Brazil, Latin America: Week in Review, Southern Cone

Brazil Arrests 27 in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

November 17, 2014 By Staff

Top Story — Brazilian authorities on Friday arrested 27 people in connection with an investigation into a multibillion-dollar corruption scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras. Among the 27 was the firm’s engineering director, the second senior executive to be arrested in connection with the scandal.

Following the arrests, President Dilma Rousseff said that the “symbolic case” would change Brazilian society forever. Rousseff served as energy minister under her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The investigation began when a former Petrobras director, Paulo Roberto Costa, who was arrested in March, said the firm paid millions of dollars to politicians from Rousseff’s Worker’s Party (PT) from 2004 to 2012 in order to buy influence.

The firm on Thursday announced it would delay the release of its third-quarter earnings as a result of the investigation. On the following day, the value of Petrobras’ stock fell five percent.

The investigation comes amid a wider context of falling oil prices, part of an overall downward trend in the value of commodities that has contributed to a slowdown in Brazil’s economic growth. Despite these developments, a Moody’s analyst on Friday said that so far, Petrobras’ credit, which is currently one step above the lowest possible, would not be affected. And Brazilian oil production continues to surge, hitting an all-time high in October.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America


  • Cuban tourism authorities announced the country is expecting the arrival of over 200 cruise ships between November and April, a sector the country’s government is seeking to expand.
  • Many Cuban immigrants in the U.S. are nostalgic for Russian products like canned beef and television cartoons, relics of the U.S.S.R’s influence in Cuba during the Cold War.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech that Muslims discovered the Americas centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived, citing a controversial entry in Columbus’s diary that claimed there was a mosque in Cuba.

Central America

  • Vice President Joe Biden announced that minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who have relatives legally living in the U.S. will be allowed to apply for asylum or residence permits at offices in their home countries, an effort to provide an alternative to the often-dangerous clandestine journey to the U.S.
  • For his part, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said his government plans to focus on the country’s emigration problem and that it will make a decision on legalizing marijuana in 2015, in an interview with TeleSUR.
  • In a New York Times op-ed, a Jesuit priest draws attention to the killings of Jesuit academic leaders in El Salvador in the years after the country’s civil war, arguing that universities today need leaders guided by an orientation toward social justice.


  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in an interview that unless the government and the FARC can reach an agreement in 2015, the entire peace process will be undermined and it will be difficult to move forward with negotiations.
  • Santos’ statement comes at a time when peace talks between the FARC and government are stalled, the two sides unable as yet to come to an agreement over victims’ rights and reparations, a key negotiating point.
  • Colombia’s government shells out hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for security details for some 7,500 people, ranging from journalists to demobilized paramilitary fighters.
  • The Washington Post investigates the hunt for natural gas in Bolivia and its effect on indigenous communities who have recently recovered lands now devastated by the drilling process.

Southern Cone

  • Vice News investigated the Sept. 8 subway bombing in Santiago, Chile and the government’s response with the use of controversial anti-terror laws from Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
  • A Brazilian man, his wife and his mistress, who became known as the “cannibal trio” were sentenced to at least 20 years in jail for killing and eating a woman in 2012.
  • The Guardian takes a look at the frugal, low-key lifestyle of Uruguayan President José Mujica and his accomplishments in economically and socially transforming Uruguay since he took office in 2010.

Image: Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR

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[…] within the state-run oil company, the executive’s first public announcement since authorities arrested 27 people on Nov. 14 in connection with a corruption […]

[…] top court for monitoring public spending has voiced concerns that an ongoing probe into corruption at Petrobras could jeopardize construction projects — and in turn, economic […]

[…] documents from Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras, as part of its own investigation into corruption at the firm, which is traded on the U.S. stock exchange as well as in […]

[…] his resignation on Monday, less than one month after 27 people were arrested in connection to a multibillion-dollar corruption scheme at Petrobras, the energy giant that is partially run by the Brazilian […]

[…] of the scheme, made public in November, followed a months-long investigation codenamed “Operation Car Wash,” and has scandalized the […]

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