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The Brazilian Crisis

Corruption, Neoliberalism, and the Primary Sector

PT Party Protest Against Rousseff's Impeachment

Photo credit: CBC (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters).

Anthony Pahnke is a visiting assistant professor of political science at St. Olaf College. His research focuses on social movements, agrarian reform, and development policy in Brazil, where he lived from 2009 to 2011.

Like any developing economy, contemporary Brazil is a land of contradictions. Famous beaches catering to rich celebrities abut slums without running water or paved streets; the world’s largest meat processing company, JBS, is headquartered in a country where roughly a third of the population faces daily food insecurity; a left-of-center government that won admiration abroad for raising millions out of poverty was simultaneously complicit in rampant corruption that enriched a small economic and political elite.

This last contradiction, that of corruption, made headlines around the world, as hundreds of Brazilian government officials were implicated in a vast network of money-laundering and patronage, provoking the country’s greatest political upheaval in a generation. The scandal’s most visible victim was Dilma Rousseff, the former president and leader of the center-left Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, or PT). On April 17, 2016, Brazil’s lower house, the Câmara dos Deputados (Chamber of Deputies, broadly equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives) voted to initiate impeachment proceedings, with 367 in favor and 122 against. Rousseff was later temporarily suspended from office the following month, after the Senate voted 55 to 22. Finally, on August 31, the Senate voted 61 to 20 to permanently remove Rousseff from the presidency. Throughout last summer’s crisis and in the months since, mass protests—both for and against the PT government and its policies—have periodically paralyzed Brazilian society.

This complex situation, with its myriad of players and interests, must be placed in its relevant political and economic context. To start, it should be noted that the Brazilian political establishment has been consumed by not one but two corruption scandals. The first, which directly involves Rousseff, is based on the claim that she committed “crimes of responsibility.” However vague the charge sounds, it is included in the Brazilian Constitution as an impeachable offense.1 From 2014 to 2015, Rousseff’s accusers allege that the then-president issued various illegal and unconstitutional decrees that extended credit to finance certain programs, namely Social Security and Bolsa Família (Family Fund). Social Security is particularly costly, usually consuming roughly a third of Brazil’s yearly federal budget.2 Bolsa Família, a conditional cash transfer program that provides a monthly stipend to poor women who send their children to school, is comparatively inexpensive—at $27 billion in 2014, its yearly budget constitutes around 2 percent of total tax revenue.3 Most relevant for the current situation, Bolsa Família has become synonymous with the Workers’ Party, especially after the program was expanded under Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, beginning in 2002.4 Rousseff became president in 2010, and won reelection in 2014, in large part thanks to the support of low-income, working-class Bolsa recipients from economically depressed rural states. The program’s broad support has another basis: while credited with lifting millions out of abject poverty, Bolsa nevertheless poses no substantial economic threat to elites, insofar as it redistributes relatively negligible quantities of cash, not assets.5

Returning to the issues of unconstitutionality and impeachment: the Senate trial sought to determine if Rousseff broke Brazilian laws concerning budget-making. Her opponents allege that the decrees violated the Law of Fiscal Responsibility (Lei de Responsabilidade Fiscal). In a speech during the trial, Rousseff claimed innocence, arguing that her acts followed longstanding presidential precedent on budgetary matters. Though assailed by enemies in the Senate and in the media for “corruption,” at no point was Rousseff accused of personally enriching herself.

The Law of Fiscal Responsibility, passed in 2000, requires that the Brazilian legislature set annual targets for inflation, government expenses, and public debt. In effect, the law mandates yearly balanced budgets. The law was prompted in part by the fiscal malfeasance of governors and municipal officials who throughout the 1980s and 1990s ran up large deficits to fulfill campaign promises and gain supporters.6 Before 2000, the federal government repeatedly bailed out and refinanced loans to these local and regional leaders, perpetuating a cycle of debt and default. By forcing balanced budgets, the law attempted to end a period of runaway deficit spending and blatant political patronage. It also, of course, was one of a passel of neoliberal programs implemented in the 1990s during the administration of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. In addition to mandating balanced budgets, Cardoso’s government partially privatized oil exploration and sold off the profitable state-owned mining enterprise, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (the Sweet River Valley Company), now known as Vale SA, to private investors.

The second, much larger scandal concerns Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras. In a sprawling investigation now known as Operação Lava Jato—Operation Car Wash, named for an actual car wash that investigators found was being used to launder money—authorities uncovered a scheme whereby Petrobras executives accepted bribes from politicians in exchange for overpriced contracts with favored construction companies. This scandal, the biggest of its kind in Brazilian history, saw the laundering of potentially $R 40 billion (about $13 Billion). Scores of Brazilian politicians have been implicated. Twenty-one representatives from the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies are under investigation, perhaps most notably Eduardo Cunha, the former Speaker of the House and a vocal critic of the Rousseff administration. Shortly after the lower house’s vote to initiate impeachment proceedings, Cunha himself was removed from his position, due to his alleged interference in Operation Car Wash, and was ultimately jailed last October. Additionally, twenty-four of Brazil’s eighty-one senators have been connected to the scandal. In all, the laundering scheme has extended to close to five hundred people at every level of the Brazilian government and from nearly every major political party—including acting president Michel Temer, who assumed power after Rousseff was removed from office.

A key difference between these two concurrent corruption scandals was the distinct characteristics of their respective beneficiaries. Individual officials gained directly from the Petrobras scandal, while Rousseff’s impeachment centered on the more procedural question of whether the former president had improperly shifted resources to fund social programs. The latter “scandal,” in other words, had a collective, public purpose, not intended to enrich specific individuals. Furthermore, Rousseff is not among the officials under investigation in the Petrobras scheme, nor has the PT been implicated in Operation Car Wash. Nevertheless, the party has been entangled in previous corruption scandals, such as the now infamous Mensalão (Big Monthly Payment) a party-wide vote-buying scheme that assured the passage of various PT-promoted policies, uncovered in 2005. Some individual members of the PT have been implicated in the Petrobras scandal, but not the party itself.

Despite these nuances, politicians and commentators in the Brazilian media often insinuate that Rousseff and the PT regularly engaged in illegal acts. Rede Globo, the media conglomerate that dominates Brazilian television and print news, has routinely conflated the two scandals in its coverage of the crisis. For instance, some reporters have suggested that Rousseff’s very ignorance of the corruption that pervaded her own administration made her complicit.7 Other stories allege that Lula was behind the scandals, using Rousseff as cover.8 Drawing more on hearsay and speculation than on evidence, such reports can be usually traced to unfounded claims made by opposition leaders. Globo’s coverage has been widely criticized for its distortions and blatant bias in favor of the opposition.9 Critiques of the company’s partial, class-skewed reporting are not new; Globo’s connections to and support for Brazil’s military government (1964–1985) have been denounced many times. Its more recent coverage of other groups on the left, especially the Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, or MST) has been shown to regularly misrepresent radical movements as violent, undemocratic, and illegitimate.10

These media misrepresentations, compounded by Brazil’s economic malaise, sent Rousseff’s approval ratings into single digits. The blurring of the two distinct scandals in coverage by Globo publications and other mainstream outlets has made the entire Brazilian left appear suspect. The involvement of so many officials throughout various levels of government has left few Brazilian politicians with the ability, or legitimacy, to come to the Rousseff administration’s defense. Thus Rousseff’s impeachment and removal had far less to do with any genuine violation of fiscal rules—the purported reason for her ouster—than with the fall in popular and governmental support for the administration in the wake of the Operation Car Wash revelations.

A Neoliberal Coup

Rousseff’s supporters have called her removal a coup d’état. For much of the twentieth century, coups throughout Latin America involved the armed forces seizing power, often with support or funding from the United States, as in Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973, to name a few cases. If direct military involvement in the overthrow of a government defines a coup, then the recent events in Brazil do not qualify. Unlike the ousting of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009—tacitly condoned by the United States—in which the armed forces played a role, the Brazilian military has been marginal to Rousseff’s removal. And though the U.S. government has neither condemned nor supported the change of government in Brazil, it has implicitly legitimized the proceedings: in April 2016, with Brazilian national politics still in chaos, high-ranking members of the opposition were invited to meet privately with U.S. lobbyists, legislators, and diplomats in Washington.11

Despite the lack of military involvement, the crisis can nevertheless still be considered a coup, insofar as removing Rousseff from power also means replacing potentially thousands of PT officials employed throughout the Brazilian state. In 2005, over 21,000 government appointments were made by the Brazilian executive branch.12 Many who entered government had been active in left-wing social movements, non-governmental organizations, and trade unions.13 While the full extent of the personnel changes under the new regime is still uncertain, Temer’s cabinet appointments of white, upper-class men suggest that his administration will strengthen the entrenched class, racial, and gender hierarchies that have historically characterized Brazilian society.14

The Temer administration has also expressed a clear policy vision—one rooted in neoliberalism. The details can be found in Uma Ponte para o Futuro (A Bridge to the Future), a document issued in October 2015 by his party, the Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro or Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). The PMDB platform calls for, among other things, balanced budgets, tax cuts, legislation tying social spending to GDP growth, and free trade agreements with the United States, Europe, and Asia.15 Temer has also spoken in favor of lifting the current restriction on purchases of Brazilian farmland by foreign buyers.16

Once in power, the new administration acted quickly. On May 12, the same day that Rousseff was suspended Temer passed an executive order affirming the executive’s unilateral power to establish concessions and public-private contracts.17 Publically, the administration has announced privatization plans for nearly every major public utility, including the natural gas industry, mail service, airports and state-owned electric companies.18 In March 2017, the government will auction off four airports.19 The administration has already begun to act on its promises: in November 2016, Celg, a state-owned electric company, was sold to the Italian energy conglomerate Enel.20 The publically traded but state-controlled bank, Banco do Brasil, has seen thousands of layoffs and the closing of multiple branches.21 Members of the new governing coalition have also proposed to restructure Social Security by mandating a minimum age for eligibility—65 for men and 60 for women (currently citizens receive benefits after 35 years of work, regardless of age), and reducing the total quantity of benefits that retirees may receive.22

The extent of these privatizations and reforms, and whether social programs such as Bolsa Família might be defunded altogether, are now central topics of debate. What is certain is that the groundwork has been laid for the wholesale privatization of Brazil’s remaining state-owned enterprises and public resources. The opposition that brought about Rousseff’s downfall came armed not with guns and tanks, but with juridical procedure and neoliberal reforms.

The Contradictions of Mobilization

The crisis has helped unite a political left whose enthusiasm for the PT had been waning. This has been the site of still another contradiction, one derived from a split within the party between groups pressing for sweeping, structural changes to Brazilian society, and others in favor of more incremental reforms to partially address economic and political inequality. Over the last fifteen years, as the PT has dominated national politics, many have grown increasingly disaffected with the party’s piecemeal initiatives and internal dysfunction. Popular movements such as the MST have regularly criticized the PT’s failure to redistribute land and challenge agribusiness. Some quit the party to form radical electoral alternatives such as the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade, or Socialism and Freedom Party. Large-scale public works projects in the Amazon, sponsored by the PT, have also drawn condemnation from environmental and indigenous activists.

In the context of the twenty-year “pink tide” of left-wing governments in Latin America, the PT has always been seen as a center-left alternative to the more radical governments in Venezuela and Bolivia. This is not to say that PT initiatives have been inconsequential. Bolsa Família, however imperfect, has been instrumental in raising millions out of extreme poverty. Thousands of new agrarian reform settlements were created under Lula and Rousseff, and millions of dollars in new funds were dedicated to education, housing, and infrastructure programs. Still, critics on the left note that the PT’s policies represent only partial and limited challenges to political and economic inequality. When the party was founded in the late 1970s, its platform included demands for structural changes—nationalization of private firms, decentralized and participatory modes of democratic engagement and labor management, and extensive redistribution of land throughout the country. By the time Rousseff, a former leftist militant and political prisoner, became president, such radical aspirations were all but forgotten. Though its history is unique to Brazil, the PT’s steady deradicalization and rise to power parallels the experience of other center-left parties in recent decades, as formerly insurrectionary currents have gradually made peace with the ruling neoliberal order.

Yet despite the PT’s move to the center, the party has faced intractable opposition from the right. Redistributive social democratic policies, as well as the efforts to dedicate resources for agrarian reforms, have been regularly challenged by center-right parties such as the misleadingly named Partido da Social Democracia, or Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Opposition legislators have opened three separate congressional inquiries—in 2002, 2005, and 2010—into the finances of non-governmental organizations, providing grants for rural education, and expanding agrarian reform settlements.

What has changed in the current political moment is that the Workers’ Party’s opponents have successfully channeled broad social discontent against corruption. Connecting the impeachment proceedings with the scandal at Petrobras made the political establishment, in the form of the PT and especially Rousseff, into the primary target of middle-class resentment. Prior to the scandals, the PT administration and its allies were only tenuously united. Now the party and affiliated groups are undertaking more extensive planning and coalition-building. Central to such efforts on the left is the Frente Brasil Popular, or Brazilian Popular Front, which has brought together more than sixty rural and urban movements, unions, and organizations. Meanwhile, on the right, the Temer administration has seen its disapproval rating rise above 50 percent as of early December 2016, as six top-ranking ministers have resigned amid ongoing corruption investigations.23 The mobilization of the Brazilian right provoked the Brazilian left to rally behind the PT, not so much for what the Rousseff and Lula administrations have done, but for fear that a new administration would repeal popular social programs, further privatize public enterprises, and end support for agrarian reform. On the one hand, then, Brazilian society appears polarized into two diverse but strategically united political blocs. Yet on the other, both sides suffer from serious internal fractures and weaknesses.

Economic Contradictions

In discussing the Brazilian situation, it is easy to focus on the dramas of individual politicians and institutions. But to look only at this level of the crisis is to ignore the deeper economic conditions that have driven Brazilian politics to the edge.

An analysis of these conditions should begin in the country’s primary sector. Since the 1990s, many industries in Brazil that specialize in raw material exports have enjoyed a long boom. Agribusiness exports, principally soy, grew exponentially, along with sales of iron ore and crude oil. The promotion of Brazilian agribusiness exports was a priority of the Cardoso regime in the 1990s. Following the neoliberal dogma of comparative advantage, which holds that countries should specialize in exporting goods that outcompete other nations in terms of efficiency, total soy harvests grew from 81 to over 96 million tons between 1994 and 2002—growth whose benefits accrued primarily to large landholders and agribusiness corporations. The Lula and Rousseff administrations did nothing to reverse the trend, despite calls by left movements for limits on the size of landholdings and redistribution of large estates to small producers. Since 2002, soy production has more than doubled, from 96 to over 194 million tons in 2014.24 Export earnings from this increased production, during the same time period, rose from approximately $50 billion in 2002 to over $200 billion in 2014.25 The biggest buyer has been China, which, by the time of Rousseff’s election in 2010, was importing approximately half of Brazil’s soy exports.26

Grain exports play a strategic role in sustaining Brazilian capitalism. Access to foreign currency reserves, gained through export sales, allows governments to relieve themselves of debts to private foreign banks and international financial institutions. The PT under Lula did precisely this, paying off the government’s debt to the International Monetary Fund in 2005. But instead of then changing course, the Lula administration continued to support agribusiness, which provided a steady supply of foreign currency that allowed the government to control the value of the Brazilian Real.27 It is by now clear why both the Lula and Rousseff administrations persisted in their support for agribusiness, against calls for radical redistributive efforts to expropriate and reallocate land: such measures would have endangered the government’s primary means of paying foreign financial interests and stabilizing Brazilian currency for investors.

Unlike agribusiness exports, which yield little direct tax revenue,28 royalties from the mining, oil, and natural gas industries supply the government vital resources for everything from welfare benefits to infrastructure construction. Royalty payments have always been a central component to Brazil’s raw-materials industry, beginning with the creation of Petrobras in the 1950s. The royalty regime created during the 1950s, which survived privatization attempts in the 1990s, places a 5 to 10 percent tax on export earnings. The revenue is divided among municipalities, states, and the federal government to fund a wide variety of programs.29

Similarly, the past two PT administrations encouraged the expansion of raw material exploration. Following the discovery of extensive offshore gas and oil reserves in 2007, known as the Pré-Sal (Pre-Salt, in reference to the location of the offshore reserves above geologic salt deposits)—new laws were passed 2010 and 2012 to strengthen Petrobras and centralize the flow of rents. Law 12.276 allowed the federal government to expand its controlling share in Petrobras, guaranteeing the company control over the production of up to five million barrels of oil, while Law 12.304 created another state-owned enterprise—the Empresa Brasileira de Administração de Petróleo e Gás Natural S.A.–Pré-Sal Petróleo S.A., or Brazilian Business of Oil and Natural Gas Administration (PPSA)– to oversee potential private investment and production. PPSA does not itself engage in production and investment, but monitors private firms and assists in commercialization. Laws 12.351 and 12.374 ensured that the government, primarily at the federal level, has access to oil and gas rents, and Law 12.351 sanctioned the creation of the Fundo Social (Social Fund). The Fundo Social directs 15 percent of royalties from oil and natural gas exports from the Pre-Salt region toward state and municipal governments, for education, sports, culture, science, or the environment. The legislation gives the federal government more control over resources through the Fundo Social, as well as greater leeway to decide how oil revenue is allocated. Furthermore, although Petrobras remains a public enterprise—the Brazilian state owns a controlling share of its stocks—the company behaves as if it were private, driven by the imperative to acquire more assets and profit from sales. When Cardoso in the 1990s ended the enterprise’s monopoly over the oil and natural gas industry, Petrobras began to further invest in newer production and exploration technologies to challenge potential foreign competitors.30 The government’s power to charge and collect rents thus stays in place regardless of whether a company’s ownership is public or private.

Exports of key minerals such as iron ore also grew exponentially during the early years of this century, driven by the rapid growth of the Chinese economy. China became the largest importer of Brazilian oil—buying 35 percent of its total exports—after an agreement whereby the China Development Bank would provide credit to Petrobras.31 Instead of directly purchasing a controlling hold of shares in Vale S.A., the Bank of China and the Chinese Export/Import Bank extended loans to the mining industry for ship building and exploration.32 Thanks mainly to Vale S.A., Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of niobium and thorium, and ranks third in exports of iron-ore, graphite, and bauxite.33 (It should perhaps be noted that niobium, a precious metal used in space exploration technology and superconductors, is only found in Brazil.) Unlike in the oil and natural gas industries, legislation concerning the mining industry has remained essentially unchanged for decades. Mineral royalties represent 3 percent of total export sales, which, like revenue from oil and natural gas sales, are distributed to municipal, state, and federal authorities, and provide the Brazilian government with many millions of dollars in yearly revenue.

In 2014, the twenty-year primary sector boom abruptly went bust. The sudden drop in oil, natural gas, and mining export earnings—and thus the rents collected—can be traced mainly to the relative contraction of the Chinese economy. Prices for various raw materials fell precipitously, causing chronic budget shortfalls throughout local, regional, and national governments. In 2016, municipalities throughout the state of Rio de Janeiro saw revenues fall 30 to 40 percent from prior years, all due to declining resource rents.34 The state of Rio Grande do Sul lost over $R 800 million (about $300 million) in 2016 compared to 2015.35 Such revenue losses have caused widespread funding shortages for building schools, hiring doctors, and paying public servants.

Unlike Rio de Janeiro, where the country’s oil interests are concentrated, states such as Rio Grande do Sul—with no oil reserves and only marginal mining interests—illustrate the Brazilian government’s fragile dependence on the primary sector. The material foundation of Brazilian politics is thus a redistribution regime of primary sector rents that is at once municipal, state, and federal. Dependency theory, advanced by Latin American scholars in the 1950s and 1960s, recognized the dangers of developing a national economy through such reliance on primary sector exports. Revenue from raw material exports tends to be unpredictable, leads governments to accrue high levels of debt, and fosters unequal power relations between exporting and importing states. Against this body of research, which fell out of favor with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s and ’80s, the doctrine of comparative advantage has become the guiding principle of development in Brazil and elsewhere. The state and municipal budget crises that have battered Brazil’s economy and upended its politics suggest the dire costs that developing countries may pay when the warnings of dependency theorists go unheeded.

Thus, though it of course does not offer a complete explanation, the commodity boom shows the underlying economic basis of Brazil’s political corruption scandals. First, Petrobras—the state-owned business at the center of the most extensive corruption scheme—is essential to oil exports. The commodity boom created historically unprecedented levels of revenue, and politicians of every ideological stripe took advantage. Rousseff’s alleged “crimes of responsibility” that shifted resources to pay for social programs also betrays the role of primary sector rents. The Caixa Econômica Federal (Federal Savings Bank) is the primary institution through which Bolsa Família is distributed, and receives millions of reals per year from mineral and oil royalties.36 When the rents declined, so too did funds for social programs. In this environment, facing sudden budgetary problems, Rousseff turned to legally questionable means to finance necessary social programs. In reality, then, both corruption scandals are conditioned by Brazil’s primary sector. It is important to note that other countries throughout the region—Bolivia and Ecuador, for instance—have initiated similar social policies financed through proceeds from primary sector exports, exposing them to comparable budgetary and political crises.37

What Next?

It is blatant hypocrisy that many right-wing opponents of the PT raise the banner of anti-corruption while they are themselves under investigation. The deeper contradiction, however, lies with the natural-resource economy, in which government revenue and social spending require royalties that are controlled by a small, unaccountable elite in private sector industries. Economic crisis, in large part due to the bursting of the natural-resource export bubble, underlies not just the current moment of upheaval, but is the deciding factor in Brazilian politics generally. That Petrobras, an oil company, is at the center of the crisis should not come as a surprise. Concentration, corruption, and volatility have characterized the fossil fuel industry in Brazil, the United States, and elsewhere.

Addressing Brazil’s political crisis requires moving beyond problems of individual corruption, however widespread they may be, to address the economic dimensions of the country’s primary sector. Social democratic, redistributive projects, with Bolsa Família as perhaps the best example, managed to hold together the PT coalition for years, despite calls for deeper reforms. Such programs alleviated dire poverty, but did nothing to address the vertiginous boom-and-bust cycle endemic to natural-resource export economies. The Brazilian economy is not entirely dependent on the primary sector: the percentage of total GDP from agriculture represents around 5 percent of GDP, oil and natural gas 3 percent, and mining 1 percent. Yet hidden in these deceptively small figures is a redistributive regime that supports crucial public programs and basic services. Also obscured is the role of neoliberal reforms, which, by mandating balanced budgets and privatizing public assets, have severely weakened the Brazilian state’s ability to contain the crisis. If only one lesson can be taken from Rousseff’s removal, it is that financing public services almost exclusively through primary sector rents is unreliable, dangerous, and prone to illegal forms of privatization—in a word, corruption.

The left’s only viable response to the ongoing crisis is to demand a restructuring of the primary sector and a reinvigorated opposition to neoliberalism. In effect, popular movements must return to principles that the PT itself first upheld, but later jettisoned—nationalization, extensive land redistribution, expanded social programs, and more. If the crisis has left the PT too hobbled and timid to join popular movements in making such demands, then groups and organizations that have voiced their opposition to the neoliberal coup may have to move forward and forge a new path without the party.


  1. For the official allegations against Rousseff, see court order No. N 71.199/2016-AsJConst/SAJ/PGR, available online at For more on impeachable offenses and “crimes of responsibility,” see Brazil’s 1988 Constitution, articles 85 and 86.
  2. Carga Tributária no Brasil 2014 (Brasília: Receita Federal, 2015),
  3. Dyelle Menezesm, “Governo federal desembolsou R$ 26,9 bilhões para Bolsa Família em 2015,” Contas Abertas, January 12, 2016,
  4. Bolsa Família actually began before the Lula administration, in 2001, under Cardoso, and was then known as Bolsa Escola.
  5. Deborah Wetzel, “Bolsa Família e a revolução silenciosa no Brasil,” World Bank, November 4, 2013,
  6. David Samuels, “Fiscal Straitjacket: The Politics of Macroeconomic Reform in Brazil, 1995–2002.”Journal of Latin American Studies 35, no. 3 (2003): 545–69.
  7. Fernanda Calgaro, “Cunha ironiza Dilma: ‘Não sabia que a Petrobras não era do governo,” Globo, October 20, 2015,
  8. “Lula nomeou diretores e sabia de corrupção na Petrobras, diz Delcídio,” Globo, March 19, 2016.
  9. Gustavo Gindre, “Os protestos de domingo e a estratégia da Globo,”Carta Capital Intervozes blog, August 17, 2015,
  10. John L. Hammond, “The MST and the Media: Competing Images of the Brazilian Landless Farmworkers’ Movement,”Latin American Politics and Society 46, no. 4 (2004): 61–90.
  11. Glenn Greenwald, “After Vote to Remove Brazil’s President, Key Opposition Figure Holds Meetings in Washington,” The Intercept, April 18, 2016,
  12. Kathryn Hochstetler and Margaret E. Keck,Greening Brazil: Environmental Activism in State and Society (Raleigh, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 22.
  13. Lecio Morais and Alfredo Saad-Filho, “Brazil beyond Lula: Forging Ahead or Pausing for Breath?Latin American Perspectives 38, no. 2 (2011): 31–44.
  14. Quatro polêmicas que marcaram os primeiros dias do governo Temer,” BBC Brasil, May 15, 2016.
  15. Uma Ponte para o Futuro (Brasília: PMDB, 2015), 18–19,
  16. Lisandra Paraguassu, “Temer quer mudar regras de venda de terra a estrangeiros,” Exame, July 12, 2016,
  17. Provisional Measure No. 727, May 12, 2016, available at
  18. Petrobras inicia processo para venda de terminais de GNL e térmicas no Rio e Ceará,” Reuters Brasil, June 7, 2016; Geralda Doca, “Governo Temer quer abrir capital de Correios e Casa da Moeda,”O Globo, June 15, 2016; Maria Christina Frias and Valdo Cruz, “Temer planeja privatizar Congonhas e Santos Dumont; veja entrevista,”Folha de São Paulo, July 10, 2016; Rodrigo Polito, “Temer edita MP que facilita privatização do setor electric,” Econômico Valor, June 23, 2016,
  19. Lais Lis, “Governo marca leilão de quatro aeroportos para março de 2017,” Globo, November 30, 2016.
  20. Em 1ª privatização do governo Temer, italiana Enel adquire controle da Celg,” UOL Economia, November 30, 2016,
  21. Governo poderá demitir até 18 mil servidores do Banco do Brasil,” Diario do Brasil, October 12, 2016,; “Governo Temer vai fechar 8 agências do Banco do Brasil em Campinas,” Carta Campinas, November 23, 2016,
  22. Renan Truffi, “Entenda a reforma da Previdência (que vai fazer você trabalhar mais),”Carta Capital, Decemeber 6, 2016.
  23. Eduardo Barretto, “Geddel entrega carta de demissão a Temer,”O Globo, November 25, 2016.
  24. Rafael Ribeiro, “Carta Grãos: Soja deverá puxar o crescimento da área plantada e da produção de grãos no Brasil em 2013/2014,” SCOT Consultoria, October 14, 2013,
  25. Soja em Grãos dispara na liderança da Balança Comercial nos primeiros dez meses de 2015,” Confederação Nacional de Agricultura, November 4, 2015,
  26. Carrie Brown-Lima, Melissa Cooney, and David Clearly, An Overview of the Brazil-China Soybean Trade and Its Strategic Implications for Conservation (New York: Nature Conservancy, 2010),
  27. Luis Oganes, “Finance: The Importance of Foreign Exchange Reserves,”Americas Quarterly 6, no. 1 (2012): 124; Marcos Chamon, Marcio Garcia, and Laura Souza, “FX Interventions in Brazil: A Synthetic Control Approach,” Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro working paper no. 630, February 2015,
  28. Revenue amounts to less than 1 percent of total revenue collected by the federal government (Carga Tributária no Brasil 2014).
  29. The maximum rate for mining is 3 percent of profits, and 10 percent for oil and natural gas. The relevant legislation—Decree Law 227/1967, Law 8667/1997, and Law 12351/2010—specifies how resources should be distributed among municipal, state, and national level governments. Firms may seek reductions in rents based on specific geological risks and low production estimates.
  30. Benjamin Bridgman, Victor Gomes, and Arilton Teixeira. “Threatening to Increase Productivity: Evidence from Brazil’s Oil Industry,”World Development 39, no. 8 (2011): 1372–85.
  31. Will Connors and Luciana Magalhaes, “Brazil’s Petrobras Obtains $3.5 Billion in Financing from China Development Bank,”Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015.
  32. Amanda Saunders, “China to Bankroll Vale Iron Ore Expansion,”Sydney Morning Herald, May 21, 2015.
  33. Informações sobre a Economia Mineral Brasileira, 2015 (Brasília: Instituto Brasileira de Mineração, 2016), available at
  34. Ramona Ordoñez and Bruno Rosa, “Royalties: com preços do petróleo em baixa, arrecadação deve cair até 40%,”O Globo, January 11, 2016.
  35. Sem repasses de royalties, Estado perde R$ 808 milhões,”Correio do Povo, December 12, 2014.
  36. For more details on how the Caixa collects primary-sector royalties, see “Acquisão de Royalties,” Caixa,
  37. Eduardo Gudynas, “Diez tesis urgentes sobre el nuevo extractivismo,” in Jürgen Schuldt et al.,Extractivismo, política y sociedad (Quito: Centro Andino de Acción Popular and Centro Latinoamericano de Ecología Social, 2009): 187–225; Hans-Jürgen Burchardt and Kristina Dietz, “(Neo-)extractivism—A New Challenge for Development Theory from Latin America,”Third World Quarterly 35, no. 3 (2014): 468–86.
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