Brazil is the largest country in South America and is best known for its rainforest, but the next place comes with a passion for football. Capital: Brazil Official language: Portugal Currency: Brazilian real Passport and visa: A Finnish citizen can stay in Brazil as a tourist for 90 days without a visa . The passport must be valid for at least the intended stay. Time difference to Finland: In summer: – 6 hours In winter: – 4 hours Information without obligation.
Agriculture and fishing
Brazil is one of the world’s largest agricultural nations and produces more coffee, sugar cane and oranges than any other country. The country is also a leading exporter of soybeans and meat, a development that has contributed to the decomposition of rainforests. In addition to export-oriented giant plantations mainly in the south, Brazilian agriculture also includes millions of self-sustaining farmers around the country.
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Brazil has been a leading producer of sugar and coffee for centuries, but for a few decades the country depended on food aid and imports of agricultural products. In recent years, agriculture has strengthened its position and Brazil today has one of the most competitive agricultural sectors in the world. Production increased by just over 150 percent between 2000 and 2015. It was the only sector that did not shrink during the severe downturn in 2015–2016 (see Financial overview).
The area of arable land has increased, mainly due to the cultivation of pasture pastures. It is not least the export of soybeans and beef that drives the development. Soybean cultivation has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s and total production is approaching that of the United States, which is a world leader. In Brazil there are over 230 million cattle, mainly on livestock farms in the Amazon basin. For Brazil defense and foreign policy, please check themotorcyclers.
Huge areas have also been used in the Cerrado savannah area in the interior of the country, largely for the cultivation of soybeans. The extinction of livestock management from there has accelerated the logging in the rainforest, where new pastures are established. Deforestation has gone faster in the Brazilian Amazon than in any other tropical rainforest area in the world in recent decades. Nevertheless, it declined significantly over a number of years. Now the harvest rate is higher in Cerrado than in the Amazon. Despite the fact that the pace has slowed down and despite efforts against illegal logging, rainforest areas are still being transformed, corresponding to two football pitches per minute – or 5,000 square kilometers per year. Jair Bolsonaro’s takeover as president in 2019 has led to new alarm reports on a sharp increase in the deforestation rate in the Amazon (see further Current policyand Geography and Climate).
The agricultural land is extremely unevenly distributed and attempts at agricultural reform have caused severe political and legal conflicts. About a tenth of the largest landowners are estimated to control about 85 percent of the land. Millions of people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but many are landless and many lack fixed income. On export-oriented plantations and farms, farm laborers sometimes struggle under almost slave-like conditions. Children have been forced to work up to 14 hours a day.
Landless farm workers are organized in what has been described as Latin America’s most important social movement, MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra, Landless Farmers’ Movement). MST, founded in 1984, protested through land occupations and requires access to unused land. MST also fights against deforestation, overly one-sided agriculture (monoculture) and over-use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. The activists have often been confronted with violence from the landowners’ militia or the police, with many casualties as a result. Activists have been sentenced in court. However, during the Labor Party’s term in power (2003–2016), about one million families received their own land, although they still live in poor conditions and depend on government grants. Now, MST is fighting in strong headwinds,
Small farmers often have outdated tools and lack capital for investment. Corn, cassava, bananas, rice, wheat, potatoes and beans are important crops grown for their own use and for sale in the country.
Several of them, such as corn and cassava, are major export products as well – such as tobacco, cotton, papaya, pineapple and coconuts.
Sugarcane cultivation has also increased sharply due to demand for biofuels. Brazil has one of the world’s most successful programs to replace fossil fuels with biofuels. Around 85 percent of the cars sold have hybrid engines, which run on both ethanol and gasoline. The country is the world’s second largest exporter of ethanol, after the United States.
Fishing has little significance for the country’s economy but is an important source of nutrition for many residents. Sardines, tuna, crab and shrimp are common catches, while tilapia is most common in fish farms.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
4.4 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
33.9 percent (2016)
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Odebrecht acknowledges corruption
The construction group Odebrecht admits to a US court that it has breached a contract. Odebrecht and its subsidiary Braskem agree to pay $ 3.5 billion in damages to authorities in the US, Brazil and Switzerland. According to the US Department of Justice, it is the most comprehensive bribery case in the world.
20-year expenditure ceiling is assumed
13th of December
The Senate votes through a constitutional amendment that introduces a 20-year spending cap for the federal budget. The proposal has been tabled by President Temer for the purpose of gaining control of the growing budget deficit and means that spending must not increase more than inflation. For President Temer, it is an important success when the upper house adopts the drastic measure. The purpose is said to be to lead the country out of the severe recession, gain control of the budget deficit and hold back the growing government debt. Violent protests erupt when the proposal is adopted, in Brazil, and dozens of other cities. The opposition claims that austerity will hit hard on health care and education, which already has scarce resources, and hit the poor disproportionately hard.
The Senate President may remain
The Supreme Court decides, with votes 6–3, that Renan Calheiros may remain in office, after one of the judges, Marco Aurelio Mello, ordered him to resign. The order to resign, in turn, came after the court ordered a trial against Calheiros who is suspected of embezzlement, as he must have had a construction company pay maintenance for a daughter he had received in an extramarital relationship. Marco Aurelio Mello based his decision on the fact that an accused person cannot be part of the order to take over the presidential post. Since the Vice President is missing after Rousseff’s resignation, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies is only in turn if the Presidential post becomes vacant, followed by the President of the Senate. If Calheiros had been forced to resign, it would have meant a severe setback for Temer as the President is his close ally.
Growing political crisis
President Temer is increasingly pressured by political scandals, while the government is working to get Congress to approve a series of unpopular austerity measures. The situation worsens when two ministers are forced to step down: Geddel Vieira Lima, who is responsible for government-Congress relations, and Minister of Culture Marcelo Calero is accused of irregularities in connection with a real estate deal. In total, six ministers have now had to leave their post since May.
Suspicious brain in mutilated arrests
Police in Spain seize a man who is singled out as the financial brains behind the big bribe in Brazil, commonly referred to as Operation Car Wash. The man who has both Brazilian and Spanish citizenship is said to be an attorney for the building conglomerate Odebrecht.
The Labor Party backs in municipal elections
After the second round of the municipal elections, it is clear that the Labor Party lost two-thirds of the mayoral positions that the party won in 2012, and failed to retain power in a single state capital. In the right-hand turn that the country does, it is especially good for the PSDB who wins the mayor’s post in seven cities. President Temer’s party PMBD takes home four.
Ex-President Cunha arrested
Former Speaker of the Senate Eduardo Cunha is arrested on charges of corruption against him (see December 2015 and September 2016).
New charges against Lula
New corruption charges are aimed at ex-president Lula da Silva, this time regarding a relative in Angola and construction company Odebrecht. The construction giant must have paid millions in bribes to a company owned by the relative. In exchange, Lula should have helped Odebrecht get a loan from the Brazilian development bank BNDES.
Massacre is being torn down
A panel of judges is causing a great stir by tearing up prison sentences for a total of 74 military police who were convicted of murdering 111 interns in Carandiru Prison in 1992. In five different trials, the police have been sentenced to lengthy prison sentences – in some cases 624 years – for murder. What is generally regarded as a massacre has become the subject of books, movies and songs. Now, however, a panel of three judges says it was not a massacre.
Yet another ex-minister arrested
Former Finance Minister Antônio Palocci becomes yet another in the long line of leading politicians and Petrobras heirs who are arrested. According to prosecutors, Palocci gave construction giant Odebrecht illegal benefits when he was minister in 2003-2007. Palocci was also Rousseff’s chief of staff for almost half a year before he was forced to resign (see June 2011).
Petrobras prosecution against Lula
Ex-President Lula is accused of corruption and money laundering in the context of the scandal of the oil company Petrobras. According to prosecutors, he has received the equivalent of $ 1.1 million in bribes that have been “washed” through the purchase and renovation of an apartment. Lula’s wife Marisa Leticia and six others are also charged in this case, which should have cost the oil company $ 2 billion. Lula dismisses the charges as a “father’s”. (See also July 29, 2016.)
Ex-President Cunha kicked
Congress is voting to remove former President Eduardo Cunha (see July 2016) his place and he is thus losing his prosecution immunity. Cunha is also prohibited from holding political assignments for the next eight years. Thus, the politician who initiated the judicial process against Dilma Rousseff himself has been deposed, and he says he has been subjected to political revenge. He threatens to reveal everything he knows about his politician colleagues.
The Minister of Justice is replaced
Minister of Justice Fábio Medina Osório is dismissed and states himself that he was fired because he wanted to continue investigating the Petrobras legacy. He says the government is “very worried” about the corruption investigation and wants to silence it. New Minister of Justice becomes Grace Maria Fernandez Mendonça and the government thus gets her first wife.
Protests against the deposition of Rousseff
Tens of thousands of people take part in protest marches the days following Dilma Rousseff’s resignation, against President Temer and the new government. In São Paulo, riots erupt and the police use tear gas, shock grenades and water cannons. Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela call home their ambassadors from Brazil in protest of the ban. Other Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Chile and Paraguay, say they respect the Senate’s decision.
Rousseff deposed, Temer president
After six days of negotiations, the Senate voted as expected to cast President Rousseff, with 61 to 20 votes, citing her manipulation of budget figures. Acting President Michel Temer soon swears office. Rousseff denies having committed a crime and calls the procedure for a parliamentary coup and a “political death sentence”. But contrary to what was expected, the Senate does not deprive her of the right to have public records in the future (see also October 2015 and April and May 2016).
Olympic double successful
21th of August
When the Olympic Games are over, it is stated that they could, on the whole, be carried out without problems, despite various concerns about security and organization, and that Brazil made its best Olympics so far: shared twelfth place in the medal list. A few weeks before the inauguration, half of Brazilians were opposed to the games, a much larger proportion than before. The cause was believed to be the deep economic downturn and the serious political crisis in the country.
The Senate votes for national law
The Senate votes by numbers 59–21 to put the suspended president before state law, in a process that begins later this month. The vote follows a marathon debate that lasts all night.
Ex-President Lula is prosecuted
Prosecution is brought against ex-president Lula da Silva, who is accused of trying to stop the corruption investigation against Petrobras. Six other people are also being prosecuted, including former PT Senator Delcidio do Amaral, who has now become an important witness for the prosecutor’s side (see November 2015).
President Cunha resigns
Eduardo Cunha leaves the post of Speaker of the House of Commons which he has been suspended from for two months. He claims that he had to pay a high political price for being the one who initiated the judicial process against Rousseff. The Supreme Court has approved new charges against Cunha a few weeks earlier.
Financial crisis in Rio de Janeiro
17th of June
The state of Rio de Janeiro announces financial disaster state and states that the “serious economic crisis” can lead to difficulties in living up to commitments in the Olympics. The city of Rio de Janeiro accounts for most of the Olympic costs, but the state is responsible for transport and police surveillance, among other things. President Temer promises help. According to the governor, the state’s problems are due to reduced tax revenues, not least from the oil sector.
The appointments also shake the new government
When the Minister of Tourism Henrique Alves resigns, he becomes the third minister in the new government to leave his post. Alves has been singled out in the Petrobrass scandal, by a former head of the oil company who also accused President Temer of asking for illegal campaign contributions in a mayoral election in 2012. Ex-boss, Sergio Machado, testified in exchange for freedom of prosecution and made charges against a total of 20 politicians. Already at the end of June, two new ministers resigned: Fabiano Silveira, Minister responsible for combating corruption, and Minister for Planning Romero Jucá. In both cases, audio recordings had been made public where it appeared as if they were trying to stop the investigation of the corruption scandal within Petrobras, partly by getting Rousseff deposed.
The Prosecutor General wants to prosecute PMDB elevators
State Prosecutor Rodrigo Janot seeks clearance to bring charges against four leading politicians in the PMDB government party, suspected of preventing the investigation of the Petrobras scandal. The four are ex-President José Sarney, Senate Speaker Renan Calheiros, the suspended Speaker of the House of Representatives Eduardo Cunha and PMDB leader Romero Jucá. All but Sarney are members of Congress, which means that any prosecution must be approved by the Supreme Court.
Prison sentences against PT elevators
Former President Lula da Silva’s former Chief of Staff José Dirceu is sentenced to over 23 years in prison for corruption, money laundering and conspiracy (see August 2015). The punishment is the longest sentenced in the Petrobras legacy to date. Another eleven people who are also convicted include the Labor Party’s (PT) treasurer João Vaccari Neto, who has already been sentenced to just over 15 years in prison for involvement in this (see September 2015).
Temer Acting President
15th of May
Vice President Michel Temer becomes acting president and appoints a business-oriented government with former central bank governor Henrique Meirelles as finance minister. All 23 ministers are white men, which immediately raises criticism as the government thus only reflects half the population in terms of ethnicity and gender. The 75-year-old Temer appears to many as unresponsive to contemporary public opinion. Seven of them are also under investigation in the Petrobrass scandal.
Rousseff suspended after marathon debate
After a 20-hour debate, which began after the Supreme Court rejected a final attempt to halt the process, a vote in the Senate is held to shut down President Dilma Rousseff from her office. The decision to initiate a judicial process against the president is made by 55 votes in favor and 22 against. The process can go on for up to 180 days and ends with a vote in which two-thirds of the senators must vote to cast her for that to be the case.
The Speaker of the House of Commons suspended
The Supreme Court shuts down House Speaker Eduardo Cunha at the request of the Prosecutor General. Cunha is accused of trying to prevent the investigation against him and threatening MPs. In March, HD decided to prosecute Cunha, for corruption and money laundering.
The lower house votes for national law
The Chamber of Deputies is voting to start a process of national justice against President Dilma Rousseff. When the vote is held, 367 of the members vote yes, while 137 vote no and 7 abstain. As a result, more than two-thirds of the members present vote for the matter to be forwarded to the Senate. In a comment on the outcome of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, the President says she is “furious” at the attempts to oust her and that she has done nothing wrong.
Another party leaves the government
The Progressive Party is also leaving the Government Coalition, saying that the majority of the party’s 47 members intend to vote to put President Rousseff before national law.
PMDB leaves the government
The Labor Party’s (PT) largest coalition partner PMDB decides to “immediately” withdraw from the government, which is believed to accelerate the process aimed at dismissing President Rousseff. The president is setting a planned trip to Washington to deal with the government crisis. The PMDB decides that the six ministers that the party has left in the government must resign. Rousseff himself has said in a speech that democracy in Brazil is under attack and that the attempts to oust her are a coup attempt.
Ex-President Lula Chief of Staff – Temporary
President Rousseff appoints his representative Lula da Silva as chief of staff and thus gives him a central role in the government. It is perceived as an attempt to protect him from prosecution, when money laundering charges were brought against him. Earlier this month, Lula was taken in for questioning and his home was searched, as part of the comprehensive Petrobras investigation. But a judge immediately prevents Lula from taking over as chief of staff.
Mass demonstration against Rousseff
the 13th of March
Hundreds of thousands of people march around the country demanding the resignation of President Dilma Rousseff. In Sao Paulo alone, 1.4 million people are reported to be participating.
Construction magnate is imprisoned for bribery
Marcelo Odebrecht, former CEO of Latin America’s largest building conglomerate Odebrecht, is sentenced to 19 years in prison for corruption and money laundering in the context of the growing Petrobras scandal. He was arrested in June 2015. Marcelo Odebrecht later agrees to testify and gets his sentence reduced; in December 2017, he is moved to his luxury home in São Paulo to serve the remaining seven years in house arrest.
The military is deployed against zika virus
The government announces that 220,000 soldiers will help fight the spread of the virus Zika due to an ongoing disease outbreak that is causing ever-greater concern. The soldiers will knock on the door and give out information. Health Minister Marcelo Castro says the virus is one of the most serious threats to public health that the country has experienced. Recently, a report has shown that nearly 4,000 children since October 2015 have been born with microcephaly, which is believed to have been caused by the virus. Microcephaly is a developmental injury that results in children being born with abnormally small heads, which can lead to death. The outbreak in Brazil is the largest known to date in the world and the virus has now spread to several other countries in Latin America. So far, over 500,000 cases of zika infection have been detected in Brazil.