Tag Archives: São Paulo

Brazil’s ex-president Lula sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for corruption

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, once the most popular president in Brazil’s recent history, has been sentenced to nine years and six months in prison after being found guilty on corruption and money-laundering charges.

Although Lula, as he is universally known, will remain free pending an appeal – and his supporters denounced the sentence as political persecution – the ruling marks an extraordinary fall for a leader Barack Obama once called “the most popular politician on earth”.

Continue reading Brazil’s ex-president Lula sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for corruption


Brazilian Gang Enlists FARC Rebels for Drug Trade

SÃO PAULO, Brazil—This country’s largest criminal organization is recruiting members of Colombia’s once-powerful rebel group as it seeks heavy-weapons and other expertise to help expand its hold over Latin America’s drug trade, investigators and officials in both countries say.

First Capital Command aims to broaden its criminal footprint with Colombian rebels’ heavy-weapons skills.

Continue reading Brazilian Gang Enlists FARC Rebels for Drug Trade

MG Residence / Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados

Architects: Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados

Location: São Paulo, Brasil
Site Area: 1,293 sqm
Project Year: 2012
Photographs: Nelson Kon

Hvac: JMT Projetos

Automatization: Cynthron Automação de Ambientes
Construction: Planejamento Imobiliário e Construções
Structures: SVS Projetos Estruturais
Electrical: Rewald Engenharia
Foundations: MG&A Consultores de Solos
Hydraulics: Rewald Engenharia
Interiors: RAP Arquitetura
Lighting: Mingrone Iluminação
Landscape: Martha Gavião Arquitetura Paisagística
Surface Area: 1,029 m²

From the architect. This residence, located in a noble and leafy suburb in western Sao Paulo, is on a flat and deep site, with the main premise of taking the most advantage of the existing green area at the back of the site.

The spaces are distributed across four floors, including the basement, so the extended program could be concentrated in a very compact area. The ground floor contains the living and balcony overlooking the pool, with the comfort of the shade of old trees that have been preserved.

Social spaces overlook the great garden at the back, as a measure of security and privacy. A 25-meter pool responds to a request from the family that practices swimming as a sport.

Downstairs in the basement, parking for 10 cars supplies the lack of parking area in the surrounding streets. It also contains the service units and other facilities, facing a sunken courtyard.

The architectural proposal of keeping people together and in harmony, determines the interconnected spaces, including the pool area. A stripe partially invades the ceiling with a double height balcony, built to house the central atrium. The abundant presence of glass allows the visitor or resident to see who is in the children’s room, living room and dining, while overlooking the garden, talking to everyone. The atrium brings together all the environments, eliminating corridors and hallways. Abundant light coming from the sides and the roof softens the program. The third floor, entirely glazed, emanates light for the rest of the house.

The glazed walls and double height ceilings allow a connection with the exterior and a contact with the trees, both for the interior as well as to see the movement of people through the house, turning circulations into open and comfortable places. The large spans, the void inside, high ceilings, and balconies contribute to air circulation, favoring cross ventilation and the elimination of air conditioning during most of the time.

A mixed structure of concrete and steel is part of the main house, a rectangular volume of exposed concrete interspersed with metal beams. When the structure alternates with a lighter material, the structural system is relieved, with larger openings. On the third floor, which is more open and glazed, the entire structure is steel.

Uncovered Documents Reveal Volkswagen Helped Brazil’s Military Dictatorship Spy On Unions In The 1980s

Volkswagen Polo Brazil President Lula

(Reuters) – Volkswagen AG spied on Brazilian union activists in the 1980s and passed sensitive information about wage demands and other private discussions to the country’s military dictatorship, according to newly uncovered documents seen by Reuters.

The company covertly monitored its own workers as well as prominent union leaders of the era. One of VW’s targets was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who went on to become Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010 and remains one of its most influential politicians.

The documents were recently discovered in government archives by a special “truth commission” that, at the request of Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, is investigating abuses that occurred during the 1964-1985 regime.

Reuters reported last month that the commission found signs that dozens of companies, including Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and other foreign automakers, helped the military identify union activists in the 1980s to suppress labor unrest.

Now, according to the commission’s leaders, 20 pages of documents marked “confidential” that Volkswagen gave to the military in 1983 and 1984 provide the clearest proof yet that some companies went further – gathering their own intelligence on union activities and sharing it with authorities.

In the documents, Volkswagen provided extensive accounts of more than a dozen union meetings in Greater Sao Paulo. The company relayed workers’ plans for strikes as well as their demands for better salaries and working conditions.

The company reported the names of Volkswagen workers who attended union events and, in at least two cases, noted the make and license plate numbers of vehicles present.

Volkswagen also reported the showing of a socialist-themed film at a union headquarters; the contents of flyers distributed outside its factory doors and the names of those distributing them; and an incident in which “several addicted workers were caught smoking marijuana.”

Such information was typically used by police to monitor, harass and detain union activists in the hope of discouraging future unrest, said Sebastiao Neto, a member of the National Truth Commission. He cited testimony the group has gathered from workers who met with such treatment.

“These documents show with exceptional clarity how companies expected the government to help them solve their problems with their workers,” said Neto, who is overseeing the commission’s research of links between companies and the military.

Companies could face civil lawsuits or demands for reparations if they are found to have contributed to human rights violations of their workers during the dictatorship, some Brazilian prosecutors have said.

Others doubt that the evidence uncovered so far would be sufficient to mount a court case. They say the investigation’s true value lies in building a fuller account of past abuses so that Brazil, now a stable democracy and economic power, never repeats the mistakes of the dark period.

The documents were found in Brazil’s national archive by professional historians who were hired by a local union to work in coordination with the National Truth Commission. Neto said they would be included in the group’s final report, due in December.


In response to questions from Reuters about the new documents, Volkswagen repeated a vow it first made last month to “investigate all indications” that employees provided information to the military.

No other large company with operations in Brazil has yet publicly committed to such an investigation.

“Volkswagen is acknowledged to be a model for coming to terms with its corporate history,” the company said in a statement. “The company will handle this topic in the same way.”

Volkswagen Brazil Factory

Volkswagen has repeatedly surfaced in the truth commission’s probe as a prolific supplier of information. It wasn’t the only company that helped the military track union activities, however, researchers and academics say.

The dictatorship suppressed workers’ wages as a central part of its economic growth model and saw strikes as a communist threat to stability. Countless companies faced pressure to collaborate.

Volkswagen was one of 19 Brazilian and foreign companies that attended regular meetings with military and police officials in the Paraiba River Valley, an industrial area some 55 miles (90 km) east of Sao Paulo. The meetings began in July 1983 at a time of growing labor unrest in the area.

At the meetings, the companies exchanged information about coming strikes and mass layoffs, according to notes of the meetings made by Brazil’s Air Force.

In the Air Force minutes, which were provided to Reuters by Truth Commission researchers, Volkswagen was the only company recorded to have submitted its own extended written accounts of union activities. It did so on at least three occasions.

The documents were attached as an annex to the minutes. They don’t state how Volkswagen obtained the information. But the intimate level of detail suggests the company may have sent security personnel to monitor union events or received information from sympathetic workers, researchers say.

For example, Volkswagen reported on the showing of a film about the Russian Revolution at a union headquarters. In a memo, VW described how workers blocked the doors to the projection room and deactivated the building’s elevator “to avoid a possible seizure of the film by the Censorship Department of the Federal Police.”

The memo noted that “warm wine, popcorn and chocolate” were available at the screening, and it recorded the name of the worker who sold them.

Volkswagen Workers In Brazil

Brazilian workers at Volkswagen’s Sao Jose dos Pinhais factory disperse after attending an employee’s assembly in Curitiba.

Volkswagen also extensively documented a union rally of June 19, 1983, that featured Lula. He was not a company employee but was a rising star in the regional labor movement at the time. Volkswagen quoted Lula as criticizing the “lack of shame of the government” and encouraging workers to stop paying into a government housing fund as a gesture of protest.

The company recorded the license plate number of a bus that carried workers to Brasilia after the rally, and the name of the company that operated it.

A spokesman for Lula declined to comment on the documents.

Geovaldo Gomes dos Santos, a former quality control official who retired from Volkswagen in 2003, was named in the documents as having organized a meeting on June 21, 1983, to discuss a coming regional conference of metalworkers.

Dos Santos’s name also appeared in a separate “black list” of union activists in Greater Sao Paulo that police assembled in the early 1980s, the existence of which Reuters revealed last month.

Told that he also appears in the new set of documents, Dos Santos said: “That’s absurd.”

He said that in light of the information, he may try to sue Volkswagen or its former executives for “moral damage” – a broad offense under Brazilian law roughly akin to harassment.

“I don’t want any money,” he said. “It’s just so disgusting, what they did. We weren’t doing anything abnormal. Why were they spying on us? Unions should just be a normal part of capitalism.”

Anti-World Cup protests in Brazilian cities mark countdown to kick-off

Anti-World Cup protests in Brazilian cities mark countdown to kick-off

Protesters in São Paulo try to block the road to the stadium while in Rio de Janeiro 1000 people march with ‘Fifa go home’ banners

Riot police fired percussion grenades and teargas at anti-World Cup protesters in São Paulo on Thursday as the countdown to kick-off was marked by demonstrations in at least 10 Brazilian cities.

Just hours before the opening ceremony at the Itaquerão stadium in São Paulo, about 100 protesters started fires and threw rocks at police in an apparent attempt to block a road leading to the venue.

The confrontation led to at least one arrest and five injuries, including a suspected broken arm suffered by a CNN producer who was hit by a police teargas cannister.

The “Our Cup is on the Street” protests target the high cost of the stadiums as well as corruption, police brutality and evictions. Similar demonstrations have been called via social networks in 10 cities, including several that host World Cup games such as Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre and Recife.

In Rio de Janeiro, about 1000 people marched through the city centre bearing banners declaring “Fifa go home” and “World Cup of Corruption”. Police fired teargas and used pepper spray to disperse the protest. At least one demonstrator was arrested.

Many were in a festive mood, spraying pink glitter on passersby and dressing up as hula-hooping pixies and cupids to mark Brazilian Lovers Day, which is also being celebrated on Thursday.

But the messages were serious. “The World Cup steals money from healthcare, education and the poor. The homeless are being forced from the streets. This is not for Brazil, it’s for the tourists,” said Denize Adriana Ferreira.

Riot policemen hide behind shields during a protest against the 2014 World Cup in Sao PauloRiot police hide behind shields during the protest in São Paulo. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Some said they are switching support to other teams as a mark of protest. André de Magalhães Gomes said he had always previously backed the Seleção but today he joined the demonstration wearing an Argentina shirt. “Brazil shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup. Fifa just like to pick the most corrupt nation.”

A newspaper kiosk worker agreed. “I refuse to support Brazil. This country is imbecilic. I’m backing England instead.”

With a presidential election campaign due to start soon after the World Cup, there was a strong political tone to many of the chants, such as: “Even if we don’t try this government will fall.”

Union leaders are also targeting the tournament in the belief that the government will quickly offer concessions rather than risk embarrassment at service failures.

The latest group to take industrial action for higher pay are staff at Rio’s two main airports, Galeão and Santos Dumont. They have launched a go-slow, but promised to maintain only 80% of the usual service, raising the risk of delays for the 600,000 foreign fans expected to visit Brazil during the tournament. A small group of airport workers briefly blocked traffic outside Galeão airport on Thursday morning, adding to the delays.

Subway workers were also on strike in São Paulo earlier this week, putting extra pressure on the already congested roads of South America’s biggest city. Their industrial action has been temporarily suspended, but further strikes remain possible.

Sao Paulo police tear gas protesters

Brazilian riot police have used tear gas against protesters in Sao Paulo, three days before the World Cup opening game in the city’s main stadium.

The BBC’s Katy Watson at the scene says about 300 demonstrators are there and helicopters are circling overhead.

Sao Paulo protest

The protest was called by Sao Paulo metro workers who are striking in support of a 12.2% salary increase.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she would not allow violent demonstrations to mar the World Cup.

Sao Paulo metro workers have been on strike since Thursday, creating traffic chaos in one of the world’s most congested cities.

On Sunday, union members voted to continue to strike indefinitely despite a court order for them to return to work and a threat of dismissal by the state governor.

Sao Paulo strike

If the strike runs on until Thursday, it could affect the opening match between hosts Brazil and Croatia.

Arena Corinthians stadium is on the outskirts of Sao Paulo and access to the venue without public transport could be a huge challenge for fans.