I feel like we are in the middle of a soap opera right now… Or an episode of House of Cards.
Lula is investigated, then charged. Then Dilma offers him a place in the cabinet, potentially to avoid prosecution, then a court blocks the appointment… The suspense, the intrigue!
So of course we have lots more banging of pots, and a few protests (at weekends, at least here in Rio). But in terms of actual action, there’s plenty of words but very little chance of change it seems. The judge who seems to be on a mission to ‘get’ Lula has perhaps overstepped the mark by releasing a wire-tapped phone conversation between Lula and Dilma for instance in an attempt to get the public even more against Lula.
But what do I mean by the public… by all accounts the protests are very much by the white middle and upper class Brazilians, with figures like 75% of all protestors having a university degree while the national average is far lower, and a similar figures for skin colour, incoming brackets etc. So certainly a section of Brazil is up in arms, and a large percentage of that demographic. However, a lot of the population is behind Dilma still, despite all the turmoil, the evidence of corruption, the economic downturn… And this is a large percentage of the population. Dilma’s policies may be hurting the economy, and making a joke of Brazilian politics on the world stage, but she is still putting money in the hands of some of Brazil’s poorest – it’s just money that Brazil doesn’t have to spend right now.
I think this episode of the Colbert report sums it up (although it’s not quite up to date with the latest…)
So, what else… We are now less than 5 months to the start of the Olympics! In fact, in 5 months the Olympics will be over and we will be working for the start of the Paralympics. Exciting and very busy times! There are of course lots of worries about what will and will not be ready – the Olympic Parks have come along well, with a lot of venues already having hosted test events. However, getting there could be more interesting… The main park, located in Barra, should have been accessed by the new metro extension and a ‘BRT’ – a dedicated section of the road for buses. Unfortunately, there are now big questions over whether the metro will actually be ready or not. Contingency plans are in place for the BRT buses to run in fact from Ipanema all the way to the park. This would be a near disaster… The traffic between Zona Sul and Barra is terrible most of the time, so I presume these contingency plans involve extending a dedicated lane just for the BRT buses all the way from Ipanema to the start of Barra. This is in most parts a 2 lane road that is already a nightmare – if they do this the normal traffic will be unimaginably worse. There’s been talk of lots of public holidays during the Games, which would in turn harm an economy already struggling. So we will see…
Oh, the economy. Actually the exchange rate has made a huge recovery in the last month. From dropping down to 6.3 to the GBP back in September, it has been below 5.2 in the past week. There’s two factors in play – the weakened pound because of uncertainty over EU membership, but the strengthening of the Real. With each charge of corruption against Lula and the potential steps towards impeaching Dilma the currency got a bit stronger… Is this the only country in the G20 where the currency gets stronger when there is talk of impeaching its leader?!