News from Brazil

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

POLITICS

Brazil’s pioneering state-run health system needs reform if it is to achieve its constitutional mandate of guaranteeing high-quality care for all (The Economist).

New Transport Minister Passos has a significant task ahead of him in overhauling Brazil’s transport infrastructure to align it with the country’s economic growth. As a result of the dramatic increase in economic activity, the country’s aging highways system and inadequate ports and airports are now seriously over-stretched (The Rio Times).

President Dilma Rousseff’s crackdown on corruption will likely appeal to middle-class voters who are growing in political importance. It also risks undercutting the fiscal discipline needed to cool inflation by disrupting her coalition. The president’s move to clean house in a ministry whose budget rivals the size of Paraguay’s $18 billion economy, and is central to preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, has roiled members of her coalition (Bloomberg).

In ​​transport, almost 7 thousand km of highways are under construction, as well as 3.5 thousand kilometers of new railways, such as the North-South and the Transnortheastern Railway.  In the energy sector, large works such as Santo Antônio, Jirau and Belo Monte hydroelectric power plants are already underway. Only in the first half of 2011, 2 thousand MW were added to country’s power installed capacity (Portal Brasil).

HIGH SPEED

The government has “the obligation” to build a high-speed “bullet train” line that will link the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro after the public auction for the project failed earlier this month, President Dilma Rousseff said (Latin American Herald Tribune).

TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

Brazil Weekly is now on Facebook! You can like us here and join our group here.

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

INTERNATIONAL

Brazil is planning to set up its second scientific station in Antarctica and its first fully automatic data collecting module close to the Southern pole, revealed Jefferson Simoes coordinator of the country’s National Science and Technology Institute (MercoPress).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Embraer Defense and Security made the announcement, today, that it has selected the V2500-E5 engine, manufactured by International Aero Engines AG (IAE), to equip the KC-390 military transport jet. “The selection of IAE’s V2500-E5 brings about the merger of a well-known and proven engine with a winning clean-sheet design military program. It is very important for us to finish the selection of our main suppliers and partners, in order to begin working with them in this new phase,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, President, Embraer Defense and Security (Embraer).

SOCIAL

Most Brazilians feel that race and skin colour have great influence in labour relations and in the way they are treated by police and the judiciary, according to a report from the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute, IBGE (MercoPress).

A Brazilian televangelist told his followers to embark on media ‘fast’. Bishop Edir Macedo’s request to refrain from television, radio or the web criticised as diversion tactic from bad press (The Guardian).

A majority of Brazilians don’t accept civil unions, according to a new survey conducted by Brazilian consulting company Ibope (Xinhua).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 31, 2011 at 10:48 am

ECONOMY

When Brazilians contemplate the beauty of their country or the ability of their soccer team, they like to joke, “God is Brazilian.” It seems foreign investors have taken the joke seriously. No emerging nation has attracted portfolio flows the way Brazil has in recent years. Charts tracking the money pouring into the country this year have shown a near vertical line to surpass the totals for 2010, which itself was a record year. This has made the Brazilian real one of the most expensive currencies in the world, and it sure feels that way on a visit to the country (Time).

The three-year build-up to the 2014 soccer World Cup is set to boost Brazil’s economy by 1.5% of GDP, according to Ilan Goldfajn, chief economist of the Itau Unibanco Holding, Latin America’s largest bank by market value (Mercopress).

Brazil sees more risks from worries over foreign debt and a possible economic slowdown in China, the central bank said in minutes of their most recent policy meeting (Reuters).

FDI in Brazil grew from US$ 25.9 billion in 2009 to US$ 48.4 billion. Only the US (US$ 228.2 billion), China (US$ 105.7 billion), Hong Kong (US$ 68.9 billion) and Belgium (US$ 61.7 billion) received more foreign investments (Portal Brasil).

Brazilian newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo revealed documents from Chinese company Sun Falcon International Inc. offering triangulation scheme through Los Angeles port, the busiest container port in the US, to avoid Brazilian anti-dumping tariffs (MercoPress).

The Big Mac Index, created by “The Economist” 25 years ago, has a new version, which takes into account not only the price of the sandwich but also GDP per capita of each country. Result: Brazil’s real is the world’s most expensive currency and is 149% above the dollar (Forbes).

With the currency ever so strong against the US dollar Brazilians are travelling overseas and spending as never before, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank (MercoPress).

The Brazilian government, in its frustrated attempt to save the dollar and keep its currency from overvaluation, has come up with a new set of macroeconomic measures for the currency markets. Two new rulings were handed to dollar traders. It was a surprise move, with many people expecting the dollar to weaken to BRL1.50 before any new measures were announced (Forbes).

BUSINESS

Dow Chemical has agreed to sell two Texas polypropylene plants to Brazilian plastics producer Braskem as part of a $340 million cash deal. Two units on Dow’s Freeport and Seadrift complexes are among four facilities that Dow plans to sell in the deal. The others are in Germany (Fuelfix).

Brazilian drugstores Drogasil and Drogas Raia are in talks to combine their operations, the companies said in a securities filing. Earlier, IstoE magazine reported online that the companies are in advanced talks to create a retail giant with 700 stores and about $700 million in annual sales (Reuters).

General Motors Co., the biggest U.S. automaker, is preparing a five-year investment plan through 2017 for its Brazil operations, which surpasses the current 5 billion reais ($3.21 billion) for 2008 to 2012 (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

The pilots of an Air France plane that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009 lacked adequate training, French investigators have found. France’s BEA authority said pilots had failed to discuss repeated stall warnings and did not have the training to deal with the hazard. Air France rejected the accusation (BBC).

During the 2nd quarter of 2011 (2Q11) Embraer delivered 25 jets to the commercial aviation market and 23 to the executive aviation market (20 light jets and 3 large jets). 2Q11 Revenues reached US$ 1,358.6 million, and Gross margin grew from 20.2% in 2Q10 to 22.4% in 2Q11 (Embraer).

Demand for regional flights in Brazil increased by 19.54% in June 2011 compared with June 2011. On the supply side, growth was 12.48%. The occupancy rate consequently reached 68.10% in June, compared with 64.09% in June 2010 (Portal Brasil).

TAP is to add one additional flight per week between Lisbon and Belo Horizonte between 29 August and 12 September responding to high levels of demand on this route with its average occupancy rates at over 90%. In 2011 TAP carried 16% more passengers on this route than in 2010 and for September it has reported a growth of 34% in total bookings (TAP).

Mexican airport operator Asur said it will likely not bid for airport concessions in Brazil as Chief Executive Adolfo Castro cited weak returns on those ventures. Asur, or Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste, said earlier this year it would be interested in building a new airport in the Brazilian northeast beach resort of Natal (Reuters).

TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

Brazil Weekly is now on Facebook! You can like us here and join our group here.

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

BANKING & FINANCE

Caixa Economica Federal, Brazil’s biggest housing lender, expects mortgage lending growth to slow by half this year to more sustainable levels, Chief Executive Jorge Hereda said (Reuters).

IT

Brazil says the planned production of tablet computers will help spur technological innovation in Latin America’s biggest country. Brazil has signed agreements with at least 10 companies that make tablets. One of them is with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, which is expected to start producing Apple Inc.’s iPads later this year in Brazil (Washington Post).

IT industry experts are unanimous. Brazil will have to move to circumvent the lack of skilled labor in the country in order to have a tablet industry by 2014, as scheduled by the Ministries of Science and Technology (MCT) and the Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC ) (India-Brazil Chamber).

MINING & STEEL

Steelmaker CSN has again raised its stake in rival mill Usiminas to 10.84 percent of its ordinary voting shares, CSN said in a market filing (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Late last week Petrobras announced a long-awaited five-year investment plan of US$224.7 billion for the period between 2011-2015. The company thinks it can nearly triple its production, from around 2 million barrels per day to 6 million by 2020. Brazil’s government is Petrobras’ main shareholder, directly owning 54 percent, and it was Finance Minister Guido Mantega who had rejected the company’s first two investment plans (The Rio Times).

Petrobras Gás S.A. (Gaspetro) completed the acquisition of Gas Brasiliano Distribuidora (GBD), a natural gas distribution utility operating in the northwestern region of the state of São Paulo. Previously, the utility was controlled by Italy’s ENI International B.V. (BW).

Petrobras plan to sell off assets will focus largely on projects in South America where returns have been low, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Brazil’s fuel imports will likely rise ten percent this year compared to 2010, Petrobras said, a further sign of the country’s growing importance in global oil products markets (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on July 31, 2011 at 10:47 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the public transport Terminal Rodoviário Pátio Alcântara for  São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro state (Skyscrapercity).

MEDIA

Brazilian political journalist Auro Ida, 53, was murdered in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso. He was sitting in his car with his girlfriend when two men approached the couple, asked the woman to get out of the car, and then shot Ida six times. Police immediately described it as a crime of passion. But journalists said Ida – the founder of Mídia News and a writer for the Olhar Direto news site – had received death threats related to his coverage of regional politics (The Guardian).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

TWITTER, FACEBOOK & LINKEDIN

Brazil Weekly is now on Facebook! You can like us here and join our group here.

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

RIO STATE

The terrible tragedy of Região Serrana in early January this year has, unfortunately, been further tainted with allegations of corruption and the diverting of disaster relief funds into private pockets. Former councilman Odenir Cardoso Moreira, better known as “Quincas,” is currently being investigated by the Polícia Militar (Military Police) for the misappropriation of relief funds intended for the city of Teresópolis after the worst natural disaster in modern Brazilian history (The Rio Times).

Life in Rio de Janeiro may seem like nonstop action, which can leave even the most die-hard Carioca craving a slower pace. Yet those looking for some R&R need look no farther than across the bay to Niterói. Notably quieter than its raucous neighbor, Niterói has a laid back culture all its own. And there’s no better way to get a taste of the easy-going “Smile City” than by spending a day strolling through its street markets (The Rio Times).

RIO

Last year the Rio Times published a series of articles on apartment rental options at various price points in Rio. Now, amidst a overheated market seeing 30-50 percent increases in real estate value, the Rio Times look again at the apartments you can expect to find for R$3,500 per month, a year later. Again focusing on five popular neighborhoods in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) – Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana, Botafogo and Flamengo – to give a sense of some neighborhoods most popular with foreigners in the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (The Rio Times).

The arrival of soccer’s governing body in Brazil for its first official event ahead of the 2014 World Cup meant the country’s second-busiest airport was temporarily shut. Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont International Airport was closed for four hours between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. local time on July 30 as FIFA hosted the qualification draw for the next edition of sport’s most-watched event (Bloomberg).

Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracaná stadium will host the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke indicated, pending formal ratification of the decision at FIFA executive committee meeting in October (MercoPress).

At least 14 current and former policemen were arrested in Rio de Janeiro in an operation aimed at taking down a militia group, including high ranking officers accused of leading the organization. The group was active in west Rio, and was allegedly led by a retired Federal Police chief, a Civil Police commissioner, and a military policeman (Insight Crime).

SAO LUIS

Reminiscent of Rio’s world famous Carnival with wild street parties, elaborate costumes, and loud parades playing Afro-Brazilian music, is São Luís’ Bumba-meu-boi festival. Celebrating the month of São João (Saint John), the festival lasts from June to July and attracts visitors from across Brazil and around the world (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

Vale and the state government of São Paulo signed a memorandum of understanding to invest in the development of the state and enhance its logistics infrastructure in the coming years. The agreement was signed at Bandeirantes Palace at a ceremony attended by Governor Geraldo Alckmin (picture). Vale, which has logistics and fertilizer operations in the state of São Paulo, plans to invest approximately R$3.5 billion. The resources will mainly be used to expand Vale’s port activities in Santos, extend its multi-mode stockyards and build warehouses at the port (Vale).

Poet Mário de Andrade called São Paulo ‘the hallucinated city’, and his words are a fitting description of this enormous metropolis. The city is 455 years old, but its soul remains still young and restless. Shaking off 300-plus years of sloth-like growth, it careered through the 20th century at breakneck speed, and continues to grow. So it’s not surprising, perhaps, that a huge number of expats are now calling the city home, and are bristling if anyone thinks they’re hallucinating. São Paulo is a giant that slumbers no more (Time Out Sao Paulo).

Sao Paulo is a vibrant hub for jewellery shoppers seeking exquisite and rare Brazilian gemstones set in precious metals. While bargains are hard to find because of high tax rates, determined shoppers can negotiate discounts (Reuters).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 22, 2011 at 9:38 am

POLITICS

The Economist has long argued that chavismo is an atavistic blind alley for Latin America. By contrast, Brazil has sought to develop a modern Latin American social democracy that marries a globalised capitalist economy with vigorous government efforts to attack deep-rooted inequalities. But there are limits to this approach too (The Economist).

Former Brazilian leader Lula da Silva said President Dilma Rousseff managed the latest political crisis in the cabinet ‘correctly’ and is proving she has the capacity to lead “in this and in all situations” (MercoPress).

The federal Brazilian government’s social spending has grown steadily in recent years and in 2009 reached almost 16% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means the equivalent of R$ 541.3 billion has been spent on healthcare, education, social security and welfare, among other areas. In 1995 R$ 219 billion was invested, just over 11% of that year’s GDP (Portal Brasil).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

The construction of four diesel powered Scorpene-class attack submarines for the Brazilian Navy was launched at a plant near Rio de Janeiro (MercoPress).

The Brazilian government has started work on a submarine programme which will include the construction of South America’s first nuclear subs. The move will boost Brazil’s claim to be the strongest force in the region, and strengthen the country’s military assertiveness. This new-found power may harm Britain in the event of another flare-up over the Falklands, according to U.S. news agency Global Post, as Brazil thinks the islands should belong to Argentina (Daily Mail).

Building of submarines in Brazil is a strategic issue and a guarantee of sovereignty, said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. “Brazil is becoming part of a small group of countries which have the knowledge and technology to build submarines. The capacity to produce submarines is a strategy for both defense and economic growth,” said the president. She noted that each submarine consists of more than 36,000 components which will be produced by 30 Brazilian companies. Building the four submarines will help create, both directly and indirectly, some 46,000 jobs (Xinhua).

Brazil’s Federal Police say that arms traffickers are using new routes to get weapons into the country. Entry via sea port is now just as important as entry over land. Police identified Santos, in Sao Paulo, and Paranagua, in Parana – the country’s two biggest ports – as major points of entry for arms. They attributed this in part to the fact that there is so little oversight of imports in these ports, due to the large quantity of cargo passing through them (Christian Science Monitor).

The Boeing Co. cast its net wider in the campaign to secure Brazil’s multibillion-dollar order for up to 100 jet fighters, pledging generous technology transfers and training for Brazilians as part of the deal. Boeing is in competition with French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet and Swedish company Saab’s Gripen NG rival (UPI).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

SOCIAL

In booming Brazil, crack strikes late but hard. Authorities have far fewer resources than the U.S. to deal with the cheap drug (Associated Press).

Six senior officials at Brazil’s transport ministry were sacked for a simmering corruption scandal that already forced the former transport minister to step down. The officials were fired due to suspected involvements in overbilling several state infrastructure projects, a scandal which was first unveiled by the local weekly news magazine Veja (Xinhua).

Brazil’s major cities, once a dreamland for many domestic migrants, are losing their allurement, according to an official study. New trends of migration have emerged in Brazil, said the study issued by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) (Xinhua).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 22, 2011 at 9:37 am

ECONOMY

Jobs, no workers. Record low unemployment, competition for labor from a booming construction industry and inflation at a six-year high have put the squeeze on these businesses. Companies scraping the bottom of the employment barrel are finding themselves teaching employees the basics of grammar and arithmetic (Reuters).

China will invest this year US$ 9 billion (R$ 14 billion) in Brazil. Half of this amount will be in the high-tech industry, according to the executive secretary of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Alessandro Teixeira (India-Brazil Chamber).

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest since January in spite of efforts by policy makers to cool growth and inflation in Latin America’s biggest economy. The jobless rate fell to 6.2% in June, from 6.4% in May and 7% a year earlier, the national statistics agency said (MercoPress).

The Brazilian Treasury has raised US$ 500 million from North American and European investors at an interest rate of 4.188% a year – the lowest in history for international loans. The money was raised through the issue on July 7 of foreign debt bonds maturing in January 2021 (Portal Brasil).

Dow Chemical Co and Mitsui & Co Ltd have formed a Brazilian venture to turn sugar cane into ethanol and plastic, in an area widely considered the future of the chemical industry. The move directly challenges Braskem SA , Brazil’s largest chemical company, which last fall opened its own plant to turn sugar cane into plastic (Reuters).

Brazil’s tax collection surged in June from the year-earlier month, the federal tax authority said, as a number of companies paid their taxes ahead of time (Reuters).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

AVIATION

Embraer and Minsheng Financial Leasing Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Minsheng Banking Co., Ltd., and one of the largest financial institutions providing executive jets leasing services in China, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). According to the MoU, Minsheng Financial Leasing intends to purchase up to 20 of Embraer’s full line of executive jets. They are expected to be fully converted into firm orders in the next five years and deliveries may commence in 2011 (Embraer).

Embraer sees Africa as a major growth market and targets doubling the number of its jets operating on the continent (Reuters).

BIOFUELS

Brazil will reduce the ethanol content in gasoline in another effort to contain inflation since sugar (and ethanol) prices because of a poor crop have been soaring (MercoPress).

MERGERS

Last week a deal that looked set to alter the face of the Brazilian retail sector for good floundered. The proposed merger between Brazilian supermarket chain Pão de Açucar and French retail group Carrefour collapsed amidst a storm of controversy. Carrefour, however, seems determined to have a slice of Brazil’s ever-increasing pie and is reported to be considering a merger with U.S. retail giant Walmart instead (The Rio Times).

MINING & STEEL

Vale Brasil, the world’s largest ore carrier, arrived in Italy for its first discharge operation. The vessel safely and successfully berthed at Pier 4 at the Port of Taranto and discharged its 400,000 tons cargo of Carajas Sinter Feed to be consumed at steelmaker Ilva SpA, a four-decade long client and partner of Vale. Commissioned at shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co in South Korea, Vale Brasil has a capacity of 400,000 tons, 362 meters of length and 65 meters of width – and is the first of seven ore carriers ordered from the South Korean shipyard, totaling an investment of US$748 million (Vale).

OIL & GAS

Central Resources Inc, a Denver-based independent oil and gas production and operation company, has recently announced its acquisition of six “concessions” in Brazil. The Potiguar Basin, which lies on the border of Rio Grande do Norte and Ceara, provides the location for four of these concessions whilst the remaining two sit within the Espirito Santos Basin, much closer to Rio de Janeiro (The Rio Times).

Petrobras’ oil and natural gas output in Brazil was 2,407,366 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in June, 4% more than the 2,315,117 barrels produced a year earlier and a 2% increase over May 2011. Domestic natural gas production was 57.317 million cubic meters per day in June. This was 6.9% more than the same month in 2010, and 0.7% above last May (BW).

Russian oil producer TNK-BP has agreed to buy a 45 percent stake in Amazon oil exploration blocks from Brazil’s Petra Energia (Reuters).

TOURISM

The Brazil Tourism Board (Embratur) named Flavio Dino, a former federal congressman for the Communist Party of Brazil, as its new president, succeeding Mário Moysés (MercoPress).

After growing 20% annually over the past ten years and reaching a level of 800,000 tourists annually, the pace of cruise expansion in Brazil is expected to encounter a sharp slowdown in the 2011-2012 season. The main reason is the infrastructure deficiencies of Brazilian ports, which have no more room for receiving large vessels (MercoPress).

Brazil Weekly Cultural & Regional News

In Brazil on July 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Leopoldo and Lopes Neto residencial complex for Itaim Bibi, Sao Paulo (Source).

ARTS

Gambiarra is the Brazilian practice of makeshifts, the art of resorting to quirky and smart improvisation in order to repair what doesn’t work or to create what you need with what you have at your disposal. Gambiologia is the ‘science’ that studies this form of creative improvisation and celebrates it by combining it with electronic-digital techniques. Gambiologiais also the name of a collective of artists – Fred Paulino, Lucas Mafra and Paulo Henrique ‘Ganso Pessoa’ – who mix this art of improvisation with DIY culture & technology to develop electronic artifacts (PSTK).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

SPORTS

It proved a deal too far, for now at least, but the mooted transfer of Carlos Tevez, a homesick Argentine footballer, from Manchester City to São Paulo’s Corinthians for 100m reais ($64m) suggests that something is afoot in Brazil’s most popular sport. Mr Tevez’s deal was scuppered in part by the closing of Brazil’s domestic transfer window. But his teammate Jô moved back to Brazil, as did Denilson, from Arsenal in London (The Economist).

The upcoming World Cup soccer tournament and Summer Olympics in Brazil should be harnessed to deliver a “positive social legacy” for the South American country and beyond, the United Nations envoy for sports and peace has said (MercoPress).

Brazil’s sports minister says the construction and renovation work on the 12 stadiums scheduled to host matches at the World Cup will be concluded by late 2013 (Washington Post).

After four days’ competition in Rio at the Military World Games, which is set to close on July 24, Chinese military athletes altogether collected 18 golds from swimming and piled up 22 gold, leading the medals table with 52. Brazil followed up with 16 golds and 44 medals thanks to the support of top athletes in the host country. Italy and Germany finished temporarily in third and fourth places respectively in medals ranking, with a far less eight and four golds (Xinhua).

AMAZON

Police in Brazil have indicted three people for the killing of a couple of prominent environmental activists in the Amazon three months ago (BBC).

FERNANDO DE NORONHA

Measuring just 7.1 square miles, Ilha Fernando de Noronha lies within the state of Pernambucco off the coast of Natal, the biggest in a group of 21 islands. Although not exactly close to the State of Rio, Fernando de Noronha has long been a popular travel destination for both Carioca holiday-makers and foreign tourists alike, who head to its crystal clear waters and white sand shores to experience paradise (The Rio Times).

RIO

The five-star Hotel Santa Teresa was the target of a planned robbery in the early morning of Monday, July 18th, when four armed bandits scaled an exterior wall and systematically ransacked rooms and held hotel guests at gunpoint. Security cameras captured video of the men invading the hotel at approximately 3:20AM, wearing hoods to conceal their identity (The Rio Times).

Militia groups have gained power and become prominent in headlines over the last few years, and now recent reports indicate they are responsible for almost half of the homicides in Rio. Figures from the special Divisão de Homicídios (Homicide Division) show that 45 percent of the murders in Rio de Janeiro in 2010 were committed by militias, other violent deaths were the result of violence by drug traffickers, street fights, crimes of passion and the ‘occasional’ murders (The Rio Times).

Copacabana, perhaps the most famous of all of Rio’s beach-side neighborhoods, needs little introduction, but since its hey-day in the 1930s the glamor has been gradually giving way to a grittier reality, and the glitterati have moved on down the beach to Ipanema. However, the neighborhood is undergoing a quiet metamorphosis in anticipation of the Olympic Games in 2016 that is slowly putting the shine back (The Rio Times).

For those seeking a traditional neighborhood in Rio with similar comforts and amenities of Zona Sul (South Zone), Tijuca is an obvious choice. Often referred to as the ‘Zona Sul of Zona Norte,’ Tijuca offers easy access to all parts of the city, and located in a large valley surrounded by the rainforest clad mountains of Tijuca National Park, the largest urban jungle in the world, it also enjoys natural air conditioning (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

São Paulo is remaking itself as a city of the architectural-landmark hotel. The luxury accommodation scene is defined by beautifully designed, chic hotels like the Fasano and Unique. Although top-end tourists and business travellers will have no problem finding great stylish rooms, those with more modest means will have to search harder for decent, wallet-friendly sleeping quarters. Check out Time Out.

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 15, 2011 at 10:10 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff has named Paulo Sergio Passos as the new transport minister to replace Alfredo Nascimento, who resigned last week under a barrage of criticism about fraud and corruption in the bidding on public works (Latin Amercian Herald Tribune) (Picture source).

President Dilma Rousseff is facing further political unrest in the ruling coalition following the naming of a new Transport Minister, apparently a unilateral decision that was not shared by several allies (MercoPress).

Brazil’s human rights minister says the government will clamp down on child prostitution before hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Maria Nunes says she and other officials are working to end sexual tourism before hundreds of thousands of tourists arrive for the big events (Washington Post).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

INTERNATIONAL

Over the course of a generation, Brazil has emerged as both a driver of growth in South America and as an active force in world politics. A new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)-sponsored Independent Task Force report asserts “that it is in the interest of the United States to understand Brazil as a complex international actor whose influence on the defining global issues of the day is only likely to increase” (Council on Foreign Relations).

The towering statue of Jesus on a cliff overlooking the Pacific looks, at first glance, eerily like Rio de Janeiro’s majestic Christ the Redeemer, a famed icon of Brazil on the Atlantic side of the continent. The resemblance is not accidental. To many Peruvians, the new statue that rises 118 feet (36 meters) has become a potent symbol of Brazil’s growing commercial and political influence in this Andean nation and across South America (The Miami Herald).

Meanwhile the new Pacific-Atlantic route drives up fears of crime and destruction. Although the Carretera Interoceánica boosts links with China for Brazil and Peru, it causes anxiety for environmental groups (The Guardian).

While Brazil’s growth has received cheers all over the world, Brazil’s immediate neighbors are increasingly wary of the emerging giant in their midst, fearing that it could simply replace the United States as the region’s hegemon, exploiting weaker members economically and bullying them politically. Brazil thus faces the very same challenges as India and China: How to increase economic influence in their respective region without being regarded as a predator? Brazil needs to launch a regional charm offensive (Post Western World).

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will come to Brazil for cancer treatment, a source in the Brazilian government told Reuters. Chavez will come to Brazil’s Sirio-Libanes hospital, known for treating cancer, for help in his battle with the illness, according to the source. No timeline has been set for his arrival,

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Senator Antônio Carlos Valadares (PSB-SE) highlighted the importance of the space development policy adopted by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and supported by the current head of State, Dilma Roussef. Along with Ukraine, Brazil founded Alcântara Cyclone Space (ACS) in order to commercialize and operate the launching of satellites. Valadares explained that the bi-national enterprise was the result of an agreement between Brazil and Ukraine so that both nations would have autonomy in a US$ 30 billion a year market (Federal Senate).

Brazil confirms the multibillion fighter jet deal postponed until early 2012. The Brazilian government will not review multibillion-dollar bids for a fighter jet deal until the start of 2012, Defence Minister Nelson Jobim told reporters in France (MercoPress).

RESEARCH & INNOVATION

Brazil’s government says it plans a campaign to attract foreign scientists to work in the laboratories and research centers of Latin America’s biggest country. Science and Technology Minister Aloizio Mercadante says the Science Without Frontiers program will also send 75,000 college students to universities outside Brazil to study for one year (Washington Post).

British Ministers have been accused of seeking to plug a black hole in university fundingby arranging for 10,000 fee-paying Brazilians to study in the UK. David Willetts, the universities minister, flew to South America last month to arrange a deal that he hopes will be highly lucrative at a time of cuts to state funding for higher education. The Brazilian government is planning to provide up to £18,700 a student (The Guardian).

Brazil has risen 13 places in the Global Innovation Index 2011. The ranking is released annually by Insead, one of the leading business schools in Europe, in partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency linked to the United Nations (UN). The new indicators were released on June 30, in Paris, and show that Brazil rose from 60th place in 2010 to 47th place this year. With the result, Brazil has overtaken countries such as Russia, India and Argentina (Brasil Portal).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on July 15, 2011 at 10:10 am

ECONOMY

While many have claimed there is a credit bubble in Brazil, evidence actually suggests that irrational exuberance has come to define labor markets in the South American member of the BRIC countries.  Analysts at Nomura have identified trends showing falling unemployment and rising wages while productivity falls and output lags, suggesting a correction could be looming (Forbes).

Brazil’s two biggest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are among the highest climbers in a list of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, as the nation’s economic growth continues to outpace Europe and the U.S. According to the survey, Sao Paulo jumped to 10th place in the list of 214 cities, from 21st last year, while Rio de Janeiro surged to 12th from 29th (Bloomberg).

AGRI ETC

Brazil says it will invest $10 billion to help family farms in Latin America’s biggest country. The investment will help small farmers working on land received from Brazil’s agrarian reform program, indigenous communities and communities of descendants of runaway slaves that started being formed in the 17th century (Forbes).

The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), together with the Center for Sugarcane Technology (CTC) and other associations in the South-Central region of Brazil, completed a review of their estimate for the 2011/2012 sugarcane harvest. The revised forecast points to a total cane crush of 533.50 million tons, a 6.16% decrease over the original estimate announced in March of 2011 (568.50 million tons), and a 4.21% drop compared to the total amount of cane harvested at the end of the 2010/2011 season (556.94 million tons) (Unica).

AVIATION

A twin-engine aircraft has crashed in north-east Brazil, killing all 16 people on board. The crew had reported problems almost immediately after take-off from the city of Recife, officials said (BBC).

Embraer delivered 25 commercial and 23 executive jets in the second quarter of 2011 (2Q11), closing out the first six months of the year with 45 commercial jets and 31 executive jets delivered. On June 30, 2011, the firm order backlog totaled USD 15.8 billion (Embraer).

HIGH SPEED

The auction to build a major high-speed rail link between Brazil’s two main cities, Sao Paulo and Rio, has failed to attract any bidders. The rail link is a key infrastructure project for President Dilma Rousseff’s government, made even more important with Rio set to host the 2016 Olympics (BBC).

Brazil’s planned bullet train linking the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Campinas may be now operated by the state-controlled company ETAV, O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reported (Bloomberg).

MERGERS

Brazilian retail tycoon Abilio Diniz has suspended plans to merge his supermarket chain Grupo Pao de Acucar with the local arm of France’s Carrefour. His move comes after Brazilian state development bank BNDES backed out of supporting the deal (BBC).

Brasil Foods, Brazil’s biggest maker of TV dinners and frozen meat products, won conditional approval of its 3.8 billion US dollars takeover of rival Sadia SA as Brazilian regulators ordered it to stop using a top brand and sell some assets to ensure domestic competition (MercoPress).

Brazilian antitrust regulators could suspend Gol Linhas Aereas’ purchase of rival airline Webjet, citing potential harm to competition in the industry, local newspaper Valor Economico said (Reuters).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

OIL & GAS

Brazil’s state-run oil giant Petrobras demanded an indemnification worth over 160 million U.S. dollars from Ecuador after the termination of an exploration contract between the two countries, an Ecuadorian official said (Xinhua).

SBM Offshore N.V., based in the Port of Rotterdam area, announced that contracts for the twenty year charter and operation of FPSO Cidade de Paraty for the Lula Nordeste development in the pre-salt area, offshore Brazil, have been executed with BM-S-11 Consortium (65% Petrobras SA – Operator, 25% BG Group (BG E&P Brasil Ltda) and 10% GALP Energia (Petrogal Brasil Ltda) (World Maritime News).

ICT

The Taiwanese technology group Foxconn has announced that it will start producing iPads in Brazil by November this year. It already has five production facilities in Brazil, and has said it will invest R$12 billion in the production of computer displays in the country over the next five years (The Rio Times).

PORTS

Vale announces that it has signed an agreement to form a joint venture with its subsidiary Vale Fertilizantes S.A. to exploit the concession of the maritime terminal, Terminal Ultrafertil (TUF), located near Santos, in the coastal area of the state of São Paulo. The maritime terminal handles imported cargo such as sulfur, ammonia and fertilizers in general, being strategically linked to Vale’s railway system (Vale).

Work in progress on Eike Batista’s Sudeste Port, south of Rio de Janeiro. More here.

Embraport received a visit from João Paulo Tavares Papa, the Santos Mayor. The Embraport Terminal is the first for Santos’ continental area and will generate 1,100 job opportunities during its operation, scheduled to begin in 2013. Currently, 772 people already work on the project, 90% of whom are residents from the region (Odebrecht).

Brazil Weekly Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on July 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Stijlgroep landscape and urban design in Rotterdam is working on a sketch master plan for an urban extension of Sorocaba, Brazil.  A mixed used program will be realized including 9.000 homes, a shopping mall and a diverse range of sport facilities in a 150 hectare large landscape park. The close connection of park and urbanity in the middle of a very dynamic landscape makes this a unique scheme (Blog).

FILM

At the time of his death at age 34, Ayrton Senna da Silva was already being called one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, if not the greatest. A three-time world champion, he was known for his effortless grace and precision on the road, and his baffling knack for racing in the rain. He also looked like a movie star. It’s no wonder that Asif Kapadia, a BAFTA-winning British filmmaker, chose him for a documentary subject (The Economist).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

AMAZON

The Amazon is one of the most extraordinary regions of Brazil. It covers over seven million sq kms of land, an area almost the size of Europe, and is home to over 60,000 species of plants and trees, 324 mammals, 300 reptiles and 950 birds. An inspiring destination for nature lovers, and many trips are geared towards outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the wild (The Rio Times).

A long-forgotten glow-in-the-dark mushroom that had not been seen since 1840 has been discovered in the lush forests of Brazil. The flashy fungi was rediscovered by scientist Dennis Desjardin and his team in 2009 (Latino Foxnews).

The U.S. Justice Department has been conducting a criminal investigation of sports fishing expeditions in the Amazon that may have been used as covers for Americans to have sex with underage girls, according to newly filed court papers (The New York Times).

ILHA BELA

An oft-quoted review published in The Guardian neatly sums up the DPNY Beach Hotel as “hipper than hell.” Of course, DPNY’s setting—a strip of golden beach backed by the lush jungly mountains of the volcanic island of Ilhabela—is much more like heaven than hell. Nonetheless, this pithy catchphrase will inevitably echo inside your head when you arrive at this hotel-cum-club that’s revolutionized the concept of the luxury beach hotel in Brazil (Luxury Latin America).

ILHA GRANDE

Ilha Grande has long been a popular tourist destination and weekend getaway for Cariocas and foreigners alike who flock to its shores every year in search of the natural, rugged terrain and beautiful beaches that have come to symbolize this hidden oasis. Arguably one of the most popular islands on the Brazilian coastline, steps are currently being taken to preserve its natural beauty and protect the wildlife by registering it as a UNESCO world heritage site (The Rio Times).

RIO

The Riserva Uno site in Rio de Janeiro will be the venue for golf’s Olympic comeback in Brazil in 2016, the Royal & Ancient (R&A) governing body said (Reuters).

Rio de Janeiro can expect about 53.2 billion reais ($34 billion) in private investments linked to the World Cup and Olympic Games, outstripping the funding attracted by other recent host cities, a study showed (Reuters).

After months of testing, the Teleférico (gondola) line at the Complexo do Alemão in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) has gone into service. The cable car system, much like those used at ski resorts, can carry 3,000 passengers per hour from Bonsucesso to Palmeira, stopping at six different stations. The line resolves massive transportation issues within the area and reconnects the Zona Norte favelas with the rest of the city (The Rio Times).

Rio de Janeiro aims to become the world capital of gay tourism. The Brazilian city’s diversity week follows a series of gay-friendly government schemes to capitalise on a growing market for tourism (The Guardian).

Iconic bohemian neighborhood Santa Teresa was buzzing with activity this past weekend, as more than seventy artists of varying mediums opened their doors to the public. The annual Portas Abertas (Open Doors) festival, which kicked off on July 8th and ran through July 10th, gave artists the opportunity to mingle with the general public while showcasing their work (The Rio Times).

The fifth edition of the World Military Games will officially be held on July 16 in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro but matches of the World Cup for the military will start on Friday (Xinhua).

Continually ranking in the list of top ten South American cities, Rio de Janeiro is a heaving metropolis of sun-drenched sands, lively samba bars and rich colonial history. Nevertheless, the constant hustle and bustle of the city can prove too much even for the most devoted Carioca. When quiet rest and relaxation is the order of the day, head for the undisturbed peace and quiet of Ilha de Paquetá (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

São Paulo is far safer than you might think. Avoid motels, be prepared for late suppers and watch your coffee consumption. Listen how to do business here (The Economist).

The cutting-edge design of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) has been a hot topic since its inauguration in 1968 (building started in 1956). There’s also been a lot said about its poor administration over the last few decades. But regardless, inside you’ll find the best collection of 20th-century European and Brazilian art in South America. The dream of communications tycoon Assis Chateaubriand and Italian art critic and dealer Pietro Maria Bardi, it’s a museum that lives up to the standard of its counterparts abroad (Time Out Sao Paulo).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on July 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

POLITICS

Itamar Franco, who as president of Brazil in the 1990s helped tame hyperinflation, died here Saturday. He was 81 (The New York Times).

The tension surrounding distribution of an estimated R$7.9 billion in annual oil revenues appears to have abated after a meeting on Thursday, June 30th, between governors from oil producing states of the southeast, and governors from the north and northeast. The non-oil producing states have rescinded many former demands in favor of an agreement that will distribute oil wealth throughout the nation, while reserving a greater percentage for states involved in extraction and refinement (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s transport minister has resigned over a corruption scandal in his ministry. Alfredo Nascimento stepped down after a magazine alleged staff at his ministry were skimming off money from federal infrastructure contracts (BBC).

President Dilma Rousseff may name Senator Blairo Maggi, whose family is the world’s largest soybean grower, as transport minister (Bloomberg).

Brazilian environmentalist and former presidential candidate Marina Silva says she’s leaving the Green Party. Silva won a surprising 20 percent of the vote in the first round of last year’s presidential election in Brazil. Her candidacy rallied interest in the nation’s Green Party (Washington Post).

The key political risks to watch in Brazil according to Reuters can be found here.

Adding to the feeling of drift and dissension in Rousseff’s six-month-old government, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim lamented before a roomful of legislators last week that he has to tolerate an ever-greater number of “idiots” (Reuters).

TWITTER & LINKEDIN

You can also follow Brazil Weekly on Twitter at brazilweekly.

Be very welcome to join the Brazil Weekly networking and discussion group on Linkedin: Click here.

INTERNATIONAL

Brazil and the Netherlands can work together to extend scientific cooperation to develop new sugarcane-based bio-products and promote the harmonization of sustainability requirements. The two priorities were set out in a presentation at the 4th Brazilian-Dutch delegations meeting by Géraldine Kutas, Head of International Affairs and Senior Advisor to the President for International Affairs at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA). The gathering, focused on opportunities for Brazilian-Dutch cooperation in the biofuels industry and bio-based economy, was held in Rotterdam, within the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two countries in April of 2008 (Unica).

On the occasion of a string of concerts by the top notch Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of Rotterdam and Port of Rotterdam President Hans Smits visited Rio and Sao Paulo from June 25th-29th. Rotterdam has become over the years Brazil’s gateway to Europe and beyond. Besides the shipping of some 35 million tons of Brazilian cargo (2010), the city & port also host a growing number of the largest Brazilian companies, such as Braskem and Petrobras. Dutch quality newspaper NRC quoted Mayor Aboutaleb’s saying that more Brazilian investment is expected, making use of Rotterdam logistical excellence as well as fiscal advantages. On the other side, the Port of Rotterdam is in the race to manage one or two Brazilian ports (BW).

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would be welcome to continue his cancer treatment in Brazil (AP).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil intends to launch a geostationary satellite before 2014, in order to link the defense system over the whole territory. The new satellite, whose launching still depends on a final decision by the Brazilian government, will allow the direct communication between Brasília and border squads and submarines in the Atlantic Ocean, besides sending images from distant areas. Nowadays, as the minister explained, the Brazilian government rents satellite channels from a private Mexican company (Federal Senate).

Four Brazilian unmanned aircraft guided by remote control, Drones, will begin operating in August along the Bolivian border announced Felipe Caceres, Bolivian Social Defence Deputy Minister (MercoPress).

Brazil will start manufacturing unmanned aircrafts with the help from Israel, thus allowing the South American country to control drug trafficking on its border areas. However, the Brazilian authorities may not sell them neither to Bolivia nor to Venezuela, as instructed by the Israeli government (ElUniversal).

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’ July 1 announcement that he is ill and may not return from Cuba for several months has threatens to send Latin America’s biggest oil producer into a political tailspin, which would seriously affect the strategic dynamics in the region, possibly forcing Brazil, the region’s dominant player, to take a more assertive stance to maintain stability. In a country awash with guns and several radical factions, serious political strife could emerge in urban areas, turning Venezuela into a rudderless ship. In such a case, Brazil would be the only actor potentially able to contain a fallout. Brazil has important economic interests to defend: Bilateral trade between the two in 2010 has been US $ 4.6 billion in 2010, and many large companies such as Odebrecht and Petrobras have made large investments in the country (Post Western World).

Brazil has collected 9,160 weapons and 30,900 units of ammunition during the first two months of a national disarmament campaign, Justice Ministry said (Xinhua).