Brazil Leads Latin American Ecommerce Growth, Becoming Amazon’s Biggest Foreign Market

July 25, 2014

Robert Schoon – Latin Post, 7/24/2014

Latin America, led particularly by Brazil, is continuing rapid growth in its online economy, according to a new study by Internet Retailer. And the boom in ecommerce is good news not only for Latin American Internet retailers, but also for some prominent U.S.-based companies as well – especially

According to the new 2014 edition of the “Latin America 500,” an annual report by ecommerce research and analysis firm Internet Retailer, Latin America, as a whole, remains the world’s second fastest-growing ecommerce market — only trailing behind China. And Brazil is leading the way, thanks to high Internet penetration rates, a booming market for affordable mobile devices, and an increasingly digital culture.

Internet Retailer ranked the top 500 web merchants in Latin America by sales and 128 other data points — like sales growth rates, web traffic, average checkouts, social media prominence, etc. — tracking retailers in 12 of the most digitally active Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

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Why the U.S. Is Building a Fantastical Aquarium in Brazil

July 24, 2014

Kriston Capps – City Lab, 7/23/2014

Soon enough, Brazil will be able to boast the largest aquarium in South America. When it is completed in 2015, Acquario Ceará, a new public aquarium planned for the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza, will easily be the world’s most recognizable aquarium—an architectural statement piece if there ever was one. It may also be the most truly American project in the Western Hemisphere. While the backers of Acquario Ceará are aiming to create a new design symbol for South America, it will be almost entirely a product of North America.

The U.S. is designing, engineering, constructing, and even financing Acquario Ceará—a design showpiece meant to drive tourism in the state of Ceará after the World Cup. In what has to be a global first, a U.S. federal agency is building a blobitectural marvel on another continent in order to create jobs for small businesses at home.

The project is being designed by Leonardo Fontenele of Imagic Brasil, the Latin American division of the Cincinnati-based design firm Jack Rouse Associates. The key to the aquarium’s wild design is—plainly—the facility’s signature crustaceo-exoskeleton, which is being fabricated by Zahner, the same Kansas City, Missouri–based metals firm that executes titanium tapestries for Frank Gehry. The construction of the project is being overseen by International Concept Management, a small business and custom aquarium maker located in Grand Junction, Colorado. So, the otherworldly Acquario Ceará is basically a Midwestern export.

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Spotify hopes to help fight piracy in Brazil

July 24, 2014

Angelica Mari – ZDNet, 7/23/2014

Spotify hopes to become instrumental in the fight against music piracy in Brazil, according to one of the company’s top executives.

The company, which launched its streaming services in Brazil in May, expects streaming uptake will result in the music piracy decline seen in other countries where it operates, according to Head of Spotify Labs, Gary Liu.

“People tend to do whatever is easier and cheaper. Our objective is to build a product that has the same cost of the pirated product — free — but easier and better,” Liu told delegates at YouPix, an internet and digital culture event that took place last weekend.

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Brazil Sells $3.5 Billion in First Dollar Bond This Year

July 24, 2014

Filipe Pacheco – Bloomberg, 7/23/2014

Brazil issued $3.5 billion of government bonds in exchange for cash and old debt securities, offering the country’s longest maturity in its first dollar-denominated offering this year.

The country issued the bonds due in 2045 to yield 5.131 percent per year, the Treasury said in a statement today. The country raised about $1.5 billion of new cash, according to a person familiar with the offering who asked not be identified because the details haven’t yet been made public. The country also swapped new bonds for outstanding securities with maturities ranging from 2024 to 2041, according to the statement.

Brazil tapped the bond market a week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated in congressional testimony that U.S. borrowing costs will probably stay low for a “considerable period,” making emerging-market assets more attractive. The Latin American country sold 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of seven-year bonds in March to yield 2.961 percent just three days after Standard & Poor’s lowered Brazil’s credit rating by one step to the lowest level of investment grade.

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Brazil bank bonds rally on cut in liability estimates

July 22, 2014

Davide Scigliuzzo – Reuters, 7/22/2014

NEW YORK – Bonds of Brazilian banks rallied on Tuesday after prosecutors in the country slashed the banks’ potential liabilities in a landmark court case over the profits they made on savings accounts more than two decades ago.

The attorney general office reduced its estimate of the gross profits the banks made from depositors during that period to BRL21.87bn from BRL441.7bn, according to Reuters.

The announcement, made on Monday after the market close, sent bonds of most Brazilian lenders sharply higher on Tuesday.

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Visit Orlando seeks more Brazil visitors, CEO says

July 22, 2014

Paul Brinkmann – Orlando Sentinel, 7/21/2014

George Aguel, CEO of Visit Orlando, said the state and Central Florida are looking for ways to capitalize even more on a recent surge in Brazilian visitors.

Speaking at a luncheon at GrayRobinson on Monday, Aguel noted that international visitors are surging in Central Florida, and that Brazil recently passed the United Kingdom as the No. 2 foreign market for visitors here.

“As you know international visitors stay longer, and spend more,” Aguel said.

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In shadow of Brazil World Cup, a nonprofit builds fields of hope

July 14, 2014

Rick Maese – The Washington Post, 7/11/2014

 From afar, the Complexo do Alemão favela looks like Legos dropped from the sky, a mountain of small building blocks stacked one atop another in no discernible pattern. With an estimated population of at least 100,000 people, the favela is one of Rio’s largest. Historically, it has also been one of its most dangerous.

The endless maze of small boxy homes and narrow pathways is located about 5 ½ miles from the famed Maracana stadium, site of the World Cup’s title match Sunday. But soccer isn’t that far away. In fact, it’s never been closer.

A nonprofit co-founded by Washington native Drew Chafetz is responsible for the favela’s giant year-old soccer field with red fencing wrapping around the perimeter. At the same time Brazil’s municipal governments and soccer officials scrambled to construct and refurbish a dozen World Cup stadiums, Chafetz and his modest outfit have been busy building their own fields around Brazil, working with considerably smaller budgets and with sights set on an impact that will continue to be felt long after this World Cup.

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Declassified Documents Given By Biden to Rousseff Detail Secret Dictatorship-Era Executions, “Psychophysical” Torture in Brazil

July 8, 2014

Peter Kornbluh – The National Security Archives, 7/3/2014

Ato "Ditadura Nunca Mais: 50 anos do Golpe no Brasil" | DOI-CODI São Paulo SP - 31/03/2014

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ninja Midia.

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public yesterday. Among the torture techniques used during the military era, the report detailed “special effects” rooms at Brazilian military detention centers in which suspects would be “placed nude” on a metal floor “through which electric current is pulsated.” Some suspects were “eliminated” but the press was told they died in “shoot outs” while trying to escape police custody. “The shoot-out technique is being used increasingly,” the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro noted, “in order to deal with the public relations aspect of eliminating subversives,” and to “obviate ‘death-by-torture’ charges in the international press.”

Because of the document’s unredacted precision, it is one of the most detailed reports on torture techniques ever declassified by the U.S. government.

Titled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives,” it was among 43 State Department cables and reports that Vice President Joseph Biden turned over to President Dilma Rousseff during his trip to Brazil for the World Cup competition on June 17, for use by the Brazilian National Truth Commission (CNV). The Commission is in the final phase of a two-year investigation of human rights atrocities during the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985.  On July 2, 2014, the Commission posted all 43 documents on its website. “The CNV greatly appreciates the initiative of the U.S. government to make these records available to Brazilian society and hopes that this collaboration will continue to progress,” reads a statement on the Commission’s website.

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Brazilians now biggest group of overseas visitors to Orlando

June 30, 2014

Jim Stratton and Alexia Fernandez – Orlando Sentinel, 6/29/2014

Fueled by a growing middle class, Brazil has made its way to the top of Orlando’s overseas-visitor list, overtaking the United Kingdom for the first time.

Almost 770,000 visitors from the South American powerhouse came to Central Florida in 2013, topping the 759,000 from Great Britain, according to estimates from the Visit Orlando tourism-marketing agency. Since 2004, Brazilian travel to Orlando has exploded by 900 percent as rising affluence has given more Brazilians a taste for American theme parks, restaurants and shopping.

Leading the way are Brazilian teens, for whom a trip to Orlando has become almost a rite of passage. They arrive after 10 or 11 hours on a plane, tired but eager to sample Central Florida’s thrill rides, night life and stores.

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Fears that travelers to Brazil for the World Cup are bringing back deadly chikungunya virus

June 23, 2014

Kirk Maltais and AP Reporter – Daily Mail, 6/22/2014

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a health alert nationwide on Sunday regarding an illness carried by mosquitoes in Brazil, where this year’s World Cup is being played.

According to Schumer, he is concerned about a virus called the chikungunya virus, often referred to as the ‘chik-v’ virus.

The chik-v virus is not fatal, but causes victims to experience fevers, joint and muscle pain, swelling, headaches, and rashes.

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