News from Brazil

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on September 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

POLITICS

Protesters are demanding that Brazil’s legislators sweep out corruption. They’re making that point by planting 594 brooms in front of Congress. The brooms are green and yellow, the colors of Brazil’s flag, and there is one for each representative. They were planted in front of Congress Tuesday night so the 513 members of the House and the 81 senators could see them (SF Gate).

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INTERNATIONAL

Bolivian Interior Minister Sacha Llorenti has resigned after being heavily criticised over a police crackdown on a protest march. Police fired tear gas and arrested hundreds of activists protesting against the building of a road through the Amazon. The proposed 300km (190-mile) road, financed by Brazil, would link Brazil to Pacific ports in Chile and Peru (BBC).

As general debate of the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 66th Session got underway this week, the issue of UN structural reform was again brought into focus—with Brazil leading the charge. A thriving democracy and one of the largest emerging economies in the world, Brazil has powerful ammunition in making its demand—especially paired with the collective declining influence of deficit-ridden, developed nations. The desired trophy for Brazil comes in the form of a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) (Americas Quarterly).

Long vulnerable to periodic financial crisis in neighboring Argentina, Uruguay’s growing ties with Brazil and more diversified exports are prompting investors to bet the country is heading toward its first investment-grade rating since 2002 (Bloomberg).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Guatemala will purchase six Brazilian military aircraft Super Tucano, radars and other equipment to combat the narcotics trade traffic of which the Central American country is considered a crucial link between South America and the United States (MercoPress).

Boeing Co. says it has appointed a former U.S. ambassador as president of its soon-to-be opened office in Brazil. Boeing says that Donna Hrinak will open the company’s office in Sao Paulo Brazil on Oct.14. She served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil between 2002 and 2004 (Washington Post).

Hrinak will be based in a new Boeing office to be opened in Sao Paulo and will report to Boeing International President Shep Hill, who is also senior vice president of business development and strategy. Boeing is expanding its presence in Brazil and one of the key aims of the new office in Brazil’s business capital will be to strengthen the company’s engagement with customers, industry and government stakeholders (UPI).

President Dilma Rousseff signed a bill, exempting defense companies from taxes for five years. The measure aims at encouraging defense companies to produce locally and reducing the share of imported equipment in the armed forces. In addition, Brazil is interested in exporting defense equipment (xinhua).

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SOCIAL

Staff turnover is always a delicate subject as it is directly related to the operation of any organization. This Brazil Business article will give you an overview of the current situation in Brazil and point out the reasons that have led to it.

Brazil’s ministry for women has called for a TV advertisement featuring supermodel Gisele Bundchen in her underwear to be suspended. The ministry has asked the advertising authorities to ban the lingerie ad, which it says “reinforces the erroneous stereotyping of women as sex objects” (BBC).

A jealous Brazilian woman could not tolerate her man’s double life with a second lover, so she appealed to her life’s savings to have the competitor for the same love, ‘Lupita’ disappeared (MercoPress).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on September 30, 2011 at 9:38 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s central bank has lowered its forecast for economic growth to less than half of last year’s, partly blaming the slowing global economy. The central bank lowered its prediction for growth in 2011 to 3.5%, from 4% that it expected in June (BBC).

A year ago Brazil’s finance minister, Guido Mantega, declared that the world had entered into a “currency war”. He worried that in a depressed global economy, without enough spending to go around, countries would sally forth and grab a bit of extra demand for themselves by weakening their currencies. But the invasion of foreign capital that so worried Mr Mantega has now turned into a shambolic retreat (The Economist).

The latest rosy report came from J.P. Morgan, which released a survey of 40 institutional investors in North America and Europe. Survey participants named Brazil and Colombia as the most promising countries for investment opportunities over the next three years; Brazil’s rapidly expanding middle class promises to yield tremendous growth (New York Times).

The national minimum wage in Brazil will top R$800 per month by 2015, according to predictions by a federal budget proposal unveiled recently. Presenting the proposal to Congress, the Joint Budget Committee said that the minimum wage in Brazil in 2015 would reach R$817.97, an increase of fifty percent (The Rio Times).

Investment under the Growth Acceleration Plan (PAC) will reach 19.5% of Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year, up on the 15.3% invested in 2003. The expectation, according to the Ministry of Planning, is that investment will continue to climb, reaching around 25% of GDP in 2014 (Portal Brasil).

The volatility of global markets stands to have ramifications the world over, and despite the recent boom in Brazil, many speculate effects will soon be felt close to home. The dollar has made a steady rise against the real during the month of September, a change that is not entirely unexpected in the current climate. Whilst economic growth is still forecasted for the coming year, inflation is seen as a problem even with major tourist events on the horizon (The Rio Times).

The “most internationalized companies” ranking in Valor Econômico’s Brazilian Multinationals Special Edition appointed Vale’s rise from the 13th. place in 2009 to eighth in 2010. The company’s “internationalization index” rose from 31.5% to 41.2%, the newspaper said. In addition, Vale was ranked fourth among the Brazilian companies with greater revenues overseas, with 56.6% from its total revenue, according to the publication.

The capivari is one of 63 local moneys—including bills named after the sun, cactus and the Brazil nut—now circulating in needy neighborhoods throughout Latin America’s biggest economy. The idea is gaining currency as towns seek a share of current economic growth. This month, a new local currency hit the streets in Cidade de Deus, the Rio slum (Wall Street Journal).

A special edition of the Braudel papers feature on the effects of Brazil’s oil wealth (pdf).

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BUSINESS

A Nissan representative in Brazil confirmed plans for a factory in the country producing around 200,000 vehicles annually, but declined to comment on details. In June, Nissan said a new plant in Brazil would ease reliance on Mexican production for the South American market (MercoPress).

A much-hyped $12 billion plan for Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn to produce iPads in Brazil is “in doubt” due to stagnant negotiations over tax breaks and Brazil’s own deep structural problems such as a lack of skilled labor, government sources tell Reuters.

Eike Batista, the world’s eighth-richest person, is the controlling shareholder of the EBX group, which is involved in industries including energy, mining, shipbuilding and logistics. Batista, 55, is Brazil’s richest man with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $30 billion. He and the companies he controls plan to invest $15.5 billion in Brazil between 2011 and 2012. The following are the most important companies in the EBX portfolio.

AGRI ETC.

JBS started in 1953 as a butchers founded by José Batista Sobrinho in Anápolis, a city in Brazil’s central state of Goiás. The firm expanded initially thanks to a fast-growing Brazilian economy and more recently by acquiring other companies. It is now the world’s largest meat producer. In 2010 it had revenues of 55 billion reais ($31 billion), only a third of which were from its operation in Brazil (The Economist).

With almost half of its energy supply generated by renewable sources, Brazil increasingly looks like a positive example for the rest of the world (Renewable Energy World).

AVIATION

Embraer and Deutsche Lufthansa AG signed a contract, today, for the purchase of five additional EMBRAER 195 (E195) jets. The aircraft will be operated by Verona-based Air Dolomiti, Lufthansa’s regional partner in Italy. The value of the acquisition, at list price, is USD 226 million. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the second half of 2012 (Embraer).

Brazilian airline GOL and Aerolineas Argentinas have signed a codesharing agreement for all their flights between the two South American countries (Xinhua).

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BANKING

Possibly no one embodies the financial ascent of Brazil better than Mr. Esteves. At 43, he has built BTG Pactual into Brazil’s largest independent investment bank and has amassed a fortune estimated at $3 billion by Forbes magazine. Still, he has driven the same Mercedes pickup for four years and takes only two weeks of vacation a year (New York Times).

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OIL & GAS

Brazil cut a tax on fuel sold by Petrobras by 16% helping prevent surging import costs from squeezing profit margins at the state-run company and reducing the need for price increases as inflation quickens (MercoPress).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on September 30, 2011 at 9:37 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the 30 floor Ville de France residential project for Santos (SP) (Skyscrapercity).

SOCCER

Brazil hopes that the 2014 World Cup will boost its image, but the country’s football federation is shrouded in sleaze (The Economist).

Four Brazilian cities are in the running to host the 2014 World Cup opener — Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Salvador. Sports Minister Orlando Silva says FIFA will announce the site next month. Rio is expected to host the final at Maracana Stadium (Washington Post).

AMAZON

A judge in Brazil has ordered a halt to construction of the Belo Monte multi-billion-dollar dam project in the Amazon region. Judge Carlos Castro Martins barred any work that would interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu river (BBC).

With a judge having ordered a halt to construction of the multi-billion-dollar Belo Monte dam project, The Guardian looks at what damage has been prevented in the Amazon region.

The Brazilian government launched, in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state, the Brazil without Extreme Poverty Plan, for the north of the country. The plan includes the Environmental Conservation Support Program (the “Green Grant”), through which families in extreme poverty who are engaged in environmental conservation will receive R$ 300 a quarter. About 3,500 families will get the benefit in early October. The goal is to assist 18,000 families this year and reach 76,000 by 2014 (Portal Brasil).

Death in the Amazon: Brazil accused of protecting trees but not its people. Progress in reducing logging marred by brutal killings of environmental campaigners (The Guardian).

It is a project that should symbolize the transformational benefits of hosting the 2014 World Cup — a sleek new monorail train gliding above Brazil’s steamy Amazon city of Manaus. But Athayde Ribeiro da Costa has a different take on it. With just under 1,000 days before the first ball is kicked, the chief public prosecutor in Amazonas state sees the monorail as part of a trend of overspending and poor planning as Brazil rushes to make up for a slow start to its preparations (Reuters).

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BAHIA

Each year hundreds of sea turtles make the journey to lay their eggs on Bahia’s golden sands. It’s a risky business, from the time the turtles haul themselves out of the turquoise waters, to the time their offspring emerge from the sand ready for their first daunting dip in the South Atlantic (The Rio Times).

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NORDESTE

The steel and oil industries are still finding new frontiers for expansion. In Brazil’s impoverished semiarid Northeast the key is not, like in China, cheap labour power or abundant raw materials, but logistical advantages (IPS News).

Authorities are trying to extinguish a 60-year-old family feud they say has led to at least 95 murders. Police say they sent 130 lawmen into six rural communities in northeastern Brazil to make arrests meant to end the bloodshed involving the Oliveira, Veras and Suassuna families (Washington Post).

RIO

Rio’s government began an effort to wrest control from local drug gangs and install community police units (called U.P.P.’s) in its favelas. The result has been a significant decrease in crime, and an increase in tourism, as mom-and-pop restaurants, pousadas and music venues with gritty charm and unparalleled views are attracting visitors, Brazilians and foreigners alike, to the hillside communities (New York Times).

For the past two weeks, the Complexo da Maré, an agglomeration of sixteen favela communities in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone), has seen numerous firefights between police and drug traffickers, frightening residents and disrupting routines. This is the largest armed conflict in the region since last spring, when traffickers fleeing the pacification of the nearby Complexo do Alemão attempted to invade Maré (The Rio Times).

When it comes to purchasing property, almost anywhere in the world the proximity to water heavily influences the value. Rio de Janeiro’s real estate values are no exception, especially for the coveted views of the long stretches of Zona Sul (South Zone) beachfront (The Rio Times).

A senior Brazilian police officer has been arrested on suspicion of ordering the murder of a judge who investigated police corruption. Lt Col Claudio Luiz de Oliveira was detained in Rio de Janeiro, and arrest orders have been issues for at least six other policemen in the city (BBC).

The top commander of the military police in Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil has resigned amid a scandal that linked a top officer and other policemen to the assassination of a high-profile judge (MercoPress).

Police say gunmen invaded a hostel packed with tourists attending Rock in Rio, briefly detaining them before fleeing with their valuables (Washington Post).

Rio de Janeiro has the highest level of air pollution in Brazil, and is more polluted than many other world metropolis like New York, London and Paris, a World Health Organization (WHO) study said (Xinhua).

SAO PAULO

It’s vast, daunting, and far from safe. But after moving her family there, The Economist’s correspondent Helen Joyce has found that inside this teeming modern city is a village trying to get out (The Economist).

Officials have ordered one of Brazil’s biggest shopping malls to close due to risk of a methane gas explosion. The Sao Paulo State Environmental Protection Agency says the gas is seeping from the landfill on which the Center Norte mall was built in the 1980s (Washington Post).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on September 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

POLITICS

A woman is president in booming, macho Brazil. And she’s calling all the shots. Dont mess with Dilma (Newsweek)!

The lower house of Congress has approved the creation of a Truth Commission charged with investigating human rights abuses, including those committed during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship (New York Times).

The minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Aloizio Mercadante, said that technology and innovation are priorities in the Brasil Maior Plan, at a public hearing held by the Committee on Economic Affairs. He believes that the country will have to invest in those areas if it does not want to be a mere exporter of commodities, such as soybeans and orange juice (Federal Senate).

Brazil will extend a project, which offers financial aid to poor families, to reach 800,000 more families in the next two years, Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said. The Bolsa Familia program provides a monthly stipend to families with an income less than 140 reais (78 U.S. dollars) per capita per month (Xinhua).

CORRUPTION

Catholic bishops called for “a profound political reform” against corruption and strongly supported the popular protests that have erupted in the country following the disclosure of several scandals that have swept away four ministers and has reached the doorsteps of Congress (MercoPress).

Folha de Sao Paulo launched an online initiative to collect feedback from sensitive information and leaks for journal investigation, a Web site it dubbed “Folhaleaks” in direct reference to the widely known Wikileaks Web site founded by Julian Assange (MercoPress).

A total of 594 brooms representing Brazil’s 81 senators and 513 members of the Lower House have been planted in the famous Copacabana beach of Rio do Janeiro by a non government organization demanding for action against rampant corruption (MercoPress).

Corruption is often a subject when talking to foreign businessmen that want to do business in Brazil. This article at The Brazil Business will give some insight to the kind of corruption that never gets to the headlines of foreign press.

The United States and Brazil launched a transparency initiative for open government, reported the Epoch Times. Called the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the initiative includes 46 governments around the world and is an effort to support “national efforts to promote transparency, fight corruption, strengthen accountability, and empower citizens,” according a fact sheet from the White House (Knight Centre).

A reshuffled Cabinet in the first few months of a new administration isn’t usually cause for alarm. But President Dilma Rousseff has lost her chief of staff, four other Cabinet ministers, and dozens of government staffers since taking office in January — and the press is smelling blood. Newspapers like the Folha de Sao Paulo and its rival the Estado de Sao Paulo won’t leave the subject alone (Bloomberg).

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INTERNATIONAL

President Dilma Rousseff has demanded a greater role for emerging nations in addressing the global economic crisis. “This crisis is too serious to be managed by a small group of countries,” Ms Rousseff said in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York. She reiterated Brazil’s desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council (BBC).

Read Dilma’s full speech at the UN here.

The international strengthening of the Portuguese language holds “strategic interest” to Brazil, said the director of External Relations of the Ministry of Culture, Marcelo Dantas, at a public hearing promoted by the Committee on Education, Culture and Sports. He warned for the risk of growing influence from English and French-speaking countries especially on Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa (Federal Senate).

The Dalai Lama has been snubbed by the Brazilian government during a tour of Latin America after China reacted furiously to talks he held with Mexico’s president (Telegraph).

President Dilma Rousseff seemed to signal that she would be less accommodating to dictators than her predecessor when she criticized Iran’s human rights record even before taking office in January. So far, the shift from former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been more style than substance, according to former Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia (Bloomberg).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil will hold off plans to purchase new fighter jets until at least 2012 as the government cuts spending to fight the global economic crisis, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said (Reuters).

The federal government intends to promote the “intensive use” of the Army in road construction works and road maintenance in Amazon regions which are next to neighboring countries. The intention was announced by the executive director of the National Department for Transport Infrastructure (Dnit), Tarcísio Gomes de Freitas, during a public hearing by the Subcommittee on the Amazon and the Border Strip, linked to the Committee on External Relations and National Defense (Federal Senate).

The Brazilian government displayed this weekend thousands of troops with air support along the borders with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in a concerted effort to combat organized crime (MercoPress).

SCIENCE

Brazilian students are finally getting an incentive to see the world, thanks to a major government program that aims to award 75,000 scholarships to attend the world’s top universities. Available only to Brazilians studying subjects of strategic national importance, like engineering, they reflect “an effort by the government to take a quantum leap in the formation of a scientific and technological elite,” says Aloizio Mercadante, Brazil’s Science and Technology Minister (Time).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on September 23, 2011 at 9:53 am

ECONOMY

The government has taken small steps to help local firms. In August it cut payroll taxes for a few labour-intensive industries. But mostly it has tried to keep out foreign goods and capital. Mr Mantega says Brazil is “under siege” from imports. Last month the government tweaked procurement rules to favour local products (Chinese-made army uniforms were an irritant). In the past year Mr Mantega has raised taxes on foreign capital. He wants the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to let countries levy tariffs on imports from places that artificially weaken their currencies (The Economist).

Brazil’s central bank unexpectedly acted to halt the currency’s slide on Thursday, highlighting growing concern among officials that the global financial crisis is damaging Brazil’s economy and could cause a potentially destructive spurt in inflation (Reuters).

Brazil will be one of the main destinations of foreign investment next year, a study released by the country’s Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) said (Xinhua).

Economists raised their forecast for Brazil’s benchmark inflation index in 2012 to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent previously, according to a weekly central bank survey (Reuters).

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow less than the world average in 2011 and 2012, a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. According to the report, Brazil’s GDP will record an increase of 3.8 percent in 2011 and 3.6 percent in 2012, against a 4-percent world average in both years (Xinhua).

Brazil’s federal revenue rose 15.92 percent in August from a year earlier, the federal tax agency said. The government collected 74.61 billion reais ($39 billion) in August compared with 64.36 billion reais in the same month a year earlier, the agency said in a report distributed today in Brasilia (Bloomberg).

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AVIATION

Embraer released its outlook dedicated to the Chinese regional aviation market for 2011-2030 at a press conference in Beijing, China, on the opening day of the 14th Beijing Airshow, September 21-24. In line with the expansion of China’s aviation market and economic development, it is forecasted that 975 new regional jets will be delivered over the next 20 years, including 15 for 30-60 seats, 440 for 61-90 seats, and 520 for 91-120 seats, which accounts for around 13% of global market demands (Embraer).

http://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac242/atlantico/EMBRAER-190-Bulgaria-Air.jpg

Embraer delivered the first EMBRAER 190 jet to Alitalia. This aircraft is part of an order announced in March 2011 for five EMBRAER 190 and 15 EMBRAER 175 jets by the Italian airline, and will be operated through a leasing agreement with Air Lease Corporation, based in the U.S. (Embraer).

LAN Airlines said it hopes its multibillion-dollar takeover of Brazil’s TAM will be completed in the first quarter of 2012, but it is studying conditions imposed by Chile’s regulator (Reuters).

To expand business in Latin America without making acquisitions, Lufthansa says it is boosting its capacity on routes to Brazil by 60 percent this year (Reuters).

Demand for domestic plane tickets in Brazil increased 20.14 percent in the first eight months of 2011, according to a study released by the country’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) (Xinhua).

Metalworkers at Embraer , the world’s third-largest commercial planemaker, started a 24-hour strike on Thursday to demand a more than 17 percent salary increase (Reuters).

Brazil’s government will set out an ambitious timeline and maintain veto rights over public-private projects to expand the country’s airports by the 2014 soccer World Cup, a senior official has told Reuters.

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BANKING

Brazilian banks have “negligible” exposure to bad sovereign debt and stress tests show they are prepared to withstand any downturn in the global economy, the central bank said (Reuters).

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MINING & STEEL

Following extensive research that began more than 35 years ago, Tecnored Desenvolvimento Tecnológico S.A., a Vale company, in partnership with Brazil’s development bank, BNDES, and Logos Tecnocom, have started up the first pig iron demonstration plant that does not use traditional blast furnace methods, in Pindamonhangaba, São Paulo state. Pig iron is a fundamental element in steel production. The innovation enables higher productivity, lower emissions of CO2 and particulate matter, the flexible use of raw materials, and a reduction of up to 30% in the cost of steel production (Vale).

OIL

Brazilian oil company HRT  closed a deal to buy four Chinese-made drilling rigs for its campaign to explore Amazon oil blocks, a source close to the deal said. The company is expected to close a second deal for another four rigs in the next 10 days with the same shipyard (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on September 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the 31 floors LandScape Parque Flamboyant residential tower for Jardim Goias, Goiania, Goias state (Skyscrapercity).

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CULTURE

Europalia is a major international arts festival held every two years to celebrate one invited country’s cultural heritage. Since 1969, Europalia has organised some twenty-two festivals. Each has turned the spotlight on one culture in a comprehensive programme of music, fine arts, photography, cinema, theatre, dance, literature, architecture, design, fashion and gastronomy.

For its 23rd festival, Europalia takes you to Brazil ! Modern and forward-looking, this country has managed to draw upon its origins and the mosaic of its peoples. An entire world blends together in this country : from the heirs of European settlers to the Amazon Indians, from the Afro-Brazilians – descendants of slaves – to immigrants from Japan, Lebanon, Italy, China, Germany… Rythms, colours, shapes… heritage and contemporary art : in more than 200 venues in Belgium and abroad, join us to discover Brazil and its mix of identities and cultures! Check out the content at europalia.brasil, the diversity of Brazil in the heart of Europe

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CULTURE

Heloise Baylão, a Brazilian singer was born in Goiânia (State of Goiás/Brazil). She has been living in Rotterdam/The Netherlands since 2001 and in that city she was able to improve her experience in music as well as her interaction with other artists. She began her musical career when she started studying Classical Piano at the age of five. When she turned six years old she was then admitted to the Musical Conservatory of the Federal University of Goias, where read on here.

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AMAZON

Brazilian rescuers have found a British couple whose vehicle crashed into a ravine in the Amazon jungle. Lesley Norris and Bruce Scott clambered up the ravine and alerted relatives in England by mobile phone after the crash 200 miles from Manaus in Brazil (BBC).

The board of Brazil’s HRT Participacoes voted to close a deal with Russia’s TNK-BP for the sale of oil exploration blocks in the Solimoes Basin in the Amazon (Reuters).

MINAS GERAIS

The state of Minas Gerais plans to tax the production of iron ore processed in other states, to gain an additional 400 million reais ($222 million) of revenue (Bloomberg).

NORDESTE

Petrobras announced it has located petroleum and gas reserves in ultra-deep waters of the Sergipe-Alagoas basin, calling the discovery a “new oil province” for Brazil (LAHT).

RIO

Rio de Janeiro does not need foreign funding to stage the 2016 Games after abandoning plans to launch “Olympic bonds” worth $2 billion to help finance infrastructure projects, the city’s new Olympics czar said (Reuters).

Rua Uruguaiana in Centro is known to Cariocas and savvy tourists as one of Rio’s best bargain shopping destinations. The popular market, a labyrinth of tiny stalls selling electronics, clothing, and media, has recently become a target of investigation into militia extortion, counterfeiting and even illegal immigration (The Rio Times).

Rock in Rio has finally arrived, and with over 700,000 tickets sold the city is prepared to be overrun starting Friday, September 23rd, for seven days of music over the span of ten days. This is the first time in ten years that Rock in Rio has returned to its hometown, and fans from around the world are excited for this epic event (The Rio Times).

Check some tips for having fun safely during Rock in Rio at the Rio Official Guide.

Many come to Rio De Janeiro having never heard of Leme, but this small borough boasts the same beautiful beach as Copacabana and the same main drag of cyclists, skaters and runners. The only difference being the lack of congestion and tourism, which are the same reasons that keep this little piece of Rio a favorite getaway for locals (The Rio Times).

The city of Rio de Janeiro has a lot of options when it comes to thrill seeking, from rappelling down high cliffs, to spear fishing and of course plenty of surfing. Outside the city though, one can find adventure near the border of Minas Gerais, two hours driving from Rio de Janeiro city, were the wild Paraibuna river has several rafting outfits operating (The Rio Times).

SANTA CATARINA

State legislators in Santa Catarina approved the sale of as much as 49 percent of state-controlled water and sanitation company Cia. Catarinense de Aguas & Saneamento (Bloomberg).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on September 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

POLITICS

Tourism Minister Pedro Novais has resigned over allegations that he misused public funds. Mr Novais quit after newspaper reports accused him of using public money to employ a maid and a driver for his wife while he was a congressman (BBC). Dilma Rousseff named congressman Gastao Vieira of the government-allied Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, as tourism minister, to replace Pedro Novais.

Rousseff has lost some significant members of cabinet so far this year, including her once powerful chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, but she can afford to lose a few with an over-sized cabinet totalling 38 ministers (FT).

US ambassador in Brazil Thomas Shannon said the country suffered from “extended corruption” according to a diplomatic cable a year and a half ago referred to former president Lula da Silva administration and which was recently released by Wikileaks (MercoPress).

Following the spate of corruption scandals that has blighted the government in recent months, Brazilians from all sectors of society are standing up in support of President Rousseff’s governmental “clean-up” operation and making their voices heard in the fight against corruption. Brazilian Independence Day celebrations were augmented by Brazilians around the country marching in protest (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s government presented a plan for dividing up oil royalties among states, a crucial step in advancing its effort to tap deepwater reserves it hopes will turn the country into a major crude exporter (MercoPress).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil’s proposal for BRICS countries to come to Europe’s rescue by buying bonds is a well-intentioned but largely self-serving initiative that will enhance its own global profile without risking enough money to make a major difference in the euro zone crisis (Reuters).

Brazil’s proposal to support the crisis-hit euro zone garnered only lukewarm support from fellow BRICS countries on Wednesday, as doubts mounted whether the five emerging market powers have the political will or financial clout to throw a lifeline to Europe (Reuters).

The idea that Brazil, Russia, India and China will use some of their massive foreign reserves to buy up the bonds of weak euro zone countries has a certain symmetry, but it is unlikely to happen and even more unlikely to work if it does (James Saft at Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff said the financial crisis in the Untied States which is contaminating the rest of the world is more ‘political’ than economic and it’s not only a matter of money, but also and mainly of ‘strong decisions’ (MercoPress).

President Jose Mujica of Uruguay admitted to Uruguayan manufacturers and farmers that with recurrent Argentine and Brazilian obstacles to trade “it’s very hard to make Mercosur function” and good relations between presidents “are not enough” (MercoPress).

The U.S. has not been encouraged by the performance of India, Brazil and South Africa during their temporary tenure on the UN Security Council, Ambassador Susan Rice said. Splits between the so-called IBSA group of countries and the U.S. arose as protest movements swept the Middle East. India and Brazil, along with Russia, China and Germany, abstained from a UN resolution that formed the legal basis for military intervention in Libya (Bloomberg-Businessweek).

Brazilian diplomats and academics alike have long regarded regional leadership as a springboard to global recognition and influence. But while the strategic goal of becoming a legitimate regional leader has failed, the ultimate goal of becoming an intermediate world power has fared better. This article analyzes the growing mismatch between the regional and global performance of Brazil’s foreign policy in order to answer two questions. First, what are the causes of this divergence? The explanation may be structural conditions—e.g., a larger and growing economy in regard to smaller or laggard neighbors; or policy behavior— a change in the diagnoses or the perceptions of the Brazilian foreign policy elite, whose interests or confidence in the region may diminish as global opportunities arise. Second, what are the potential consequences of this mismatch? Either Brazil stays the course, reaching out to the region to bring it together and face the world with a single voice, or goes it alone (Latin American Politics & Society).

Amid domestic political turmoil and growing economic uncertainties, foreign policy represented a much safer haven for Dilma Rousseff during her first eight months in office. Changes concerning human rights violations, a positive gesture toward the United States, and keeping Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at arm’s length were interpreted as positive diplomatic shifts. The general perception both in and outside Brazil was that pragmatism had replaced ideology as the benchmark of Brazilian foreign policy (BrazilPolitics).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

The Brazilian government will send a presidential decree to Congress in the coming days reducing taxes for local defense companies, a measure that will benefit Embraer SA and Odebrecht SA, Valor Economico reported (Bloomberg).

Embraer has increased its hold in the Brazilian defense sector by taking a 25 percent stake in AEL, the Elbit Systems local operation as part of a deal for the two companies to collaborate on development of unmanned systems. The defense and security arm of Embraer announced earlier this year it would acquire a share in AEL along with partnering in the development and production of unmanned air systems (Defense News).

Of all European companies hoping to work with Brazil to exploit Latin America’s burgeoning defense market, Dassault Falcon is most upbeat about future growth in collaboration with the regional leader in arms industries. Part of France’s Dassault Aviation, a major contender in Brazil’s multibillion-dollar F-X2 fighter competition, Dassault Falcon is aiming to expand its market share in the Central and South America region and sees Brazil as the ideal partner (UPI).

The Brazilian Justice Ministry said it had successfully concluded the first phase of an ambitious nationwide disarmament campaign with the collection and destruction of over 22,200 firearms. The ministry said in a statement that the number of weapons collected between May 6 and Sept. 9 was 20 times higher than that in the first four months of the year, prior to the start of the government’s disarmament campaign (Xinhua).

SOCIAL

Professional shortage in Brazil has called attention to a problem that has always been a constant in the country, but ignored by the government throughout the years: education. In a moment in which Internet has changed the face of education as it facilitates the access to information, almost 10% of Brazilian are completely illiterate, which means that they are incapable of recognizing words or making meaning out of simple sentences and 68% of the population is functionally illiterate. If we add these percentages, we will get to stunning 78%, which corresponds to 150.053.666 Brazilians who are unable of reading a text like this one (in Portuguese, of course) and making any meaning out of it (The Brazil Business).

Two years ago, Facebook had little more than four million visitors in Brazil, according to Ibope Nielsen Online, the reference for ranking of Brazilian web audience. Orkut had been the market leader for the past 7 years in Brazil. In July 2009, Orkut reigned online with more than 27 million users while Facebook had only 4,2 million members. Then, “Facebook revolution” started. Last month Zuckerberg’s social network surpassed Orkut, owned by Google, in number of users in Brazil for the first time (Forbes).

Census figures from 2010 show that nearly 43,000 children under 14 years of age are living with a partner in Brazil in defiance of laws forbidding these unions. Brazil’s penal code prohibits marriage with children under 14 and defines sex with them as statutory rape (Washington Post).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on September 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

ECONOMY

The public sector is Brazil’s weakest point in the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report. Its government is the seventh most wasteful spender. Its regulatory burden is the heaviest, and its taxes are the most complex. According to the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, medium-sized Brazilian firms spend 2,600 hours a year paying taxes—over twice as long as the next-slowest country and nearly ten times the average (The Economist).

The Brazilian economy expanded at its fastest pace in six months in July, even as the central bank bets on slower growth to curb the fastest inflation in six years (Mercopress).

Retail sales in Brazil rose more than expected in July and sped up sharply from June, prompting worries that interest rate cuts could be premature (Reuters).

Recently, The Rio Times reported on the expected 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics legacy for the city and country in terms of infastructure. In the second part of this series, they now turn our attention to the predicted legacy of the mega-events on the Brazilian economy (The Rio Times).

Historically, the thorn in the side of Brazil’s economy has always been inflation and last week the rolling twelve month inflation rate was reported as 7.23 percent by the Central Bank. This is the first time that inflation figures have not been inside the government target rate of 4.5 percent, give or take two points in either direction, since the rate was adopted in 2006 (The Rio Times).

Brazil raised a tax on cars with a high content of imported components to protect jobs following a surge in shipments from China and elsewhere that has been fueled by a rally in the currency (MercoPress).

AGRI ETC.

Brazil may need as much as $490 billion in investments to meet rising demand for sugar and ethanol, C. Czarnikow Sugar Futures Ltd. said (Bloomberg).

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BANKING

Banco Bradesco, Brazil’s second biggest non-government lender, expects its loan book to grow about 18 percent next year, a pace similar to this year’s, the company’s chief executive said (Reuters).

Profit at Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Latin America’s largest bank, may jump 15 percent next year as interest-rate cuts in Brazil reduce loan delinquencies, Chief Executive Officer Roberto Setubal said (Bloomberg).

BIOFUELS

Brazilian scientist Expedito Jose de Sá Parent, 70, who is considered the creator of bio-diesel died this week in Fortaleza. President Dilma Rousseff paid tribute to the researcher who developed the ‘green’ fuel from oilseeds (MercoPress, picture source).

British oil giant BP said it is taking over Tropical BioEnergia after purchasing a 50-percent stake in the Brazilian biofuel company. BP acquired a 25-percent stake from LDC-SEV Bioenergia and the other 25-percent stake from Maeda Agroindustrial group, one of Brazil’s main cotton producers (Xinhua).

INFRA & ENERGY

Brazil is completing construction of its third nuclear plant and will build four more plants to increase its nuclear energy production, Energy Minister Edison Lobao said (Xinhua).

Brazil’s government may retake control of almost 1,700 kilometers (1,060 miles) of railways as other rail lines undergo renovation, O Estado de S. Paulo reported (Bloomberg).

President, Dilma Rousseff, took part in the laying of the cornerstone for the Rio Tietê Shipyard in Araçatuba (São Paulo). Orders placed under Transpetro’s Promef Waterway program made the yard feasible. The program is a milestone in Brazilian ethanol logistics, as it will make widespread use of the Tietê-Paraná Waterway to flow production from Midwestern and Southeastern Brazil (Petrobras).

President Dilma Rousseff has signed a letter of intent to allocate 900mn reais (US$526mn) in federal funding for improvements to the Tietê-Paraná waterway. The project aims to build 2,400km of navigable waterway through work including dredging, improvements to locks and channeling work (Dredging Today).

A federal court in Brazil has ordered an immediate halt to work on a new terminal at the main international airport in Sao Paulo. The judge said the state airport authority ignored the proper bidding process when awarding the contract for the project at Guarulhos airport (BBC).

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MINING

The first shipment from Moatize Coal Mine, operated by Vale in Tete Province, left Mozambique on board the Orion Express vessel. The batch of 35,000 metric tons of thermal coal was transported for 575 km along the Sena-Beira Railroad, on various trains. This was the first operation of its kind along the railroad in 28 years (Vale).

REAL ESTATE

BR Properties, Brazil’s largest commercial real estate developer, agreed on Wednesday to buy rival WTorre Properties, growing by another leap as demand for office and warehouse real estate booms (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on September 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Atrium residential project for Rio de Janeiro’s Tijuca neighbourhood (Skyscrapercity).

MEDIA

The Brazilian government took distance from the ruling Workers Party demand for an urgent implementation of a controversial media bill, arguing the issue was not urgent (MercoPress).

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CULTURE

Sencity is an unique way of getting everything out of your night. This party goes beyond music, all senses are stimulated at this party! With expressive dancers, a SenseFloor, Taste sensations, Video projections, light effects, sign interpreters and hairdressers the music event transforms in a overall experience (Sencity).

Neyde Lantyer is a Brazilian visual artist working with photography and installations. She is also a concept creator of projects on contemporary art, culture and society. Currently, she lives in Holland where she takes active role in art organizations and cultural enterprises. Lantyer was born in Queimadas-Bahia and attended the Escola de Belas Artes da UFBa (Federal University of Bahia), in Salvador (Neyde Lantyer).

BAHIA

No trip to Salvador, Brazil’s third largest city, would be complete without time spent in Pelourinho. Known as the city within a city, ‘Pelo’ is the colorful old neighborhood located within the Cidade Alta (Upper City). Colonial architecture, thriving artistry, and breathtaking churches are sprawled throughout the cobble-stoned streets, spawning a beauty and energy that go unmatched (The Rio Times).

RIO

In the past week the Complexo do Alemão in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) has seen several clashes between civilians and UPP (Police Pacification Unit) officers. While no new incidents have been reported since September 7th, the unrest spurred officials to reevaluate UPP strategy in Alemão. These events mark the largest shootout between police and civilians since the community was invaded by peacekeeping forces in November 2010 (The Rio Times).

How about enjoying the weekend strolling along one of the most beautiful and secluded regions in the city? The quarters of Vargem Grande and Vargem Pequena, in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, are going to be the scene of the 3rd Festival of Art and Gastronomy at the Vargens, in October 22nd and 23rd, from 10am to 7pm, when the ateliers in the region are to be open for visitation and the restaurants are going to offer special dishes at very agreable prices. This part of the city that is today being modernized for the 2016 Olympic Games is well known by its exuberant nature and bucolic atmosphere, besides harboring one of the most renowned gastronomy centers in the city. Enjoy your trip! (Rio Official Guide).

Following up on previous articles listing places for rent in Rio within the R$3,500 and R$2,500 monthly rental price range, The Rio Times now look at what is available for the lower amount of R$1,500. The focus is still on the more popular areas of Zona Sul (South Zone) for foreigners, but with the real estate and rental prices rising considerably in the last two years, the choices are limited within this range (The Rio Times).

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SAO PAULO

It has been a news-headlines plagued Miss Universe pageant, both before and after, that finally crowned beauty queen Leila Lopes, Angola’s first in Sao Paulo (MercoPress).

Three leading members of one of Brazil‘s most powerful churches have been accused of laundering millions in church donations and using worshippers’ money for personal gain. The charges, unveiled on Monday by São Paulo’s public prosecutor, relate to 404m reals (£150m) allegedly obtained from mostly impoverished churchgoers by leaders at Brazil’s Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (The Guardian).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on September 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff is starting to gain support for a war on corruption that she is quietly waging. This month 22 senators formed the Inter-Party Front for Combating Corruption and Impunity precisely with the goal of ensuring parliamentary support for Rousseff, as a way of countering possible defections. The government is being “blackmailed,” said Senator Pedro Simón, a PMDB politician who acts independently and is one of the founders of the Front, which has already begun coordinating strategies with organisations such as the Brazilian bar association and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (IPS News).

Thousands of people have joined anti-corruption demonstrations in Brazil, as the country marks its Independence Day. Wearing face paint and clown noses, protesters joined crowds watching the traditional military parade in the capital, Brasilia (BBC).

While India’s newly formed middle class seems willing to vent its frustration in the streets (as Gandhi once did), turnout for anti-corruption marches during yesterday’s Independence Day in Brazil was low and outrage is usually limited to the dinner table conversation. When asked what the country’s most urgent problems are, Brazilians rarely mention corruption (Post Western World).

Governors and senators are close to an understanding on oil royalties sharing between producing and non-producing states. They agree on three points: producing states cannot lose the already obtained revenue from oil exploration in their respective territories; non producing states must take part in the financial results of this exploration; and the Union should give up on a part of its own royalties on behalf of such understanding (Federal Senate).

Plano Brasil Maior is the strategy president Dilma Roussef has found to keep the country’s growth and to consolidate the national industry, decreasing the need for imports of both goods and workforce. Read about Brazil’s protectionis at the Brazil Business.

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INTERNATIONAL

Which countries match the GDP and population of Brazil’s states? Check out the map at The Economist.

Few analyze the effects the terrorist attacks and their aftermath have had on Brazil, and how Brazil has dealt with the international environment after 9-11.
While Brazil had never been a priority of US foreign policy, this tendency was reinforced after September 11 and the US-led invasion in Afghanistan (Post Western World).

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has urged companies in his country to consider business opportunities in Portugal. Silva said that flag carrier TAP Air Portugal and a naval shipyard in northern Portugal could be of interest to Brazilian companies (Washington Post).

Last week, Brazilian television featured a local – if bizarre – angle on the Libya story. The ousted Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, it seems is one of the more notorious past foreign customers of an industry Brazil is famous for – plastic surgery (FT).

After a decade of record Brazil exports to China, which helped the region grow significantly despite the recent global recession, there are signs that the honeymoon may be coming to an end. Growing numbers of Brazilian and Latin American business leaders and trade experts are complaining that China is buying almost exclusively raw materials from the region, while refusing to purchase more sophisticated — and expensive — Latin American goods, thus preventing the region from having more diversified economies (Miami Herald).

The prevailing image of China has been that of an unquenchable consumer and the manufacturer of all things cheap. But the opening of 55 glitzy JAC Motors dealerships in Brazil, all selling sleekly designed cars built in China, has helped Chinese officials and businessmen present a different image of their country, as modern and dynamic (Washington Post).

Iran has eclipsed Russia to become the biggest buyer of beef from Brazil, the world’s top exporter of the meat, strengthening the countries’ controversial ties and deepening Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s foreign policy dilemma (FT).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

The Rafale fighter stands out for having been conceived as omnirole, that is, they are capable to perform all tasks of a fight aircraft. This is the main advantage of the French aircraft in relation to other competitors in the dispute for the contract to modernize the Brazilian Air Force, as Jean-Marc Merialdo,  director of Dassault International of Brazil, said during the last of the three public hearings promoted on the theme by the Committee on External Relations and National Defense (Federal Senate).

Brazil plans to start withdrawing troops from the UN peacekeeping mission it leads in Haiti, Defence Minister Celso Amorim has said (BBC).

Embraer Defense and Security and AEL Sistemas, a subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit Systems Ltd., formalized a partnership to create a new company, Harpia Sistemas S.A., to focus on the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) market. Embraer Defense and Security holds 51% of Harpia’s capital, and AEL the remaining 49% (Embraer).

Embraer Defense and Security has selected AEL Sistemas S.A., of Porto Alegre, in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to supply the mission computer,  Cobham, with headquarters in Dorset, England, to supply the wing-mounted aerial refueling pods and SELEX Galileo, from Italy to supply the mission radar system for the military airlifter and tanker jet KC-390, which  is advancing well.

Two of Latin America’s leading emergent nuclear powers, Argentina and Brazil, said they would campaign to keep the South Atlantic region free of nuclear weapons even as they push multibillion-dollar nuclear power development programs (UPI).

Brazil’s Minister of Defence Celso Amorim is in Buenos Aires for several scheduled meetings this week with his Argentine counterpart Arturo Puricelli and to establish closer ties in defence issues in the framework of Unasur (Union of South American nations). Tthey will be discussing Argentina’s intention of “reconditioning Argentine missiles in Brazil” with Brazilian technology (Mercopress).