Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at a 2010 debate organized by newspaper Folha de São Paulo. (Image: Roberto Stuckert Filho, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Brazil, Southern Cone, Today in Latin America

Painful Budget Cuts, Tax Hikes Are Rousseff’s “Last Chance,” Newspaper Says

September 14, 2015 By Staff

Top Story — Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is “hanging by a thread,” daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo said in a front-page editorial Sunday, which argues that Rousseff’s government will collapse if it cannot push through tax hikes and spending cuts.

The editorial’s placement on the paper’s front page was “unusual,” Reuters notes, and follows a difficult week for Rousseff and for Brazil. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday downgraded its rating of Brazil’s debt to “junk,” prompting a massive bond selloff. On Saturday, Rousseff held a meeting with her top ministers, asking them to find some $3.9 billion to cut from the federal budget.

Brazil’s government in August sent legislators a budget proposal predicting a deficit in 2016 after tax revenue collapsed due to an ongoing economic recession, the first time in Brazil’s history a federal budget has called for a public deficit.

In its editorial, Folha — a center-right paper, according to Reuters — called specifically for cuts targeting Brazil’s social security benefit system, which it said were out of touch with Brazil’s demographic reality, alongside other broad-based cuts and a tax increase.

Whether Brazil’s legislature will approve Rousseff’s cuts, once they are proposed, is an open question. The lower house speaker, Eduardo Cunha, defected from her coalition in July. Many legislators openly call for Rousseff’s resignation or impeachment, the latter in connection with an ongoing investigation into corruption at the state oil firm Petrobras.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto will meet with the families of the 43 missing students and members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on September 24, in light of new evidence in an IACHR report that contradicts the Mexican government’s official explanation of that night’s events.
  • Egyptian police and armed forces mistakenly attacked a Mexican tourist convoy while in pursuit of alleged terrorists, killing 12 and injuring at least 10, prompting President Enrique Peña Nieto to demand an investigation by the Egyptian government.

Caribbean

  • Haiti’s Voodoo chief, Max Beauvoir, died in Port-au-Prince at age 79 on Saturday, an event President Michel Martelly tweeted was “a great loss for the country.”
  • Around 50 people were detained in Cuba following a march led by the dissident group Ladies in White, whose members planned to attend mass during Pope Francis’ visit to the island later this month.
  • Cuba’s Jewish population is experiencing a revival, according to the Miami Herald, as the community is able to take advantage of increased contact with Jews in the United States.

Central America

  • A decision is imminent on the U.S. Justice Department’s extradition request of former Salvadoran Vice Minister of Defense Inocente Orlando Montano Morales, The New York Times reports, for his involvement in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter.
  • Costa Rica’s Public Transportation Council declared that Uber has been operating its car service illegally since it went live on Aug. 21.
  • In an effort to boost economic relations between Panama and Cuba, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela traveled to Havana with 12 business people on Sept. 11 to discuss investment opportunities.

Andes

  • Colombia’s Defense Ministry states that two Venezuelan military planes entered its airspace and overflew a military base, sparking further tensions in the ongoing border conflict between the two nations.
  • Peruvian drug trafficker Gerald Oropeza López, also known as “Peru’s Tony Montana,” was arrested on Saturday in Ecuador after an extensive investigation by the Peruvian National Police with the help of their Ecuadorian counterparts.

Southern Cone

  • Chileans marched Sunday in honor of those who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the regime of Dictator Augusto Pinochet, and to protest the luxurious conditions in which 104 former members of Pinochet’s security forces are currently serving their sentences in the prison of Punta Peuco.
  • The archbishop of Santiago, Chile, colluded with his predecessor to keep a prominent abuse survivor from speaking at an international tribunal on the issue of sex abuse in the church, leaked e-mails published by newspaper El Mostrador reveal.

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