Brazil: A Country Slowly Unraveling

Brazil may be hosting the summer Olympics in August, but the country is, for want of a better term, a mess.

The diverse country has an amalgam of problems. The Zika virus, recession, corruption-wrought damage, and political turmoil are all in the mix.

Only a few years ago when the then-president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, left office on January 1, 2011, the country was seemingly booming and confident.

Today, Brazil is currently suffering its worst economic environment since the 1930s. Business and consumers’ confidence levels are at rock bottom.

Just prior to the obvious distress, the government tried spending to delay the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. But debt grew and inflation rose, as did unemployment.

Add to that a drop in commodity prices (raw materials and agricultural products), and things went further pear shaped.

As the above video by Bloomberg says, it’s been nothing but a roller coaster over the past few years for the South American country of 200 million people.

Crime has subsequently spiked, especially in the capital, Rio de Janeiro, where the state government is broke – i.e., they ran out of money to pay public servants, such as teachers and police.

But crime is an issue for the whole country. Earlier in the year, Brazilian cities dominated the 50 murder capitals of the world, according to a report by Mexico City-based Center for Public Security and Criminal Justice.

Brazilian soccer star Rivaldo has even said that people should skip coming to his home country for the Olympics. See more on that from The Young Turks:

Brazil is also dealing with the ongoing Zika virus outbreak that has led to over 1,500 Brazilian babies being born with microcephaly. The virus has also resulted in the death of over 300 newborn babies since October, reports Business Standard.

Pregnant women have been advised to not visit the country for the Olympics.

Some commentators have even been advocating that the Games in Rio de Janeiro be called off because of the virus.

But the World Health Organization says there is a “very low risk” of the international spread of the Zika virus as a result of the Rio Olympics.

See this recent CNN report on Zika virus concerns in Brazil:

But unfortunately for Brazil, things get worse.

The country’s national government remains reeling from a massive decade-long corruption scandal involving a state run oil company (and a few other companies, as well). Investigations, which began in 2014, found plenty of bribery and contract rigging. Over 110 top executives and left-wing politicians have been jailed as a result.

The backlash from the scandal has worsened the country’s economy and paralyzed the government, says Forbes.

As for Brazil’s 36th president, Dilma Rousseff, she was suspended a month ago. The former Marxist guerrilla will stand trial in the county’s senate for allegedly breaking budget laws – meaning she allegedly spent money without congressional approval to cover up gaps in the budget. The 68-year-old denies any wrongdoing, and her supporters question the legality of her suspension. Her fate is expected to be handed to her sometime in August.

Rousseff might be out of office before the Rio Games begin.

She is not alone. Over half of Brazil’s lawmakers, 352 people, are under investigation for corruption.

The country is presently being run by an interim president – Micel Temer – who has promised pro-business reforms. He was Rousseff’s former vice president, and he’s been dogged by past corruption charges. He is also suspected to be linked to the oil scandal.

Given all of the above, the Olympics are probably the last thing on the minds of the Brazilian people.

See more about Brazil’s woes here in this report from BBC News:

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