World Politics

Brazil’s democracy is working, but Rousseff should trigger a new revolution

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Whilst Brazil has been widely criticised in recent months over its preparations for the imminent summer Olympic Games, its astonishing poverty rates, and now exposed political corruption, there is at least some form of silver lining to its storm clouds. This week, Brazil’s congress voted in favour of impeaching its President, Dilma Rousseff, who is currently embroiled in an alleged corruption crisis. A still infant democracy, Brazil is far from what political spectators would call perfect. But the fact that nearly four million citizens have mobilised en masse, kindling the next chapter of Brazil’s transformation, must be pleasing.

At least, not for the incumbent President. Recent political events have seen an unsuccessful attempt to cover former President Lula from prosecution for corruption. Furthermore, allegations of fiscal wrongdoing in order to boost Rousseff’s government’s approval ratings are amongst the grounds for her elimination. But now, mass protests are making Rousseff’s impeachment an increasingly legitimate outcome.  If the President is wholly overthrown in a dramatic coup d’état in coming months, it will no doubt mark huge changes for Brazil’s political culture. However, the removal of just one corrupt leader must not mark the end of this stimulating shift.

With a leadership that is seemingly riddled with corruption, many argue that it would be very fair for the frontrunner of Brazil’s political network to be ousted from office. As many as 200 politicians are currently accused of fiscal malpractice, accepting bribes for political acts and strategically evading legal action. Whilst Brazil seems to be taking its new democracy in its stride, those all important qualities of a modern state simply cannot be put into practice with such underhand tactics from the nation’s politicians. How can a rule of law exist, and how can the 52 million people whom voted for Rousseff see their decisions truly implemented?  It is right that Rousseff’s powers of government are removed. Where democracy seems to be on the path towards success, albeit a system which remains very brittle in Brazil, the next stage of the nation’s revolution should be the renouncement of such abominable corruption.

It would be wrong to assume that the instantaneous removal of Rousseff will see the political system quickly fixed. If the Senate does vote in favour of impeachment and a legal committee finds Rousseff guilty, current Vice President Michel Temer would assume power, though himself facing allegations. The grave issues regarding the increasingly susceptible Rousseff should serve to continue Brazil’s transformation. It has been estimated that as many as 3.5 million citizens took to the streets in protest over Rousseff’s shady administration and her corrupt Worker’s Party. Brazil’s overhaul must now become wide-ranging. If Temer is to assume office, the only hope is that 2018’s newly elected government may impose a stringent crackdown on wrongdoing within the political sphere. Many administrative bodies of Brazil’s regime remain substantially politicised, an overwhelming flaw that will prevent the nation’s prosperity and success. The deposition of Rousseff, and perhaps many of her colleagues, must now bring increased political transparency, and a vast purge of other officials involved in such immoral behaviours.

One thing must be comforting though. Over 25 years ago, Brazil’s commitment to democracy was reinstated, and 2016 has further accentuated the nation’s hunger for political progress. The resonant yearning for transparency and accountability has reinforced that Brazil’s society is politically engaged for change. 2016 will see the Olympic Games visit Brazil, another still developing nation, following on from China in 2008. It is said that the Games are the greatest showcase of a nation’s soft power – something that Brazil has, and of good strength. Perhaps its place on the global stage as the epicentre of culture, sport and unity will set it in good stead politically, too. With pressure from international neighbours, and an evidently citizen-driven political culture which is continuing to damn the Rousseff administration, Brazil has better potential for full democracy than ever before. Whilst causing considerable instability and frustration nationwide, the chance of ousting the nation’s malfunctioning government will only aid its transition to fairer and more open politics. The revolution must not stop here. Its people have shown that unfairness in politics is no longer a plausible set up. Society has the power to shake up the nation’s culture, government and identity for the better, and it must grasp this thrilling opportunity for deep-rooted change.

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American Politics, World Politics

The White House should be sweating over the FBI’s liberty abuse

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Over recent months, a worrying increase in organised crimes and devastating shootouts all over the United States has shocked citizens worldwide. As politicians and security officials have become hard pressed for security legislation, a balance of civil liberties and state protection has proven seemingly hard to weigh out.

The past few weeks’ events involving the formidable FBI and tech giant Apple have accentuated this conundrum all the more. No one advocates for such catastrophic terrorist attacks, but ensuring privacy when monitoring criminal suspects is vital. There is no denying that this form of criminal investigation can be valuable when enforcing the law. Serious organised crimes and terrorist atrocities are more frequent than ever, and monitoring the movements of suspect individuals is paramount for the protection of a nation’s citizens.

But there is something gravely worrying about such robust precautions. The guaranteed right to privacy of many civilians is at threat. Apple’s resilience towards the FBI’s coercive demands, however, is reassuring news for many liberals. The company’s decision not to aid US agencies in the recovery of personal data on a suspect’s phone has highlighted the need for clamping down on the state’s data monopoly.

Last week, however, with third-party support, the FBI succeeded in breaking through what used to be Apple’s impenetrable wall of security. The highest criminal investigations agency in the world had defied the passcode of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone. George Orwell must be turning in his grave. The FBI’s hacking has proven that the US government – and, evidently, many other global governments – can summon the personal details of any citizen, exposing vast details of their private life. Needless to say, technology use is widespread today. The possibility of those either wrongly or correctly accused of criminal activities having their right to privacy taken away from them is worrying likely. Apple dominates a large section of the worldwide technology market, meaning that the number of individuals who could be at threat from such stringent surveillance measures is considerably large. In the wrong hands, these capabilities could prove to be detrimental. Within myriad governments, the unwarranted tracking of citizens may now become more normal.

The United States isn’t the only nation that must be brought into focus when it comes to the liberties versus security debate. Rigorous monitoring has caused discontent across the world. The information provided by whistle-blowers like Edwards Snowden is pivotal, and shows the large extent to which the US government already spies on its citizens. Other national governments the world over have succeeded in using data monitoring as a source of crime deterrence. China’s strict internet monitoring, the United Kingdom’s ‘snoopers charter’ and the arrest of a Facebook executive in Brazil highlight the rigid surveillance measures which have emerged internationally. Individual liberties are fast becoming unduly curbed. Just because many other states’ governments have succeeded in such wide-scaled monitoring does not mean that the United States can operate a similar system which is free of controversial agenda.

Surely it is time that the White House took definitive action, standing up for its traditionally libertarian principles. There is a large potential for such invasive powers to be used wrongly, and for innocent citizens’ privacy to be crushed. In Obama’s last-minute legislative rush, he and his left-wing democrats should spend the last few months of administration over the protection individual freedoms. Attitudes towards civil liberty and national security could, of course, rapidly change under Presidents Clinton, Trump or Cruz. News that President Obama has failed to either condemn or support the probing actions of the FBI shows up his indecisiveness in relation to the matter. In order to protect his nation’s people, the US President must lucidly proclaim his stance, taking radical action.

Ron Wyden, Senator for Oregon, is just one of the high-profile politicians whom have condemned the controversial actions of the FBI. It seems that, despite the fact that there are plausible arguments for such monitoring in our growingly insecure society, the livelihoods and safety of citizens are at risk. The right to privacy is one which is becoming eroded, and one that is in danger of being forgotten. Unless global governments strike the correct balance, citizens may soon have their individuality and privileges taken from them.

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