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May 25, 2010

Brazil candidate vows to end poverty, reform taxes

BRASILIA, May 25 (Reuters) – Brazil’s ruling party
presidential candidate, Dilma Rousseff, pledged on Tuesday to
eradicate poverty and propel Latin America’s largest economy to
developed-nation status if she wins October’s election.

“We can and we will transform our economy from an emerging
nation to a developed nation,” Rousseff told the National
Industry Confederation, the country’s leading business
organization, in Brasilia.

May 25, 2010

Brazilian candidate Serra vows to cut fat

BRASILIA, May 25 (Reuters) – Brazil’s leading opposition
candidate, Jose Serra, said on Tuesday that he would trim fat
from Brazil’s budget and make the central bank head follow
government policy if he wins October’s vote.

The former Sao Paulo state governor is running for the
centrist PSDB party on a platform of lean but activist
government.

May 24, 2010

Brazil candidate mixes green, pro-market proposals

BRASILIA, May 24 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Green Party presidential candidate Marina Silva proposed on Monday to cut taxes and social security benefits, giving a market-friendly slant to her platform of clean government and environment.

Silva trails in third place in opinion polls but as a world-renowned champion of the Amazon she is expected to help shape the campaign agenda before Oct. 3 general elections.

A strong showing by Silva could also mean that her party would form part of a likely coalition government.

"Brazil can’t handle the burden of taxes and inefficiency anymore," Silva said in an interview with CBN radio, endorsing demands of business leaders who say the country’s investment climate is eroding their international competitiveness.

Silva, who stepped down as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s environment minister in May 2008, also urged a reform of the country’s costly pension system, echoing pledges by ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff and the leading opposition contender Jose Serra.

Serra and Rouseff were tied with 37 percent of voter intention in a Datafolha opinion poll at the weekend, against Silva’s 12 percent.

"Obviously we’ll have to reform the social security system. The deficit … is very serious," Silva said.

Investors are closely watching the growing deficit of Brazil’s social security system, which accounts for one of the government’s largest expenditures.

With an aging population the deficit could expand more rapidly in coming years if no cuts are made, economists warn.

In a further attempt to build a market-friendly image, and win centrist voters from former chief of staff Rousseff and former Sao Paulo state Governor Serra, Silva said she favored autonomous regulatory agencies and criticized a government-led plan to improve broadband access.

Rousseff and Serra favor a pro-active government and a larger role for state companies in the economy. The current government has stripped regulatory agencies of some of their powers and is accused of exerting political pressure on them.

Silva’s vice-presidential running mate is the wealthy businessman Guilherme Leal, owner of the big cosmetics company Natura <NATU3.SA>.

GREEN AGENDA

Silva, who abandoned Lula’s leftist Workers’ Party in 2008 to join the Green Party, also criticized the current government for financing ecological destruction in the Amazon rain forest, where Silva began her political career beside legendary conservationist Chico Mendes.

The government’s development bank, BNDES, supported unsustainable cattle-ranching and massive hydroelectric dams in the Amazon rainforest, she said.

"The BNDES gave 8 billion reais ($4.32 billion) in loans to slaughterhouses in the Amazon without environmental criteria," said Silva, who only learned to read and write when she was 16 years old and worked as a maid to pay the bills.

"Today we’re losing one thousand times more biodiversity than we did 50 years ago. Soon we’ll undermine the natural resource base for our development," Silva told CBN.

When she launched her candidacy just over a week ago, she proposed to combat corruption, build bicycle paths and water treatment plants, and employ greener farming technologies.

The Green Party, long a fringe party in Brazil with little clout, made headlines in 2008 when its candidate, Deputy Fernando Gabeira, nearly won the mayorship of Rio de Janeiro.

It has 14 out of 513 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress. (Editing by David Storey)




May 24, 2010

Amazon dam raises hopes for progress, fear of havoc

XINGU RIVER, Brazil, May 24 (Reuters) – Beptum Xikrin
contemplates the Bacaja River from his village of thatched-roof
huts, wondering how he will catch fish or take Brazil nuts to
market if a planned dam on the Amazon’s mighty Xingu River
will, as ecologists expect, all but dry up this tributary.

After nearly three decades of sometimes violent protests,
Beptum and 1,000 other indigenous people in this remote region
of the Brazilian Amazon have resigned themselves to the fact
that the world’s third-largest dam will be built in their
backyard.

May 22, 2010

Iran nuclear deal still possible – Brazil minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil still sees room for a negotiated solution to Iran’s nuclear program but acknowledges Tehran’s plans to continue uranium enrichment are a concern neither country addressed in talks, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said on Friday.

Brazil and Turkey helped broker an agreement under which Iran agreed to send low-enriched uranium abroad, reviving a fuel swap plan drafted by the United Nations with the waim of keeping Iran’s nuclear activities in check.

May 18, 2010

Iran deal a boost or bust for Brazil diplomacy?

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva put his country in the global spotlight this week when he helped broker a controversial fuel swap deal for Iran’s nuclear program.

But he may have angered the United States and other powerful allies with the agreement, which is similar to a previous United Nations plan that aimed to keep Tehran from being able to produce a nuclear weapon.

May 17, 2010

Rousseff, Serra tied in Brazil election race-poll

BRASILIA, May 17 (Reuters) – Ruling party candidate Dilma
Rousseff and the opposition’s top contender, Jose Serra, are
virtually tied ahead of Brazil’s presidential election in
October, an opinion survey showed on Monday.

Rousseff’s support jumped to 37 percent from 28.5 percent
in February, while Serra dropped to 37.8 percent from 40.7
percent in the same period, according to a Sensus poll
commissioned by the National Transport Confederation.

May 16, 2010

Amazon defender Silva enters Brazilian election race

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Former rubber tapper turned environmentalist Marina Silva joined Brazil’s presidential race as candidate for the small Green Party on Sunday, pledging clean government and sustainable development.

The soft-spoken former environment minister trails the two front-running candidates by a wide margin and most analysts say her chances of winning the presidency in October are slim.

May 13, 2010

Brazil says U.S., not China, driving imbalances

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega urged the United States on Wednesday to raise interest rates and allow the U.S. dollar to appreciate in order to combat global economic imbalances.

In an interview with Reuters Insider in Brasilia, Mantega also called on the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to swiftly implement a massive rescue package for the euro zone to ensure success in combating Europe’s debt crisis.

May 12, 2010

Brazil’s Lula heads to Iran on nuclear mediation bid

BRASILIA, May 12 (Reuters) – President Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva’s visit to Iran this weekend to help mediate a standoff
over the Islamic country’s nuclear program may be Brazil’s
biggest gamble yet in its quest for more diplomatic clout.

The Latin American giant, which has a rotating seat on the
U.N. Security Council, opposes more sanctions against Iran over
its uranium enrichment plans, saying such measures usually hit
the poor and could push Tehran to radicalize further.