March 12, 2021


1. Lula’s convictions overturned; door opens for 2022 candidacy

On Monday, Federal Supreme Court Minister Edson Fachin overturned the convictions of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stemming from Operation Carwash. Fachin’s ruling was made during a habeas corpus analysis presented by Lula’s defense team, arguing that the federal justice department in Curitiba was not suited to rule on the trials in which Lula was a defendant. Fachin declared that the 13th Federal Court of Curitiba, where Operation Carwash began, was not suited to rule on the lawsuits regarding the Guarujá triplex (SP) and the property in Atibaia (SP) or two other suits related to Instituto Lula.

The decision had immediate political repercussions, as Lula recovers his political rights and is now eligible to run in the 2022 general election. This week, Lula spoke about the decision, claiming to having been a target – in the last few years – of judicial lies. He also criticized current President Jair Bolsonaro and encouraged people not to “follow the stupid decisions” of the current president. Bolsonaro responded by saying that Lula “initiates his political campaign” and that he “has nothing good to show.”

Folha de S.Paulo: Fachin anula condenações de Lula, e petista fica apto a disputar eleição de 2022
Valor Econômico: Lula ataca Bolsonaro e Moro em discurso com aceno ao centro
O Globo: Bolsonaro responde a Lula com críticas ao lockdown e ataques a governadores

2. Congress approves new round of emergency aid

On Friday, senators and representatives approved another round of emergency aid totaling R$ 44 billion (USD $7.91 billion). The measure was discussed after it was included in the so-called Emergency PEC (Constitutional Amendment), a fiscal control instrument that was created by the federal government’s economy team in 2019.

The approved amount should be enough to authorize four installments of R$ 250.00 (USD $45) beginning in March. Members of the opposition complained about the amount, which they consider to be too low as the pandemic worsens. The approved PEC also includes measures of fiscal control. If mandatory expenditures reach 95% of the budget, it will trigger measures to control spending by the federal, state and municipal governments, as well as the Federal District.

Valor Econômico: PEC emergencial é aprovada em 2º turno na Câmara
G1: Câmara aprova em 2º turno PEC que viabiliza retomada do auxílio emergencial
Câmara dos Deputados: Câmara aprova PEC Emergencial em 2º turno

3. Brazil has second highest number of daily COVID-19 deaths globally

On Wednesday, Brazil reached a record high in daily COVID-19 deaths with 2,349 people dying. Yesterday, 2,207 deaths were reported, increasing the total number of victims of the disease to over 273,000. Internationally, Brazil has the second highest number of daily deaths, behind only the United States, where numbers are beginning to fall. Throughout the pandemic, Brazil has had the fifth highest lethality rate, with 11.05 deaths per one million inhabitants. Ahead of Brazil are the U.S., Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom (26.9 per million inhabitants as of January 20th).

The number of new cases per day has also reached a record high with an average of 80,000 new cases reported daily. More than 11.3 million people are being treated for the disease. Only two out of 26 state capitals have more than 20% of their ICU beds unoccupied: Maceió (AL) and Macapá (AP). A year after the pandemic officially began, deaths in Brazil make up 10.3% of the total number of COVID deaths worldwide, despite the fact that the country only represents 3% of the global population. São Paulo, the richest state in the country, announced new restrictions and cancelled soccer matches.

G1: Brasil vive o pior da pandemia, diz Fiocruz
Folha de S.Paulo: Doria endurece regras e suspende futebol
Valor Econômico: País tem recorde absoluto de mortes pelo coronavírus
Folha de S.Paulo: Sem vagas em UTI, capitais beiram colapso
G1: Compare a situação do Brasil com outras nações

4. Federal government only now approves purchase of vaccines used in the U.S. and in Europe

After months of refusal, President Jair Bolsonaro finally authorized the purchase of the Pfizer and Janssen vaccines to try to speed up vaccination in the country. States and municipalities will be allowed to buy the vaccine with their own resources. Since January, the country has been administrating the CoronaVac and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines, which have been approved for emergency use due to the health crisis. The government had not yet purchased the Pfizer vaccine, the only one with definitive approval in the country.

The law passed on Wednesday also allows private companies to buy the vaccine, but with the caveat that they must donate doses until the country has vaccinated more than 77 million people from priority groups. After this has been achieved, companies can then vaccinate their staff. Only 9.2 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine and just 3.3 million people have received a second dose. Brazil has over 212 million inhabitants. State governors have signed a pact to unite their policies in the fight against the disease and accelerate vaccination. They have also admitted that the Brazilian public health system is in a state of collapse.

Folha de S.Paulo: Bolsonaro libera compra de outras vacinas
O Estado de S. Paulo: Governadores firmam pacto contra Covid-19
G1: Acompanhe notícias sobre a pandemia
Our World in Data: Acompanhe a vacinação no Brasil e no mundo

5. Inflation soars after one year of pandemic with food items 15% more expensive, according to IBGE

The official inflation rate after 12 months of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil stood at 5.20%, the highest rate since 2017. In February, inflation was 0.86%, the highest for a single month since 2016. The price of food items rose 15% in a year, twice the inflation rate. The price of gas was also a problem for Brazilian consumers, increasing 9.05% in a year.

The increase in food prices was high, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). In 12 months, the price of soy oil increased 87.89%, rice 69.80%, potato 47.84% and milk 20.52%.  Experts believe the price of gas will affect inflation this year. The price of fuel has been adjusted six times since January.

Folha de S.Paulo: Inflação dos alimentos é o triplo do IPCA
O Globo: Gasolina puxa alta da inflação oficial de fevereiro