News from Brazil

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on February 25, 2011 at 5:17 pm

POLITICS

Federal prosecutors in Brazil say they are opening a case against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for alleged misuse of public funds (BBC).

Brazil’s economy will pick up speed in 2012, said President Dilma Rousseff addressing northeast governors concerned that recent announced budget cuts could limit economic activity and support for the area that depends from federal handouts (Mercopress).

Brazil is at risk of growing less than 4 percent this year because of faster inflation and instability in the international economy, newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported, citing unidentified advisers of President Dilma Rousseff (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s Senate approved a government proposal to limit a minimum wage rise, consolidating President Dilma Rousseff’s congressional majority and reinforcing efforts to cap spending (Reuters).

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INTERNATIONAL

Argentina’s government assured its largest trading partner, Brazil, that recent measures to restrict imports won’t damage trade relations between the two South American countries (Dow Jones).

Reuters presents a lengthy Special Report: In Africa, can Brazil be the anti-China?

Brazil works hard to increase trade with Africa. Reuters lists the big players.

DEFENSE

Brazil is postponing a long-awaited decision on a multi-billion-dollar purchase of 36 fighter jets until next year as a result of massive budget cuts, a Brazilian newspaper reported (Defense News).

Brazil would receive a “significant technology transfer” if it buys U.S.-made fighter jets, a U.S. Defense Department official said, seeking to ease concerns before Brazil selects a winning bidder (Defense News).

Embraer presented the first of three EMB 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platforms to representatives of the Indian government at a ceremony held at its headquarters in São José dos Campos, Brazil (Embraer).

Brazil defense budget cuts will reduce funding for KC-390 military transport planes being developed by Embraer SA, Folha de S.Paulo reported, citing an interview with Brazil Air Force Commander Juniti Saito (Bloomberg).

SOCIAL

Half a million Brazilians were murdered between 1998 and 2008. Brazil is the sixth most murderous country in a list of 100 nations around the world, according to a new study (Mercopress).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on February 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm

ECONOMY

The president of private bank Itau brushed aside risks of a credit bubble in the country and underlined that sustained economic growth will be rewarded by an expansion of between 15% and 20% in its credit portfolios in 2011 (Mercopress).

Arminio Fraga, a former president of Brazil’s central bank, warned that some new consumer lending in the country needs greater scrutiny, the Financial Times reported, citing an interview with Fraga (Bloomberg).

“Protectionist” Brazilian government initiatives to shore up local industry amid rising imports would hurt retailers while benefiting makers of industrial goods, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said (Bloomberg).

AGROPECU

Biotech crop acreage grew another 10 percent last year worldwide, driven in part by strong growth in Brazil, where farmers have been rapidly switching to genetically engineered varieties of corn and soybeans (DesMoinesRegister).

AUTOMOTIVE

Hyundai Motor Co. will begin construction of its first plant in Brazil as South Korea’s largest carmaker expands factories in emerging markets to meet rising demand (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

Embraer’s Legacy 650 large executive jet has just received certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In October 2010, Brazil’s ANAC (National Civil Aviation Agency) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had already granted their certifications (Embraer).

Embraer celebrated the opening of its first U.S. aircraft final assembly plant  at Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida. The new 80,000-square-foot hangar and modern paint shop facility is dedicated to the executive jet business in the Company’s largest market, where it will begin operations with the production of the Phenom 100 entry level executive jet (Embraer).

International Airlines Group, formed by the merger of British Airways and Iberia, will look to buy out smaller European carriers before pursuing major deals further afield. TAP Air Portugal appears to be their prime target, because of its profitable routes to Brazil (Reuters).

INFRA

Siemens is being investigated by Brazilian state prosecutors for allegations it had paid bribes to win public contracts, German magazine Der Spiegel said (Reuters).

MINING & STEEL

Vale reports a stellar performance in 4Q10 and 2010. It is the company’s best ever annual result, characterized by all-time high figures for operating revenues, operating income, operating margin, cash generation and net earnings. Net earnings for 2010 were the greatest ever in the mining industry (Vale).

Steelmaker Usiminas will seek to cut costs and lower domestic price discounts to arrest the steepest tumble in profit margins in six quarters (Reuters).

OIL

Brazil’s proven oil reserves rose 10.65% in 2010 to nearly 14.25 billion barrels, the biggest annual increase in the past eight years, the ANP oil regulator announced. Total reserves, overwhelmingly offshore, which also include probable and possible reserves, soared 34.57% to 28.47 billion barrels (Mercopress).

Brazil’s state-controlled oil and gas giant Petrobras is analyzing future cooperation opportunities with Chinese companies, the company’s CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli said (CRI).

China’s Sinopec Corp said it planned to participate in Brazil’s next oil and gas bidding rounds, which should be resumed after the passage of a reform of the country’s oil law expected this year (Mercopress).

Petrobras announced the start up of the Extended Well Test (EWT) for the Tracajá reservoir, located 124 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, in the pre-salt area of Marlim Leste field, in Campos Basin (BW).

Brazilian oil company HRT Participacoes said that it is acquiring Canada’s UNX Energy for 1.3 billion reais ($781 million), according to a filing with the securities regulator CVM (Reuters).

Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on February 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the International Trade Centre for Natal, Rio Grande do Norte (Source: Skyscrapercity.com).

MEDIA

Brazil’s leading daily Folha de Sao Paulo celebrating its 90th anniversary openly admitted that in 1964 it supported the military coup that ousted constitutional president Joao Goulart imposing a dictatorship that extended until 1985 (Mercopress).

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RIO

The Complexo do Alemão at the Zona Norte (North zone) is under new command, the 1,700 soldiers of the Parachutist Brigade have been replaced by military of the Infantry Brigade. The rotation of the peacekeeping troops are reported as necessary because the activities are so intense (The Rio Times).

Whatever the reason – lower cost, nicer location, authentic experience, complete kitchen – renting an apartment while visiting Rio de Janeiro is gaining popularity (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

The initial growth acceleration program, or PAC, planned for 2007 to 2010, earmarked investments of R$504 billion (US$306 billion) to be spent on infrastructure issues.  Of that, R$346.5 billion was earmarked for projects in São Paulo, the state responsible for 34 percent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Read on at The Rio Times.

Politics & Government

In Brazil on February 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

POLITICS

Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, faced her first serious test in Congress, and passed it. Trade unionists, opposition politicians and even some members of her own coalition had tried to force through a big increase in the minimum wage. Instead, as Ms Rousseff wanted, it will rise from 510 reais ($305) a month to just 545 reais, barely outpacing inflation (The Economist).

Ms Rousseff clearly made a good start. What the next few months will show is whether she also has the political skills to extract reform from her large but voracious coalition in Congress. She has the makings of a good president. But the real tests are yet to come (The Economist).

The Belo Monte hydro-electric dam issue has been getting growing coverage abroad, its impact in Brazil has so far been somewhat dulled. To understand why that is allows us to think through some of the deeper genealogies of the Latin American left, as well as some of the contradictions of its present predicament (The Guardian).

A clown who won a seat in Brazil’s Congress by a landslide has stayed true to his former profession by accidentally messing up his first vote (Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff declared a war on drug trafficking, trading and consumption,fulfilling a promise made during the election campaign. At a ceremony, she announced the establishment of 49 Regional Centers of Reference on crack and other drugs in public universities (Xinhua).

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INTERNATIONAL

The United States views its relations with Brazil as being in a “sweet spot” with a new leader, Dilma Rousseff, and US President Barack Obama set to visit next month (Yahoo).

Brazil is as concerned about the decline of the U.S. dollar as it is about the Chinese currency and has no plans for a joint initiative with Washington to press China to let its currency appreciate faster, said Finance Minister Guido Mantega (MercoPress).

Not only are Brazilians visiting South Florida in record numbers, but they’re investing and keeping the shopping malls humming (Miami Herald).

Brazil reiterated opposition to a French plan to impose regulation on commodity prices, saying it could have “negative effects” on major suppliers such as itself. “Brazil is totally opposed to a mechanism of control or regulation of commodity prices,” Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters, reiterating a position he gave last week (MercoPress).

Four regional powers hoping to get permanent seats on the Security Council — India, Germany, Brazil and Japan — said they believe the U.N. will take action by September on expanding its most powerful body (MercoPress).

Eight Brazilian footwear companies would participate in several fashion shows in China to promote their products, Brazil’s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex) said (Xinhua).

DEFENSE

Brazil’s government will cut 4,2 billion Brazilian Real (approximately 2.4 billion USD) from its 15.17 billion defense budget this year under proposed fiscal tightening, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim announced this week (MercoPress).

Embraer S.A. may develop a basic turboprop trainer aircraft jointly with India to meet potential demand from the air forces in both nations (WSJ).

India’s Embraer-built Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AEW&C) is scheduled for rollout Feb. 21 in Brazil (Aviation Week).

Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab’s chief executive said Brazil may decide this year who wins a multi-billion dollar air force jet tender and Saab has a good chance (Reuters).

Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said that South America must have a “single voice” on defense issues, among them a common defense industrial base (Xinhua).

INNOVATION

The TC9008 resin, consisting of low density polyethylene base (LDPE) pigmented with carbon black, is Braskem’s most recent product launch for the Wires & Cables segment. It is designed primarily as a coating or cover for wires and cables used for Telecommunications and Energy (Odebrecht).

Business & Economy

In Brazil on February 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

ECONOMY

Imports totaled 21.8 percent of Brazil’s consumption in 2010, a new record in the South American country, according to foreign trade figures compiled and released by the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo, or FIESP (Herald Tribune).

Brazilian state-run development bank BNDES will receive at least 45 billion Real or 27 billion US dollars from the government to extend its program of low-cost loans for supporting company investments in capital goods (MercoPress).

Brazilian economists forecast inflation will continue to accelerate, and interest rates rise more than previously expected, signaling 50 billion reais ($30 billion) in budget cuts may not be enough to cool the world’s 8th-largest economy. Yields on interest rate futures jumped (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2010 was estimated at 7.8 percent, the country’s Central Bank announced (Xinhua).

AGRI-PECU

Brazilian federal prosecutors are investigating allegations of irregularities in state-run development bank BNDES’s purchase of 3.5 billion reais ($2.1 billion) of debentures from meat producer JBS (Reuters).

AVIATION

Embraer S.A. is in talks with several airlines in India to sell its regional jets in the country, where it expects economic expansion to continue to drive demand for air travel (AvIndia).

The Brazilian National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) has published its operational data for the month of January 2011. TAM Airlines maintained its market leadership in Brazil (MercoPress).

Lufthansa is continuing to expand its presence in South America and next winter is adding a new destination to its route network: Rio de Janeiro (BW).

BANKING & FINANCE

Brazil is this year’s hot market for private-equity firms and hedge-fund managers. Money is pouring in, as investors throng funds’ offices on bustling avenues like Faria Lima in São Paulo and Paiva de Ataulfo in Rio. Local hedge funds managed around $243 billion in assets at the end of 2010, up by 23% from 2009 (The Economist).

Brazil’s private banking industry grew 23% in 2010 according to a survey made by the Brazilian Association of Financial and Capital Markets Entities (Anbima) (India-Brazil Chamber).

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BIOFUELS

Brazilian sugar and ethanol group Cosan Industria e Comercio SA and Royal Dutch Shell disclosed more details about the $12 billion ethanol joint venture the companies formed last year, which will be called Raizen (Dow Jones).

Brazil’s Cosan, one of the world’s largest sugar and ethanol producers, said it planned to boost its annual sugar production capacity to 6 million tonnes from the present 4 million in five years (Reuters).

INFRA

At least three consortia will bid in April for the right to build and run a high-speed railway in Brazil, the head of the nation’s transport regulator told Reuters.

MINING

Billionaire Eike Batista’s AUX Canada Acquisition Inc. reached a verbal agreement to buy about 80 percent of gold explorer Ventana Gold Corp. in a deal that values the company at C$1.54 billion ($1.56 billion) (Bloomberg).

OIL

Petrobras approved the bidding process for the construction, in Brazil, of the first seven of a total of 28 offshore drilling rigs intended to meet its long-term drilling program with priority given to the pre-salt wells. The new rigs are expected to come into operation in 2015. The remaining 21 rigs will also produced in the country (BW).

REAL ESTATE

BM&FBOVESPA and the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) have launched the first profitability index for the Brazilian real estate sector. The General Index for the Real Estate Market – Commercial (IGMI-C) was developed by the Brazilian Institute of Economics (Ibre/FGV), with the sponsorship and support of 26 bodies representing companies in the financial and real estate sectors and pension funds (Bovespa).

STOCK EXCHANGE

Brazil’s BM&FBovespa and China’s state-owned Shanghai Stock Exchange will sign a deal that could lead to joint ventures between two of the world’s largest exchange operators (Reuters).

BM&FBovespa is interested in China and India as markets where it could pursue expansion because of their growth potential and similarities in terms of products (Reuters).

BATS Global Markets and Brazilian asset manager Claritas signed a memorandum of understanding to create a new stock exchange with clearing and depository services in Brazil (Reuters).

Morgan Stanley strategists led by Guilherme Paiva wrote that domestic policy risks will continue to weigh on Brazilian equities in the short term (Reuters).

Culture & Regional

In Brazil on February 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Pontal do Estaleiro residential complex for POrto Alegre, Rio grande do Sul (Skyscrapercity).

MEDIA

Brazil’s Catholic bishops have criticised the country’s popular reality TV shows. The National Conference of Brazilian Bishops called the shows an “attack on the human dignity of participants, who are fascinated with monetary prizes and a short-lived status as a celebrity” (BBC).

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GOIAS

Nineteen police officers have been arrested in Brazil on suspicion of belonging to a death squad which has allegedly killed at least 40 people (BBC).

RIO

After the federal police arrested 30 police officers in Rio de Janeiro who were suspected of working with drug traffickers, José Mariano Beltrame, the state’s senior police official, said that rooting out corrupt officers would be a priority this year (New York Times).

A woman has been named to head Brazil’s Rio do Janeiro police department for the first time following a corruption scandal that led to the arrest of more than 30 police and military officials (MercoPress).

There is much more to Ipanema beyond sunbathing at the infamous Posto 9, and those fortunate enough to call this neighborhood home know that. Running or biking along the long stretch of beach, window-shopping on Rua Visconde de Pirajá, or grabbing an ice cream at Mil Frutas… Ipanema boasts access to the best of Rio de Janeiro (Rio Times).

The president of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Luciano Coutinho, announced the creation of two Bank programs to assist municipalities in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro affected by the heavy rains. The announcement was made in the presence of the Minister of National Integration, Fernando Bezerra, the Minister of the Environment, Izabella Teixeira, and the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral (BNDES).

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Politics & Government

In Brazil on February 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff is determined to prioritize the resolution of the controversy surrounding the proposed distribution of oil royalties from Brazil’s oil producing states to the rest of the country, and is expected to send the amendment back to Congress (The Rio Times).

In his speech during the opening sesion of the 1st ordinary legislative session of the 54th National Congress, the president of the House of Representatives, Marco Maia (PT-RS, picture), said that the priorities for the next two years will be the political and tax reforms (Senado Federal).

President Dilma Rousseff’s first month in office has been a “positive surprise” as she seeks to dismantle the free-spending policies of the previous government, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso said (Bloomberg).

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INTERNATIONAL

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with Brazil’s leaders Monday looking to bolster ties before next month’s visit by President Barack Obama and foster teamwork on economic issues such as confronting China on its currency (AP).

Nick Clegg has cancelled a trip to South America as the government battles to secure legislation needed to hold a referendum on the UK voting system. The deputy prime minister had been due to travel to Brazil on Sunday on a four-day visit to promote trade (BBC).

Brazil expects Venezuela’s full incorporation to Mercosur to be approved “soon” said Foreign Affairs minister Antonio Patriota in Caracas with his peer Nicolas Maduro in Caracas to reaffirm strong bilateral links (Mercopress).

Brazilian policy towards Middle East and the Arab world harm US strategy in the region according to US embassy diplomatic cables between 2004 and 2009, recently exposed by Wikileaks (Mercopress).

Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina are to embrace a joint project to adapt to the effects of climate change in their coastal regions. Called Atlasur, the UNESCO-coordinated project is designed to find action that can be developed on the coasts of the three countries by the governments and incorporated into the development and environment agenda (Portal Brasil).

The governments of Mexico and Brazil will begin formal negotiations on Feb. 28 to reach a free-trade agreement (Bloomberg).

DEFENCE

Brazil with a defence market described as “one of the fastest growing in the world” will be signing a defence agreement with the UK which should open the way for a deal worth “billions of dollars”, according to reports in the Brazilian and UK media. A first deal could involve £ 2.9 billion which includes the purchase of six patrol vessels (£ 60 to £ 80 million) and five or six frigates Type 26 (render) with a unit cost of £ 300 to £ 400 million (Mercopress).

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has told visitors she believes Boeing’s F-18 is the best jet among three finalists in a multi-billion dollar Air Force fighter tender, but she is still pressing for better terms on technology transfers that are critical to any deal (Reuters).

INNOVATION & RESEARCH

As it stands now, Brazil is home to some of the world’s largest companies: Vale, which produces iron ore; beverage giant AB InBev, which recently purchased Anheuser-Busch; and oil giant Petrobras, which is leading the way in deep-sea drilling and exploration.  These titans of industry have become the face of a Brazil that is expanding its political and economical footprint across the globe. While these corporations are the face of corporate Brazil, they do not tell the whole story of Brazilian innovation (Brazil Portal).

When Vale,  the world’s second-biggest mining company said last year that it would open three state-of-the-art research centers in Brazil, it marked the most visible development yet in the changing relationship between business and academe there (The Chronicle).

One of the highlights of Campus Party Brazil, held last month in Sao Paulo, was the Motion FX Beta simulator, developed by Brazilian brothers Gabriel and Joao Pedro Sffair (BBC).

Petrobras plans to invest as much as $4.5 billion in research and development over the next five years, with a focus on advancing technologies for ultra-deepwater oil production (Reuters).

On a lighter note and some sort of innovation too: a church in Brazil is trying to crack down on tardy brides by fining them $300 for showing up late to their own weddings (Washington Post).

Business & Economy

In Brazil on February 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

ECONOMY

Brazil will cut 50 billion reais ($30 billion) from this year’s budget as President Dilma Rousseff seeks to help the central bank contain inflation and lower the highest real interest rates in the Group of 20 nations (Bloomberg Businessweek).

Brazilian inflation, a growing headache for the month-old presidency of President Dilma Rousseff, continued its sharp rise amid soaring global prices for food and bustling consumer demand. Brazil’s headline inflation index rose 5.99% in January compared with the previous year. In inflation-sensitive Brazil, many economists also monitor month-to-month changes in the index, which is calculated similarly to the U.S. consumer-price index and includes volatile items like food and energy (Wall Street Journal).

Brazil’s forex reserves surpassed the 300 billion US dollars mark for the first time ever this week according to the country’s central bank as a result of recent heavy foreign exchange inflows and accelerated US dollar buying by the institution (Mercopress).

Brazil’s central bank sold $855 million of reverse currency swap contracts, less than the amount on offer, in a sign that the effectiveness of government efforts to weaken the currency might be fading (Reuters).

AGRI-PECU

While a caipirinha is more likely to spring to mind when thinking of a Brazilian drink, do not rule out a glass of Brazilian produced wine, especially a sparkling one. Wine importers around the world are discovering Brazilian wines and exports from Brazil are rising rapidly, with sales of sparkling wines achieving a 12 percent growth in 2010 (The Rio Times).

Brazil could harvest a record crop of 70 million tons of soybeans in 2011 because of improved climate conditions and expansion of the area planted according to Oil World consultants (Mercopress).

Farm equipment makers in Brazil are gearing up for a year of “excellent” sales in 2011 as a key governmental financing program due to expire in late March will be extended (Reuters).

AVIATION

Delta Air Lines announced the start of codeshare service with GOL, one of Brazil’s largest airlines, immediately adding 15 new destinations to its South American network (Newswire).

Embraer received certification, last month, from Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil – ANAC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), for the belted toilet of its entry level Phenom 100 executive jet. The feature comes to further improve the jet’s flexibility. Now, customers who select this option will be able to carry up to seven occupants (Embraer).

BANKING & FINANCE

The CEO of BM&F Bovespa, Edemir Pinto, said that around 150 SMEs in Brazil have the potential to operate in the stock exchange (India-Brazil Chamber).

SUGAR

When sugarcane bagasse is burned to produce bioelectricity, mounds of ash are left behind. Now, there are plans to use the ash as a replacement for sand in concrete production, creating, in effect, yet another product derived from sugarcane or its residues (Unica).

MINING & STEEL

Brazil’s booming mining sector will more than triple output of iron ore, copper and gold by 2030, but should boost local processing of minerals and be wary of excessive dependence on China, according to a government
plan (Reuters).

CSN , Brazil’s biggest steelmaking group, has raised its stake again in Riversdale Mining , bolstering its bargaining position in face of a $3.9 billion bid from global miner Rio Tinto for the Mozambique-focused coal miner (Reuters).

Vale has bought a massive area for the construction of a new port in the state of Para. The Porto do Espadarte is still a “strategic opportunity” being studied. The project would help reduce the distance between the Carajas mines and shipment (Reuters).

Russian billionaire Igor Zyuzin’s Mir Steel UK agreed to invest $5 billion in a steel complex in Brazil with Cia. Siderurgica do Para (Bloomberg).

Gerdau SA will invest $120 million to upgrade its Peruvian unit over the next three years (Bloomberg).

Billionaire Eike Batista’s EBX Group Ltd. said it’s considering new partnerships with SK Group after South Korea’s third-largest industrial group bought a stake in his mining unit for $700 million last year (Bloomberg).

OIL & GAS

Brazil’s antitrust agency ruled that Royal Dutch Shell would need to sell its aviation fuel assets Jacta that it bought from local sugar and ethanol giant Cosan in 2009 (Reuters).

Brazilian oil and gas start-up company OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes said its 9-OGX-26HP well, whose drilling was recently concluded, has a potential flow of 40,000 barrels per day (Reuters).

Petrobras said it has pulled out of talks with Italy’s Eni to buy its stake in Portugal’s Galp Energia (Reuters).

POWER

The government reckons demand for electricity will rise by 5% a year over the next decade. Officials plan to mobilise investment totalling some 214 billion reais ($128 billion), from both private and public sources, in order to meet it (The Economist).

Hundreds of indigenous Brazilians have been protesting in the capital, Brasilia, against the construction of what will be the world’s third biggest hydro-electric dam (BBC).

Culture & Regional Brazil

In Brazil on February 11, 2011 at 9:38 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Cone Multicenter for Cabo de Santo Agostinho, near the Port and Industrial Complex of Suape, in Pernambuco. The center will boast a congress centre and many businesses, well situated halfway between Suape and Recife Airport (Skyscrapercity).

BOOKS

Oliver Stuenkel discusses Larry Rother’ s Brazil on the Rise: The story of a country transformed (Post Western World).

MINAS GERAIS

Historical towns and rural landscapes are just a couple of the great things about Brazil. However, they perhaps come together most vividly in the state of Minas Gerais, the state northwest of Rio de Janeiro, where mountain ranges and verdant hills coexist beautifully with unspoiled colonial towns (The Rio Times).

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RECIFE

The BNDES has approved R$ 400 million in financing to implement Arena Pernambuco, one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The stadium, with capacity for 46,000 spectators, will be built in the city of São Lourenço da Mata, metropolitan area of Recife (BNDES).

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RIO

Rio’s Governor Sergio Cabral tweeted: “São Carlos and Santa Teresa can celebrate liberty, they are free from the rule of criminals. Viva Rio!” It took seventeen armored vehicles, 150 marine soldiers, 700 military, federal and civil police officers, one hour, forty minutes and not a single gunshot to overtake nine favelas around the hillsides of Centro’s popular neighborhood Santa Teresa (The Rio Times).

Rio do Janeiro  presented its new weapon to combat organized crime and drug dealers that have control over urban shanty towns: an armoured US manufactured Bell Huey II helicopter which can transport 13 troops and two crew members (Mercopress).

The president of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Luciano Coutinho, announced the creation of two Bank programs to assist municipalities in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro affected by the heavy rains (BNDES).

A devastating fire raged through the Cidade do Samba, completely destroying three Barracões (Carnival industrial workshops) within the Carnival industrial complex in Gamboa, down-town Rio. A silver-lining is that G.R.E.S. Portela was running behind schedule on some of their work, which means less was destroyed, offering a better chance to recover (The Rio Times).

Render of Eike Batista’s Acu Superport under construction north of Rio de Janeiro (LLX).

Rio de Janeiro’s mayor Eduardo Paes has assured that this year’s Carnaval will take place as planned in spite of the fire that damaged some of the costumes and floats being designed by three out the 12 samba schools based at Samba City venue. Fortunately no one was injured in the blaze (Rio Official Guide).

Visions of university students playing football (soccer) along Praia Vermelha, and old men fishing along the rocks leading to the Atlantic Ocean are common in Urca. With sweeping views of Guanabara Bay and set along the backdrop of the Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf), it’s hard not to fall in love with this small neighborhood nestled on the peninsula between Leme and Botafogo (The Rio Times).

The Porto Novo Consortium – formed by Odebrecht Infraestrutura (EPC leader), OAS and Carioca Engenharia – together with the Rio de Janeiro City Government, signed the country’s first public-private partnership (PPP) for Rio’s huge Porto Maravilha docklands project. The R$ 7.6 billion contract is the largest to be established in Brazil under the PPP category (Odebrecht).

SAO PAULO

Since the end of 2010, heavy flooding in Brazil’s financial capital has taken at least 25 lives, and caused countless economic losses. Geraldo Alckmin, the Governor of São Paulo since 2001, working with the new Rousseff administration, is now faced with perhaps the biggest challenge of his new term (The Rio Times).

Politics & Government

In Brazil on February 4, 2011 at 10:15 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff told Congress that a major overhaul to streamline the country’s cumbersome tax system was essential to ensure sustainable economic growth (Reuters).

Two allies of President Dilma Rousseff won leadership posts in Brazil’s Congress, but both are seen as defenders of the status quo and unlikely to support reforms to boost business competitiveness (Reuters).

Just days after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated on new year’s day, thousands of activists from the Landless Farmers Movement (MST) took over three expanses of land and various government buildings, demanding the new president speed up the rate of land redistribution to the country’s landless farmers (Guardian).

Brazil is to provide free medicines for everyone suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes (BBC).

Read the key political risks to watch in Brazil at Reuters.

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INTERNATIONAL

At least once a week during her young presidency, Dilma Rousseff has met with trusted advisers to try to solve an intractable problem — China. Is the young marriage of China and Brazil already on the rocks, asks Reuters?

Relations with the US—which remain centrally important for Brazil—started out on a high note, when then President-elect Lula met with President Bush in the Oval Office in 2002. But they have soured in recent years and are today deeply strained, with Lula and his advisors sharing the blame with US authorities in Washington. Obama’s scheduled visit to Brazil in March provides a promising opportunity for both governments to begin repairing the deteriorated relationship (Inter-American Dialogue).

President Barack Obama’s announcement that he will visit Brazil, Chile and El Salvador in March — in what will be his first trip to South America — could result in an improvement in Brazil-U.S. ties following a significant downturn over the past two years (The Miami Herald).

Mothers’ milk banks that are helping reduce infant mortality in Guatemala and are starting to be set up in Africa as well form part of the numerous social technologies developed by Brazil that are driving the fast growth of its international development cooperation (IPS News).

President Dilma Russeff said at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony that “The Holocaust is not and will never be just a historic moment.” “The duty of the memory should not be mistaken for passiveness of the ordinary remembrance,” said Rousseff, who started her term a month ago, at the Jan. 27 ceremony. “Memory is the human weapon to prevent the repetition of the barbarism” (JTA)

Apart from being a symbol of South American integration, a new Brazil-Peru road will also boost – potentially hugely – trade with Asia. China has already replaced the US as Brazil’s number one trading partner. With this road, Brazil will eventually have paved access to five Pacific-facing Peruvian ports (BBC).

Brazil will strengthen its cooperation with Peru, Bolivia and Colombia in their fight against drug production and trafficking, Brazilian Ambassador to Peru Jorge Taunay said (Andina).

In her first overseas visit as Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff ratified in Buenos Aires the “special strategic” relation with Argentina while her counterpart Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, CFK, called for an “increased productive integration” between the two leading Mercosur partners (Mercopress).

Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Héctor Timerman revealed that the trade deficit Argentina has with Brazil is “concerning”, and indicated that both nations are working “to reduce it” (Mercopress).

The political crisis in Egypt may cause damage to Brazilian producers of chicken, beef, iron ore, aluminum oxide and sugar, the Association of Foreign Trade of Brazil (AEB) (Xinhua).

Besides revealing that former president Lula was a fan of Wikileaks, this article in the Huffinton Post quotes Wikileaks documents showing how the US Embassy dealt with Brazil’s foreign policy officials at the time.

The Portuguese government will defend shareholders in Galp who seek to protect the company’s strategic interests, Economy Minister Jose Vieira da Silva said. A source told Reuters that talks between Italy’s Eni and Brazil’s Petrobras for the Brazilian company to buy Eni’s 33.3 percent stake in Galp have collapsed over the price of the stake (Reuters).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

DEFENSE

President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a comprehensive review of agreements reached in principle with France for the purchase of fighter aircraft, helicopters, warships and technology transfers leading up to the Brazilian manufacture of a nuclear-powered submarine (UPI).

Brazil’s nuclear and security industries are set to benefit from new agreements signed after a summit between Presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Brazil’s recently inaugurated President Dilma Rousseff (UPI).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

RESEARCH

Other big oil companies, too, work with outside partners, pay for students and laboratories at universities and develop distributed computer networks. What makes Petrobras different is that it is doing all these things in Brazil, a country that spends little generally on research and development, educates few students to graduate level and lags in most areas of technology and development. Given the relative sizes of Petrobras and Brazil’s high-tech industry, that means the company could potentially change the entire culture of the country (The Economist).