Joe Leahy

Joseph Leahy is the FT's Brazil bureau chief. He was previously Mumbai bureau chief for four years and before that Asia companies editor and Hong Kong correspondent. He was also a correspondent in Jakarta for the South China Morning Post and Jakarta bureau chief of AFX.

After taking a battering from Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff in her effort to win back a lead in the polls, rival candidate Marina Silva has responded with an emotional advertisement calculated to win over low-income voters.

Presidential candidate Aécio Neves receives minor boost in polls

Brazil’s benchmark stock index staged one of its most volatile trading days yet in the lead-up to next month’s election ahead of a poll that showed upstart presidential candidate Marina Silva rebuilding her lead.

The Bovespa index finished up 2 per cent at 59,114.66 after earlier gains of nearly 4 per cent on hopes that the poll would indicate incumbent President Dilma Rousseff was losing, analysts said. Continue reading »

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Would a Marina Silva presidency be good for efforts to stop what scientists and activists argue is the continuing threat from deforestation to the world’s tropical forests?

A recent report by Forest Trends, a Washington-based non-government organisation, estimates that five football fields of tropical forest are being converted every minute in South America, Asia and Africa to supply soybeans, palm oil, beef and wood products. Continue reading »

For Marina Silva, the easy part is over. The honeymoon period when she was introduced as presidential candidate is coming to an end. Now the freight train of the Workers’ Party or PT, led by incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, is catching up and if the former senator does not start to show some teeth, she could get run over.

This would at least appear to be the message from recent opinion polls. From a nine percentage point lead in a second round run-off, Silva is now neck and neck with Rousseff. Continue reading »

Just as President Dilma Rousseff thought she had put a scandal affecting state-owned oil company Petrobras behind her, it has come roaring back, nastier than ever.

Paulo Roberto Costa, a former Petrobras executive accused of accepting kickbacks in return for contracts, has reportedly made a plea bargain with investigators that has got Brasília sweating. Continue reading »

When Brazil’s presidential election circus arrived in Rio Grande do Sul this week, it was hard not to see the difference between the styles of the two leading candidates.

Marina Silva, the upstart environmentalist who has suddenly taken the lead in the polls, staged what was almost a stealth visit. On Thursday, she arrived at Expointer 2014, a large agricultural fair on the edge of the state capital Porto Alegre, in a van ,and held tough closed-door meetings with her erstwhile adversaries in the rural sector. Continue reading »

If Brazil’s contestants for the presidency had treated Marina Silva with kid gloves last month as a sign of respect for the tragic death in a plane crash of her running mate, Eduardo Campos, that grace period is certainly now over.

Incumbent president Dilma Rousseff, who is running for a second term, has placed the upstart candidate, who has stolen her lead in the election, firmly in her sights this week. As has third-placed rival Aécio Neves, who is watching the election slip rapidly away from him. Continue reading »

Following her sudden emergence as a potential favourite to win Brazil’s October election, Marina Silva is rapidly coming under greater scrutiny.

In particular, much attention is being directed at her two catch cries. These are that she represents something she calls the “nova política” or “new politics” for Brazil and that she will govern with the support of “os melhores” or “the best” from across the political spectrum, including from the major parties that presently dominate Congress. Continue reading »

Israel and Brazil are locked in a diplomatic spat after Latin America’s biggest country issued a statement condemning Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for using “disproportional” force in Gaza but failed to mention the role of Hamas in the conflict.

An Israeli spokesperson called Brazil a diplomatic dwarf and described it as irrelevant in terms of international diplomacy. Continue reading »

Until recently, common wisdom on Brazil’s presidential election was overwhelmingly that it was president Dilma Rousseff’s to lose.

Now, however, the signs that the incumbent may have to scramble to avoid having a second-term slip from her grasp are coming harder and faster. Continue reading »

Since the Brics first came together for their first annual summit five years ago, it has sometimes been easier to define them by what they are against than by what they are for.

They are mostly against, for instance, interference in other nations’ sovereign affairs, particularly of the unilateral sort. Continue reading »

Does Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff look for the first time like she might lose the October election?

Nomura economists Tony Volpon and George Lei think so. In a note released after a poll by research firm Ibope, they said Rousseff’s chances of losing to opposition candidate Aécio Neves were now 60 per cent. They point to figures that are among the president’s worst polling results since mass protests shook the nation last June. Continue reading »

And the winner is…

What will be the legacy of the World Cup for Brazil? Until now, most people have looked at this question in terms of bricks and mortar – how many new airports, metro lines and stadiums will be created for the tournament?

But Ricardo Sennes, non-resident senior Brazil fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, believes the greater legacy will have been to crack open the stultifying politics of modern Brazilian democracy and set the country on a national dialogue towards reform. Continue reading »

Brazil’s economy may be weakening but sales of some luxury car marques in the country are soaring in a sign of the enormous pent-up wealth in Latin America’s biggest country.

Germany’s Audi said sales in the first five months of this year more than doubled compared with the same period last year to a record of more than 5,000 units while those of BMW were up 24-25 per cent in the same interval to 6,100. Continue reading »

Remember the days when Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sought to make Latin America’s largest country the foremost foreign diplomatic and business presence in Africa?

Not only was he a frequent flyer there but Brazil’s corporate giants such as miner Vale and construction company Odebrecht invested, posing a challenge to other foreign powers such as China in the great game for the continent.

Today, however, Brazil is failing to take this push to the next level, if you believe a report from Safmarine, a South Africa-based international container shipping line. Continue reading »