News from Brazil

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on January 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

POLITICS

As President Dilma Rousseff summoned her government to the annual ministerial meeting to take stock of the past year, and set out plans and goals for 2012, she must have been only too conscious of the balancing act her government will have to perform this year with keep the economy booming, the populace spending and public services improving (The Rio Times).

Black Brazilians are much worse off than they should be. But what is the best way to remedy that? Read on at The Economist.

The Economist also interviewed Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil’s president from 1995-2002, on the future of Brazil. Read the interview here.

Petrobras ousted chief executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli, the man who oversaw the discovery of the largest oil find in the Americas in decades. Gabrielli will be replaced by Maria das Graças Foster, a Petrobras executive close to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (Reuters).

Foster, 58, plans to replace Gabrielli, 62. Petrobras Chairman and Finance Minister Guido Mantega will present Foster’s name to the board of directors of the state-run company on Feb. 9 (Bloomberg).

Dilma Rousseff wanted to have her as cabinet chief, but at the moment Lula da Silva convinced the incoming president to name Antonio Palocci, a former Finance minister who was later forced to resign because of corruption allegations (MercoPress).

Gabrielli, who studied economics at Boston University, is being prepared to replace Bahia Governor Wagner in 2014 (Forbes).

The semi-public Brazilian energy corporation headquartered in Rio, Petrobras, looks set to welcome their first female CEO in the coming weeks. Maria das Graças Silva Foster has been selected to replace the outgoing José Sérgio Gabrielli at the largest company in Latin America by revenue, which is 54 percent owned by the Brazilian government (The Rio Times).

The fight against Brazil’s Pinheirinho squatter camp eviction can be an inspiration. The left has been too slow to criticise the government’s growth-fixated policies. The squatters provide a lesson in resistance (The Guardian).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil granted a tourist visa to Yoani Sánchez, a dissident Cuban author and blogger, ahead of a trip to Cuba this month by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. The request by Ms. Sánchez to travel to Brazil for the screening of a documentary had emerged as a test of Cuba’s restrictive travel policies for its own citizens and Brazil’s willingness to prod a friendly government on a prominent human rights issue (New York Times).

After President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran took a four-country tour of Latin America this month, during which he met with several outspoken critics of the United States but was notably not invited to stop in Brazil, one of his top advisers took a public swipe at Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, saying she had “destroyed years of good relations” between the two nations (New York Times).

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota denied that his country’s relations with Iran are shaken. The statement was in response to an interview with Iranian presidential media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr published in the daily Folha de Sao Paulo. Javanfekr for his part said Brazil-Iran relations have deteriorated under President Dilma Rousseff (Xinhua).

The initial round of negotiations on the proposed outcome document for Rio+20 began in order to pave the way for a successful conference of world leaders in June on sustainable development. This informal round is the first of four more negotiating sessions in March, April, May and June in the lead-up to the Rio+ 20 conference in Brazil on June 20-22 (Xinhua).

Reacting to Brazil’s trade minister Fernando Pimentel comments describing Argentina as “a permanent problem” Industry Minister Debora Giorgi said that “the trade balance reality between Argentina and Brazil does not warrant Pimentel’s complaints” (MercoPress).

Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), based in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, ranks 27th in the list of the World’s Top Think Thanks, followed by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Both institutions lead their respective regions, South America and Asia. In the theme-specific evaluations, FGV ranks in the 30 most influential think tanks in the areas of international development (13th), domestic economic policy (18th) and social policy (18th). A mere ten years ago, such a prominent role for an institute in Brazil would have been unthinkable (Post Western World).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

A Jane’s expert said that there may be long-term interest from Brazil (among other countries) for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Stealth Fighter (Washington Post, page 2 of the article)).

Bolivia has signed an agreement with the US and Brazil to help reduce the production of illegal cocaine. The US and Brazil will provide technical assistance, including satellite monitoring of coca crops. The agreement comes more than three years after Bolivia expelled the US Drug Enforcement Administration, accusing it of political interference (BBC).

The Brazilian Army and Navy have not handed over documents dating back to the years of the military dictatorship (1964/1985), in spite of an official request from former president Lula da Silva five years ago (MercoPress).

Brazil is speeding its research and development programs to perfect a tactical transport aircraft to rival the C-130 Hercules amid predictions the global market needs no less than 700 substitutes. The C-130J isn’t the only potential rival for Embraer’s KC-390. As the demand outlook becomes clearer and more enticing, at least four contenders want the same market share that the Brazilian aircraft maker seeks (UPI).

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SOCIAL

The middle class in Brazil during the last decade expanded to reach 90 million out of a population of almost 200 million, according to paper from consultants Datafolha (MercoPress).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on January 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

ECONOMY

President Dilma Rousseff has made 4 percent economic growth her government’s main mission this year and is willing to cut taxes, take stimulus measures and possibly sacrifice other targets if needed, government sources tell Reuters.

Brazil will make room for a more “flexible” monetary policy as the government seeks to ensure economic growth of at least 4 percent this year, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to a record-low 4.7 percent in December from the 5.3 percent in the same period in 2010, the government’s statistics agency said (Xinhua).

But the Brazilian economy generated 1.944 million formal jobs in 2011, down 23.5 percent from 2010, the country’s Labor Ministry said (Xinhua).

Brazil posted a record-high current account deficit in 2011 on rising profit remittances by multinational companies and massive spending abroad by Brazilian tourists, but the deficit was more than covered by another record, this time for foreign direct investment, the central bank said (MercoPress).

The BNDES’ disbursements closed the year 2011 at R$ 139.7 billion. The result was within the Bank’ expectations and allowed the institution to continue contributing to the expansion of investments in the Brazilian economy, with emphasis on the infrastructure sector (BNDES).

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BUSINESS

Peixe Urbano, the largest Brazilian online daily-deal provider, is loading up on capital, recruiting U.S. engineers and investing in new products to fend off Groupon Inc.’s expansion on its home turf (Bloomberg).

Contax Participacoes SA, Brazil’s largest call-center company, plans to step up hiring and add 12,000 jobs this year to expand in Latin America and into technology help-desk services, Chief Financial Officer Marco Schroeder said (Bloomberg).

What makes an entrepreneur? BBC Brazil’s Julia Carneiro and Tom Santorelli hear from Jacqueline De Biase, 49, who started making her own bikinis at home as a teenager and now runs one of Brazil’s leading bikini brands (BBC).

Brazilians are snapping up luxury goods at a staggering rate. Industry sales were up 33% last year to $12 billion. So one would assume that the big, domestic brands would treat Brazil’s own consumers as a priority. Not Osklen, the sought-after maker of sportswear founded in 1989 by the orthopaedic physician Oskar Metsavaht (Forbes).

AGRI ETC

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Jorge Mendes Ribeiro Filho said he is “not worried” about U.S. testing of orange juice imports for fungicide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has started testing juice imports including shipments from Brazil, the world’s biggest producer, for amounts of the fungicide carbendazim that exceed import standards. The FDA had collected 45 samples since Jan. 4, and 12 have been cleared for entry, the administration said last week (Bloomberg).

Orange juice futures barreled to a record high close due to speculation the United States might ban Brazilian juice imports for using a fungicide that U.S. regulations prohibit (Reuters).

AUTOMOTIVE

Germany’s BMW Ag., the world’s largest luxury carmaker plans to build cars in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina from 2014 reports Automobilewoche (MercoPress).

AVIATION

India’s GMR Infrastructure has withdrawn its bid to modernise and expand an airport in Croatia, but is preparing to bid on similar projects in Brazil, a company official said (Reuters).

The board of directors of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) has approved the basic financial support conditions for public services concessions  in expanding, maintaining and exploring the international airports in Brasilia (Federal District), Campinas and Guarulhos (satellite cities both in the state of São Paulo) (BNDES).

Demand for flights in Brazil has nearly tripled in the past decade. That is straining a system that is under pressure to prepare for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Brazil’s civil aviation agency said demand for air travel rose 194 percent in 10 years. Demand in 2011 alone increased 16 percent over the previous year (Washington Post).

BIOFUELS

Petrobras will invest as much as 28 million reais ($16 million) to expand its Montes Claros biodiesel plant (Bloomberg).

ENERGY

EDP-Energias do Brasil SA and MPX Energia SA, an energy company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, said the country’s power regulator Aneel allowed the companies to postpone the start of operations of the Pecem thermoelectric plant. Energia Pecem, as the plant is known, is located in Brazil’s northeastern state of Ceara, and it’s a joint venture with equal stakes by EDP and MPX. It has an installed capacity of 720 megawatts (Bloomberg).

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SPLIT SECOND POLLS

MINING & STEEL

A Chinese consortium acquired a fifteen percent stake in the Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (Brazilian Metallurgy and Mining Company, CMBB) in September 2011, it has been revealed, the world’s biggest producer of niobium, a rare and strategically important metallic element (The Rio Times).

OIL & GAS

A Brazilian prosecutor plans to file criminal charges against Chevron Corp and some of its local managers within weeks, adding the threat of prison sentences to an $11 billion civil lawsuit as punishment for a November offshore oil spill (Reuters).

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc plans to invest as much as $200 billion in projects linked to Brazil’s pre-salt oil reserves, Valor Economico reported. The investment relies on the company winning contracts with Petrobras, building a plant in the city of Rio de Janeiro to produce turbo power generators for oil platforms, and opening a training center close to the factory (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on January 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of a building for the Casa das Caldeiras redevelopment project in the Perdizes area in Sao Paulo (Skyscrapercity).

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CINEMA

Sergio Mendes, who scored an Oscar nomination for his song “Real In Rio,” says the animated film will most likely have a sequel. Mendes said “Rio” director Carlos Saldanha may want to tie the sequel to the 2014 World Cup, which will take place in Brazil (Washington Post).

MEDIA

The Press Freedom Index 2011 shows Brazil plunging 41 places to 99th because the high level of violence resulted in the deaths of three journalists and bloggers (Press Freedom Index).

AMAZON

Since Dilma Rousseff was elected president in late 2010, there have been signs of a shift in the government’s attitude toward the Amazon. A provisional measure now allows the president to decrease the lands already created for conservation. The government is granting more flexibility for large infrastructure projects during the environmental licensing process. And a proposal would give Brazil’s Congress veto power over the recognition of indigenous territories (New York Times).

BRASILIA

On December 7, 1987, Brasilia was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture – Unesco. Today there are 936 properties worldwide considered “great landmarks… the cultural or natural heritage of all mankind… having outstanding universal value.” The government of the Distrito Federal, where Brasilia is located, has designated this year a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the event (“Ano da Valorização de Brasília como Patrimônio Cultural da Humanidade”) (Agencia Brasil).

RECIFE

While most of the world considers Carnival synonymous with Rio’s Sambódromo shows, there are celebrations happening all across Brazil, notably in São Paulo and Salvador. The capital city of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Recife, is known to have perhaps the most democratic Carnival in the country (The Rio Times).

RIO

Rescuers recovered four bodies from the rubble of three buildings that collapsed in downtown Rio, highlighting the creaky infrastructure of the city that will host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. The buildings, one 20 floors high, collapsed on Wednesday night in a cloud of dust behind the city’s 100-year-old Belle Epoque-style Municipal Theater (Reuters).

Approximately 5,800 municipal vans are registered in the city of Rio, and there are thought to be hundreds if not thousands more operating illegally. Safety regulations appear loose and seldom enforced according to recent reports, but they serve a vital role in city transportation system, especially to some of the outer communities (The Rio Times).

Construction on Superporto do Açu has been underway since 2007 and is reported to be a US$1.6 billion project, originally planned to come online in 2012. The massive port and industrial complex being built by LLX – the logistics subsidiary of Eicke Batista’s EBX which is building the port 250 miles north of Rio – is also drawling controversy on how it is affecting the community in São João da Barra (The Rio Times).

The news that three people had been arrested for public urination at a pre-Carnival bloco in Copacabana last Friday was met with mixed feelings by Rio residents. On the one hand it showed that the city is taking action to deal with general public disorder that goes along with the city’s “Street Carnival” blocos events in recent years (The Rio Times).

On 27 February the most complete retrospective exhibitions by the Campana brothers is beginning at CCBB Rio. The exhibition, with 200 works (from 1989 to 2009), was held at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, a German museum, where it was open until February 2010. It has been through European and Brazilian museums and finally it is the carioca’s turn (Rio Official Guide).

Brazil plans to build Christ the Redeemer replica statue in London. The statue – yet to get planning permission – would mark the moment London hands the Olympic mantle to Rio de Janeiro (The Guardian).

The illegal gambling game in Brazil known as jogo do bicho, or the animal game, occupies an important, if shady, place in popular culture. In the run-up to Carnival in February, Rio de Janeiro police have been targeting alleged gambling chiefs in an operation called Dedo de Deus, or Finger of God (BBC).

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SAO PAULO

Criticism is growing of a Brazilian police operation to clear some 6,000 people from an illegal settlement in Sao Paulo state. Officers moved in to retake the land for its private owners. Authorities say the police action was justified and within the law. Amnesty International said the eviction violated “a raft of international standards” and urged officials to urgently address the needs of the families left homeless (BBC).

São Paulo, city of skyscrapers and urban canyons, isn’t exactly famous for its historic buildings. But look between the glass-and-steel high-rises and you’ll discover splashes of history, encapsulated in a small but rewarding set of churches, houses, and museums (Time Out Sao Paulo).

SOUTH

Santa Catarina is one of three states in Brazil’s Região Sul (South Region), along with Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. It is a place of contrasts, boasting beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and quaint cities that are home to southern Brazil’s melting pot of European migration (The Rio Times).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on January 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

POLITICS

At first blush, it might seem like the clock is ticking on Fernando Bezerra’s days as a Brazilian Cabinet minister. Yet it appears that Bezerra, who has denied any wrongdoing, and most other ministers under a cloud of suspicion are going to keep their jobs. President Dilma Rousseff is backing off her plans for a major Cabinet reshuffle early this year, having decided that she needs their parties’ support to pass key economic legislation (Reuters).

But the government announced that Aloizio Mercadante, current Science and Technology Minister, will take over the Education Ministry, a move that is expected to usher in other cabinet changes. Fernando Haddad (pictured), until now the Education Minister, is leaving to run for mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, in local elections in October. Marco Antonio Raupp, current head of Brazil’s Space Agency, will be named as the new science and technology minister (Xinhua).

A federal court in northeastern Brazil has sentenced a former politician to 103 years in prison for killing a member of Congress so he could take her place in 1998 (The New York Times).

The Brazilian federal government paid oil royalties of R$12.99 billion in 2011, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) announced last week. This represents an increase of 31 percent from the previous year. The largest chunk, R$8.28 billion, went to states and municipalities with Rio de Janeiro as the state receiving the most at R$2.46 billion, up from R$2.03 billion in 2010 (The Rio Times).

Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, has quickly stepped out of the shadow of her charismatic predecessor Lula. After one year in office, she is more popular than any former president was at this stage. She has surrounded herself with powerful women, who are now calling the shots in Brasília (Der Spiegel).

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INTERNATIONAL

The UK is launching its strongest diplomatic offensive in Latin America for two centuries, the foreign secretary has said as he visits Brazil. William Hague is the first UK foreign secretary to visit for six years. He said the UK welcomed Brazil’s “growing impact on the economic and political landscape of the world” (BBC).

Rising tension over a dispute between Britain and Argentina on the Falkland Islands overshadowed the first official visit by British Foreign Secretary William Hague to Brazil. Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said all Latin American nations “back Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas and back the UN resolutions calling on the Argentine and British governments to hold talks on the issue” (AFP).

The Brazilian government is looking to change the way its immigration policy is oriented towards highly-skilled foreign professionals wanting to work in the country. Some commentators say that Brazil wants to lure skilled workers from Europe made unemployed in the economic downturn, at the same time as a crackdown against illegal workers has also been announced (The Rio Times).

Industry and Foreign Trade minister Fernando Pimentel expressed the Brazilian government’s deep disappointment with the latest Argentine legislation to be implemented on trade saying that Argentina is “a permanent problem” (MercoPress).

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica and former leader Lula da Silva, under treatment for larynx cancer, said in Sao Paulo that they would like to have a group of Latin American intellectuals involved in the discussion and promotion of regional integration as a doctrine (MercoPress).

Brazil is the new – and fairly unknown – kid on the block in Africa, but its activities are arousing a growing interest around the world. Considering that Brazil does not need to import energy nor food (important motivating factors for both China and India), what are Brazil’s interests in Africa? (Oliver Stuenkel in Postwesternworld)

Brazil remains open to offering assistance to ailing economies through the International Monetary Fund, though it is seeking a political commitment to reforming the institution as part of the discussions, a government official familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires.

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Embraer expects to sell its Super Tucano light attack aircraft to more NATO nations after clinching an order from the United States that lifted the company into the upper echelons of global defense contractors, a top executive told Reuters.

The Brazilian Navy took delivery of its first 7.6 m LAR-E (Lancha de Ação Rápida – Especial) protected light fast attack boat from the Base Naval de Val-de-Cães (BNVC) shipyard in Belém on 2 January. The LAR-E programme could see the construction of more than 300 units for the navy (Marinha do Brasil/MB), army and federal police (Janes).

Brazil is modernizing its navy with new acquisitions to continue expansion of the naval forces’ responsibilities in regular patrolling of lakes and rivers, a role normally played by the coast guard and other security arms of national defense (UPI).

Brazil and Colombia will enter into a bilateral border agreement to combat organized crime. The measure was discussed last Tuesday (Jan. 17) in Brasilia between the Colombian Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, and his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim. The Colombian delegation is on an official visit to Brazil with the objective of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries (Portal Brasil).

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SOCIAL

Despite the considerable growth and social progress registered in the past years, inequality remains high in Brazil, a study said. Brazil has made significant efforts and achievements in poverty reduction in the past two decades, a study released by Oxfam said. “Brazil’s growth averaged 2.5 percent a year from 1990 to 2009 and was accompanied by falling inequality,” the study said. “Over this period, the proportion of Brazilians living in poverty was cut in half” (Xinhua).

Brazilian families’ economic vulnerability indicator fell 14 percent in six years, indicating significant advances in several aspects, a study said. According to the Brazilian Families’ Vulnerability study released by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea), the country’s vulnerability indicator dropped from 27 percent in 2003 to 23.1 percent in 2009 (Xinhua).

Facebook has passed Google’s Orkut as the most visited social network in Brazil, new figures suggest. Research from analytics firm Comscore suggests Facebook attracted 36.1 million unique visitors in December, against Orkut’s 34.4 million visitors (BBC).

Problems in the Brazilian public health system (doctors on strike, equipment and material shortfalls and, once in a while, someone dying in line waiting to see a doctor) could be resolved if corruption was eliminated. At least that is what 82% of the people interviewed in a public opinion poll said (Agencia Brasil).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on January 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

ECONOMY

Brazil is not an easy place to start a business. The World Bank ranks it 120th out of 183 countries—worse than Burkina Faso or Nigeria. Take one small example. Until recently, you needed at least two partners to form a limited-liability company. Sole traders had to find a “1% sócio”—an employee, friend or family member willing to lend his name to the articles of association, or a shell company set up solely to hold a tiny share. Things may have just got a little easier (The Economist).

Economists cut forecasts for Brazil’s year-end inflation rate for a seventh consecutive week and trimmed growth predictions, a weekly central bank survey showed, suggesting concerns about a prolonged slowdown (Reuters).

Brazil’s economy grew at its fastest pace in 19 months in November, reversing a three-month contraction, as a recovery in consumer spending helped the world’s second-largest emerging market shrug off a global slowdown. Yields on interest rate futures rose (Bloomberg).

The United Nations (UN) said that a global recession was likely, and lowered its gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates for several countries including Brazil. In a document, the UN revised its estimates for Brazil’s GDP growth in 2012 from 5.3 to 2.7 percent. The figures are below the average growth estimated for Latin America, which is 3.6 percent (Xinhua).

Brazil is considering injecting more funds to the National Development bank, BNDES for the fifth year running in anticipation of a possible shortage of long term credit in the economy, said Arno Augustin, Secretary of the Treasury (MercoPress).

Brazilians are generally not big fans of DIY, but when it comes to the economy, the government is always keen to resort to some good old Do-It-Yourself. And their favourite tool? BNDES – the super-state bank with a loan book about four times bigger than the World Bank’s. Isn’t it time for Brazilians to wean themselves from the BNDES? (BeyondBRICs FT)

Following the announcement of the reduction of the Selic by 0.5 percentage points, the National Industrial Confederation (“CNI”) said there should be further reductions. In a note, the CNI declared that the Brazil’s basic interest rate, now at 10.5% per year, remains above international standards, which means there is room for more cuts (Agencia Brasil).

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AGRI ETC

The next coffee crop in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, may not be enough to meet domestic and export demand even with record production forecast, according to Escritorio Carvalhaes, a Santos, Brazil-based broker (Bloomberg).

The BNDES has created a new program to encourage the production of sugarcane by financing the renovation of old sugarcane farms and the expansion of the cultivated area. The BNDES Prorenova has a budget of R$ 4 billion, and its launch encourages the renewal and expansion of sugarcane farms, key to increasing Brazilian sugarcane productivity and, thus, reducing the industrial idleness of sugar and ethanol production. The program is open until December 31 this year, and it is hoped that resources will be able to finance the renovation and/or expansion of more than one million hectares of sugarcane (BNDES).

Brazil is the next great frontier for the wine world. Brazil now drinks just 1.6 liters of wine per capita per year—significantly less than some Muslim countries like the Maldives and United Arab Emirates, according to the Wine Institute. By comparison, the US drinks 9 liters per capita per year. Most European countries drink more than 20 liters per year (Palatepress).

AVIATION

Tam SA of Brazil and Lan Airlines SA of Chile sought approval to swap shares and delist Tam’s, after gaining antitrust clearance last month for a $3.2 billion transaction creating the world’s second-largest carrier (Bloomberg).

BANKING

Brazil’s effort to prop up small banks may instead steer financing to international companies’ local subsidiaries, two people familiar with the matter said. Rules that take effect Feb. 24 let large Brazilian banks use part of their central-bank reserve requirements to buy credit portfolios and bonds from lenders with capital below 2.2 billion reais ($1.1 billion). Of the 30 billion reais in financial-system injections the central bank projects will result, as little as 10 percent may go to local banks (Bloomberg).

ENERGY

MPX Energia SA, the energy company controlled by billionaire Eike Batista, signed a contract with General Electric Co. worth more than $1.2 billion to buy 19 gas turbines for its thermoelectric complex in the Parnaiba Basin in Brazil’s state of Maranhao (Bloomberg).

Sao Paulo state may sell its 36 percent stake in Cia Energetica de Sao Paulo, Brazil’s second- biggest utility by market value, after a tussle over licenses is resolved, Chief Executive Officer Mauro Arce said. The company, known as Cesp, is pressing the federal government to extend concessions on 67 percent of its generating assets, which expire in 2015, Arce said (Bloomberg).

MINING & STEEL

ThyssenKrupp’s former Chief Executive Ekkehard Schulz said he should have acted sooner on cost overruns at the German steelmaker’s plant in Brazil, ahead of a shareholders’ meeting at which management is expected to face the investors wrath (Reuters).

ThyssenKrupp AG is considering a sale of its $12 billion steel plants in Brazil and the U.S. state of Alabama. Brazilian miner Vale, which owns around a quarter of the plant in the state of Rio Janeiro, is a potential buyer of that one (Reuters).

Votorantim Industrial, Brazil’s largest diversified industrial conglomerate, will use proceeds from the sale of its stake in steelmaker Usiminas to expand in mining and cement output, chief executive Raul Calfat said (Reuters).

MMX Mineracao & Metalicos SA, the miner controlled by Brazil’s richest man Eike Batista, said it’s not interested in a deal with Ferrous Resources Ltd after the closely held iron-ore producer proposed a takeover (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s stellar and successful attempt to draw oil out of the bedrock of the sea, under salt and stone, has its mining companies think they can do the same for lithium, cobalt and phosphates. It would be a first. No company and no country has ever spent precious capital on trying to draw minerals from the ocean floor. But after looking at its reflection in the Atlantic and falling in love with what it saw, Brazil now thinks they can mine the sea (Forbes).

OIL & GAS

Three of Europe’s biggest oil companies are expected to bid for Anadarko Petroleum’s Brazilian business, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper cited people with knowledge of the talks as saying France’s Total, the Norwegian state-controlled energy group Statoil and Denmark’s Maersk Oil, are expected to compete for the business (Reuters).

Petrobras said it has signed a deal to build the company’s first floating oil terminal, a key innovation that could help it overcome a logistical barrier to developing oil fields far from shore. Tanker Pacific Offshore Terminals was selected to build the first floating storage and offloading unit, also known as an FSO. The unit will be built from an existing tanker hull and installed about 80 kilometers off the city of Macae, Petrobras’s base of operations for the Campos Basin (FoxBusiness).

REAL ESTATE

Joao Pereira Coutinho, the Portuguese investor who sold his stakes in five Brazilian shopping centers, plans to avoid investing in the country’s real-estate market after prices rose to “historic” highs. “Today our focus in Brazil is not in real estate,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The real-estate market in Brazil is heated” (Bloomberg).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on January 20, 2012 at 11:53 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of Eike Batista’s Acu Superport in northern Rio State (More).

CULTURE

19th century Brazilian music finds the spotlight through Americantiga concert at NGA (Washington Post).

Sometimes they limit themselves simply to producing movies, though on many other occasions they have also written, directed or actually filmed them. But by any standard the Barretos — Luiz Carlos and Lucy and their children, Bruno, Fábio and Paula — are the first family of cinema in Brazil (New York Times).

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FIFA WORLD CUP

Brazil had been demanding too much in negotiating the conditions for hosting the 2014 World Cup but a legal dispute should be settled within days, FIFA said (Reuters).

Beer must be sold at all venues hosting matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, football’s world governing body, Fifa, has insisted (BBC).

An organized movement of soccer fans in Rio de Janeiro joined together outside the Maracana stadium. The purpose of the rally is to protest the 2014 World Cup’s game schedule. Based on the schedule issued by FIFA, the Brazilian national soccer team will only play in the Maracana stadium if they are able to make it to the finals (Xinhua).

AMAZON

Scomi Engineering of Malaysia, along with three Brazilian partners, signed an agreement with the Infrastructure Secretariat of Amazonas state to develop a monorail system for the Manaus metropolitan region (Reuters).

Amazonia: What’s happening to the world’s biggest rain forest? Read the article in Time Magazine.

Instead of being pristine forests, barely inhabited by people, parts of the Amazon may have been home for centuries to large populations numbering well into the thousands and living in dozens of towns connected by road networks, explains the American writer Charles C. Mann. In fact, according to Mr. Mann, the British explorer Percy Fawcett vanished on his 1925 quest to find the lost “City of Z” in the Xingu, one area with such urban settlements (New York Times).

NATAL

Often referred to as the “esquina do continente” (corner of the continent), Natal in Rio Grande do Norte State is perhaps best known for its vast sand dunes, a playground for tourists taking dune-buggy rides. The entire region however, which gets around 300 days of sun per year and has an average year-round temperature of 28 degrees Celsius, has a strong draw for those looking for the good life (The Rio Times).

RIO

The 19th Police Pacification Unit (UPP) has to officially come into operation in the favela communities of Vidigal and Chácara do Céu. An inauguration ceremony will take place at 10AM in the Olympic village in Vidigal on Avenida João Goulart with vehicle access to the area restricted throughout the morning (The Rio Times).

Entrepreneurs starting up new businesses in Rio de Janeiro state have been increasingly attracted by the construction sector over the past two years, new figures show. Industry analysts are looking towards the city playing host to upcoming major sporting events – the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics – as even greater encouragement for further revitalization in the area (The Rio Times).

Rio de Janeiro: Brazil’s tourist magnet now has less to fear. Read the account in the Washington Post.

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SAO PAULO

Got 48 hours to explore the vast, vibrant metropolis that is not only Brazil’s commercial centre, but its artistic and gastronomic heart? Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to Sao Paulo, the city where trees are an integral part of the architecture and surround its museums, restaurants and shops (Reuters).

What began in early January as a heavy-handed police operation to clean up an area of downtown Sao Paulo has sparked an impassioned debate about drug policy and urban regeneration — with some strange twists and turns. Sao Paulo’s ornate old city center was once one of its most desirable addresses. But in recent decades it became notorious for crime, drug addiction, homelessness and prostitution. Nowhere was the change more apparent than in the warren of narrow streets and alleys where for more than a decade crack has been openly sold and consumed: an area known as “Cracolandia,” or Crackland (Bloomberg).

U.S. software giant Microsoft inaugurated a major technology center in Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo. With an area of 1,300 square meters, the new Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) is the largest of its kind in Latin America, and will operate as a tech simulation center. The MTC will be open to Microsoft’s partners, corporate clients, NGOs, and students (Xinhua).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on January 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff may cut the 2012 budget by as much as 70 billion reais ($39.1 billion) early next week as part of a plan to ensure the central bank will continue to reduce interest rates, Correio Braziliense reported today without saying how it obtained the information (Bloomberg).

Minister for National Integration Fernando Bezerra Coelho has become the latest in a string of President Dilma Rousseff’s ministers to have come under fire following allegations of corruption. The minister is facing accusations of favoritism towards his home state, the northeast state of Pernambuco, and of nepotism in allocating federal funds to projects pertaining to his son – a federal deputy (The Rio Times).

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INTERNATIONAL

Flush with cash from a booming economy and enamored of luxury, Brazilians are visiting South Florida in droves and spending millions of dollars on vacation condominiums, clothes, jewelry, furniture, cars and art, all of which are much less expensive here than in Brazil. As a thank-you, Floridians are creating innovative ways to make the Brazilians happy and to encourage them to keep dipping into their wallets (New York Times).

Brazil will become the 10th biggest International Monetary Fund quota-holder, according to the Amendment Proposal to the Constitutive Covenant of the fund approved by the Committee on External Relations and National Defense (Federal Senate).

The Brazilian government decided to grant work permits to 4,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants who are already living in the country’s northern region (Xinhua).

Brazil has stepped up controls along its border with Paraguay in recent days as the South American giant attempts to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease from it’s southern neighbour (Xinhua).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Brazil’s Eurocopter EC725 Super Cougar production program is set to go into full swing this year after a deal worth more than $1 billion that saw off competition from rival U.S. and Russian manufacturers. The “Project H-X BR” tactical transport helicopter competition featured three contenders, Eurocopter’s Brazilian subsidiary Helibras, AgustaWestland and the Russian-built Mi-17. Three helicopters of its Brazilian version, Caracal, conducted test flights as early as December 2010. The EC725 Cougar is being built at Helicopteros do Brasil S.A., also known as Helibras, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurocopter, which itself is a division of EADS, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co (UPI).

Japan’s opening of defense exports and manufacturing is a challenge and an opportunity for Latin America, especially Brazil, because of the multibillion-dollar investments made into developing an export-oriented arms industry in the region (UPI).

BAE Systems, in partnership with the Brazilian Army are upgrading 150 M113 armored personnel carriers for Brazil through a foreign military sales contract worth $41.9 million. The Brazilian Army will upgrade the M113B vehicles to the M113A2 Mk1 configuration. Under this work, the vehicle hulls, hatches and ramps will be reused while all other components including the engines, transmissions and cooling systems will be replaced or upgraded (Ottawa Citizen).

Two Brazilian companies have contracted to work with Boeing on a range of engineering and logistics projects that give the American company a firmer foothold in the expanding aviation and defense manufacturing sector in Brazil. Boeing is still a contender in the international FX-2 competition for a multibillion-dollar deal to supply Brazilian military with a fighter jet fleet of 36 or more aircraft over the coming years (UPI).

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SOCIAL

This year, “Big Brother” has competition. “Rich Women,” which began airing a week before on the rival Band network, follows five rich, glamorous women through their day-to-day lives of staggering luxury. Both shows have provoked no shortage of furious reaction in the media and online — perhaps because they illustrate Brazil’s growing social polarization so starkly (Bloomberg).

Brazilian workers who find themselves answering work emails on their smartphones after the end of their shifts can qualify for overtime under a new law. The new legislation was approved by President Dilma Rousseff last month (NPR).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on January 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

ECONOMY

With extraordinary speed, China has become Brazil’s most important economic partner: total trade between the two countries has risen 17-fold since 2002. But frictions are increasing almost as fast. Although Brazil enjoys a big overall trade surplus with China, most of its exports are of commodities (mainly iron ore, soya beans and crude oil). It has a big deficit in manufactures. China has become Brazil’s biggest economic partner—and its most difficult one and now Brazil is seeking protection (The Economist).

Economists cut forecasts for Brazil’s year-end inflation for a sixth consecutive week but held growth predictions, a central bank survey showed, suggesting concerns about a slowdown are easing (Reuters).

Brazil’s economy may enjoy faster growth and lower inflation this year as stimulating policies such as tax and interest rate cuts are taking effect, Finance Ministry said. GDP growth is expected to reach 4 percent to 5 percent in 2012 and inflation would be kept below 5 percent, predicted Finance Ministry Executive Secretary Nelson Barbosa (Xinhua).

A leading Brazilian economist Edmar Bacha, one of the architects behind the 1994 Plan Real to stabilize Latin America’s largest economy said the country was at risk of becoming entirely dependent on natural resources exports and urged greater savings to invest in diversification (Mercopress).

How does the Brazilian economy continue to expand while many of its neighbors wallow in volatility and stagnation? The answer is sound macroeconomic policy. While Brazil’s economy hurtles toward economic convergence with the Western world, other underdeveloped countries would do well to examine the economic strategy that fostered its ascent. Brazil’s current status is the culmination of several stages in its economic succession (Huffington Post).

President Dilma Rousseff’s administration estimates the real will strengthen beyond 1.80 per U.S. dollar this year, a government official with knowledge of internal discussions on the issue said. The government expects the euro region to start recovering from its current crisis in the second half of 2012, which will help weaken the dollar against other currencies, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the government doesn’t officially forecast currency moves (Businessweek).

BUSINESS

E.ON said it will buy a 10 percent stake in Eike Batista’s MPX Energia, only weeks after losing a bid for a stake in Portugal’s EDP , as the group struggles to tap new markets following Germany’s move to exit nuclear power (Reuters).

AGRI ETC

The price of frozen-concentrated-orange-juice futures has leapt by around 25% since the start of the year to a 34-year high, mainly on concerns that Brazil, an important source of American imports, may have used banned fungicides which could result in an import ban (The Economist).

EU governments will meet next week to discuss the results of U.S. tests for the fungicide carbendazim in orange juice from Brazil, and have the option to begin targeted testing of imports to Europe if needed (Reuters).

Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social, Brazil’s national development bank, will lend sugar-cane mills as much as 4 billion reais ($2.2 billion) to plant more crops as ethanol supplies dwindle (Bloomberg).

The Brazilian government lowered 0.1% its estimate for the 2012 harvest that should reach 160.3 million tons, considered a record volume. Overall this year’s harvest should be 0.3% above the 159.9 million tons of 2011, according to data from the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Office, IBGE (Mercopress).

AUTOMOTIVE

Brazil’s automobile industry has beaten its own sales record for the fifth year running, bettering sales figures for the previous year, and making it the fifth biggest car seller in the world, market sources have revealed. Although lower than expected, the figures are particularly good in light of the implications of ongoing financial troubles in Europe and the U.S., and a painful tax hike on imported vehicles (The Rio Times).

AVIATION

Embraer, the world’s third-largest commercial planemaker, said 2011 deliveries fell to a three-year low, missing initial estimates after the global downturn had led to a string of canceled executive jet orders. Still, the company replaced deliveries of regional E-Jets last year with new firm orders, keeping its commercial aviation backlog steady for the first time since 2008 in a sign of resilience despite a global slowdown in civil aviation (Reuters).

INFRA

Major infrastructure works are sprouting like mushrooms in Brazil, generating millions of jobs and drawing more than 60 billion dollars in foreign investment in 2011. But this thrust has failed to sustain economic growth, which according to the latest projections is below three percent (IPS).

Brazil plans to lower rail freight rates by as much as 40 percent, O Globo reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the plan. The country’s land transportation agency, known as ANTT, will publish the proposal on Jan. 9 to solicit comment on it, O Globo said. ANTT sets the maximum rate railroad operators can charge in Brazil. Vale SA and ALL America Latina Logistica SA are among the main railroad operators in Brazil (Bloomberg).

MINING & STEEL

ARCADIS, the international consultancy, design, engineering and management services company, announced that its Brazilian subsidiary ARCADIS Logos has signed a large contract to provide construction management services for a major mining project in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The client is Mineração Usiminas S.A., a company set up in 2010 as part of Usiminas S.A. group, Latin America’s biggest flat steel conglomerate. The contract value amounts to US$17 million for 14 months of services (Reuters).

Malawi said it has signed a $1 billion deal with Brazil’s Vale for the construction and rehabilitation of a rail line that will transport 18 million tonnes of coal from Mozambique (Reuters).

But families resettled by Brazilian mining giant Vale in the Tete region of Mozambique protested that the company had failed to keep promises it made to them in 2009 (Reuters).

Gold producer Jaguar Mining Inc said it has identified and executed confidentiality agreements with interested parties for a potential merger (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Petrobras will accelerate reserve growth over the next four years as it deploys more production equipment in deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the chief financial officer said. Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, needs equipment at discovery sites to meet requirements to classify the oil as proven reserves, CFO Almir Barbassa said in an interview. The company expects to receive 19 production platforms by the end of 2015, he said (Bloomberg).

After reports that federal prosecutors in Campos, of northern Rio de Janeiro state, are seeking US$10.8 billion from Transocean following the oil leak in Chevron’s Frade Field well, many eyes outside the oil industry have taken notice of this multinational firm in Brazil.  The company, with 18,000 employees worldwide reported US$9.576 billion in revenue in 2010, and may be the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor (The Rio Times).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on January 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Trx project for cool Vila Madalena district of Sao Paulo (Skyscrapercity).

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FIFA WORLD CUP

Romario, now a politician with Brazil’s Socialist Party (PSB), warned that the total cost for staging the competition in 2014 could jump from an estimated $44 billion to $55.5 billion and also claimed that renovation work on stadiums and transport in the country would not be complete in time (Soccernet).

CINEMA

“Lula: Son of Brazil” is an unabashed hagiography that follows the rise from poverty to national prominence of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who served as president of Brazil from 2003 through 2010. The film ends in 1980, the year his beloved mother died while he was in prison. In the same year he helped found the left-wing Workers Party, which stood up against the country’s right-wing military government (New York Times).

AMAZON

President Dilma Rousseff signed the decree for the construction of five new hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin and readies for a renewed attack from domestic and international environmentalists against the project (MercoPress).

RIO GRANDE DO NORTE

Rio Grande do Norte State is situated on the part of the South American continent that sits the furthest out in the Atlantic Ocean, blessing a year-round summer climate with a steady ocean breeze. The state’s capital is named Natal (Christmas) which has a history of lodging U.S. armed forces during World War II, and has experienced notable growth in the last decade (The Rio Times).

RIO

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s capital of samba and Carnival, is a city forever defined in people’s imagination by its miles of golden beach that on weekends draw millions of sun-worshippers. But there is much more to Brazil’s second city, which is gradually shaking off a reputation for crime and decadence as it surfs an economic boom and prepares to host the World Cup and the Olympic Games in the next four years. Local correspondents help you get the most out of a stay in Brazil’s former capital which was also once the capital of the Portuguese empire: 48 hours in Rio (Reuters).

In recent months, signs have emerged that the militias are expanding beyond their bastion in Rio. A report in the newspaper O Globo described how militias had spread to 11 of Brazil’s 26 states, often initially winning over slum residents by killing drug traffickers before imposing their own methods of coercion and control (New York Times).

With the apparent success of Police Pacification Units (UPPs) in nineteen favelas communities in Rio, there has been much speculation over what steps the government will take to integrate these newly liberated communities within the State. The announcement on January 5th to establish centers for ‘The Prevention of Violence and Promotion of Security’ in the these communities, will interest both skeptics and enthusiasts of the pacification process (The Rio Times).

Gamboa, along with Santo Cristo and Saúde, is one of the oldest boroughs of Rio. It was originally settled by the aristocracy, due to the attractive position on the shores of Guanabara Bay, but lost its glamour when the docks were built. Along with this history, the area also hosts The English Cemetery at Gamboa, one of the oldest British institutions in Rio (The Rio Times).

One of the best ideas for the new year is paying a visit to the 19th edition of Senac Rio Fashion Business. The event is one of the most important in the industry, as it reinforces a view of fashion as a strategic tool which can be used to increase a country’s economic and social development. 70 thousand visitors and 20 thousand retailers are expected to make an appearance at the event, as well as VIP guests. This edition hopes to increase their sale value by 10% comparing to last year’s edition, in an estimated total of around R$ 760 million (Rio Official Guide).

Birthplace of carioca samba, the port zone begins its revitalization process for the next big events that will happen in the city. And with this process, culture and tradition of the samba circles are rescued and renewed in bars and on the streets of the neighborhood. With a diverse and effervescent  schedule, Trapiche Gamboa, the samba of Pedra do Sal and Imaculada Bar & Galeria, blend good food, cold beer, music and culture, providing locals and tourists great entertainment options (Rio Official Guide).

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SAO PAULO

Police said they have doubled the number of officers assigned to a haven for crack cocaine addicts as they battle a growing drug epidemic in South America’s biggest city. Police commander Alvaro Batista Camilo told reporters that close to 300 policemen have been deployed to clean up “Cracolandia” — “Crackland” — an open-air crack cocaine market in the heart of Sao Paulo (Kens5).

 

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on January 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

POLITICS

After a surprisingly good start, President Dilma Rousseff’s popularity is bound to be tested in 2012, writes analyst Paulo Sotero. Dilma Rousseff’s first year in office was marked by two sets of bad news: one economic, the other ethical (BBC).

Manuela D’Avila, a two-time state legislator who is leading the mayoral race in Porto Alegre, Brazil’s tenth largest city, is among of an unprecedented number of women running for municipal offices in 2012 elections (Washington Post).

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INTERNATIONAL

Rousseff’s position on Syria has come under heavy criticism. Democratic countries like Brazil “shouldn’t sit by and watch as Syria implodes,” Human Rights Watch has declared. “Their efforts at private dialogue have achieved nothing, and hundreds more Syrians have died in the meantime.” But to suggest that her stance is hypocritical or belies her democratic convictions is to miss her point (The New York Times).

Brazil’s foreign policy agenda in 2012 will involve maintaining and possibly deepening relations with key partners, such as China, the U.S. and the EU; regional countries such as Argentina, Venezuela and Bolivia; member states of organizations such as Mercosur and BRICS, and also Lusophone nations such as Portugal and Angola (The Rio Times).

The northwestern Brazilian city of Brasileia in Acre State reported that it allowed in 500 more illegal Haitian immigrants during the final 48 hours of 2011. The arrival coincided with rumors that Brazil was mulling a limit on the number of Haitians who were crossing the Amazonian borders to the South American nation in the new year (Xinhua).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Embraer will sell 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to the U.S. Air Force, in a firm-fixed price delivery order contract worth $355 million (Reuters).

BAE Systems has signed a deal with the Brazilian Navy to supply it with three patrol vessels. The contract is worth £133m. The ocean patrol vessels are already built, having been ordered by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in a contract which was terminated in 2010. The new agreement with Brazil will allow five vessels of the same class to be made under licence there (BBC).

Embraer Defense and Security signed a partnership contract with OGMA – Indústria Aeronáutica de Portugal and EEA – Empresa de Engenharia Aeronáutica for the KC-390 military airlifter and aerial refueling jet program. According to this agreement, Portugal, through EEA, will develop the engineering project for the KC-390’s components, which will be manufactured by Embraer subsidiary OGMA (Embraer).

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SOCIAL

Some 11.42 million Brazilians are living in slums, about 6 percent of the population, a report released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) said. The report shows that the percentage of Brazilians who live in shantytowns, often in precarious conditions, almost doubled in the past 20 years (Xinhua).

A total of 2,270 workers in Brazil were rescued from “slave-like” conditions in 2011, the government says. An official “dirty list” of employers using slave labour was extended to include 294 companies and individuals. It is the highest number since officials began compiling the list in 2004 (BBC).

Demographers were astonished that Brazil’s fertility rate fell almost uniformly from cosmopolitan Sao Paulo, with its tiny apartments and go-go economy, to Amazonian villages and the vast central farming belt (Washington Post).

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