Monday, September 29, 2014

Brazil: Rousseff Describes Petrobras Corruption as Fruitless, Yet Refuses to Order an Investigation

According to The Latin American Tribune, in a televised debate just one week before Brazil’s presidential October 5 election, candidates have strongly attacked President Dilma Rousseff who is seeking another term.

In her debate appearance on Sunday (September 28), Rousseff herself focused her attacks on her chief rival, the environmentalist Marina Silva.

The six presidential hopefuls attacked the president and her government on corruption in the state oil company Petrobras, the crisis in the energy sector, high inflation, crime, high interest rates and the lack of investment in the Brazilian military.

The motive of the attacks during the debate was to reduce the 40% of the votes the latest surveys predict for the president, who on several occasions interrupted the others to defend herself.

At one point, Rousseff struck back at Silva who was the favorite to win the elections until a few days ago, asking her to be more “consistent.”

“You switched parties four times. You changed your opinion on fundamental matters of the country, such as same-sex marriage, which your platform first endorsed and then went on to reject,” Rousseff said.

“Attitudes such as this generate insecurity and to govern Brazil requires consistency and strongly held positions,” she said, highlighting the contradictions made by the former environment minister and former senator.

According to the latest surveys, Rousseff is projected to win next Sunday’s elections, but will not receive more than 50% of the votes, thus triggering a second round of polling on October 26.

In the second round, surveys reveal, Rousseff would be reelected with 47% of the votes against 43% for Silva.

In her attempt to reduce support for her chief opponent, Rousseff attacked Silva for saying that she had voted for a tax to finance public health, whereas in reality she rejected it, and for saying she would reduce credit to public banks, before retracting it.

“One cannot take a decision today and change it tomorrow. One cannot have double standards,” said Rousseff, who spent more time defending herself than presenting her proposals.

COMMENT: One of Rousseff’s severest critics was the Social Democratic Senator Aecio Neves, in third place in polling, who sought responses to Petrobras scandals and even accused the government of urging dialogue with terrorists.

“Rousseff was responsible for one of the saddest episodes in the history of Brazilian foreign affairs on using the UN forum to praise her own government and propose a dialogue with the Islamic State (IS) which is beheading people,” he said, highlighting her rejection of the international coalition’s decision to bomb the jihadists in Syria.

Neves also criticized Rousseff for having invested in wind-power plants that were rendered useless due to faulty transmission lines.

“Our (state) companies were taken over by a political group which used it to remain in power. In each debate there is a new criticism of Petrobras. This is what has to be changed in Brazil,” he said.

Neves denied having plans to privatize the petroleum sector.

“On the contrary, I want to re-nationalize it; take it back from a group who took over it and is doing business with it for 12 years.”

Silva criticized the government policy in the ethanol sector, which, she claimed, caused 70 plants to close down and 60,000 employees to lose their jobs.

Other participants in the debate were Luciana Genro from the Socialism and Freedom Party, Eduardo Jorge from the Green Party, Everaldo Pereira from the Social Christian Party and Levy Fidelix from the Brazilian Labor Renewal Party.

However, their vote share is not expected to exceed 1%.

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