstrators brandished inflatable dolls of 
Silva in black-and-white prison stripes. A pro-Silva rally was slated for 
Friday, but it was not clear whether the former leader would attend.

   Rousseff went on the offensive at Thursday's swearing-in ceremony, calling 
those pressing for her removal "putschists" and accusing Sergio Moro, the judge 
who is leading the corruption probe at the state-run oil company Petrobras, of 
violating the constitution and acting in a partisan manner.

   "Shaking Brazilian society on the base of untruths, shady maneuvers, and 
much-criticized practices violates constitutional guarantees and creates very 
serious precedents," Rousseff said. "Coups begin that way."

   The injunction suspending Silva's nomination, brought by a federal judge in 
Brasilia, was widely expected as such tactics are often used to delay or 
interrupt political appointments and decisions. But the practical effects 
remain subject to debate, with some attorneys insisting Silva is the chief of 
staff --- and enjoys the special legal standing afforded by the role --- while 
others contended the injunction must first be ruled on by a higher court.

   Gustavo Binenbojm, a law professor at Rio de Janeiro's state university, 
insisted the injunction is "valid until it's overruled," meaning that Silva is 
not yet a Cabinet minister.

   "The government can't ignore it," said Binenbojm. "The government can try to 
overrule it, and I think that would be a slam dunk."

   On the other hand, Brasilia-based attorney Joaquim Pedro Rodrigues said the 
injunction stipulates that if the swearing-in already took place, the 
suspension would not take effect until a final decision is reached. While Silva 
won't be able to exercise official functions until the matter is resolved, he 
will enjoy the Cabinet ministers' special legal standing until then, Rodrigues 
said.

   Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo, a close ally of Rousseff's, said 
"political motivations" were behind the injunction, which he called "absolutely 
inappropriate."

   Both Rousseff and Silva have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but Rousseff 
has seen her popularity nosedive as the country of 200 million has spiraled 
into crisis after crisis.

   The Petrobras corruption investigation has stained Brazil's political and 
business elite. The country is ground zero for the Zika virus, which scientists 
believe can lead to birth defects. The economy is mired in the worst recession 
since the 1930s, with rising inflation and daily announcements of layoffs 
adding to people's fears and desperation. And in the middle of it all, Brazil 
is set to host the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.

   At Thursday's swearing-in ceremony, the atmosphere recalled a campaign rally 
as a crowd packed with top officials broke into pro-government chants.

   In a combative speech, Rousseff lashed out at Wednesday's surprise release 
of tapped phone calls between Silva and a host of prominent public figures, 
including Rousseff herself. Judge Moro released the recordings hours after the 
announcement of Silva's appointment, saying that the taps appeared to suggest 
attempts to influence judicial officials in Silva's favor.

   Rousseff called the recordings illegal and said their release made "clear 
the attempt to overstep the limits of the democratic state."

   Moro compared the situation to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Watergate 
scandal that toppled President Richard Nixon.

   "Not even the highest authority of the republic has absolute privilege of 
protection of their communications," Moro wrote, adding that the 1974 decision 
in the U.S. vs Nixon case was "an example to be followed."

   On Thursday, Rousseff's nemesis, lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha 
established the committee that will decide whether to proceed with impeachment 
steps against her. Raucous celebrations broke out on the floor, with opposition 
representatives brandishing signs reading "impeachment now" as Rousseff allies 
chanted "there won't be a coup!"

   Still, it was an early step in a drawn-out process that involves multiple 
votes in the lower house as well the Senate.
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