News from Brazil

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on March 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff has pledged to reduce taxes on local businesses to help them invest and compete in a world awash with cheap money that is hurting Brazil’s economy, Veja magazine reported. Speaking shortly after a meeting with industry leaders, Rousseff told the weekly magazine in a two-hour interview that the way out of Brazil’s struggle with inflation and slow growth was lower taxes to spur private investment (Reuters).

The meeting between President Dilma Rousseff and 28 business leaders on March 22 was a heavyweight encounter. The president faced off with Brazil’s most powerful retailers, bankers and industrialists — who between them represented 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Brazil’s captains of industry had come to deliver a somber message, one increasingly heard around Brazil: Domestic industry is losing the battle to cheaper imports. It simply isn’t competitive enough (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s Senate gave final approval to a bill that seeks to gradually eliminate the country’s pension deficit by limiting government payments to 3,916 reais ($2,144) per month to retired public workers (Bloomberg).

Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that treatments for a cancerous throat tumor had been successful (The New York Times).

The Brazilian government will offer tax cuts, reduced payroll costs and credit breaks to companies that investment in innovation, Science and Technology Minister Marco Antonio Raupp announced (Xinhua).

Brazil is asking more than 2,000 websites to remove sexual content that promotes Latin America’s biggest country as a sex tourism destination, the Tourism Ministry said (Washington Post).

Brazil is planning to invest more funds in its flagship public housing programme, in the latest effort to boost public investment and stimulate a stagnant economy, President Dilma Rousseff said (Reuters).

While Brazilian multinationals are going global and are confronting foreign bribery risks of their own, corruption at home is under the spotlight (the president’s administration has lost a seventh Minister to corruption allegations since the last post). Now, a special committee created by the Brazilian Congress to analyze bill 6.826/2010 has recently presented a revised draft that bolsters certain key provisions and keeps other significant ones the same. The House aims to vote on the legislation before July 2012 (Corporate Compliance Insights).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil will push for its large emerging-market peers including China to denounce what it sees as unfair monetary policies by Europe and the United States, raising the stakes in a global confrontation over economic imbalances. Brazilian Trade and Industry Minister Fernando Pimentel told Reuters his country would seek such language in a communique at this week’s BRICS summit, which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Reuters).

The Committee on External Relations and National Defense asked the United States to “cancel the economic and trade embargo against Cuba.” Shortly after, the committee rejected a proposal to ask Cuba’s government the concession of an indult to political prisoners who are still in the island’s prisons and the authorization for blogger Yaoni Sánchez to travel to other countries, such as Brazil (Federal Senate).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Embraer expects to bid again within weeks on the U.S. Air Force contract to supply up to $1 billion in light attack planes for the Afghan government, the chief executive of the company’s defense unit said (Reuters).

Embraer Defense and Security disclosed that it has signed contracts with three African nations for the acquisition of the A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprop. The Burkina Faso Air Force, the first operator of this model in Africa, has already received three aircraft that are used on border patrol missions. The Angola Air Force recently acquired six of this aircraft for the same mission, and the first three will be delivered in 2012. Also, the Air Force of Mauritania chose the A-29 Super Tucano to carry out counter-insurgency missions. The total value of the contracts – including an extensive logistical, training, and replacement parts package – comes to more than USD 180 million (Embraer).

Rio do Janeiro riot police used pepper spray and tear gas to chase protesters away from a celebration by retired soldiers marking the March 1964 coup that established Brazil’s long military dictatorship (MercoPress).

President Dilma Rousseff plans to use her New Delhi visit later this week to sound out Indian leaders on the French Rafale fighter jet, which she is considering buying to beef up Brazil’s air force (MercoPress).

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Brazil’s Amazon Military Command headquarters to get an idea of the range, capabilities and challenges facing the armed forces’ effort Brazil. Gen. Eduardo Villas Boas of the Brazilian army hosted Dempsey for the short visit and discussed the full range of his command (Defense gov).

SOCIAL

The number of Brazilians categorized as middle class has risen rapidly in recent years, climbing from 34% of the population in 2004 to 54% in 2011, according to a study released by consumer finance firm Cetelem BGN and the Ipsos research institute (MercoPress).

According to Data Popular the NCM, New Middle Class, will show the real face of Brazil. A family with monthly income of around 2374,00 reais is actually part of this class, which consists of over 100 million people, representing 1 trillion Reais of spending power. The NCM can be found throughout the country, though they are most present in the South (and least in the North East). Florianopolis is the city with propotinally the most NCMs (Data Popular/Almanaque Brasil).

In Brazil, comparison with the U.S. made it easy to imagine that country was a “racial democracy.” Yet although Brazil never enacted statutory racism, millions of black Brazilians face inequalities that are deeper than in the U.S. In the absence of a foil like the white supremacism in the U.S., Brazil long avoided a thorough interrogation of its own racial inequalities. In its absence, an agile reinterpretation of racial discrimination is taking place in Brazil that bears lessons for the U.S. (The New York Times).

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Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on March 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

ECONOMY

In its latest bid to slow dollar inflows in a “global currency war,” Brazil has dealt an unexpected blow to its own commodity exporters, choking off medium-term trade financing at a vulnerable time for the sector. Exporters say the central bank went a step too far on March 1, when it quietly implemented a 6 percent financial transactions tax on medium-term loans offered to exporters by banks, a critical tool used by major commodity producers across the globe to finance their operations. (Reuters).

Brazil’s central bank lowered its 2012 inflation outlook to below the government’s target but raised its forecast for higher inflation in 2013, reinforcing the view that its current cycle of interest rate cuts is soon coming to an end (Reuters).

Analysts lowered their forecasts for Brazil’s gross domestic product growth in 2012 to 3.23 percent, from 3.3 percent the prior week (Reuters).

Finance Minister Guido Mantega extended a tax break on the so-called IPI tax on home appliances for three months and cut it for four consumer products, including furniture. The tax breaks will cost the government 489 million reais ($269.52 million) in lost revenue (Reuters).

Brazil’s labor market, which is already operating near full employment, has room to handle faster economic growth without stoking inflation, central bank President Alexandre Tombini said (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s economy slowed less than analysts expected in January as demand for goods and services helped offset a contraction in industrial production. Brazil’s seasonally-adjusted economic activity index, a proxy for gross domestic product, fell 0.13 percent in January, the central bank said today. Analysts expected a 0.5 percent decline, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Brazil will issue sovereign bonds in the real in the near future, Treasury Secretary Arno Augustin said. According to Augustin, it is important to issue bonds in the local currency to help halt the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against the real (Xinhua).

Almost one in five manufactured goods consumed in Brazil during 2011 was imported, according to the ‘commercial opening coefficient’ survey undertaken by the country’s National Industry Confederation, CNI, and released this week in Sao Paulo (MercoPress).

BUSINESS

Brazilian criminal charges against energy industry employees over an oil spill have made foreign workers leery of new legal risks, but so far concerns seem to be outweighed by the lure of good-paying jobs and a famously laid-back lifestyle. The big question among expatriates is whether last week’s charges against Chevron Corp, Transocean and 17 of their staff are political grandstanding in a country actively seeking foreign expertise to help develop its newfound oil riches, or a real risk of doing hard time (Reuters).

Abu Dhabi state investment fund Mubadala said it will buy a $2 billion stake in Brazil’s Eike Batista’s EBX Group, providing fresh capital to the Brazilian conglomerate as it boosts spending on oil, ports, shipyards, mines and electricity (Reuters).

Batista, 55 reiterated his goal to overtake Carlos Slim, currently the world’s richest man with a net worth of $70.7 billion, by 2015. Batista’s fortune fell $375 million after shares of OGX, his largest holding, fell 2.4 percent in Sao Paulo trading (Bloomberg).

Brazilian consumers spend an average of $240 a year on beauty products, matching the consumption of more mature markets such as the U.S. and U.K. (CNBC).

Brazil is a tech savvy.  It’s elections are all digitized.  People can sit at home and watch national election data unfold straight from a government’s website, without watching the evening news.  Technology at Brazilian banks is some of the most innovative around, not only for security matters, but also for the myriad of ways that Brazilians have grown accustomed to paying bills — through checks and money orders and bank receipts — all facilitated online. Brazilian computer engineers have come up with proprietary tech to compliment their society and their business. So, yes, Brazil is more than just oil and minerals.  But will their tech talents ever translate into a company like India’s Infosys (Forbes)?

AGRI ETC.

Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer, may stockpile beans to help farmers as production this year climbs to a record, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Coffee output will probably rise to a record in the 2012-13 season starting in July as trees enter the higher-yielding half of a two-year cycle, the government said. Production is expected to be 49 million to 52.3 million bags, exceeding the high of 48.5 million bags in 2002, according to a Jan. 10 report from Conab, the government’s crop forecasting agency. A bag of coffee weighs 60 kilograms (132 pounds) (Bloomberg).

Marcos Jank is stepping down as President of the organization, the most important institution representing Brazilian producers of ethanol, sugar and bioelectricity (Unica).

AVIATION

Avianca Brazil plans to add 50 new planes to its fleet in the next five years, an expansion valued at nearly $4 billion that could weigh on Brazilian airline ticket prices in coming years. German Efromovich, the airline’s owner, said a contract for the aircraft could go to Airbus or Boeing this year (Reuters).

Chile’s LAN Airlines expects a share swap to complete the takeover of Brazil’s TAM in six weeks, wrapping up the multibillion dollar takeover by mid-May, LAN’s Chief Executive Enrique Cueto said (Reuters).

Gol Linhas Aereas , Brazil’s second-biggest airline, saw fourth-quarter net income tumble 58.9 percent from a year earlier as a spike in operating expenses ate into profit (Reuters).

The world’s two largest planemakers laid out forecasts for Latin America, where they see a market for 100 new commercial planes or more yearly for the next two decades as consumer spending expands with economic growth above the global average (Reuters).

Amid projections for rapid growth in airline traffic in Brazil, and an expected surge in passengers related to the upcoming soccer World Cup and Olympic Games, the country will have to greatly upgrade and expand its airports, according to a report published by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, in which they project an estimated doubling in the number of passengers by 2030 (Reuters).

Embraer and British Airways signed a contract for the sale of one more EMBRAER 190 (E190) jet. The aircraft will be operated by London City Airport (LCY)-based BA CityFlyer, British Airways’ wholly owned regional subsidiary. When delivered during the third quarter of 2012, it will bolster the airline’s total fleet size to 14 E-Jets (Embraer).

BANKING & FINANCE

Back to the game. That’s where billionaire Andre Esteves is leading Brazil with a share sale that may open the market for initial public offerings and ease the economy’s reliance on government loans. A successful pricing may show the way for a pipeline of 40 proposed initial offerings that the Sao Paulo stock exchange estimates at $28 billion, and could offer a template for reducing the government’s role as a top provider of loans to private businesses (Bloomberg).

HSBC, Brazil’s No. 2 foreign lender, named Andre Brandão as head of its Brazil division. Brandão replaces Conrado Engel, who left the bank this month to oversee retail banking at rival Santander Brasil (Reuters).

Bank lending in Brazil rose in February, recovering from a slight dip the previous month, as state-controlled banks stepped up disbursements to help the government fight an abrupt slowdown in Latin America’s largest economy (Reuters).

Vinci Partners Investimentos Ltda., the Brazilian investment firm founded by former Banco Pactual SA executives, is seeking to raise as much as 2 billion reais ($1.1 billion) for a private-equity fund (Bloomberg).

BM&FBovespa SA, Brazil’s biggest securities exchange, said a local lower court ordered it to pay 8.42 billion reais ($4.62 billion) in a civil case related to central bank futures trading around the time of the 1999 currency devaluation (Bloomberg).

MINING & STEEL

Vale, the world’s No. 2 mining company, expects to win permission “within months” to unload its big, new iron-ore ships at Chinese ports, a move that will help ensure efficient delivery of raw materials to China’s growing economy, a senior executive told Reuters.

Vale is moderately optimistic about the outlook for iron ore and expects significant demand from top consumer China, Claudio Alves, global marketing director, said (Reuters).

Vale denied all accusations of tax irregularities in Switzerland and said it’s prepared for dialogue with the Swiss government in an attempt to find a joint solution to the allegations. In recent weeks, Vale has been the subject of news reports citing Swiss politicians who allege the world’s second biggest mining company has disrespected a tax exemption accord with the government by using its Swiss operation to receive profits from abroad on which no tax has been paid (Fox Business).

OIL & GAS

Core Laboratories, an oilfield services company that specializes in boosting the output of wells, said it was consciously not invested in the red-hot Brazilian energy industry because it was too tough to make money there (Reuters).

Offshore oilfield equipment maker FMC Technologies Inc said it signed a four-year equipment supply deal with Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras, which will help it generate up to $1.5 billion in revenue (Reuters).

Brazil’s largest oil workers union filed a lawsuit against U.S. oil company Chevron and drilling firm Transocean that seeks to cancel their rights to operate in the country as the result of an offshore oil spill last November (Reuters).

Chevron has said they “will vigorously defend the company and its employees” against criminal charges filed by Brazilian prosecutors for an oil leak last November, dubbing the charges “outrageous and without merit.” The response came just hours after Brazilian prosecutors launched new charges against Chevron, the rig operator Transocean, and seventeen employees of both companies (The Rio Times).

Petrobras has room to leave fuel prices unchanged in 2012 but will have to raise prices at the pump if Brent oil prices stay at $120 a barrel long, the company’s chief executive said (Reuters).

Saipem, the Milan-based oil services contractor, expects to increase business in Brazil with companies including Petrobras and OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA as the South American country seeks to more than double oil output in the next decade (Bloomberg).

TOURISM

Brazil is Latin America’s fastest-growing travel and tourism economy and direct contribution to GDP is forecast to grow at 7.8% in 2012 (MercoPress).

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on March 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Empresarial West Tower for  Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte (Skyscrapercity).

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CULTURE

All over the world cultural organizations are tightening their budgets and paring back productions. But Danilo Miranda faces a different challenge, one that makes him the envy of his peers. As the director of the leading arts financing entity in Brazil, his budget is growing by 10 percent or more annually, and he must figure out ways to spend that bounty, which amounts to $600 million a year (The New York Times).

MEDIA

Two Brazilian journalists working near the Paraguayan border were killed over the weekend. The deaths of newspaper owner Onei de Moura and radio reporter Divino Aparecido Carvalho, both in Paraná state, add to an increasingly grim toll in the country (The Guardian).

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FIFA WORLD CUP 2014

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, has welcomed the approval of a bill by Brazil’s lower house of parliament which will allow the sale of alcohol in stadiums during the 2014 World Cup. Alcohol sales in Brazil’s stadiums are usually banned to help cut violence. Fifa’s demand for a temporary exception to the ban has faced considerable opposition in the country (BBC).

BAHIA

Bahia state has approved a law banning the use of public funds to pay for events where songs that offend women and gays are played. The state legislature of Bahia approved the law Tuesday night. Governor Jacques Wagner must now sanction it (Washington Post).

MINAS GERAIS

Set in the highlands of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Gustavo Penna’s Lincoln Residenceis an elegant minimalist home that emphasizes its beautiful surrounding landscape. The home was built using simple materials such as glass and painted brick walls, and features wide windows that take advantage of the view while conserving energy (INHabitat).

Brazilian police are investigating whether the fatal shooting of three rural activists was tied to their effort to win rights to land also contested by owners of a sugar mill (Washington Post).

RIO

http://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac242/atlantico/rio.jpg

Companhia Siderurgica Nacional SA said it is discussing construction of a new iron ore export port in Brazil with steelmaker and mining company Gerdau SA and oil and gas producer Petrobras. The new port with the partners may be ready to emerge in 2015. The port project, named Porto da Pedra, will be sited at Itaguai in Rio de Janeiro state, southeast Brazil, alongside CSN’s existing Tecar iron ore export and coal import port, and its Tecon containers port (Fox Business).

A 41 year-old community leader from Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio was killed. This is the sixth reported murder since the November pacification force has occupied the area, and took place even though police presence was increased last week in Rocinha (The Rio Times).

Last week the Federal Government announced funding of R$1.63 billion (around US$1 billion) to finance the development of two key transportation projects in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. These projects are the construction of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on Avenida Brasil, known as the “Transbrasil” and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Centro (The Rio Times).

Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), at an impressive 98 feet high and more than 2,326 feet above sea level, is one of Rio’s – and the world’s – greatest attractions. Standing next to the awesome Christ statue atop Rio’s Corcovado Mountain, gazing up at the monument and then out over Guanabara Bay is sure a thrill, but getting there can also be part of the adventure (The Rio Times).

SAO PAULO

Now that the two main candidates are known for the Sao Paulo Mayoral contest later this year, we would like to know from our readers which one should win:

The abiding memory from many a business trip to São Paulo is of traffic jams. But South America’s biggest city now offers a new way to nip between meetings. Line 4 of the city’s metro, opened in stages over the past two years, links several business districts—the city centre, Avenida Paulista and Faria Lima—for the first time. Unsurprisingly, demand on Line 4 is overwhelming. It already carries 550,000 passengers a day and expects 1m once it is complete (The Economist).

Brazilian police say they are hunting a gang of mostly blonde young women who have committed a series of kidnaps and robberies in Sao Paulo. The criminals have been targeting wealthy women in shopping centres, Sao Paulo’s anti-kidnap police unit says. The victims are followed to their cars, where they are robbed and held captive at gunpoint while the gang uses their credit cards to make luxury purchases (BBC).

Authorities are concerned with escalating fan violence in Brazil, with the death of a fan in Sao Paulo over the weekend sparking fears of a new wave of confrontations (Washington Post).

Silicon Valley has led the world in innovation and entrepreneurship because of its culture of information sharing and mentoring. No other region in the world is like it. But things are changing. In my travels to countries like India, China, and Chile, I’ve witnessed a noticeable evolution in entrepreneurial culture over the past five years. Networking groups are emerging, and entrepreneurs are becoming more open. One of the most impressive examples of this is in Campinas, Brazil—a university town on the outskirts of Sao Paulo (Washington Post).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on March 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

POLITICS

After spending much of her political capital fighting corruption, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, has had to pick her battles. Seven senators from her resentful coalition have already quit, and more warn they may follow. Ms Rousseff has put most of her legislative plans on hold until relations improve. But she is training her remaining firepower on what may be Brazil’s biggest public-policy problem: a voracious pension system that threatens to bust the budget and damage the economy (The Economist).

President Dilma Rousseff will try to quell a rebellion among Brazilian legislators by releasing some frozen funds for their pet projects, sources told Reuters, hoping that will convince them to pass critical legislation for the 2014 World Cup and other bills related to the economy (Reuters).

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INTERNATIONAL

Brazil plans to signal its growing concern about intense foreign competition hurting its industries by suggesting at the World Trade Organization that the ceiling for its import tariffs is too low, government sources told Reuters.

Swift growth by nimble Latin American countries like Chile, Colombia and Peru has put renewed focus on regional heavyweight Brazil, whose relatively closed, high-tax economy is now sputtering below its potential (Reuters).

China and the Inter-American Development Bank said they are starting a $1 billion fund to invest in Latin America, though the Asian giant’s latest push to expand its influence in the region prompted words of caution from Brazil (Reuters).

Twenty years after the inaugural 1992 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – the Earth Summit – was held in Rio, the city will once again play host to the event. Now Rio is gearing up for the “Rio+20” (June 20th to 22nd), and on March 9th Conference Secretary-General, Sha Zukang was in Brazil to discuss the logistics with Environment Minister, Izabella Teixeira (The Rio Times).

SOCIAL

Schools in Brazil have started to place computer chips in school uniforms to keep track of pupils and reduce truancy. Some 20,000 pupils in the north-eastern city of Vitoria da Conquista will have microchips embedded in their school T-shirts (BBC).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on March 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

ECONOMY

Brazil’s jobless rate climbed to 5.7 percent in February but still marked a historic low for the month, the government’s statistics agency IBGE said (Reuters).

Employment and production statistics indicate a significant slump in Brazil’s industry sector (which accounts for 26.9 percent of the GDP) in recent months. Economists are pointing to the dramatic slowdown in the Brazilian economy, which has caused industry to stall and jobs in the sector to dry up (The Rio Times).

BUSINESS

France’s Casino said it will exercise its right to become the sole controlling shareholder of Pao de Acucar, a move set to reduce the influence of the hard-charging chairman at Brazil’s biggest retailer after an ownership struggle last year (Reuters).

Brazil’s JBS, the world’s biggest beef producer, plans to invest between 900 million reais ($492.66 million) and 1 billion reais in its operations 2012, down from the 1.4 billion reais investments initially planned for last year, Chief Executive Officer Wesley Batista said (Reuters).

South Korean shipping giant Samsung sold its 6 percent stake to exit Brazil’s EAS shipyard, which has struggled to meet orders on schedule as the government tries to attract foreign know-how to the industry, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper said (Reuters).

AVIATION

Embraer , the world’s third-largest producer of commercial aircraft, is expanding its presence in the United States with an aviation research, development and design center in Melbourne, Florida (Reuters).

Embraer posted a fourth-quarter net loss of 171.6 million reais ($94 million), compared to a profit of 208 million reais a year earlier (Reuters).

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OIL & GAS

When federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira heard in November about an oil spill in a Chevron field off Brazil’s coast, he was determined that, this time, the polluters wouldn’t wiggle from his grip (Reuters).

A Brazilian court barred 17 executives from Chevron and Transocean from leaving Brazil, pending criminal charges related to a high-profile oil spill last November (Reuters).

Brazil’s oil regulator said Chevron was not negligent in the drilling of a well that caused an offshore oil spill in November, a finding that may help the company to fight criminal charges and an $11 billion lawsuit (Reuters).

A new well drilled in Brazil at deepwater block BM-S-8 confirmed the presence of crude oil, said Portuguese oil company Galp, part of a consortium drilling in the prolific Santos basin area (Reuters).

Brazil Weekly´s Brazil Regional News

In Brazil on March 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the future Exhibition and Event Centre for Fortaleza (Skyscrapercity).

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FIFA WORLD CUP

Congress postponed a key World Cup bill again, a move that is likely to frustrate officials of football’s governing body who say its passage is crucial to preparations for the 2014 World Cup (Reuters).

PARA

Para, the Brazilian state where Vale SA has a third of its iron-ore output, will introduce a mining tax next month as governments worldwide seek to increase revenue from the exploitation of natural resources (Bloomberg).

RIO

Almost one and a half years after occupation by the Brazilian Army, the favelas of Complexo do Alemão and Penha in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) are still awaiting the installation of Police Pacification Units (UPPs). The transition, which was originally scheduled for October 2011, had been delayed by Governor Sergio Cabral, allowing the army personnel who form the ‘peace force’ to remain for some time longer (The Rio Times).

TV Globo’s Sunday-night news-magazine program, “Fantastico,” is one of Brazil’s most popular shows — a breezy mixture of entertainment and in-depth reporting that is something of a national institution. It’s the investigative reports that grab headlines, and none more so than last Sunday’s 22-minute expose of the fraudulent ways in which companies competed to get lucrative contracts with a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro (Bloomberg).

Thor Batista, the son and heir apparent of Brazil’s richest man, is being investigated for possible manslaughter after he ran over a cyclist on a highway outside Rio de Janeiro on the evening of March 17, the city’s police said (Bloomberg).

SAO PAULO

São Paulo, Brazil’s richest state, plans to raise up to 600 million reais ($328 million) from the sale of notes backed by tax liens, the first of its kind in the country, which may spur a flurry of similar deals by other regional governments, two sources with direct knowledge of the transaction said (Reuters).

Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on March 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff has ousted her main floor leaders in both houses of Congress in a move seen as an effort to quell recent signs of unrest within the governing coalition. Sen. Romero Juca of the Democratic Movement Party, or PMDB, and Rep. Candido Vaccarezza, of the Workers’ Party, or PT, stepped down, as President Rousseff wants to implement a “rotation” of the posts, which are the administration’s main points of contact with each chamber (Nasdaq).

President Dilma Rousseff’s government will announce measures next week to boost demand and target economic growth of 4 to 5 percent this year, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported, citing an interview with Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel (Bloomberg).

The government says it handed out nearly a half-billion free condoms last year — a record for the nation’s campaign to reduce AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Brazil’s Health Ministry says it distributed 493 million condoms last year. That’s 2 1/2 condoms for every person in Latin America’s largest nation. They cost the government about $19 million (Washington Post).

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INTERNATIONAL

When President Barack Obama welcomes President Dilma Rousseff at the White House on April 9, both leaders will say that their countries’ bilateral ties are better than ever, and growing steadily. But don’t believe the official story (Miami Herald).

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Brazil April 16 for talks after an Americas summit in Colombia (AFP).

Mexico has yielded to Brazilian pressure to slash auto sales to the southern giant, fixing an export quota for the next three years to save a decade-old trade agreement between Latin America’s two dominant economies (Reuters).

A U.S. trade panel revoked anti-dumping duties of up to 60 percent on orange juice from Brazil, dealing a blow to Florida growers who had pushed hard to keep them in place (Reuters).

Exchange rate inflexibility between China and the United States is a source of upward currency pressure in Canada and Brazil, and the two countries should work through the G20 to promote currency adjustments, the Bank of Canada’s No. 2 policymaker said in Sao Paulo (Reuters).

Graduates scouring newspapers’ recruitment pages amid Portugal’s worst recession in memory are increasingly opting for the chance of a better life in the former colonies of Angola and Brazil (Reuters).

One of the greatest statesmen in the history of Brazil, the Baron of Rio Branco, was honored in the Senate on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death. During the session, the Senate’s president, José Sarney, said that the country must cultivate the pride of having Rio Branco among its heroes. In his opinion, the baron is the greatest Brazilian personality of the 20th century, because of his actions in the diplomacy to pacifically consolidate the country’s borders (Federal Senate).

Argentina and Brazil Foreign Affairs ministers said in Sao Paulo both countries are committed that the next Summit of the Americas to be held in April in Colombia is the last without the participation of Cuba (MercoPress).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Saab AB has a better shot at winning Brazil’s pending order of 36 jet fighters after Switzerland tentatively selected the Swedish company’s Gripen plane last year, Chief Executive Officer Hakan Buskhe said (Bloomberg).

Embraer SA Chief Executive Officer Frederico Curado won’t forget the day he learned that the Brazilian planemaker had won a $355 million contract for a U.S. Air Force light-attack aircraft after 14 months of work. Even more memorable was the day Curado saw in the press that the U.S. had canceled the award (Bloomberg).

Defense Minister Celso Amorim told the Senate that the construction of a new scientific base in Antarctica will only begin in 2013/2014 summer. The unit will substitute the Comandante Ferraz Station, which was partially destroyed by fire in February (Federal Senate).

A former Brazilian army officer is to become the first to be charged for alleged rights abuses during the 20-year military dictatorship. Prosecutors say Sebastiao de Moura, a former colonel, faces criminal charges over the kidnap of five guerrillas in the 1970s (BBC).

Batman does a good job of protecting Gotham City in the comics, so why can’t he do the job in real life? You probably have a different answer to that question than officials in Taubaté, Brazil, who have actually hired a former soldier who dresses up as Batman on the side to patrol the streets of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods — in costume (Huffington Post).

The world’s sixth largest economy is making giant leaps to bolster their launch capabilities and joining with several countries to aid in their space efforts. Let’s take a look at Brazil’s recent space endeavors, joint projects, plans for the future, and a nice little boost in store for those launching a rocket from a secluded area of Brazil (io9).

Monitoring the progress of the Project A-Darter (missile), with visits to the Group for Monitoring and Control in South Africa (GAC-AFS) and to Denel group companies, and signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), were the main purpose of the mission to South Africa by the Brazilian Director-General of the DCTA, Lieutenant-Brigadier-Air Ailton dos Santos Pohlmann (defpro).

Brazilian Army Commander General Enzo Martins Peri announced the launch of the service’s PROFORÇA force transformation programme on 18 February. Gen Martins said the programme’s initial strategic plans include: cyber defence, an effort to procure 2,044 6×6 and 8×8 Guarani wheeled armoured vehicles; development of the ASTROS 2020 multiple rocket launcher system; and an air-defence project that includes a mix of tactical radars, anti-aircraft guns; and MANPADS (Janes).

Brazil is considering providing the coast guard of Cape Verde with Embraer Bandeirante planes (Atlantico Weekly).

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SCIENCE

Selling her country’s technological prowess and booming IT market was the main order of business for Dilma Rousseff at a big trade fair in Hanover. But Brazil’s president made sure to pose for photographs with young compatriots who last month began to study at German universities under her government’s new scholarship programme, Science Without Borders (The Economist).

USP has skyrocketed on the THE (Times Higher Education) rank released in London, and is among the 70 most reputed colleges in the world. On last year’s rank, USP was not among the 100 best. Now it is between the 61st and 70th position. It is also the only Latin American country on the list (Folha).

Brazil Business & Economy News

In Brazil on March 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

ECONOMY

Brazil’s central bank will likely have to raise interest rates back to double-digit levels by the end of next year to curb inflationary pressures, a weekly central bank survey with market analysts showed (Reuters).

Read the Reuters profile of Guido Mantega, Brazil’s Finance Minister.

Brazil is considering a greater role for state development bank BNDES as the government works to reverse an investment rate that declined in 2011, the bank’s president said (Reuters).

Brazil extended a 6 percent tax on foreign loans and bonds issued abroad by local companies to include lending with a duration as long as five years (Bloomberg).

Brazil’s real declined to the weakest level in two months after the government extended a tax on foreign loans and bonds by local companies to curb the currency’s gains and Chinese exports grew at a slower pace than forecast, damping global growth optimism (Bloomberg).

Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, lent his support to Brazilian policy makers’ efforts to weaken the real, saying it needs to decline 20 percent to keep Latin America’s biggest economy competitive Bloomberg).

The Brazilian “model” faces its first serious test. The European Union and China are Brazil’s two biggest foreign markets. Together, they account for 40 per cent of exports. Now they are slowing. This reduces demand for the real goods that Brazil exports. At the same time, there is an increasing international supply of nominal assets: these are the inflows of global financial liquidity that have caused the real to rise (Beyond Brics – FT).

Between December and January, the regional indexes of the industrial production fell in nine of the 14 places surveyed. Pará (-13.4%) and Paraná (-11.5%) presented the most significant drops this month, the former eliminating the 4.9% increase registered in December, and the latter reversing three months of positive rates which had accumulated gains of 15.3%. Rio de Janeiro (-5,9%) and Ceará (-3,1%) also recorded drops above the national average (-2,1%). The other negative rates were seen in the following places: São Paulo (-1.7%), Santa Catarina (-1.6%), Minas Gerais (-1.3%), Pernambuco (-1.0%) and Espírito Santo (-0.4%). Conversely, Bahia (12.6%), which eliminated the loss of 11.4% accumulated in the months of December and November, the Northeast region, Goiás (3.3%), Rio Grande do Sul (0.5%) and Amazonas (0.1%) registered positive rates in January 2012 (IBGE).

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BUSINESS

Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig and logistics company JSL could not agree on the final terms of an accord to hand over the management of the meat processor’s transportation and storage operations (Reuters).

Former Brazilian central banker Henrique Meirelles aims to help turn the personal care and cleaning products unit of J&F Participacoes SA, which controls the world’s biggest beef producer, into Brazil’s Unilever. Flora, as the Sao Paulo-based unit is known, will be able to seize opportunities in Brazil faster than international competitors because its headquarters are in the country, “unlike large multinationals that have a more tortuous decision-making structure,” Meirelles, 66, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Sao Paulo office.

Online commerce in Brazil grossed more than $11 billion last year, up 26 percent over the previous year, the market research firm e-bit said (AFP).

AGRI ETC

Shipments of sugar should flow smoothly from top producer Brazil this year with long-range weather forecasts pointing to a dry winter, cutting the risk of a repeat of the disruption two seasons ago that sent prices of the sweetener soaring. The opening of an additional bulk-loading terminal at key sugar port Santos and the deepening of canals there and at Paranagua are additional assurance that long and costly delays for loading are improbable, shippers and forecasters said (Reuters).

But the number of ships waiting to load sugar doubled at Brazil’s ports in the last week as giant trading house Cargill takes delivery on a large March ICE Futures contract expiry (Reuters).

Brazil’s JBS SA, the world’s biggest beef processor, raised its stake in affiliate Pilgrim’s Pride Corp by $107.2 million, strengthening its bet on a United States chicken market struggling with rising feed costs (Reuters).

Brazil may overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest consumer of the bean in two to three years, according to Marcos Pinta Gama, Brazil’s permanent representative to international organizations in London (Bloomberg).

Brazilian sugar-cane companies will spend as much as 6 billion reais ($3.4 billion) this year to renew aging plantations as the nation seeks to boost supply of ethanol (Bloomberg).

Vinema Multióleos Vegetais, an agribusiness company from Rio Grande do Sul in the South of Brazil, is pioneering a groundbreaking project which uses byproducts from the rice industry to produce bio-fuel and ethanol products. The idea is to use rice grains which have been graded unfit for human consumption – those which are deemed stained, chalky or broken – and turn them into ethanol, thereby creating an alternative fuel source for the region (The Rio Times).

AUTOMOTIVE

BMW threatened to pull the plug on its plans to build a new assembly plant in Brazil if new government policies created the conditions under which it could not profitably make cars (Reuters).

AVIATION

Gol Linhas Aereas hopes to receive authorization to start flights to Miami via Venezuelan capital Caracas by mid-year but has no plans to join any global aviation alliance after the route opens, its president said (Reuters).

Traffic at airports operated by BAA rose by 2.5 percent in February, compared with the same period the previous year, with London’s Heathrow benefiting from a surge in demand for flights to Brazil (Reuters).

BANKING & FINANCE

Interbank, Peru’s fourth-largest lender by assets, opened an office in Brazil to take advantage of an expected surge in trade and investment ties between the South American nations (Reuters).

BNDES and the Banco Internacional Del Perú S.A.A. (Interbank) signed a financing contract for Brazilian exports of machinery and equipment to Peru. Funding will be made through the support modality called BNDES Exim Automatic, under the BNDES’ Exim Post-Shipment line (BNDES).

Brazil is evaluating measures to discourage the purchase of short-term securities known as interbank certificates of deposit (CDBs) in favor of lending with longer maturities (Reuters).

Goldman Sachs Group Inc named veteran economist Paulo Leme as chairman of its Brazil unit (Reuters).

Fitch Ratings believes that a partial or full default of Celpa’s and Grupo Rede’s debt should have a mild impact on the Brazilian financial system as banks’ exposure to Grupo Rede’s companies is well dispersed and relatively low (Reuters).

Banco do Brasil plans to quintuple its real estate loan portfolio by 2014 in a bid to become the nation’s second-largest provider of real-estate credit, a director at the bank told Reuters.

ENERGY

Brazil, which has a single utility- scale solar plant, will issue within two weeks a pair of regulations designed to promote the use of power generated from sunshine, the country’s electricity regulator Agencia Nacional de Energia Eletrica said (Bloomberg).

MINING & STEEL

Vale said the Supreme Court of Justice had suspended an order for it to pay billions to Brazilian tax authorities in a double-taxation dispute over its international operations (Reuters).

Norwegian aluminum group Norsk Hydro has delayed the construction of its planned CAP alumina refinery in Barcarena in Brazil due to concerns about the short- and medium-term demand (Reuters).

OIL & GAS

Brazilian energy company HRT Participacoes found gas in a well drilled in the Amazon’s Solimoes basin, which confirmed the presence of large reserves in the same area (Reuters).

Chevron could win back its suspended offshore oil drilling rights in Brazil “within months” if it can convince the country’s oil regulator that it understands why a November spill happened, Magda Chambriard, the regulator’s chief, told Reuters.

Chevron filed to temporarily halt production operations in Brazil after it detected a “small new seep” of oil in the same offshore field where it suffered a high-profile leak in November (Reuters).

Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras will have to make up for a shortfall in local refining capacity by importing ever larger amounts of diesel and gasoline, while new refining capacity suffers delays (Reuters).

BG Group Plc should consider selling part of its interest in Brazilian oil fields within 18 months to secure funding for projects worldwide and minimize one-county exposure risk, Nomura Holdings Inc. said (Bloomberg).

SHIPBUILDING

Brazilian shipbuilding and leasing company OSX said it sold $500 million of bonds on international markets to finance the construction of an offshore oil production ship (Reuters).

Oil rig company Sete Brasil expects up to $13.2 billion in loans from state development bank BNDES to build as many as 28 deep-sea platforms for Petrobras (Reuters).

Brazilian logistics operator Wilson Sons has signed a contract with state-controlled oil company Petrobras to build four platform supply vessels (Reuters)

OSX, which is building the Southern Hemisphere’s largest shipyard, said it won a $732 million contract to build 11 oil and fuels tankers for the Brazil unit of London-based Kingfish Trading (Reuters).

Sembcorp Marine Ltd., the Singapore-based oil services company, is building its first shipyard in Brazil to protect market share as state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA awards more contracts to local suppliers (Bloomberg).

TELECOMS

Fees charged by Brazil’s mobile carriers may drop almost 80 percent through 2018 as the country’s regulator seeks to catch up with other nations’ moves to cut prices and boost competition in the industry (Bloomberg).

India and Brazil might still be in the early phase of smartphone revolution but situation is going to be a lot different in the next four years. According to the latest smartphone forecast from research company International Data Corporation (IDC), both the countries will enter the top 5 country markets for smartphone shipments by the year 2016 (NDTV).

 

Brazil Weekly’s Brazil Culture & Regional News

In Brazil on March 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

PROJECT OF THE WEEK

Render of the Parque Burle Marx project for Belo Horizonte, featuring interesting solutions in intriguing landscaping (more pictures and info, in Portuguese).

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CULTURE

Brazilian pop singer Marisa Monte has long been a leading contemporary voice of Musica Popular Brasileira, a national pop super-genre that arose in the 1960s as a response to bossa nova. She continues that legacy on “O Que Voce Quer Saber de Verdade” — her first full album in six years, which will be released March 27 — with a collection of mostly original, largely safe tunes that neither rebuke nor substantially redefine her covetable standing in the world music arena (Washington Post).

FIFA WORLD CUP

Ricardo Teixeira, the controversial head of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the man charged with organising the 2014 World Cup, quit following a string of corruption scandals (Reuters).

The new head of Brazilian soccer took over, promising as few changes as possible despite an often controversial reign by predecessor Ricardo Teixeira. Career politician Jose Maria Marin praised the “stupendous” work of Teixeira, who stepped down Monday for health reasons after 23 years in charge (ESPN).

FIFA president Sepp Blatter will meet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to clear the air following the recent spat over preparations for the 2014 World Cup, soccer’s governing body said (MercoPress).

The mascot for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be an armadillo, according to a report on Sunday in the Brazilian weekly Veja. The Brazilian three-banded armadillo, native to the country’s north-east, is capable of rolling itself into the shape of a ball when it feels threatened (Football).

AMAZON

Rolling back forest protections would be the “exact wrong message to send to the world,” given the upcoming Rio+20 U.N. conference, said Riordan Roett, head of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Affairs in Washington D.C.  But Senator Katia Abreu, president of the Brazilian Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock, said in November that Brazil would lose about $100 billion in agricultural output if lawmakers fail to pass legislation that includes amnesty for farmers (Bloomberg).

The number of people whose houses face risks of flooding after the Belo Monte power plant is built is 55% higher than that estimated by the company in charge of the construction (Folha).

BRASILIA

UNESCO is deciding whether to put the Brazilian capital on its list of World Heritage sites in danger. A team of experts arrived in Brasilia for a four-day mission (Washington Post).

MINAS GERAIS

No wonder they call Bernardo Paz the “Emperor of Inhotim.” About 1,000 employees, including curators, botanists and concrete pourers, swarm around Inhotim, his contemporary-art complex in the hills of southeast Brazil. Globetrotting art pilgrims absorb stunning works like Doug Aitken’s “Sonic Pavilion,” which uses high-sensitivity microphones placed in a 633-foot hole to deliver the bass murmur of Earth’s inner depths (The New York Times).

RIO

The Bus Rapid System (BRS) was implemented on Avenida Presidente Vargas in Rio’s Centro district, initially causing crippling traffic congestion. This is the second BRS lane in Centro, the first was put in place last October along Avenida Rio Branco (The Rio Times).

Police are investigating allegations made by a young man who says he was tortured over the weekend by army soldiers patrolling a Rio de Janeiro slum. Inspector Jose Costa da Silva tells the O Globo newspaper there is “no doubt” that the 22-year-old man was “tortured” (Washington Post).

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SAO PAULO

Sao Paulo is the world’s fourth best city for investment, according to a study by KPMG. The city made the biggest leap on the list, to fourth, increasing investment by 160% over the past two years. Numbers 1 to 3 are London, Shanghai and Hongkong (BBC).

Juliana Dias, a biologist and researcher at the Sirio Libanes hospital in Sao Paulo, had been a cycling activist. Her death came just three years after another activist, Marcia Prado, was killed at almost the same spot. This time, hundreds of cyclists blocked Avenida Paulista in response and across the country — in cities as far apart as Manaus, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro — cyclists threw themselves on the ground to symbolize the deaths, lit candles and sang songs (Bloomberg).

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Brazil Politics & Government News

In Brazil on March 9, 2012 at 11:52 am

POLITICS

President Dilma Rousseff took office last year convinced that Brazil could keep growing at almost China-like rates without making big changes to the economy. That confidence now looks a lot like complacency. Rousseff’s inability to push ambitious economic reforms has left Brazil an expensive and increasingly stagnant place to do business, meaning the economy is now likely stuck in a mediocre pattern of around 3 percent growth for the next few years. Read about the dangers of a stagnant Brazil at Reuters.

The Senate voted to reject Rousseff’s preferred candidate to head the ANTT national land transport agency, which is responsible for a host of critical road and rail infrastructure projects as Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics (Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff nominated Magda Chambriard to lead Brazil’s ANP, the agency that regulates the country’s petroleum and biofuels industry. Chambriard is a civil and chemical engineer and was nominated to replace Haroldo Lima as director-general of the Rio de Janeiro-based regulator (Reuters).

President Dilma Rousseff, the first woman to head the world’s sixth-biggest economy, plans to increase women’s property rights in cases of divorce to mark International Women’s Day. Women who earn as much as 1,866 reais ($1,060) a month and are enrolled under the government’s homebuilding program will be entitled to ownership of the house in divorce settlements, according to a decree published in an extraordinary edition of the Official Gazette (Bloomberg).

Discriminating against women in Brazil is already illegal. Now it may be very costly as well. Brazil’s Congress has passed a bill imposing fines on companies paying women lower wages than men for the same work. The measure approved is expected to be signed into law by Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff (Washington Post).

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INTERNATIONAL

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had received assurances from President Dilma Rousseff that Brazil would take part in a recapitalisation of the International Monetary Fund, which could in turn help boost crisis funds for the euro zone (Reuters).

Brazil and Mexico are arguing over the future of a 2002 agreement that allows free trade in cars between them. For a decade it worked as it was meant to, and to Brazil’s advantage, by encouraging carmakers in Mexico to specialise in larger models and those in Brazil to make smaller ones. But last year Mexican exports under the accord grew by 40% to $2 billion, while Brazil exported cars worth just $372m. Brazil has cried foul. This apparently petty dispute says much about how Latin America’s two biggest economies think about trade and industry (The Economist).

Despite frequent criticism in Brazil against regional integration, Mercosul is where the country still registers its biggest surplus in industrial goods (Federal Senate).

Brazil will keep its foreign policy ‘anchor’ in South America but will review the international because of the latest global changes such as the European Union crisis and the Arab spring, said Marco Aurelio Garcia, President Dilma Rousseff special advisor on international affairs (MercoPress).

In designing a new immigration policy, Brazil is caught between the need to attract skilled workers and professionals in order to meet the challenges posed by economic growth, and its tradition of taking in immigrants for humanitarian reasons (IPS).

The Brazilian economy became the 6th largest in the world last year, surpassing the U.K., and is likely to reach 5th in 2012, overtaking France. The forecast by the U.K.’s EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) consultants show that Brazil is rising quickly in the rank of largest economies (Folha).

DEFENSE & SECURITY

The Senate approved the Conversion Bill 02/12, which creates a tributary special regime for the national defense industry and institutes specific rules for the bidding of products and defense systems (Federal Senate).

http://i904.photobucket.com/albums/ac242/atlantico/1_STUC0101_preview.jpg

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with Brazilian government officials to reassure them the Super Tucano could still be in the competition and explained the cancellation as part of an internal process. After the legal challenge by Hawker Beechcraft Corp. the award is under investigation and will most likely be revived, with Embraer and its rivals again invited to submit new bids. Although Burns said the Super Tucano and the FX-2 jet fighter competition are “two separate issues,” the Brazilian side is keen to find linkages between the two as a way of putting pressure to win the Super Tucano contract (UPI).

Brazil is the fourth biggest global exporter of light arms in the world, ahead of Israel, Austria and Russia, according to the Small Arms Survey, the industry’s main study carried out by the IHEID in Geneva. According to data from the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade, the value of light arms exports has tripled in the past five years; from $109.6 million in 2005 to $321.6 million in 2010. Counting just firearms, the quantity is an impressive amount. There were 4,482,874 arms exported between 2005 and 2010, according to a survey carried out by the army at the request of Publica. In other words, 2,456 arms exported a day (Huffington Post).

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SOCIAL

Europe seemed to offer Brazil’s migrants real potential. With an exchange rate working in their favour and often holding down more than one job, they could build up savings that might one day allow them to return home to a more prosperous life. But now Brazil itself is booming and the headlines are promising. So is it a good time to return to South America’s largest country (BBC)?

Scores of Brazilian millionaires spend weekends and vacation time in homes built in violation of state and federal environmental rules on some of the most beautiful real estate in Brazil (Bloomberg).

The social inequality index in Brazil has hit the lowest level in 52 years, continuing a downward trend during past 12 years, a local university said (Xinhua).