Brazil’s largest city may ration water this year, utility says

April 9, 2014

Paulo Whitaker – Reuters, 4/9/2014

Sao Paulo may have to ration water this year if reservoir levels are not replenished, Brazil’s largest water and sewage utility said, an increasing possibility as the southeast region heads into its dry season.

Worries of a water shortage in the metropolis of some 20 million that will host the soccer World Cup opening match on June 12 have increased amid dry weather this week, and the city’s main source of water, the Cantareira reservoir, was at just 12.7 percent of its capacity as of Wednesday.

Economists worry that water rationing or shortages could take a toll on Brazil’s fragileeconomy, which is expected to grow just 2 percent this year, and a shortage in Brazil’sbusiness hub would add to the challenges facing President Dilma Rousseff, who is expected to be re-elected in October.

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Violence tests Brazil ahead of World Cup

February 5, 2014

Loretta Chao & John Lyons – The Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2014

A wave of headline-grabbing violence in Brazil’s two biggest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is reviving concerns about security during soccer’s World Cup, which begins here in June.

Among the incidents, that came to light on Tuesday: Police are investigating an armed attack Sunday on the son of São Paulo state’s law-and-order governor. Some suspect it was an assassination attempt by a criminal gang.

Elsewhere in São Paulo, which will host the cup’s opening game, at least one public bus was burned by vandals on Monday night, bringing the total number of buses burned to 30 so far this year, officials say. Social scientists say the practice is a form of protest by youth in the city’s poor slums against heavy-handed police tactics and other societal ills.

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Brazil letter carriers get police escorts

February 4, 2014

Latin American Herald Tribunal, 2/4/2014

The increase in violence in the Brazilian city of Campinas prompted a court order for police to escort letter carriers.

With 3.5 million inhabitants, Campinas is the second-largest city in Sao Paulo state, where 4,439 people were slain last year.

Though murders are relatively common in the richest, most populated state in the country, Campinas stands out for its unequaled violence, a recent example being the killing of 12 people on the same night of Jan. 12.

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São Paulo paves new drug treatment path in Cracolândia

February 4, 2014

The Pan-American Post, 1/27/2014

After years of São Paulo officials employing forced treatment and other heavy-handed tactics to fight the city’s crack epidemic, Mayor Fernando Haddad is trying a new approach. But his attempts to implement a health-based, humane line of attack against crack abuse are being challenged by state police, who favor more orthodox law enforcement practices.
Earlier this month, Haddad announced a strategic shift in the city’s battle with rampant crack cocaine use in the central slum popularly known as Cracolândia.  He unveiled “Operation Open Arms,” a new program which provides housing, food and work opportunities to those living on the streets in the neighborhood. Inspired by the success of similar programs in the Netherlands and Canada, participants will receive roughly $6.50 USD a day in exchange for cleaning parks and other public places. They will also be given meals, medical care and group housing in local motels, according to G1. Giving up drug use is not a condition for participating in the program, though participants will be encouraged to do so and will have greater access to addiction treatment programs.  Some 300 people have been enrolled in the program thus far, and were moved into motels after their improvised shelters were demolished on January 14 and 15.
While Haddad has touted the program as a bold embrace of harm reduction-based treatment, some are skeptical of the program. As the Christian Science Monitor notes, many view it simply as an attempt to temporarily clean up the city’s streets in time for the World Cup. Several drug treatment experts who work in Cracolândia told the CSM they are doubtful that the program can offer a long-term solution to crack addicts.
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World Cup riots in Brazil trigger riots and arrests

January 27, 2014

Damien McElroy – The Telegraph, 1/26/2014

Demonstrations against the World Cup descended into street riots in Sao Paulo on Sunday as a Brazilian anti-inequality protest movement started a campaign against public spending on sports extravaganzas.

Cars were burnt in the streets, shop fronts were vandalised and bank windows were smashed as Brazilian chapters of the worldwide radical activists Anonymous called for support for “Operation Stop the World Cup”.

Police clashed with the crowd of up to 2,500 in running battles that at one point forced bystanders to seek refuge from the fighting. The protest forced the Sao Paulo authorities to call off an event to mark the city’s 460th anniversary.

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Brazil police arrest dozens after anti-World Cup protest

January 27, 2014

BBC, 1/26/2014

Police in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo say they have detained 128 people during clashes that followed a demonstration against this year’s football World Cup.

A car was damaged by fire. Shops, banks and a police vehicle were also damaged.

The violence forced the authorities to cancel some of the festivities planned for the city’s 460th anniversary.

Earlier, some 2,500 people took to the street to complain about the costs of staging the World Cup in Brazil.

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Brazil is entranced by a tale of love, taxes, and bribery

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.

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Why São Paulo’s crackdown on PCC will face problems

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.

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Foreign policy goes local: how globalization made São Paulo a diplomatic power

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.

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