December 2, 2013
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 11/26/2013
There were the boxes of Cuban cigars, which cost about $500 each at a shop in Vila Nova Conceição, one of the most exclusive districts of São Paulo, and the $2,260 bottles of Vega Sicilia Único, a legendary Spanish red. Throw in a Porsche Cayenne, speedboat jaunts to tropical islands and all-night soirees with high-end escorts, and what do you get?
The unlikely lifestyle of a Brazilian tax inspector.
In one of the most salacious corruption scandals to captivate Brazil in years, the municipal government of São Paulo, the nation’s largest city, is reeling from revelations of a scheme in which investigators claim that a group of tax inspectors allowed construction companies to evade more than $200 million in taxes in exchange for bribes.
November 7, 2013
Christopher Looft – In Sight Crime, 11/06/2013
Sao Paulo’s state government is rolling out new measures to combat Brazil‘s PCC prison gang, but there are reasons to doubt the group can be thwarted.
In October, a Sao Paulo court ordered the transfer of First Capital Command (PCC) lieutenant Paulo Cezar Souza Nascimento Junior, alias “Paulinho Neblina,” to the Special Disciplinary System (RDD), a form of solitary confinement, according to a report by Estadoa de Sao Paulo. The transfer of other PCC leaders is expected in the coming days, according to a more recent report by Estadoa.
The move wasn’t the first signal that Sao Paulo’s government has sought to crack down on the PCC, which dominates much of the state’s drug trade and other criminal activities. In a speech given on October 14, Governor Geraldo Alckmin announced the creation of a new task force to identify corrupt police officers working with the group. Alckmin also touted efforts to limit the group’s communications; he said cell phone jamming systems would be put in place in 23 high-security prisons across Sao Paulo state. He also expressed support for the transfer of the group’s leadership to solitary confinement in RDDs.
October 10, 2013
Rodrigo Tavares- Foreign Affairs, 10/09/2013
Last week, the United Kingdom made a new friend. Hugo Swire, the British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, came to Brazil to sign an agreement establishing “formal bilateral relations” with São Paulo, Latin America’s wealthiest state. In late March, the United States signed an identical agreement — the first time that the U.S. State Department forged “direct relations” with a subnational government in the southern hemisphere. Canada, France, Germany, and a handful of other countries in Europe and Asia will soon sign their own agreements with São Paulo. Why are national governments making formal relations with cities and states, and what does it mean for the future of diplomacy?
It’s about time that diplomacy adapted to modern times. Information is no longer privy only to embassies. Today, many private intelligence firms, think tanks, and NGOs have better access to quality sources than experienced diplomats do. And the idea that diplomats should exclusively represent their governments in other countries is now obsolete. Government leaders regularly dispatch their trusted aides on strategic missions instead of relying on career diplomats whom they may not know personally. These new emissaries often eschew choreographed, ceremonial diplomacy for immediate results; they favor foreign investment instead of foie gras. Taxpayers around the world raise their eyebrows at the costs of certain trappings of diplomacy, and they demand more restraint than is evidenced in many traditional diplomatic rituals — such as those in Japan and Sweden in which ceremonial horse-drawn carriages still transport newly appointed foreign ambassadors to meet Emperor Akihito and King Carl XVI Gustaf, respectively.
August 14, 2013
Brazil’s São Paulo state will sue German engineering giant Siemens to recoup public funds its governor said it lost to a cartel that fixed prices for public transit construction, equipment and upkeep.
“We are going to open a case against Siemens for damages to public coffers and the state of São Paulo and to demand total reimbursement,” Governor Geraldo Alckmin told reporters on Tuesday.
The lawsuit will be based on information in a complaint against Siemens filed with Brazil’s anti-trust agency by Brazil’s National Subway Operators Association, he said.
August 13, 2013
Leonardo Goy – Reuters, 08/12/2013
Brazil’s government put off bidding for a high-speed train project for at least one year because there was only one confirmed consortium competing for the 38 billion reais ($16.7 billion) deal, Transport Minister César Borges announced on Monday.
Lack of competition led the government to postpone the tender for the bullet train linking Brazil’s two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, after Spanish and German groups guaranteed that they will bid if given more time, Borges said at a news conference.
After massive protests against corruption and misuse of public money paralyzed Brazilian cities in June, the government preferred not to open itself to further criticism by awarding the bullet train contract to the one bidder, analysts said.
July 12, 2013
Ricardo Geromel – Forbes, 07/12/2013
The recent protests in Brazil that have caused Dilma Rousseff’s approval rate to drop by 27% in less than three weeks, started as a local protest against public transport fare increase in São Paulo. As São Paulo continues to be at the epicenter of Brazil’s massive protests, the city has been daily making international headlines. Therefore, it is a good time to increase your knowledge about Brazil’s largest city. Here is all you need to know about São Paulo:
São Paulo is both the name of a state as well as a city. Those born in the city of São Paulo are called “Paulistas.” Those born in the state of São Paulo but not in its capital are called “Paulistanos.” To illustrate, there are three “Paulistas” soccer teams in the first division of the national league: Portuguesa, São Paulo and Corinthians, which is the only billionaire soccer club in Brazil. Accordingly, there are two “Paulistanos” soccer teams in Brazil’s Serie A: Ponte Preta and Santos FC.
São Paulo state has 645 municipalities and a population of approximately 40 million inhabitants. According to IBGE, Brazil’s main government research institute, population in the city of São Paulo is about 11 million inhabitants. If we take into account the metropolitan area, which includes 38 smaller cities around the capital, population is almost 19,000,000 inhabitants. In Brazil, 81.3% of the population lives in urban areas even though the amazon rainforest covers up to 57% of the total area of Southern hemisphere’s largest country. This urban concentration helps to explain why it is more expensive to rent an office in São Paulo than in New York City.
July 10, 2013
Anna Edgerton – Bloomberg,07/10/2013
Brazilian unions are planning a nationwide strike tomorrow, threatening to “paralyze” the country and halt banks, buses and government offices.
Striking workers, part of the umbrella group known as CUT, Brazil’s biggest union, are calling for a shorter work week, political reform and more worker protection, said Vagner Freitas, the organization’s president. He said they also want congress to direct all pre-salt oil royalties to education and health.
“We’re going to paralyze the city of Sao Paulo, starting in the morning and finishing with a big demonstration at midday,” Freitas said, adding that workers will meet near the General Motors factory outside Sao Paulo city.
June 28, 2013
Talita Carrico – Financial Times, 06/27/2013
On first impressions, a foreigner visiting São Paulo could easily believe that Brazil is a wealthy country. Take the city’s metro stations, for example. Their cleanliness, modern architecture and efficiency stand in contrast to some of those in Europe or the US, where one can occasionally find oneself keeping company with rats and cockroaches on the platform.
This points to a fundamental truth about Brazil. While it is unquestionably a developing country (the same figurative foreigner above will soon discover this once he or she ventures out São Paulo’s wealthier neighbourhoods), it is not a poor country.
This is borne out by last week’s protests. Demonstrators carried placards complaining about everything from problems with public transport (the metro, while good, is not extensive enough for a metropolis of 20m people) to a bill in Congress attacking gay rights. But no one was out there holding banners saying: “Eh Brazil, let’s grow our GDP.” Brazil has per capita income of about $12,000, making it a middle income country. GDP is not growing as fast as in the past but is still in positive territory, unemployment is low. Salaries until recently were rising.
June 26, 2013
Joshua Goodman – Bloomberg, 06/25/2013
Residents of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro devote a bigger share of their paychecks to mass transit than counterparts around the world even after winning a fight to revoke a 9-cent increase in bus fares.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows residents of Brazil’s two biggest cities must work an average 10 minutes to pay for a bus ticket, more than twice the time needed in Paris or New York. The comparison is based on the latest report by UBS AG on purchasing power in 72 cities. In Beijing and Mumbai, less than four minutes of work buys a ticket.
“It ends up weighing on people’s budgets,” said Samy Dana, a professor at Getulio Vargas Foundation’s business school in Sao Paulo, who first noted the disparity using the UBS data. “Price is only half of the picture. If you look at the quality of public transport, the situation is even worse.”