The Jane Austen of Brazil

August 7, 2014

Miranda France – The Spectator, 8/7/2014

When the American poet Elizabeth Bishop arrived in Brazil in 1951, she expected to spend two weeks there and ended up staying 15 years, a time of emotional turbulence and creative productivity. Bishop wrote poetry and prose and translated Latin American writers, including Octavio Paz, but this project, suggested by friends as a way to improve her Portuguese, is something completely different. It’s a teenager’s diary, written between 1893 and 1895 in the remote mining town of Diamantina, the highest town in Brazil. It’s a delightful, funny and revealing memoir, a little bit of Austen in the Americas.

Helena’s real name was Alice Dayrell, (the pseudonym came from her English relations). At the time she was writing, Diamantina was ten days’ journey from Rio de Janeiro, two by train, eight by mule. Set in a weird landscape of giant boulders and ant-hills, it’s a town where everyone knows everyone else’s business and, as Helena often reminds us, all of them are lunatics. ‘Just build a wall around the town. The place is a regular asylum.’

Helena’s father is mostly absent; he’s invested in a new diamond mine, so far with nothing to show for it. Many of the region’s inhabitants are after that elusive, fortune-making diamond that will change everything. Helena’s family live in hope of future riches and scrape by as best they can.

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What Factors Will Decide Brazil’s Presidential Race?

August 5, 2014

Inter-American Dialogue – Latin America Advisor, 8/1/2014

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva

Q: Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is maintaining a lead over main opposition candidate Aecio Neves ahead of the country’s October elections and would beat him in a potential second round, according to a recent poll by Ibope. However, other recent polls have shown the two candidates neck-and-neck in a runoff. With just over two months to go before the election, what factors will have the largest influence on the vote’s outcome? With Brazilians also voting for national and state legislatures and state governors, what are the other key races to watch?

A: Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: “At this point of the presidential campaign in Brazil, it seems that the odds in favor of Dilma Rousseff’s re-election are better in the election’s first round than in the runoff if it becomes necessary. President Rousseff has a relatively comfortable advantage over the two main opposition candidates in public opinion polls in the first round. But in the runoff simulations, she appears in a virtual tie with Aecio Neves and with a larger but not huge majority over Eduardo Campos. This is probably because the runoff will appear as a kind of referendum on her government. Her chances to be re-elected in the first round will increase if the present inclination of around one-fourth of all voters (according to the most recent polls) to nullify their votes or to vote blank remains. If this happens, with more than a dozen candidates on the ballot, Rousseff may get more than 50 percent of the valid votes and avoid a runoff. The record amount of voters who say they do not want to vote for anyone reflects a growing frustration among Brazilians with the country’s political system. The immense majority of poll respondents say they want change. But most do not seem happy with what the candidates have offered them as possible change. The same polls show that health and public security are the main concerns of the population. But the dissatisfaction is also huge with public transportation, education and other social public services. To these problems, in recent months have been added serious doubts regarding the economy, chiefly about inflation and unemployment. All these will be the main issues in the campaign.

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Electorate hopes for a government that unites growth with inclusion, says professor

August 4, 2014
Leonardo Avritzer

Leonardo Avritzer

Gabriel Manzano – O Estado de S. Paulo, 8/4/2014

For Avritzer, the challenge of the candidates for the Planalto is to show that they can better the economy without putting social achievements at risk.

The Brazilian electorate is communicating to the candidates for Presidency two clear messages: it wants growth, but without discontinuing the enlargement of social inclusion. “The candidate that convinces the voter that it will continue to stabilize the current (economic) crisis in a manner of greater inclusion and greater increase of the job market will most likely be the one who receives the greatest support,” notes the political scientist Leonardo Avritzer, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais and president of the Brazilian Association of Political Scientists (ABCP).

His evaluation constitutes, in practice, a challenge for the three main candidates for the presidency. In short, President Dilma Rousseff (PT) valued inclusion but the country didn’t grow. Aécio Neves (PSDB) promises changes in the economy but his agenda for inclusion still is unclear. Eduardo Campos (PSB) speaks of reconciling the two halves but has not yet “sold” the message.

For this electoral scene, the impact of the economy on the polls and the social agenda are in the center of discussions of the 9th National Congress of Political Scientists, promoted from today until Thursday, in Brasilia, by the association presided over by Avritzer. The event will bring together 1,100 people in more than 800 lectures and roundtable discussions. In a conversation with O Estado, it created an intersection of the themes of the campaign with those of the meeting, which will receive scholars from Argentina, Chile, and the USA, among others. Following are the main excerpts from the interview. Read the rest of this entry »


Has Brazil Taken the Right Approach to Education Reforms?

July 24, 2014

Emily Gustafsson-Wright – The Brookings Institution, 7/23/2014

In an interview with Inter-American Dialogue, Emily Gustafsson-Wright discusses Brazil’s new National Education Plan, which sets forth 20 goals that the country aims to achieve over the next decade. Read the full interview here

Brazil’s National Education Plan is indeed ambitious. With 20 targets ranging from universalizing access to early childhood education by 2016 to expanding enrollments at the post-graduate level, the federal government has set its sights high in an effort to address the issues of low PISA scores and large inequalities in educational access and quality in terms of geography, race and income. This is not the first time that the Brazilian government has proposed audacious education goals, however.

In 1998, it adopted a radical reform of education financing (FUNDEF and later FUNDEB) to equalize spending per student, and the record shows impressive progress resulted. In 2005, it set the target of raising learning outcomes to OECD levels by 2021 and put in place a highquality national assessment system to monitor and publicize the progress of every state, municipality and school in the country. But this time, a disconcerting factor is the outsized emphasis on spending more rather than spending better. A target to increase public education spending to 10 percent of GDP within a decade is beyond what any developed or developing country has found sustainable: the OECD average of 5.8 percent and Brazil’s current average of 5.7 percent are little more than half that. Where that money will come from, at least in part, was confirmed by President Dilma Rousseff when she signed a law that earmarks 75 percent of oil royalties for education. How it will be distributed and spent effectively is less clear.

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The end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

June 9, 2014

Policy Forum, 2009

Brazil has two major opportunities toend the clearing of its Amazon for-est and to reduce global greenhousegas emissions substantially. The first is its for-mal announcement within United Nations cli-mate treaty negotiations in 2008 of an Amazondeforestation reduction target, which prompted  Norwato commit $1 billion if it sustains prog-ress toward this target (1). The second is a wide-spread marketplace transition within the beef and soy industries, the main drivers of defor-estation, to exclude Amazon deforesters fromtheir supply chains (2) [supplementary onlinematerial (SOM), section (§) 4]. According toour analysis, these recent developments finallymake feasible the end of deforestation in theBrazilian Amazon, which could result in a 2 to5% reduction in global carbon emissions. The$7 to $18 billion beyond Brazil’s current bud-get outlays that may be needed to stop the clear-ing [a range intermediate to previous cost esti-mates (3,4)] could be provided by the REDD(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism for compen-sating deforestation reduction that is under negotiation within the UN climate treaty (5), or  by payments for tropical forest carbon creditsunder a U.S. cap-and-trade system (6 .)

Wilson Center Global Fellow Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva is awarded Premio Esso 2013

December 5, 2013

carlos_eduardo_lins_da_silva-230x310

Wilson Center Global Fellow  Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva shared the 2013 Premio Esso, or Exxon Award, for Best Contribution to Journalism.  Established in 1955, the Esso Journalism award is the most traditional and prestigious recognition for journalists in Brazil. The award is an especially  high distinction because it celebrates the independence, courage and creativity of Brazilian journalists in eleven categories.  The award of Best Contribition to Journalism honoring Lins da Silva was given to Revista de Jornalismo ESPM, the Portuguese language edition of the Columbia Journalism review, for which he is a co-editor along with Eugênio Bussi. CJR is published in Brazil by the Escola Superior de Progaganda e Marketing.  A highly accomplished journalist, author  and educator, Lins da Silva is editor of Politica Externa, Brazil’s top foreign policy journal. He was previously executive editor and Washington correspondent for daily Folha de São Paulo, and Public Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center.

Click here for more information.


Two Brazil education firms file for IPO’s; more M&A expected in Brazil

October 7, 2013

Rogerio Jelmayer- Wall Street Journal, 10/04/2013

Two Brazilian education firms this week filed for initial public offerings, amid widespread interest in the booming education industry in Latin America’s largest nation.

On Friday, GAEC Educacao SA, which operates under the brand name Anima Educacao, said it plans to raise as much as 626 million Brazilian reais ($282 million) from an IPO while on Tuesday, Ser Educacional S.A and its shareholders unveiled a plan to raise up to 976.5 million reais from an IPO.

Both companies said they will use proceeds to finance their expansion via acquisitions across the nation.

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TEDGlobal is heading to Rio de Janeiro in 2014

June 13, 2013

Kate Torgovnick – TED, 06/12/2013

Next year, TEDGlobal will be held for the first time in Latin America — in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from October 6-10, 2014, on the beach of Copacabana. The theme for the event is, appropriately, “South!” and will be a celebration of the innovation, dynamism and creativity pouring out of South America, as well as out of the global south at large. Because fresh ideas can come from any direction.

“Rio has been beckoning TED for many years, both metaphorically and literally,” says curator Chris Anderson, explaining why we opted for this new location. “It’s at the heart of a continent bursting with fresh thinking. We’re delighted to finally be going. This conference will be ambitious, a thrilling new chapter for TED’s growing community of global souls.”

TEDGlobal Director Bruno Giussani adds, “We are proud of the conferences we’ve held in Edinburgh. As TED’s international reach has expanded, Latin America has emerged as a clear and exciting next move. Rio is not only a hub of innovation, but presents a rich history and exquisite physical setting.”

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Agriculture and food security: Brazil’s chance to assume leadership among the BRICS?

June 11, 2013

Oliver Stuenkel – Post-Western World, 06/09/2013

The stark differences between Brazil’s and India’s agricultural productivity and their differing positions during trade negotiations in the past years are an often used argument of why South-South cooperation will always be an elusive dream. And indeed, India has often been accused of being a nay-sayer in the realm of agriculture, even by its fellow emerging powers.

It may then come as a surprise that agriculture and food security are among the first topics that emerged when the BRIC grouping began to discuss ways to cooperate. In fact, during the first BRIC Leaders Summit in 2009 in Yekaterinburg, a separate declaration on food security was issued, underlining the importance of the matter.

In the document, the BRICs professed to be “committed to opposing protectionism, establishing a just and reasonable international trade regime for agricultural products, and giving farmers from developing countries incentives to engage in agricultural production.” The 2-page document argues that “the developed and developing countries should address the food security issue according to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility”, a concept that would become a trademark of future BRICS declarations, particularly in the field climate change. Finally, the BRICs signaled their interest in cooperating by “sharing the best practices of operating successful public distribution programmes.”

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In Brazil, fine art draws crowds from favelas to fairs to museums

June 11, 2013

Vincent Bevins- Los Angeles Times, 06/11/2013

Instead of playing in the dirty streets after school, one hot afternoon kids in a local favela, or slum¸ are led into a giant space with bright, high white walls. Assistants lead them around, nudging them to engage with original artworks including reflections on graffiti in their neighborhood and huge collages created by celebrated New York-based Brazilian artist Vik Muniz.

A drum hangs from the ceiling, as do two wooden balls. A docent tells the kids they are free to throw them against the instrument and asks them what’s the difference between them and an artist. They are artists now too, she says.

It’s not just here at the Travessias 2 exhibition in the Maré favela, put on by the government, nonprofits and the Automatica production company, that the power of fine art is popping up in Brazilian culture.

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