In Brazil, indigenous tribes are still struggling to protect the rainforest – and their culture

March 10, 2014

Adam Wernick – Public Radio International, 3/10/2014

Most experts agree that when it comes to protecting the rainforest, no one does it better than the indigenous people who have lived there for centuries. Megaron Ti, a chief of the Kayapo tribe in Brazil, recently travelled to North America — in time to see the snow and ice of New York and Toronto — to seek support for his people.

“I’ve come to explain to the public about how we live,” Megaron says. “About the land — the forest that the Brazilian government has demarcated for us and our struggle to preserve this forest.”

The Kayapo and other indigenous people of South America have battled the forces of progress and modernization for decades. In the early part of the 20th century, the Kayapo faced the onslaught of miners, loggers, rubber tappers, ranchers and missionaries. Today, the threats to the forest and the old traditions are different, but no less dire.

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Rio’s race to future intersects slave past

March 10, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 3/8/2014

Sailing from the Angolan coast across the Atlantic, the slave ships docked here in the 19th century at the huge stone wharf, delivering their human cargo to the “fattening houses” on Valongo Street. Foreign chroniclers described the depravity in the teeming slave market, including so-called boutiques selling emaciated and diseased African children.

The newly arrived slaves who died before they even started toiling in Brazil’s mines were hauled to a mass grave nearby, their corpses left to decay amid piles of garbage. As imperial plantations flourished, diggers at the Cemitério dos Pretos Novos — Cemetery of New Blacks — crushed the bones of the dead, making way for thousands of new cadavers.

Now, with construction crews tearing apart areas of Rio de Janeiro in the building spree ahead of this year’s World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, stunning archaeological discoveries around the work sites are providing new insight into the city’s brutal distinction as a nerve center for the Atlantic slave trade.

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Carnaval can’t quell frustrations, concern in popular tourist town along Rio coast

March 6, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 3/5/2014

José de Moraes leapt into the air as if possessed by the frenzied rhythm that his drummers were beating out. As master of the drum section of his Carnaval street party, or bloco, his job was to choreograph the furious samba beats that sent revelers wild.

He leapt and danced like a rubber man in the midst of the bloco, called Paraty do Amanhã (Paraty of Tomorrow), on a narrow street in this popular tourist town on the Rio de Janeiro coast that attracts more than a million visitors a year.

For Brazilians, Carnaval is a five-day national escape from the harsher realities of life. The year in Brazil only really begins after Carnaval, which wrapped up Tuesday.

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Brazil carnival, weather push coffee near 2-year high

March 4, 2014

Leslie Josephs – The Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2014

Coffee prices are getting an extra kick from Brazil’s Carnival.

Trading volumes have been lower during the annual festival as many Brazilians take vacation, and many farmers, who usually take the “short” end of a contract when locking in prices, are absent, traders said.

This situation has added fuel to this year’s sharp rally in the $11 billion arabica coffee-futures market. Investors and traders have been snapping up coffee futures on concerns that unusually hot and dry weather in Brazil’s key growing regions will dent coffee-bean output.

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From Recife, Brazil, 3 rythms get the carnival party started

March 3, 2014

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – NPR, 2/28/2014

It’s Carnival this weekend in Brazil. While it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a bad seat in Rio de Janeiro, the northern city of Recife hosts the most unique and varied celebration in the country, with two million people expected to attend.

“There is a mixture of the religious and the profane here,” says Romulo Meneses, who’s the head of the biggest block in the Saturday parade. “The two play with each other during carnival. The saying goes that this isn’t a state, it’s a country in and of itself because it is so multicultural.”

There are three broad types of music that symbolize Carnival: frevocaboclinhos and maracatu.

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Bem-vindo from São Paulo: introducing the Brasil Post

January 28, 2014

Arianna Huffington – Huffington Post, 1/27/2014

Olá from Brazil. I’m here for the launch of the Brasil Post, in partnership with the Abril Group, one of Latin America’s legendary media companies. For more than half a century, Abril has been telling the story of Brazil, in the pages of iconic magazines like VejaClaudia and Exame, and in its growing portfolio of online publications. We’re delighted to welcome the Brasil Post — The Huffington Post’s first South American edition, putting us on our fifth continent — and Abril’s fabulous team to the HuffPost family.

Brazilians are social by nature, both online and off, making Brazil the perfect place for The Huffington Post to expand our platform, which is all about conversation and engagement. With more than 100 million Internet users and more than 50 million smartphones, Brazil is as hyper-connected as any country in the world. It is now the third largest market in the world for Facebook and the fifth largest for Twitter. In a country as large and diverse as Brazil, the Brasil Post will welcome all voices — politicians, business leaders and academics alongside students, activists and artists — and will be a hub where all Brazilians can come to share their passions or simply cross-post from their own blogs and add a new distribution channel to what they’re already writing.

My first meeting with the Abril team was a little more than two years ago, in September 2011, when Roberto Civita, who at the time was Chairman and CEO of Abril Group, invited me and Nicholas Sabloff, our executive international editor, to lunch at their offices. Also at the lunch were Fábio Barbosa, who was on the verge of becoming Abril Media’s CEO, and Manoel Lemos, the company’s chief digital officer. It was one of those moments when everything comes together: we were completely taken with our hosts’ hospitality, humor and passion for using all the tools at their disposal to tell the story of Brazil and its people.

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Samba soccer

January 7, 2014

Ben McGrath – The New Yorker, 01/07/2014

The last time Brazil hosted the World Cup, in 1950, two hundred thousand people—a tenth of the population of Rio de Janeiro—streamed into the newly completed Maracanã Stadium to watch their beloved national team, the Seleção, compete for the title against Uruguay. A monumental concrete bowl, intended to rival the Christ statue atop Corcovado, the Maracanã resembled a spaceship and was meant to embody, as the British journalist Alex Bellos writes in “Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life,” not only Brazil’s athletic ambition but also “the country’s place in the modern world.” Its capacity was greater by several magnitudes than any other Brazilian stadium. Some ten thousand men had contributed to its construction, practicing goal celebrations while they worked. They’d even, somehow, finished ahead of schedule.

Then Brazil lost, 2–1. Back home, while listening on the radio, three Uruguayans reportedly died of excitement. In the Maracanã, there was stunned, eerie silence, so unfathomable and disconcerting that it left a formative wound in the national psyche. The novelist Nelson Rodrigues identified the moment as the source of his country’s “stray-dog complex”—“the inferiority with which the Brazilian positions himself, voluntarily, in front of the rest of the world.” In spite of the five World Cups that Brazil has won since—more than any other country—the Maracanã humiliation remains the most intellectualized aspect of its sporting legacy, if not of its modern history altogether. “When the players needed the Maracanã most, the Maracanã was silent,” the singer, songwriter, and poet Chico Buarque once declared. “You can’t entrust yourself to a football stadium—that’s the lesson that sunk in after 1950.”

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Brazil’s most pathetic profession

December 16, 2013

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 12/15/2013

First came “Granta 121: The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists,” a 2012 edition of the British literary magazine. Then Brazil was the guest of honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, held in October and attended by some 90 authors representing the country’s literary diversity. Next year we will perform a similar role at the Goteborg Book Fair in Sweden and at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy.

And yet, despite all this fanfare, when in Brazil, do not tell anyone you’re a writer. Not only will they deny you credit at the grocery store, but almost certainly they will laugh at you, asking right away: “No, seriously. What do you do for a living?”

Unless your name is Paulo Coelho, writing is seen as about as useful and profitable as whale-snot collecting.

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