News from Brazil

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on November 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff has said that the face of poverty in Brazil is one that is “black and female,” which highlighted the need to bolster public policies in relation to women’s health in the country and admitted that the country’s black population still experiences unacceptable levels of poverty, violence and unemployment (The Rio Times).

Former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is credited with ending years of hyperinflation in the South American nation, will join a newly created advisory board at Brazilian investment fund Gavea Investimentos (Reuters).

Cleaning the Brasília pork factory… In a never-ending telenovela of sleaze, Dilma Rousseff is tackling the excesses of patronage politics but not yet the underlying system (The Economist).

When the Viennese-born writer Stefan Zweig moved in 1941 to Rio de Janeiro, he was one of world’s most translated authors, renowned for his taut novellas exploring passion, obsession and despair. Some now compare his importance in Brazil to that in the United States of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political thinker who wrote about American concepts of liberty and equality in “Democracy in America” (New York Times).

The Brazilian Congress has passed a bill banning smoking in enclosed public places nationwide. Smoking bans are already in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other big cities. The new law goes one step further. It makes illegal designated smoking rooms in airports and bars that exist even in those places with a ban already in place (Washington Post).

Brazil’s president signed a law establishing a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses by the military regime that ruled Latin America’s biggest country from 1964 to 1985. President Dilma Rousseff will appoint the seven members of the commission, which will have two years to complete a report. The board will have subpoena power, can demand any document it wants from the government and can put witnesses under oath. But its recommendations won’t result in any prosecutions as long as the country’s 1979 amnesty law remains intact (Huffington Post).

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INTERNATIONAL

The Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will visit Cape Verde in early 2012 to strengthen ties and cooperation between the two Portuguese-speaking countries, the leader of the Atlantic island state has said (Xinhua).

Paraguayan members from the Mercosur Parliament, Parlasur made a public statement to complain the ‘intimidating Brazilian military display’ with armoured vehicles and heavy equipment along the border particularly across from the Ciudad del Este which is ‘contrary to international agreements and the Mercosur spirit’ (MercoPress).

Eight South American countries pledged to boost cooperation to protect one of the planet’s largest natural reserves from deforestation and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals. Representatives of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela gathered in Manaus, northern Brazil, also vowed to speak with one voice at next June’s UN conference on sustainable development in Rio (AFP).

South Korean companies are coming under fire in Brazil for alleged abuse of their workers, amid an investigation by local labor prosecutors (AFP).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil ranks number 11 in terms of global defence spending, but due to its annual growth of 20% it is expected to become one of the tope ten defence spending nations by 2016, according to a new report. Brazil has not come under military attack in over 50 years, and traditionally favors negotiation over military force to resolve disputes with other countries. The country allocates 41% of its defense budget towards pension payments and is expected to spend only 8% towards arms procurements, ASD Reports says (Defenceweb).

Brazil’s aircraft manufacturing industry is emerging as a serious contender in the highly competitive air transport market where it’s pitted against major players from North America, Europe and Asia. With the increasing difficulties in securing U.S. administration and congressional approval for arms deals, the former recipients of U.S. hardware are being wooed by Brazil’s Embraer as well as other foreign suppliers. Brazil has also strengthened its market position by offering soft terms and playing the neighborly card (UPI).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on November 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

ECONOMY

“Now it’s our turn.” This phrase spilled from the mouths of young Brazilians again and again this week. Their country pulses today. Pick your indicator: Soaring economic growth. Booming sales of yachts and luxury apartments and Louis Vuitton handbags to the rich. The fact of more cellphone subscriptions in Brazil than there are Brazilians. The billions garnered from exporting commodities to China. Deep reserves of oil (New York Times).

The Brazilian government slashed its 2011 economic growth estimate to 3.8 percent from 4.5 percent, blaming the worsening debt crisis in Europe and a sluggish U.S. economy. Even as activity slows, the country’s inflation is seen accelerating to 6.4 percent in 2011 from a previous forecast of 5.8 percent, according to a joint Treasury and Federal Budget office report (Reuters).

Brazil’s economy expanded at the slowest pace in 10 quarters in the three months through September after policy makers curbed bank lending and raised interest rates to rein in inflation (Bloomberg).

The largest Brazilian companies are finding it tougher to obtain bank financing, a central bank official said on Tuesday, signaling a restrictive credit market that will likely weigh on economic growth (Reuters).

Too much liquidity in global markets and high commodities prices are making it difficult for Brazil to cut its inflation target in the short term, the president of the country’s central bank, Alexandre Tombini, told news magazine Veja (Reuters).

Brazil’s economy created 126,143 government-registered jobs in October, the Labor Ministry said. Analysts had expected Latin America’s biggest economy to add 167,178 formal jobs, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 12 economists (Bloomberg).

According to Central Bank statistics, the Brazilian economy is entering a phase of decline. Economists fear that the problems in the eurozone and in the U.S. are beginning to take their toll on Brazil, weakening the demand for Brazilian exports and reducing the inflow of money into the economy (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s government is working on a new rule to further limit the purchase of farm land by foreigners, arguing that the current legislation has been “insufficient,” a Brazilian newspaper said (MercoPress).

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BUSINESS

Brazilian retail chain TendTudo, which sells home improvement products and construction materials, has taken the first steps into what it believes could be a $400 million a year market in communist Cuba (Reuters).

AGRI ETC

Output from the world’s biggest sugar producer Brazil is likely to disappoint again next season, putting a potential floor under global sugar prices that have been falling over the past three months (Reuters).

Sugar output in Brazil’s Center South, the world’s largest producing region, will jump to a record next year as crops expand and recover from a drought, the head of the country’s largest sugar trading group said (Bloomberg).

AUTOMOTIVE

Fiat, Volkswagen, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. cars that are among best-sellers in Brazil wouldn’t meet U.S. or European safety standards, according to a group that conducted crash tests on the vehicles (Bloomberg).

Land Rover, owned by Indian group Tata, is studying building a plant in Brazil, which would be the first manufacturer’s plant outside the UK. According to  O Estado de São Paulo, the Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Fernando Pimentel, who was in London to attend the annual meeting of the Economic and Trade Joint Committee, was quoted as saying that the investment is almost set. Pimentel had said that the local unit has not yet been chosen and it is negotiating with states (India-Brazil Chamber).

AVIATION

TAM was too slow in responding to its rival Gol’s surging share of domestic air traffic, one of the company’s controlling shareholders said in an interview with newspaper Valor Economico. “We should have been faster to combat Gol in the domestic market,” said Mauricio Amaro, a member of the airline’s controlling family and vice chairman of its board (Reuters).

The Latin American airline colossus to be formed via Chilean carrier LAN’s takeover of Brazil’s TAM could boost its fleet to as many as 500 aircraft within a decade, Amaro said (Reuters).

Panama and Brazil have agreed to increase air services, with 21 flights running between Panama City and the Brazilian cities of Recife, Salvador de Bahia and Curitiba, the Civil Aeronautics of Panama (AAC) said (Xinhua).

Embraer and BOC Aviation, a Singapore-based aircraft leasing company, have signed a contract for the sale of fifteen EMBRAER 190 aircraft (E190).  Deliveries are scheduled from the fourth quarter of 2012 through 2014 (Embraer).

BANKING & FINANCE

BR Partners, the Brazilian financial-advisory firm founded by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executives, agreed to buy Banco Porto Seguro SA for an undisclosed amount (Bloomberg).

The BNDES registered a net profit of R$ 7.9 billion from January to September 2011. The result represents an increase of R$ 1.8 billion (29.5%) compared to the R$ 6.1 billion obtained in the same period in 2010. The main factors that contributed to the BNDES’ performance in 2011 were the revenue from the reversal of provisions for credit risk, R$ 1.6 billion, and the growth of R$ 1.3 billion in the result from corporate shares (stakes), 32.1% higher than in September 2010 (BNDES).

ENERGY

Brazil will introduce an optional program under which customers will pay more for electricity when demand is high and less when it’s low as part of an effort to become more energy efficient (Bloomberg).

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MINING & STEEL

Vale, the world’s largest iron ore miner, said it had suspended its business with an Amazon-based pig-iron producer accused by the government of illegal deforestation (Reuters).

Vale informs that its Board of Directors approved a proposal made by our Chief Executive Officer Murilo Ferreira for the adoption of a new structure at the Executive Board.  As a consequence, Vale´s Executive Board will have the following structure.

The board of Brazil’s Vale has approved a $6 billion expansion of its Moatize coal project in Mozambique to lift output to 22 million tons per year from the 11 million tons it expects to mine initially (Reuters).

Private firms that invest in gold mining in Brazil will be pouring an estimated 2.4 billion dollars over the next four years, O Globo newspaper reported Sunday, citing official figures (MercoPress).

OIL & GAS

Brazil’s government suspended Chevron Corp’s drilling rights until Chevron clarifies the causes of an offshore oil spill, the latest twist in a political firestorm threatening the U.S. company’s role in Brazil’s oil bonanza (Reuters).

 

 

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on November 25, 2011 at 10:37 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of a new Golden Tulip Hotel for downtown Belo Horizonte. The hotel will be part of a small cluster of new highrise buildings (Skyscrapercity).

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FIFA WORLD CUP

World Cup 2014 hosts Brazil appeared to publicly slam FIFA chief Sepp Blatter when they launched a campaign against racism in sport (Reuters).

AMAZON

Gunmen killed a chief of the Kaiowa-Guarani Indian tribe in western Brazil, apparently over a land dispute, according to Funai, the federal indigenous affairs agency (New York Times).

The +Unidos Group (or “Mais Unidos” meaning “more united”) is already known for its international development work with disadvantaged Brazilians, but the group will now be helping preserve biodiversity in the Amazon by joining the “Governance in Environmental Frontiers” biodiversity project run by USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and run by Aliança da Terra, a Civil Society Organization of Public Interest (The Rio Times).

MINAS

Embraer and the Government of Minas Gerais signed a letter of intent for the establishment of an engineering and development office in the state, near Belo Horizonte. “Embraer at this moment is in a very important phase and we are very proud in Minas Gerais with their first drive out of the State of São Paulo, starting with the engineering project office here in the capital. That office will be installed in our large aviation hub, “said the governor of Minas Gerais, Antonio Anastasia (India-Brazil Chamber).

TECHNOLOGY CITIES

As the metropolitan areas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro reach levels of saturation, the Brazilian industry has been relocating to other areas. In this article The Brazil Business specifically covers the cities of Campinas, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre.

RIO

With living costs skyrocketing in Rio in recent years, for many it is time to consider options beyond Zona Sul (South Zone). Much more affordable real estate can be found in Zona Norte (North Zone) which is quickly becoming more appealing, and with its tremendous size come many options for places to live (The Rio Times).

Regional administrator of Rocinha, Jorge Collares, has announced that the community will receive new enforcement policies to contain its previously unregulated construction practices.  The move has been long anticipated but only recently became a viable option following the Brazilian military’s occupation of Rocinha and neighboring favelas two weeks ago (The Rio Times).

SANTA CATARINA

November promises to be a different and exciting month for Santa Catarina’s arts movement with the first-ever “Cultural Marathon” celebrating local and national artists with a series of events this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 25-27) (Floripa Times).

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SAO PAULO

MRV Engenharia e Participacoes, a Brazilian homebuilder, may receive a fine of as much as 11 million reais ($6.1 million) for allegedly employing workers in slave-like conditions at two construction sites, Agencia Brasil reported, citing a prosecutor at the Labor Ministry (Bloomberg).

With the eyes of the world on Rocinha for the past week, many in Brazil are now also looking at what’s going on in the favela communities in the country’s biggest city, São Paulo. Not only does SP have the largest number of favelas, it also has the largest number of people living in them – a surprise to those who associate favela life with the Cidade Maravilhosa (The Rio Times).

Five cities vying for host right of the 2020 World Expo kicked off their candidature campaigns by presenting their respective bids to the 150th General Assembly of International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) in its Paris-based headquarters. The 2020 World Expo is due to take place from Jan. 4 to June 30, 2020. The winner of the five candidates, namely Izmir of Turkey, Ayutthaya of Thailand, Sao Paulo of Brazil, Ekaterinburg of Russia and Dubai of UAE, will be announced in November 2013 after vote (Xinhua).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on November 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff launched a nationwide plan aimed at the social inclusion of disabled people. The so-called Living without Limits Plan foresees an investment of 7.6 billion reais (4.27 billion U.S. dollars) until 2014, to be used in several fields to integrate Brazilians with disabilities in the society (Xinhua).

Compared with its neighbours, Brazil has been slow to revisit its dictatorship’s crimes.  The country has kept an amnesty law passed in 1979. It was intended to allow exiled dissidents to return without fear of prosecution, but later deemed to protect criminals within the regime too (The Economist).

Brazil paid $2.7 billion in debt to the World Bank ahead of schedule so that states and cities can take out new loans at cheaper rates, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing an official at the lender (Bloomberg).

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has had his hair and trademark beard shaved off as he battles throat cancer. Lula was shaved by his wife Marisa Leticia ahead of his next round of chemotherapy, which can make a patient’s hair fall out (BBC).

CORRUPTION

President Dilma Rousseff met with with the Labor Minister, Carlos Lupi, to demand an explanation of why he apparently lied about the details of a trip he made to Maranhão on government business (The Rio Times).

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso recommended President Dilma Rousseff a purge of her cabinet which faces yet another alleged corruption case: the minister of Labour, the fifth since she took office last January (MercoPress).

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INTERNATIONAL

President Rousseff ordered the creation of an “Africa Group” this month led by her trade and industry minister, Fernando Pimentel, to refresh its push in the region. Pimentel will lead government officials and business executives this month on a 10-day mission to explore opportunities in the three countries that Rousseff recently visited – Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa (Reuters).

Antonio Patriota told Reuters in an interview that the BRICS grouping — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — was fine as it was, brushing off a suggestion Indonesia may be admitted to the club.

President Dilma Rousseff criticized German chancellor Angela Merkel for her refusal to receive suggestions as to how face the global crisis and on specific issues such as youth unemployment (MercoPress).

The next Republican president needs to make Brazil a top priority by firstly, naming a high-level ambassador and secondly, making Brazil one of his first stops overseas. Brazil is still considered a developing country, but this classification is about ten years out of date. The United States needs to develop new ways to work with countries like Brazil that are on their way to becoming industrialized countries. Instead of foreign aid and development, the US have “cooperation interests” with Brazil that are linked to foreign policy, national security, and commercial interests (Foreign Policy).

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DEFENSE & SECURITY

The strengthening of the Brazilian Navy, aiming at guaranteeing Brazilian national sovereignty on riches such as the oil reserves in the continental shelf, will require investments of R$ 223 billion by 2030. The figures were presented by the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, fleet admiral Luiz Umberto de Mendonça, during a public hearing by the Committee on External Relations and National Defense. Until 2030, said the admiral, it will be necessary to purchase 20 conventional submarines and six nuclear ones, among other vessels, besides the constitution of a second fleet to have its headquarters in a not yet definite state in the Northern and Northeastern regions (Federal Senate).

The head of the federal police in Sao Paulo is braced for a high terror threat during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, one of the few times a top security official has addressed such concerns in the South American country. Brazil hasn’t had to deal with a major terrorist attack and officially dismisses the existence of terrorists within its borders, but Roberto Troncon Filho told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper that the World Cup will present unique safety challenges to local authorities (Washington Post).

SOCIAL

How far have Brazilian women come? They’ve moved ahead in education and health, according to new studies, and in the professions and technical fields. But their economic and political power has grown more slowly, and they lag in managerial and senior positions (New York Times).

For the first time, non-white people make up the majority of Brazil’s population, according to preliminary results of the 2010 census. Out of around 191m Brazilians, 91 million identified themselves as white, 82m as mixed race and 15m as black. Whites fell from 53.7% of the population in 2000 to 47.7% last year (BBC).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on November 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

ECONOMY

Brazilian economic activity dipped in the third quarter despite a slight rise in September, according to central bank data. Economists are worried that Brazil’s economy is slowing more than expected as it feels the impact of global financial turmoil, with industrial production stagnant this year and inflation around six-year highs (Reuters).

The Latin American economy has entered a declining phase and will further slow down in coming months according to a report from the Brazilian think-tank Getulio Vargas Foundation, FGV (MercoPress).

Brazil braced for a sharper-than-expected slowdown as a key indicator of economic activity fell and the government reportedly considered easing curbs on credit and investment (Reuters).

A week after erroneously reporting it had slashed France’s AAA credit rating, Standard & Poor’s slipped up again when it got its new long-term rating for Brazil wrong. The ratings agency initially said it had raised Brazil’s sovereign rating to BBB-. It swiftly corrected that, though, since the rating already stood at BBB- and the agency had actually boosted it to BBB (Reuters).

In fact, the market had upgraded Brazil long ago. For example, when Brazil sold $1bn of 30-year bonds earlier this month, they were yielding less than 5 per cent while the yield on 30-year bonds in A-grade Italy was trading at around 7 per cent. Brazil certainly has its problems (poor education and health services, corruption, a ridiculously complicated tax system — to name but a few). But when it comes to safe places to keep your money, the country is gradually proving that it now a much better bet than most of the developed world (FT Beyond Brics).

Small lenders stand to bear the brunt of the pain if Brazil’s consumers run into financial trouble. Many Brazilians haven’t been trained in the use of formal credit or in how to control debt. With inflation running at close to 7 percent and credit-card companies charging interest rates of 12 percent per month or more, some are already feeling the pinch. The default rate on consumer loans stood at 6.8 percent in September, up from 5.7 percent at the start of the year (Bloomberg).

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BUSINESS

A U.S. based insurance company is being prosecuted for selling life insurance policies in Brazil without being legally registered in the country. National Western Life, which is headquartered in Texas, will receive the biggest fine ever imposed by Brazil’s financial regulator: R$11 billion (US$6.2 billion) (The Rio Times).

Marcelo Odebrecht, Managing Director of Odebrecht S.A., received the CEO of the Year award during an event promoted by Latin Trade Magazine on October 28 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami (Odebrecht).

AGRI ETC.

The world’s top beef producer, Brazil’s JBS , said it expects its financial results to improve in the fourth quarter over the third and said prospects for 2012 were looking brighter than this year (Reuters).

Credit ratings agency Moody’s changed its outlook for Brazilian meat processor Marfrig from stable to negative, citing what it feels is a deterioration in Marfrig’s credit viability due to strong competition in the Brazilian protein sector in recent months, higher commodity prices, a global economic slowdown and currency volatility (MercoPress).

Brazil could overtake the United States in overall coffee consumption in the next few years as increasing wealth in Brazil is driving a rise in locals’ thirst for espressos and cappuccinos, according to the country’s coffee association head (Reuters).

But coffee output at the Cooxupe cooperative, Brazil’s largest exporter, will be 15 percent smaller in the 2012-13 season than the last high-yielding year because of dry weather, said Lucio Dias, commercial director (Bloomberg).

AVIATION

Embraer, the world’s third-largest commercial planemaker, expects to generate business worth $14 billion from the Middle East region by 2030, a top official said (Reuters).

Embraer and Alcoa announced they have signed a new technology sharing agreement that will utilize Alcoa’s proprietary aluminum alloys, advanced design and manufacturing techniques, and its fastener technologies to support Embraer’s development of new high-performance metallic fuselage and wing solutions for its family of aircraft (Marketwatch).

Brazil will need 701 new aircraft valued at about $82 billion in the next 20 years to meet surging domestic demand, Airbus SAS said. Airbus, the world’s largest aircraft maker, aims to sell as many as 26 A380 super-jumbo jets in the South American nation (Bloomberg).

BANKING

Brazil’s Banco Cruzeiro do Sul, which specializes in payroll-deductible loans, is transferring management of half of its asset-backed receivables fund to Banco Bradesco to help lure financing (Bloomberg).

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MINING & STEEL

Ternium, Latin America’s second-largest steelmaker, is in talks to buy a stake in Brazilian rival Usiminas as industry conditions for mills deteriorate. Ternium said it is discussing with members of Usiminas’ controlling bloc the potential acquisition of a minority stake in the Brazilian company. No agreement has been reached between the parties (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

A joint venture between France’s Technip and Brazil’s Odebrecht has been awarded a $1 billion contract from state-run Petrobras for the charter and operation of two pipeline installation vessels for five years (Reuters).

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering said that it had won an order of about $500 million to build two ships for the joint venture of Brazil’s Odebrecht and France’s Technip (Reuters).

Brazilian federal police have opened a probe into U.S. oil giant Chevron over alleged pollution linked to an oil spill at its offshore Frade project (Reuters).

British oil and gas firm BG Group said a well in Brazil pumped more oil than expected and that it had been given more time to understand the oil field before having to declare its commercial viability (Reuters).

Petrobras, the fifth- biggest oil company by value, has “many, many, many” offers for the $13.6 billion of assets it plans to sell, including fields in the Gulf of Mexico, its chief executive officer said (Bloomberg).

REAL ESTATE

PDG Realty, Brazil’s biggest homebuilder, started generating cash from operations in the third quarter as the company laid out its plans for a more cautious scenario next year (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional news

In Brazil on November 18, 2011 at 10:31 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Mega Torre residential and commercial complex for the famous market city of Caruaru, Pernambuco (source).

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CULTURE

A towering bronze sculpture by Fernando Botero and works by several Brazilian artists set auction records during Christie’s Latin American sale Post-war Brazilian art drew the evening’s most fervent and fast-paced bidding, driven by the paucity of work for sale on the international market by key Brazilian artists (Reuters).

The entire inventive world of twin brothers Gustavo and Otávio Pandolfo, known worldwide as OSGEMEOS (literally meaning “the twins” in Portuguese), will soon pass through 51 communities every day on board the passenger trains of the Vitória-Minas Railroad (EFVM). As of next week, the trains will carry a mobile version of Fermata, a unique exhibition of the duo’s work that is running at the Vale Museum in Espírito Santo until February 2012 (Vale).

The Design Vlaanderen Center in Brussels dedicates until February 2012 an exhibition to trace the evolution of Brazilian Design. The exhibition is part of Europalia 2011, an European festival that will celebrate the Brazilian culture in Belgium and four other countries. Brazilian design started to be recognised in the 1950s. Since the creation of the Graduate School of Industrial Design in Rio de Janeiro (ESDI) in 1963, the discipline has developed rapidly and there are numerous Brazilian top designers known nationally and internationally, such as Sérgio Rodrigues and the Campana brothers. For more information visit the Europalia site.

WORLD CUP & SOCCER

For years, Brazil exported most of its best young players, especially to European clubs. But as the country’s economic power catches up with its time-honored soccer talent, celebrated players like Neymar are shunning big European teams and enjoying the comforts of home for similarly fat salaries (Reuters).

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AMAZON

The 8th Annual Amazonas Film Festival took place in Manaus. This city of 2 million in the heart of the Amazon was the venue for hundreds of feature films and shorts from countries as diverse as Iran, Kenya, France, Argentina and of course, Brazil (Reuters).

Thousands of flesh-eating piranhas have infested a Brazilian river beach popular with tourists, biting at least 15 unwary swimmers. One of the bathers lost the tip of their toe during a frenzied attack (MercoPress).

ITATAIA

Between the states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais, lies the Itatiaia region. If a hike in breathtaking scenery and challenging climbs are your idea of a good time, then take heart that it is a reachable weekend destination from both Rio and SP (The Rio Times).

RIO

Three thousand troops backed by helicopters and armored vehicles occupied Rio de Janeiro’s largest slum without firing a shot, the biggest step in the Brazilian city’s bid to improve security and end the reign of drug gangs (Reuters).

“Flags of Brazil and Rio are hoisted in Rocinha and Vidigal,” read the triumphant headline on the Brazilian news site G1. Generally, a nation’s flag flying in the middle of one of its biggest cities wouldn’t be cause for celebration. But both Rocinha and Vidigal were neighborhoods that had been essentially beyond government control until this week (Bloomberg).

A contingent of nearly 170 government workers and street sweepers are poised to spend the next week providing public services to the Rocinha and Vidigal favelas.  Government officials claim the communities will see improvements in water services, sewerage and lighting.  A thorough cleaning is also planned as authorities hope to improve the image of the hillside streets and alleys (The Rio Times).

If the peace achieved with the takeover of Rocinha is a lasting one, it could provide an opportunity for better services, access to jobs and education for people living in the steep hillside slum straddling some of Rio’s wealthiest neighborhoods, leading economist Marcelo Neri said (San Francisco Gate).

Tijuca in Zona Norte (North Zone) may mostly attract tourists for its Floresta da Tijuca (Tijuca National Park), but this bustling bairro has a charm that has drawn a slew of new developments, including a new metro station. Already home to three stops on the subway’s orange line (line 1), soon it will have a fourth, the Estação Uruguai (The Rio Times).

A Dutch-Brazilian social activist has been announced as one of  the winners of the 2011 Desmond Tutu Reconciliation Fellowships by Melbourne-based organisation Global Reconciliation. Nanko Van Buuren has worked for more than 20 years in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most violent favelas (shantytowns) to develop long-term, community-engaged responses to social conflict, organised crime, poverty and the loss of hope. His ongoing struggle to establish relationships between the favela communities and the broader society, and between communities divided by conflict, has profoundly improved the lives of many Brazilians (BW).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on November 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff announced the creation of a nation-wide home care program (“Melhor em Casa”), aiming to expand the services of the Brazilian National Health System (SUS). The goal is to achieve by 2014 one thousand home care teams and 400 support teams throughout the country. Investments are expected to reach 600 million dollars. Each home care team shall be composed primarily of doctors, nurses, nursing technicians and physiotherapists that should care for an average of 60 patients per month (Portal Brasil).

A total of 40,610 people were killed in traffic accidents in Brazil last year, 8 percent up from 2009, Health Ministry said. According to the ministry, 25 percent of the deaths occurred in accidents involving motorcycles (Xinhua).

CORRUPTION

Carlos Lupi is the latest minister to come under the media spotlight over alleged wrongdoing. Weekly magazine Veja, citing unidentified lawmakers and officials, reported that advisers to Lupi had demanded kickbacks on government contracts with nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs (Reuters).

While a sixth cabinet minister faces allegations of fraud, Brazil’s Solicitors Association has stated that corruption in the country has become “unbearable” and called on the Supreme Tribunal to rapidly implement the Clean Record bill (MercoPress).

Analysts said the media tussles with ministers in Rousseff’s Cabinet had more to do with shifting patterns in Brazilian power politics than just a media crusade against wrongdoing. Brazilian media have frequently drawn controversy for remaining silent on key issues of national importance. For Rousseff, the media-led ferreting for corruption scandals is proving a huge distraction as it takes her government away from the campaign’s prime goal: to consolidate her power and make her presidency look good compared with the controversial rule of popular and populist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (UPI).

Embraer SA said it has hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations that the firm may have violated U.S. anti-corruption law. The U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are trying to determine whether Embraer violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the world’s fourth-biggest plane manufacturer said (Latin American Herald Tribune).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

INTERNATIONAL

As American dominance in the region recedes and Brazil increasingly flexes its newfound political and economic might, it has begun to experience the pitfalls of the role as well: a pushback against the hemisphere’s rising power. “Power has shifted from one side of Avenida Arce to the other,” said Fernando Molina, a local newspaper columnist, referring to the street in La Paz where the Brazilian ambassador’s residence sits opposite the towering embassy of the United States (New York Times).

The U.S. is struggling to keep up with surging demand for visas in China and Brazil, as the growing middle class in the world’s two biggest emerging markets flock to American shopping malls and tourist meccas. The U.S. plans to boost by 100 people this year its staff dedicated to processing visas in the two countries after it issued 35 percent more travel permits in China this year and 44 percent more in Brazil (Bloomberg).

President Dilma Rousseff has called the recent G20 Summit in France a “relative success.” At a press conference in Cannes, she said, “It hasn’t been a complete success, but a relative success, because the eurozone countries have taken a step forward in deciding how to face the crisis. [However] I don’t believe that a meeting can resolve the world’s problems” (The Rio Times).

The Brazilian government is likely to move the dates of a key UN environment summit, as a clash with the UK Royal Jubilee threatens to keep leaders away. The Rio+20 summit, seen as a chance to put the global economy on a sustainable track, is scheduled for 4-6 June 2012, co-inciding with the Diamond Jubilee (BBC).

Environmentalists criticised the lack of concrete proposals in the Brazilian government’s submission to the preparatory process for the Rio+20 conference, to be held in this city in June 2012. The document submitted to the United Nations for the Conference on Sustainable Development, taking place 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, demonstrates – according to the Brazilian government – its commitment to sustainable development (IPS).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Expanding links between Brazilian criminal groups and their counterparts in West Africa, easy access to European ports and rampant corruption have created an ideal jumping-off place for Latin American contraband destined for Europe and Asia and fuel Brazil’s role as a bridge for drug trafficking. The emerging narco nexus between West Africa and Brazil (Americas Quarterly).

Brazil is negotiating to use satellites from India to improve the monitoring of deforestation in the Amazon rain forest. A member of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research says a satellite recently launched by the Indian government could vastly increase Brazil’s ability to combat deforestation in the region (Businessweek).

Latin America’s Union of South American Nations, aspiring to become a regional security umbrella organization, has served notice on members to get their facts together on who is spending what on defense in the region (UPI).

Embraer has revealed the first image of a new medium-altitude unmanned air vehicle (UAV) now under development and aimed for the Brazilian defence and security market – at least initially. The twin-boomed aircraft is being developed by the Harpia joint venture formed in September between Embraer and Elbit Systems subsidiary AEL (Flightglobal).

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Europe’s market leader for armoured wheeled and tracked vehicles, and the Brazilian Army signed a comprehensive Industrial Logistic Support (ILS) contract. For a substantial two-digit million figure [Euro] KMW will provide comprehensive technical support for the main battle tanks LEOPARD 1A5 of the Brazilian Army in the next five years. The work will be conducted by the newly founded KMW subsidiary KMW do Brasil in Santa Maria (DefenseWorld).

 

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on November 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

ECONOMY

Brazil will keep its spending in control while offering stimulus to local businesses to dodge a global slowdown triggered by Europe’s debt meltdown, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said (Reuters).

According to the agency, the use of Real international derivatives transactions increased by 50% between 2004 and 2010, while the use of the Indian Rupee and the Russian Ruble has more than doubled. The use of the Yuan has increased about 12 times during the period (India-Brazil Chamber).

As Brazil’s economy keeps growing, a record number of Brazilians are heading to the country’s tropical beaches on package holidays. But not everyone welcomes the invasion of tourists or what that change symbolises: the rising affluence and aspirations of Brazil’s expanding middle class (BBC).

Brazil’s central bank is cutting interest rates citing a novel forecasting tool called SAMBA that some economists say isn’t in step with the country’s inflation realities (Businessweek).

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BUSINESS

Brazil’s Braskem , the largest petrochemical company in the Americas, booked a steep third-quarter loss as Brazil’s tumbling currency drove up the cost of its foreign debts (Reuters).

The Cariocas, as the residents of Rio de Janiero call themselves, like to joke that the people of São Paulo, the Paulistanos, love to shop because they don’t have any beaches. That might be true. But little of that luxury shopping — in São Paulo or in the rest of Brazil — is happening online (New York Times).

In the last couple of years, some Brazilian brands have begun to invest in collections whose manufacturing is less harmful to the environment. And what brings together buyers and sellers of eco-friendly products is the fact that, increasingly, “conscious” fashion has gone beyond an artisanal, rustic appearance to become attractive pieces that truly inspire desire, without destroying the environment (New York Times).

According to Bain & Co., a global business consulting firm with headquarters in Boston, the market for luxury goods like apparel, accessories, jewelry and beauty products in Brazil is now worth approximately $2.5 billion, with an expected growth rate of 10 to 15 percent a year over the next five years (New York Times).

As internet penetration levels increase in Brazil, significant changes in advertisement have been observed. Traditional media has been losing spot to a more interactive environment, changing the advertisement industry in Brazil (The Brazil Business).

AVIATION

Airline TAM posted a third-quarter net loss of 620 million reais ($348 million), compared with a 734 million reais profit a year earlier (Reuters).

TAM, Brazil’s biggest airline by market value, expects growth in the country’s airline traffic to slow to 8 percent to 12 percent next year as economic expansion moderates, Chief Financial Officer Libano Barroso said (Bloomberg).

Embraer will upgrade its E-170 and E-190 jets with new engines and wings by 2018 rather than build a larger, all-new model to take on Boeing Co., Airbus and Bombardier. Developing “second-generation E-Jets” will cost about $2 billion, cheaper than the $3 billion-plus for a new plane, and may include stretching them to seat as many as 132 people, 10 more than the biggest current aircraft (Bloomberg).

SPLIT SECOND POLLS

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OIL & GAS

Chinese state-owned oil company Sinopec Group said it had agreed to pay $3.54 billion to Portuguese oil firm Galp Energia for a 30 percent stake in its deep-sea oil asset in Brazil (Reuters).

EDUCATION

In Brazil, enrollment in higher education rose 110 percent over the past decade. According to the Census of Higher Education, released Nov. 7, enrollment reached 6.3 million people in 29,500 courses offered by some 2,377 institutions. ”Maybe it was the best decade for access to higher education, both in relative and in absolute terms  – but especially in absolute,” said Fernando Hassad, the Brazilian Education Minister, after the results were announced. The minister may have been too enthusiastic (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on November 11, 2011 at 10:03 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Ed. Connect Towers for Taguatinga, Brasilia, DF (More).

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WORLD CUP

Brazil must hurry up and pass a package of new laws if the 2014 World Cup is to go ahead, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told the country’s Congress, adding there was “not a day to lose” (Reuters).

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has dismissed claims of corruption against Brazilian football chief Ricardo Teixeira.Teixeira has faced bribery and fraud accusations in recent weeks, as he continues the task of preparing Brazil to host the World Cup in 2014 (MercoPress).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

AMAZON

Bonito is an ecological paradise in Brazil, a place full of hills, caves, rivers and waterfalls and the bluest and clearest lakes in the world. Located in the Serra do Bodoquena region of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, only a short distance from the wetlands of the southern Pantanal, it is an area almost totally undiscovered by foreigners which, true to its name, is breathtakingly beautiful (The Rio Times).

Tiny temperature changes on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans provide an excellent way to forecast wildfires in South American rainforests, according to University of California, Irvine (UCI) and other researchers funded by NASA (Xinhua).

A Brazilian federal court rejected an appeal for suspending construction of the controversial 11 billion dollars Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in the heart of the Amazon until after indigenous people has been consulted (MercoPress).

More than 1,000 Indians are celebrating Brazil’s indigenous cultures with a weeklong sports competition in the northern city of Porto Nacional. Brazil’s federal Indian agency that cosponsors the games says they are one of the biggest indigenous sporting events in the Americas (Washington Post).

MINAS GERAIS

Foreign sales of advanced tech products in Minas Gerais showed upward trend from 12.7% in the first half of 2011, totaling U.S. $ 1.827 million. In the face of Brazilian exports of such products, the state holds a prominent position (India-Brazil Chamber).

RIO

Thousands of demonstrators rallied in Rio de Janeiro against an oil law that could cost the beachside city and surrounding state billions of dollars in revenues.  The government of Rio state, which organized the protest, has said the proposal would strip it of funds for basic social services and hurt its ability to prepare for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and 2016 Olympic games (Reuters).

Brazilian government scandals, a string of resignations and lagging 2014 soccer World Cup preparations will not affect progress for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a senior International Olympic Committee IOC.L member said (Reuters).

Antonio Bonfim Lopes, the alleged drug lord of the teeming Rocinha slum, was captured in bizarre circumstances when police found him in the trunk of a luxury car of a man who claimed to be a senior diplomat from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters).

Levels of violent crime reported in Rio de Janeiro state have fallen significantly in three target areas, according to figures for the first seven months of 2011 released by the state’s Instituto de Segurança Pública, the ISP (Institute of Public Security). The statistics show that cases of lethal violence, encompassing any crime which led to or was followed by a death, were down by 13.2 percent: 3,559 incidents registered in 2010 dropped to 3,088 for the same period this year (The Rio Times).

A Brazilian cameraman was killed in a Rio shoot-out during a police drugs raid. Experienced crime photographer Gelson Domingos da Silva was hit while covering a dawn special forces raid on the Antares favela (The Guardian).

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SAO PAULO

Sao Paulo’s military police sent in 400 men at dawn on Nov. 8, supported by mounted officers and helicopters, and arrested 72 people who had been protesting against the police presence on campus at the University of Sao Paulo, or USP. Coming just days after a television news cameraman was killed during a police operation in a Rio de Janeiro favela, this heavy-handed operation against a relatively soft target led some to criticize the increasing “militarization” of public life in Sao Paulo. But many others blamed the students and welcomed the police action (Bloomberg).

As home to the largest Japanese diaspora in the world, Brazil, and particularly São Paulo – both city and state – have been tremendously influenced by Japanese culture and architecture. The most recognizable may be the now famed Japanese neighborhood of Liberdade, and separately, the esteemed work of Japanese-Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake (The Rio Times).

SOUTH

Twenty years after being closed down for much-needed repairs, the Hercílio Luz Bridge will not be reopening as scheduled next year (Floripa Times).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on November 4, 2011 at 11:38 am

POLITICS

Its remarkable offshore oil bonanza could do Brazil a lot of good. But getting the most out of it will not be easy. Ccountries with big oil finds are prone to an ominous list of economic ailments: capital absorption (the diversion of funds from other worthwhile investments); Dutch disease (oil exports pushing the currency to a level that hurts other industries); and reform fatigue (governments’ unwillingness to tackle structural economic problems when they can see vast wealth on the horizon) (The Economist).

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, wants to use the oil money to pay for better education, health and infrastructure. She also wants to use the new fields to create a world-beating oil-services industry. But the bonanza also risks feeding some Brazilian vices: a spendthrift and corrupt political system; an over-mighty state and over-protected domestic market; and neglect of the virtues of saving, investment and training (The Economist).

The Hospital Sírio-Libanês in São Paulo said that various exams showed that Mr. Lula da Silva, 66 (Pictured, as President), had a tumor in his larynx, the organ in the neck that assists in breathing and speaking. “The patient is doing well,” the hospital said in the statement, also explaining that he would be cared for by six respected specialists (New York Times).

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has started his chemotherapy treatment for throat cancer, with doctors saying his chances of being cured are “very good” (BBC).

It seems a bit crass to be talking about the politics of all this, but that’s what happens when the dominant political figure of the past decade, whom many expected to make a comeback at some point, gets sick. The reaction to Lula’s illness says two interesting things about Brazil today (The Economist).

Federal authorities are implementing new rules meant to speed up and reduce the cost of the environmental licensing process for major infrastructure projects. Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira says the rules don’t eliminate environmental requirements, but only clarify and set a timeline for the environmental impact review of a proposed project (Washington Post).

CORRUPTION

President Rousseff ordered a thirty-day inquiry into all contracts signed by Brazilian federal government agencies with NGOs, subsequently suspending all transactions over the period.  The nonprofits’ performances and regularity will be assessed alongside their contractual agreements (The Rio Times).

Ever wondered how to break it to your shareholders that your company is under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for corruption? Well, Embraer decided to opt for the more discreet approach. The airline manufacturer, one of Brazil’s biggest and most transparent companies, waited until the release of their third-quarter results on the night of a national holiday to make the announcement (FT).

SPLIT SECOND POLL

INTERNATIONAL

As the European debt crisis has dragged on, and concerns over the possible impacts on Brazil and other emerging economies have grown, Rousseff and her finance minister, Guido Mantega, have become increasingly vocal in their criticism of the European response. “The Europeans always take too long to find solutions,” Mantega grumbled earlier this month. “And when they come they come late” (The Guardian).

Brazil will get $8 billion in financing from the World Bank to push its campaign to uproot extreme hardship deeper into some of the country’s poorest areas, the bank said (Reuters).

Brazil submitted a proposal to the United Nations regarding the sustainable development conference to be held here next June, Rio+20. The proposal comprises 25 aspects which the country considers as challenges on its way to sustainable development, such as poverty reduction, energy and food security, gender and racial equality, education,healthcare as well as urban development (Xinhua).

Brazil has reiterated its rejection of foreign intervention in Syria, where more than 3,000 people have recently been reported killed in the violent suppression of anti-government protesters calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. World leaders are now desperate to find a solution to end the bloodshed in Syria, one of a slew of Middle East nations caught up in the Arab Spring uprisings (The Rio Times).

The governments of both Sweden and Norway have expressed a growing focus in strengthening ties with Brazil, hoping to evolve collaboration strategies in areas including trade and investment, environmental issues, social development and knowledge exchange. The Norwegian Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in Rio and Swedish Chamber of Commerce (SWEDCHAM) in São Paulo have been collaborating with a quarterly joint-publication, demonstrating a unified presence of Nordic business interests (The Rio Times).

Florida Governor Rick Scott said that he returned from last week’s trade mission to Brazil with $61 million in deals close to completed, including a natural caffeine producer that will open a plant at the Port of Palm Beach (Postonpolitics).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Bolivia and Brazil inked a memorandum of understanding to strengthen joint efforts in fighting drug trafficking along their borders. The agreement would promote cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and other organized crimes, Brazil’s visiting Defense Minister Celso Amorim said (Xinhua).

Brazil’s Super Tucano aircraft has been certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, allowing a demonstration tour of military bases. “This certification of the Super Tucano by the FAA could have a very positive impact on the market development of this proven aircraft in the United States and is a highly relevant triumph for Embraer Defense and Security,” said Luiz Carlos Aguiar, president of Embraer Defense and Security (UPI).

Collaboration programmes between South Africa and Brazil could be the basis for future contracts of a similar nature pending the completion of the A-Darter air-to-air missile contract, said Brazilian Minister of Science and Technology, Aloízio Mercadante during a visit to Denel Dynamics (Defpro).

SOCIAL

The number of foreigners residing in Brazil has increased by 52.4 percent over the past six months, reported the Ministério da Justiça (Ministry of Justice).  The new data marks the first time in two decades wherein the amount of immigrants surpassed the number of Brazilians living abroad. The figures, which took into account those that live in Brazil for work, study, or to accompany a spouse, had reached nearly 1.5 million by June 2011.  With major NGO’s estimating another 600,000 living illegally in Brazil, the figures now surge past two million (The Rio Times).

The number of foreigners arriving in Brazil contrasts with the number of those leaving the country: currently there are two million Brazilians living overseas against 4 million in 2005 (MercoPress).