Army tries to win over residents of Rio’s favelas

April 7, 2014

Marco Antonio Martins & Bruno Fanti – Folha de S. Paulo, 4/7/2014

Part of the success or failure of the occupation by the armed forces of the Complexo da Maré, in Rio’s north end, is its ability to win over the community. It’s what the military began trying to do three hours after its occupation of the 15 favelas of Maré.

Yesterday, there was a moment of tension between the military and residents after a young man was beaten by others and the military was accused of doing nothing.

Cláudio Brum dos Reis, 22, a student and resident of Nova Holanda, went to watch a game in Baixa do Sapateiro. The favelas were ruled by different factions. According to relatives, Reis was attacked by a group of teenagers and thrown in the ditch that divides the communities.

Aluminum makers expect Brazil to ration power within year

April 1, 2014

Juan Pablo Spinetto & Gerson Freitas Jr. – Bloomberg, 4/1/2014

Brazilian aluminum producers, already cutting output as power price increases and metal price declines erode profit, expect authorities to ration supply as a drought curbs hydroelectric generation.

Rationing is “almost certain” within a year, Tito Martins Jr., chairman of the Brazilian Aluminum Association, told a conference in Sao Paulo today.

While electricity prices for aluminum producers were reduced 7.8 percent last year, power remains the industry’s biggest hindrance, said Martins, who is chief executive of Votorantim Metais. Brazilwon’t be competitive again in aluminum if it doesn’t rethink its energy pricing model, he said. Aluminum for three-month delivery on the London Metal Exchange has dropped about 5.8 percent in the past year.

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2014 Elections

February 28, 2014

Sergio Fausto, O Estado de S. Paulo, 2/28/2014

Challenges abound for the next presidential term.  There are several symptoms indicating that the “new development model,” the “new paradigm of the political economy,” or all the other pompous names one wishes to assign to the policies of the current government, have not produced the expected results. There is a widespread feeling both here and abroad that we are improvising and kicking the can down the road. For how long will this last?

Given this situation, the following question is raised:  Will the candidates for the Presidency present political platforms that allow the voter to understand their vision with regards to these challenges and learn about the political choices each one intends to make to address them? Or  will we once again watch, as per the norm in recent disputes, a campaign devoid of programmatic content, reduced to propaganda based on real or alleged personal  positive attributes of the candidates and vague proposals of distributing more benefits (fancifully without costs and without sacrificing any other desirable goal)?

It is true that political platforms must be translated into more accessible language to ordinary voters, and that in order for a campaign to be successful, it must mobilize feelings around a simplified driving idea. Or such is the conventional political wisdom in Brazil. This notion, however, not only inhibits voters from being more informed, but also weakens the mandate of the government elected by the voters.

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Turning garbage into gold

February 20, 2014

Richard André –  Americas Quarterly, 2/20/2014

The collection and disposal of trash is a dirty job, but an essential one. While officially many of Latin America’s largest city governments manage the task efficiently—14 cities in the region remove at least 95 percent of their waste—the trash generated by informal settlements is often not included in citywide waste collection and rarely captured by city data.

However, Curitiba, Brazil—a regional leader in sustainability—has been able to bridge the gap. According to the Siemens Latin American Green City Index, Curitiba collects 100 percent of its waste, thanks to programs initiated two decades ago. The city shut down its open garbage dump in 1988, opting instead for a municipally managed landfill.

The following year, it began collecting and separating recyclable materials (glass, plastics, paper) three times a week under its renowned Lixo Que Não é Lixo (Trash That Is Not Trash) recycling program.

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The bugbear of Brazil

January 16, 2014

The Economist, 1/16/2014

THE year did not begin well for Dilma Rousseff. The real ended 2013 one-third weaker against the dollar than when she took office as Brazil’s president three years ago. Car sales were down for the first time in a decade. More dollars flowed out of the country than at any time since 2002.

Most perniciously, on January 12th the bean-counters announced that inflation hit 0.92% in December, the highest monthly rise in ten years. That pushed the annual figure to 5.91%, above market expectations. The jump prompted the Central Bank to raise the main interest rate on January 15th, not—as analysts had long forecast—by a quarter of a percentage point, but by half a point, to 10.5%.

Inflation is a Brazilian bugbear. The economic costs are clear: high inflation hits both the poor, struggling to make ends meet, and the indebted middle classes as interest rates rise. But it is also a political issue. Most adults recall the hyperinflationary era of the early 1990s, when shopkeepers would adjust prices each morning, and then change them again in the afternoon.

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Fund sees Brazilian fraud as next big thing in emerging markets

December 9, 2013

Joe Leahy – Financial Times, 12/8/2013

Global investors may be growing wary of emerging markets as the US prepares to scale back its monetary largesse next year, but one fund has hit on what it hopes could be a boom industry – Brazilian fraud.

The move by New York-based hedge fund Platinum Partners to invest in the recovery of Brazilian fraud claims worth R$12bn (US$5.1bn) shows how investors are venturing deeper into the more esoteric areas of emerging markets in their quest for yield.

Under the deal, international asset chaser Martin Kenney, a Canadian lawyer whose previous cases include representing the liquidators of the assets of renowned Texan fraudster Allen Stanford, has assembled a portfolio of 10 cases in which Platinum Partners will invest.

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Brazil cancels lavish soccer convention as unrest in Rio continues

November 6, 2013

Agence France-Presse, 11/05/2013

Organisers on Tuesday called off the Soccerex global football convention in Rio de Janeiro after the state government withdrew support amid ongoing civil unrest, scuppering a meeting of some 4,000 of the sport’s top decision makers.

“It is with great disappointment that we must confirm that the final Soccerex Global Convention in Brazil will now not be taking place.

“With the ongoing civil unrest, the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Sport took the political decision to withdraw their support from the Soccerex Global Convention,” organisers announced in a statement adding they bitterly regretted the cancellation of the November 30-December 5 event and would seek compensation.

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Brazil World Cup 2014 can be catalyst for change – Ronaldo

November 6, 2013

BBC, 11/06/2013

Legendary Brazil striker Ronaldo says next year’s World Cup will be a “beginning for change” in his country.

Soccerex cancelled its football conference due to be held in Rio next month, blaming “ongoing civil unrest”, although the State of Rio and World Cup organisers dispute that reason.

But Ronaldo said: “The latest polls show that 90% of Brazilians are in favour of the World Cup.

“We need to use this World Cup to call for more investments.”

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