Brazil min­is­ter quits in case im­pli­cat­ing pres­i­dent

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS -

Di­rec­tors, man­agers and staff of Hard­ware & Lum­ber Lim­ited un­veil the new name for one of the re­tail chains op­er­ated by the com­pany at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters on Span­ish Town Road in Kingston on Novem­ber 20. AgroGrace has been re­branded H&L Agro.

ABRAZILIAN min­is­ter re­signed on Fri­day amid al­le­ga­tions that he en­listed Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer’s help to pres­sure a fel­low Cab­i­net mem­ber to ap­prove a lux­ury apart­ment de­vel­op­ment project in a preser­va­tion zone. It is the first di­rect ac­cu­sa­tion of wrong­do­ing against Te­mer while in of­fice.

The an­nounce­ment feeds a grow­ing scan­dal over al­leged mis­use of power that threat­ens Te­mer’s pres­i­dency only six months af­ter he re­placed a pre­de­ces­sor ousted from of­fice by Congress – and at a time cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions have tarred many se­nior politi­cians.

At least one op­po­si­tion party says it will sub­mit a mo­tion to im­peach the new pres­i­dent and many more could fol­low.

Te­mer, who is deeply un­pop­u­lar with many Brazil­ians, has been strug­gling to push through an am­bi­tious aus­ter­ity agenda he says will pull Latin Amer­ica’s largest econ­omy out of its worst re­ces­sion in decades. Since May, his ad­min­is­tra­tion has lurched from one scan­dal to the next, but un­til now, none had di­rectly im­pli­cated the pres­i­dent.

Te­mer’s ad­min­is­tra­tion “just turned six months and it al­ready looks old,” Fabio Zanini, po­lit­i­cal edi­tor of the daily news­pa­per Folha de S. Paulo, wrote on Fri­day. “The strat­egy to win pop­u­lar le­git­i­macy with an eco­nomic re­cov­ery and po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity is quickly sink­ing for a pres­i­dent who was not sup­ported by the pop­u­lar vote.”

The lat­est cri­sis started when for­mer Cul­ture Min­is­ter Marcelo Calero told fed­eral po­lice that Te­mer’s leg­isla­tive af­fairs min­is­ter, Ged­del Vieira Lima, pres­sured him to al­low con­struc­tion of a lux­ury build­ing in a his­toric preser­va­tion area in the city of Sal­vador, 1,000 miles (1,600 kilo­me­tres) north­west of Rio de Janeiro. Lima had bought a unit in the planned de­vel­op­ment.

Calero, who re­signed last week, tes­ti­fied that Te­mer him­self sug­gested that he use a method to avoid the nor­mal over­sight process for such a build­ing.

Calero said Te­mer in­vited him to the pres­i­den­tial palace last week to sug­gest “a way out”, in­di­cat­ing that the build­ing re­stric­tions had cre­ated “op­er­a­tional dif­fi­cul­ties” in his ad­min­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to Calero’s tes­ti­mony.

“Pol­i­tics has these things, that kind of pres­sure,” Te­mer said, ac­cord­ing with Calero.

Te­mer’s spokesman said Thurs­day night that the pres­i­dent sim­ply in­ter­vened to ar­bi­trate a dis­pute be­tween Cab­i­net mem­bers.

RU­DOLPH BROWN/PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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