All eyes are on Brazil this year with the Olympics front and center, followed by the House of Cards-esque impeachment process. But there's a lot more to keep an eye on in 2016.
I checked in with several Brazil-based experts - including political scientist Mauricio Santoro, Rio blogger Julia Michaels, and AP journalist Mauricio Savarese - and did research of my own. Beyond the Olympics and the impeachment process, here are the issues to watch in 2016.
Corruption scandals: The Petrobras corruption scandal never seems to end, while Operation Zelotes has ensnared Lula's son and major corporations. The evolution of these scandals, or potentially new ones, will have a big impact on the political crisis, and even the economy.
Eduardo Cunha's fate: A major player in the impeachment proceedings, the lower house speaker is accused of a host of corruption charges. He's in danger of losing his position, and even potentially of getting arrested. If he goes down, other powerful politicians involved in corruption scandals could follow.
PMDB convention: In March, the centrist party just barely holding the president's coalition together will meet. There are major rifts in the party over whether to support impeachment with different players jockeying for power - including the vice president. The convention will determine how this powerful party positions itself.
Municipal elections: Voting for mayors and local officials takes place in October. This is the first election during which corporate campaign financing is banned after a 2015 Supreme Court decision. It's sure to change the dynamics of the campaign trail and the process overall. The election will also be a litmus test for the parties that best weather the political crisis, and will be a preview of what's to come in 2018, when presidential elections take place.
Protests: Will history repeat itself? This month, a violent protest over transportation fares took place in São Paulo (sound familiar?). And last year, right-leaning protests calling for the president's ouster took place, which could continue into this year, as could the counter pro-Dilma demonstrations. Protests about police violence are another possibility, especially in Rio and São Paulo. The Olympics could spark a new round of mega-event demonstrations. And with the economic and political crisis in full swing, Brazilians have even more to demonstrate about than in 2013. Protests may not just impact the Olympics, but the impeachment process, too.
Budget crises: The economic downturn, the Petrobras scandal, and the declining price of oil have meant bad news for state and local governments. Last year, a debt crisis rocked Rio Grande do Sul, one of the country's wealthiest states, and Rio de Janeiro is currently facing a major public health system crisis. In Minas Gerais, state public employees are threatening to go on strike after the government announced salaries for the first three months of the year would be delayed. How and where these debt crises play out will be important, as well as how they affect important services like health and education.
Electoral court decision: The court is slated to announce a decision on a case evaluating whether the president and vice president were legally elected in 2014 based on alleged wrongdoing in campaign financing. If the court rules against them, they could be pushed out of office.
The value of the real: In 2015, the real fell to its lowest level in two decades, close to R$4 to the dollar. It's affecting the economy and it's made it harder for Brazilians to travel abroad. Will the currency continue a downward trajectory or will it bounce back?
Zika virus: The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to thousands of cases of infant birth defects, and is set to spread in Brazil and beyond during the Southern Hemisphere summer. The CDC could issue a warning urging pregnant women not to visit Brazil and other Latin American countries where the virus is active.
Rio security: The Olympics will mean the city goes into mega-event mode, which usually means it is temporarily safer. In the aftermath of Paris, there will also be more high-level security measures in place to address terrorism concerns. The controversial pacification process is ongoing, and it's worth keeping an eye on police brutality cases in favelas, particularly "pacified" ones.
What other issues are you keeping an eye on this year?
Image: Congress, Brasilia. Credit: Senado Federal.