With former Marxist-Leninist urban guerrilla and current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff under a massive corruption investigation, the country has embarked on an arrest spree that included the top Latin America Facebook executive, who was taken in for not surreptitiously archiving supposedly disappearing messages on WhatsApp.
Brazil is in very bad shape with ruinous stagflation and a collapsing currency. At the center of the mess are collapsing commodity prices that have sent the formerly high-growth BRIC commodity export economy into a depression.
But compounding the mess in Latin America’s largest economy are dual multi-billion dollar scandals alleging the looting of state-owned energy giant Petrobras ,and a scheme known as “Lava Jato,” or “Car Wash”, to steer billions of dollars in phony government construction contracts to Ms. Rousseff’s Marxist/Socialist Workers’ Party.
Brazilian federal investigators executed 33 search warrants and 11 detention warrants across the nation on March 4. Their biggest catch was raiding the home of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. and detaining him for questioning regarding accusations of receiving kickback cash from oil company executives, according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.
The noose appears to be tightening around Ms. Rousseff, who is no stranger to being behind bars from her days as one of the six leaders of the Marxist-Leninist VAR Palmares partisans. Aligned with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Ms. Rousseff’s cadre terrorized South Brazil in the 1970s with assassinations, kidnappings and robberies.
With the Brazilian currency plummeting by 27 percent, inflation hitting 10.84 percent, and GDP falling by 3 percent, the most recent public opinion poll reveals that Rousseff’s government is rated by only single digits as “good” or “excellent.”
As one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, Brazil has a long history of corrupt police violating individual privacy. Consequently, over half of Brazil’s 200 million resident are users of Facebook’s WhatsApp, which offers a disappearing messaging service.
With revolution in the air and a desire to know what its opposition is up to, the Rousseff government has ratcheted up fines against Facebook to $270,000 a day in its demand that WhatsApp messages be surreptitiously archived and turned over to the authorities.
But after weeks of Facebook claiming that it has no ability to record the messages, a judge ordered the arrest and interrogation of Facebook’s Vice President for Latin America Diego Dzodan for failure to obey a court order. He was apprehended at São Paulo’ Garulhos airport as he was trying to flee the country on March 1.
Twenty-four hours later, Dzodan was released after an appeals court judge handling the case overturned a lower court decision to issue the arrest warrant. But the authorities had sent a strong message to Facebook.
Goldman Sachs Chief Latin American economist Alberto Ramos commented that for Brazil’s imploding economy, “The inertial forces are extremely strong and the only way to break the back of inflation is with a very decisive policy response, and that should involve both a monetary and fiscal strategy.”
Ramos notes that there is a growing perception the country is on a path to fiscal insolvency.