Football: Ex-Girlfriend Murderer, Returns to Sport

A former Brazilian soccer player, sentenced to more than two decades in prison for ordering the murder of an ex-girlfriend, has returned to the sport. He was released from prison on a technicality and swiftly signed by a team.

The decision has prompted outrage in Brazil, The Associated Press reports. Multiple sponsors have pledging to drop their support for Boa Esporte, the team that signed Bruno Fernandes de Souza.

Souza — known as “Bruno” in Brazil — used to play for Flamengo, in Rio de Janeiro. But his career seemed to be over after he was convicted in the grisly 2010 murder of a former girlfriend, Eliza Samudio.

“Bruno, his lover and his ex-wife were among nine people charged with torturing and murdering Samudio, who had been trying to prove [Souza] had fathered her son. …
“Samudio’s body was never found, but the goalkeeper’s cousin told the court Samudio had been demanding child support payments and that he had helped to dismember her body and fed her to several dogs.”
DNA eventually proved that Souza, who was married at the time, was indeed the father of Samudio’s child, the AP reports.

In 2013, Souza was convicted of ordering her murder, hiding her body and kidnapping their son. He confessed that he knew she was strangled and fed to dogs, but denied ordering her death himself, according to the BBC.
Souza was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison, but he was unexpectedly released about a month ago.

“A Supreme Court justice ordered his release on the grounds that his appeal to a higher court was languishing,” the AP reports.

Brazil is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, as NPR’s Lulu Garcia Navarro reported in depth last summer.
“In Brazil, a woman is killed every two hours and assaulted every 15 seconds – often by someone she knows — according to a report from the nonprofit Mapa da Violencia,” Lulu wrote. There are “specific laws against femicide and violence against women” meant to stem the epidemic — “But those laws haven’t been working.”

For example, Lulu spoke with Andreza da Silva, whose sister was murdered after she reported her husband for abuse. Here’s more from Lulu:

“Her sister’s husband became relentless, Silva tells me. He would show up outside the house and threatened that if she didn’t come back to him, he would kill her.
“She and the family asked for help, but the police did nothing. The neighbors said nothing.
“She thought he would eventually leave her alone. But on that December morning in 2015, he finally made good on his threats — murdering her in plain view. She was 32.
” ‘Why do you think this happened?’ I ask Silva.
” ‘The men here think that if you are with a woman, you own her,’ she tells me.”
Teresa Cristina Cabral, a state judge in Brazil who works on domestic violence training and education initiatives, notes that when Bruno de Souza’s case was first unfolding some people were critical of Samudio, the murdered woman, for having been Souza’s lover in the first place.

“Her behavior was kind of judged … [like] since she was not a ‘good girl,’ she deserved to die,” she says.

And now, Souza’s return to professional soccer sends a disturbing message about Brazilian attitudes toward domestic violence, Cabral says.
Brazilian model Eliza Samudio, shown in August 2009, disappeared in 2010. Bruno Fernandes de Souza was convicted of ordering her murder.

“We don’t care if he killed a woman — it doesn’t matter, really, because it doesn’t have anything to do with his ‘professional’ behavior,” she says. And she worries about the impact on young soccer fans who might absorb the message: ” ‘Well, it’s just a woman that was killed, whatever.’ ”

Cabral says she was encouraged to see some companies taking a stand against Boa Esporte for signing Souza, but that it’s clear cultural attitudes haven’t shifted on the issue.

Meanwhile, Boa Esporte stands by the controversial decision.

In one Facebook post, the president of the team suggested the team was doing something positive by giving him a job, which could provide “dignity.”

In another post, the team said Souza “deserves a new opportunity as a professional,” according to a CNN translation.

Ghosts Chase Brazil’s President From Residence

Brazil’s President Michel Temer blames bad vibes and even ghosts for driving him from his sumptuous official residence in the capital Brasilia.

A Brazilian news weekly reported, Temer surprised Brazilian politics watchers this week with the revelation that he has decamped from the Alvorada Palace.

He moved with his former beauty queen wife and their seven-year-old son down the road to the smaller vice presidential residence.

The modernist Alvorada, which means Dawn and was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, would be a dream home for many.

It has a huge pool, football field, chapel, medical centre and vast lawn.

But Temer, 76, and his 33-year-old wife Marcela, find the cavernous, glass-fronted building spooky.

“I felt something strange there. I wasn’t able to sleep right from the first night.
“The energy wasn’t good,” Temer was quoted as saying by Veja.

“Marcela felt the same thing. Only (their son) Michelzinho, who went running from one end to the other, liked it.”

“We even started to wonder: could there be ghosts?” he reportedly quipped to Veja.

According to a report in Globo newspaper, Marcela Temer brought in a priest to attempt to drive out any evil spirits, but to no avail.

The Temers then moved to the still luxurious but smaller Jaburu Palace nearby.

Temer knows it well: this was his residence when he served as vice president until last year when then president Dilma Rousseff was impeached for breaking budget accounting laws.

That automatically put Temer in the top job and in the Alvorada. No one filled his vacant vice presidential post, however, meaning he can now take his pick of palaces.

The house moving comes in the middle of a severe political crisis for Brazil, with many of Temer’s allies face potential corruption probes.

The president himself is battling a case in the electoral court where he is accused of having benefited from illegal donations when he and Rousseff ran together in 2014.

Are China And Brazil Transforming African Agriculture?

China and Brazil are set to increase their influence in Africa, with the recently launched New Development Bank opening offices in Johannesburg this month and preparing to issue its first loans in April. New research on China and Brazil in African Agriculture published in acclaimed journal, World Development, reveals that the picture on the ground is far more complex and more contested than generic policy statements about South-South cooperation or win-win partnerships would have us believe.

Agriculture, which employs 65 percent of Africa’s labour force and accounts for 32 percent of gross domestic product, presents a major area of engagement for both China and Brazil with the continent.  Additionally, both countries may claim to be particularly well positioned to help African countries develop their agriculture sector.

China offers win-win partnerships with unparalleled pragmatism that is much welcomed as an alternative to the increasingly obsolete aid industry. Brazil offers tropical technology that is claimed to be well suited to Africa’s similar soil-climate characteristics and an approach to the cooperation exchange that is arguably more horizontal.

But despite being often clustered together as leaders of the South-South paradigm, China and Brazil are quite different, both in rhetoric and in practice.

World Development Special Issue on China and Brazil in African Agriculture digs behind South-South Cooperation rhetoric

Edited by Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Qi Gubo, this special open access collection digs behind the rhetoric of South-South cooperation and win-win relations to reveal the reality of South-South encounters.

At its launch, co-editor Professor Scoones noted that policy ideas and technology travel from China and Brazil to Africa in the context of South-South relations. They do not end up the way they were first designed though but get transformed and reconstituted through negotiation and mutual learning.

The eight articles in this open access collection looked at cases of Chinese and Brazilian engagements in four African countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – as well as the origins of Chinese and Brazilian agricultural policies, technology and capital by looking at the two countries’ domestic contexts.

They reveal a rich mix of engagements, including:

  • agricultural investments by private and state owned enterprises
  • tri-lateral development cooperation efforts
  • technological adaptation initiatives
  • training programmes
  • ‘under-the-radar’ involvement in agriculture by Chinese migrants.

These diverse experiences challenge simplistic narratives of either “South–South” collaboration or “neo-imperial” expansion of “rising powers”.

Research reveals no singlular Brazilian or Chinese model

There is therefore no singular Brazilian or Chinese model but engagements in Africa reflect struggles back home in Brazil and in China that meet other struggles when they land in diverse African countries.

These are struggles for power and resources as well as battles between competing visions on agriculture and development. They are local struggles but they are also global struggles that need to be situated against the geopolitics of aid and international development and the changing global configurations of capital.

Three papers from the collection were briefly discussed at the recent Contested Agronomies conference, hosted at IDS. One looked at the case of China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres and two focused on Brazilian cooperation programmes symbolising the agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in Brazilian agriculture.

A closer look at China’s Agricultural Technological Demonstration Centres

The Chinese demonstration centres were presented by Xiuli Xu, professor at theChina Agricultural University, as an example of a top-down policy being implemented at the grassroots.

The 23 centres found in Africa were established by Chinese companies from different provinces in China, with support from their government. The Chinese government emphasises state-business relations and the need to ensure long-term financial “sustainability” of these centres for technical cooperation. The companies in turn hope to develop a potential market for their seeds, machinery and other technology in Africa. In the meantime, they operate as ‘aid workers’ interacting with local communities and learning about the trade of cooperation.

Brazil’s cooperation programmes reflect agribusiness-versus-family farming dualism in its own agriculture

The Brazil story revealed contestations beyond the agrarian dualism formulation.

Family farming is disputed in Brazil and this is reflected in the practice of More Food International, one of Brazil’s flagship cooperation programmes in Africa analysed by one of the papers.

Lídia Cabral, one of the authors, noted that the programme has so far been mainly about selling Brazilian farming machinery and tractors in particular and that the policy advocacy thrust of the programme – of reproducing a family farming-based development trajectory – got lost in translation. African governments are attracted by a modernisation ideal where family farming is at best a transitional mode into mechanised commercial farming.

The other Brazilian case-study presented, focused on ProSAVANA in Mozambique, discussed the role played by imagined landscapes of the Brazilian Cerrado and the Mozambican Savannah both in the promotion and contestation of the programme.

Alex Shankland, co-author of the paper, highlighted that the contestation of ProSAVANA has been at the centre of the making of Brazilian cooperation. It has produced spill over effects to other Brazilian programmes and raised questions about Brazil’s South-South narrative and its solidarity and horizontality claims.

Useful lessons from Braziliand and Chinese enagements in African agriculture

There are many useful lessons to be learnt from the Brazilian and Chinese engagements in African agriculture for other countries. For example, a key feature is the role of state-business relations in driving and shaping engagements that provides valuable insight for agencies such as DFID (the UK’s Department for International Development) which has an interest in the role of the private sector, and in public-private partnerships.

But as suggested by this research, these relations have to be understood as part of competing interests, power dynamics and conflicting ideas about development, locally and globally, and should not be treated as anodyne win-win solutions.


Dream Team To Face Brazil In Friendly

Chief Coach of the Nigeria Olympic team, Dream Team VI, Samson Siasia has disclosed that the team will face Brazil in a friendly next month as preparations for the Rio Olympics hits top gear.

“We are working on a friendly against Brazil for next month, we will get more details about this game next week,” said Siasia.

The match was earlier scheduled for last year in London, but was later shelved after the Nigeria Olympic team complained it was too close to the U23 AFCON in Senegal.

Nigeria eventually won the U23 AFCON in December to qualify for the Rio Olympics in Brazil in August.


The Evolution of Brazil’s National School Feeding Program

Brazil’s school feeding program first started in 1954 to address child hunger and improve school attendance. “At the beginning it was about a matter of feeding kids to go to school,” says Eduardo Manyari, an international adviser to the National School Feeding Program. “Some of them were very hungry. Through this action, they attended school more often.”

Back then, the program was targeted to only the poorest parts of the country. In 2003, it was made a part of the national Zero Hunger Program to reduce hunger and ensure food security. At the time it was estimated that 44 million people, or 28 percent of the total population of Brazil, made less than $1 a day. But as the Zero Hunger Program brought down levels of poverty and hunger, overweight and obesity-related health problems began to rise.

In 2009, when the government enacted the School Feeding Law, mandating school meals to all students enrolled in public schools across the country, overweight and obesity were fast becoming a national issue. Today, an estimated one-third of Brazilian children between the ages of five and nine are overweight. That is why nutrition and nutritional education have become a central part of the school feeding program, says Albaneide Peixinho, who was the national coordinator for the school meal program for nearly 13 years. “Instead of just providing food because the population is hungry, the program is supposed to supply basic nutritional needs of the kids,” she says.

School meals are required to provide at least 30 percent of daily nutritional requirements in schools that offer two or more meals a day, 70 percent for kids enrolled in full-time basic education and at least 20 percent for those enrolled part-time. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a regular part of meals. Sodas and cookies are not allowed. And the levels of sugar and salt in each item on the menu have to be within nationally set limits.

“Right now, when we talk about nutrition, we’re teaching them good [eating] habits,” Manyari says.

This growing stress on the right kind of nutrition has made nutritionists key to this program. Every city or municipality hires a certain number of nutritionists depending on the number of students in public schools in their area.

“The nutritionist prepares the menu,” Peixinho says. The menu has to meet nutritional requirements. “Based on this menu, they decide what is going to be purchased by the school.” It is the nutritionists’ job to monitor the program and make sure each school abides by national standards.

“There are around 8,000 nutritionists working in the program now,” she says.

Nutritionist Christine Kojhi Golin, 29, works for the city of Sao Paulo, and her workday involves visits to a few schools every day. She supervises the preparation of the food in each school and monitors “the level of hygiene in the school kitchens, the stock of ingredients and how well the children accept the food.”

In almost every school I visited in the state of Sao Paulo and the city Brasilia, I watched kids eat their school meals with gusto. In each case, it was served hot, freshly cooked in the school kitchen. Staff in some schools confessed that kids have often refused to eat certain vegetables and fruits, especially the first time they are offered. This is a problem documented by studies as well. When it happens, school teachers, cooks and nutritionists work together to convince the kids otherwise. Sometimes it takes a cook telling the students how much love and hard work she had put into cooking the food. And sometimes it takes a teacher or nutritionist sharing meals with students.

If the students still don’t accept the food, then the nutritionist has to figure out a new recipe that might be more acceptable. If there are children with special needs, such as specific allergies, then she has to prepare a separate menu for them.

But a nutritionist’s duties don’t end there. In addition, “we also work with teachers and parents doing nutrition education activities,” says nutritionist Isabelle Pinheiro Dias da Cruz, 25, who often works with Golin. When teachers are aware of good food habits and nutrition, they can encourage their students to eat healthier—more fruits and vegetables and less junk food and sodas. Educating parents ensures that children eat healthier at home too.

It is too soon to say whether these efforts have had a measurable impact on the numbers of overweight and obese children in Brazil—there has been no national level study to prove this. But the meals have certainly improved in quality. “When I took office, I found that most schools were serving cookies and juices to students,” says Peixinho. This study shows that the school meals have gotten healthier and fresher in the past decade. Data collected by the Brazilian government shows that in 2004, 57 percent of school menus offered vegetables. By 2010, that went to 90 percent. And this presumably is having a positive impact on children’s health.

“I’m certain that the food we are giving to the children is of very good quality,” Golin says. And that makes her proud of her work, she adds.

Photo credit:  Rhittu Chatterjee

Pulitzer Center

Marcelo Suffers Injury Setback

Real Madrid’s Brazilian defender Marcelo Viera could miss the Spanish giants Champions League trip to AS Roma next week after suffering a dislocated right shoulder, the club confirmed on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old left back, who has become a key component in Zinedine Zidane’s side, picked up the injury during Sunday’s 2-1 La Liga win at Grenada.

The club said in a statement that the defender had undergone tests on Tuesday but did not give details on the period he will be out, stating only that it would depend on the “evolution” of the injury.

According to the Spanish press, Marcelo could be sidelined for three weeks, meaning he would miss Saturday’s La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao and the European last 16 away leg tie at Italian club Roma on February 17.