Brazil drought crisis leads to rationing and tensions

September 5, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 9/5/2014

From his front door to the banks of the Cantareira reservoir, José Christiano da Silva used to stroll only a hundred metres when he first moved to the area in 2009. Today, amid the worst drought in São Paulo’s history, he must now trek a kilometre across the dried-up bed before he reaches what’s left of the most important water supply for South America’s biggest city.

“It’s frightening to look at,” says the retiree, standing on cracked mud. “In the past, we’d already be under water here.” After the driest six months since records began 84 years ago, the volume of the Cantareira system has fallen to 10.7% of its capacity, raising alarms for the nearby urban population of 20 million people and the most important economic hub on the continent.

The drought, affecting Brazil’s southeast and central regions, has prompted rationing in 19 cities, undermined hydropower generation, pushed up greenhouse gas emissions and led to squabbles between states vying for dwindling water resources.

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US wheat exporters brace for drop in Brazil orders

August 19, 2014

Agrimoney, 8/19/2014

North American wheat exporters are preparing for a tumble in shipments to Brazil after the country reinstated a tariff on wheat bought in from countries outside South America, amid hopes of a bumper domestic crop.

Brazil’s foreign trade assembly, Camex, has reinstated a 10% tariff on wheat imports from outside the Mercosur trading zone, ditching a concession introduced last year after a poor domestic harvest, and a weak crop too in Argentina, the default origin of Brazilian buy-ins.

The move will likely call time on a upswell in Brazilian imports from North America, and in particular the US, which Brazil has turned to thanks to the shortfalls in local supplies.

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TEDGlobal is heading to Rio de Janeiro in 2014

June 13, 2013

Kate Torgovnick – TED, 06/12/2013

Next year, TEDGlobal will be held for the first time in Latin America — in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from October 6-10, 2014, on the beach of Copacabana. The theme for the event is, appropriately, “South!” and will be a celebration of the innovation, dynamism and creativity pouring out of South America, as well as out of the global south at large. Because fresh ideas can come from any direction.

“Rio has been beckoning TED for many years, both metaphorically and literally,” says curator Chris Anderson, explaining why we opted for this new location. “It’s at the heart of a continent bursting with fresh thinking. We’re delighted to finally be going. This conference will be ambitious, a thrilling new chapter for TED’s growing community of global souls.”

TEDGlobal Director Bruno Giussani adds, “We are proud of the conferences we’ve held in Edinburgh. As TED’s international reach has expanded, Latin America has emerged as a clear and exciting next move. Rio is not only a hub of innovation, but presents a rich history and exquisite physical setting.”

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Continental regionalism: Brazil’s prominent role in the Americas

June 4, 2013

Miriam Gomes Saraiva & Susanne Gratius – ISN, -6/04/2013

In these times of change in the shaping of a new world order, Brazil has begun to stand out for its assertive participation in international politics, where it has favoured anti-hegemonic,[1] multi-polar positions and its increasingly strong leadership in its own region. During the Lula administration from 2003 to 2010, Brazil gradually started step-by-step to shoulder the costs inherent in cooperation, governance and integration in the region.[2] At that time, the Brazilian Development Bank BNDES – with a total budget that exceeds that of the Inter-American Development Bank – began to finance infrastructure projects in South American. [3]

The election of Lula da Silva at the end of 2002 and the ensuing rise of an autonomy-oriented group in Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cast the country’s foreign policy in a new light.[4] Diplomatic support for existing international regimes in the 1990s gave way to a proactive push towards modifying these regimes in favour of southern countries or Brazil’s particular interests, which was defined by Lima as soft revisionism.[5]

The idea of bringing other emerging or poorer southern countries on board to counterbalance the might of traditional Western powers served as the basis for the country’s international actions. While coalitions with emerging partners helped boost Brazil’s global pretensions, [6] its diplomatic efforts were geared towards bolstering its international standing independently of any other nation, with its role as a global player being firmly grounded in the ideas of autonomy and universalism that were the predominant diplomatic thinking at the time.

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Brazil should stop being self-absorbed giant

February 26, 2013

Andres Oppenheimer – The Miami Herald, 02/26/2013

Brazil, South America’s biggest country, may become a global economic super-star in the future, but it will have to stop being an inward-looking giant.

There is new evidence that, despite President Dilma Rousseff’s announcement last week that Brazil will have a record grain crop this year, the country’s huge oil discoveries, and the unique propaganda opportunity Brazil will gain from hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, recent trade trends don’t bode well for the country.

The World Bank last week published a report entitled  The Brazilian Competitiveness Cliff that shows Brazil’s exports of high-valued industrial goods aren’t doing well. It says Brazil is facing “considerable competitiveness challenges.” Translation: the country is falling behind other emerging powers.

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The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in South America

February 19, 2013

Vinod Sreeharsha – Fast Company, 02/11/2013

1_Enalta

For catching Brazil’s ethanol industry as it stumbles. The São Carlos, Brazil-based company makes sensory and GPS software to monitor seeding and irrigation, which yields farmers a richer crop. That’s a big deal in this nation, where sugarcane–used to create ethanol–is an important part of the local economy. Last year, Enalta released a voice command product that overseves plants in real time. Net sales are expected to jump to $8 million this year, up from $1 million in 2011, after increased orders from three of Brazil’s top ethanol producers.

2_Mercado Libre

For creating the Latin American eBay, and providing locals with inspiration and sustenance. A Nielsen report last year said that at least 134,000 people in Latin America derive a main part of their income from selling on this Buenos Aires, Argentina-based e-commerce pioneer. The company continues to be the only NASDAQ-listed internet company from Argentina or Brazil, and its CEO and co-founder Marcos Galperin frequently serves as a mentor for entrepreneurs in the region. In fact, some of the region’s most notable players have grown out of MercadoLibre–including two on this list. Netshoes began by selling on the site, and MercadoLibre co-founder Hernan Kazah started Kaszek Ventures with former MercadoLibre CFO Nicolas Szekasy.

3_Prospéritas Capital Partners

For catalyzing the start-up scene in South America’s second smallest country. The Montevideo, Uruguay-based venture capital firm has already invested $11 million in early-stage Uruguayan companies in the IT, consumer web, and mobile sectors, and has had a wide range of successes: Its companies have become hot locally (like Hiddenbed, a furniture company) and have been sold abroad (like Interactive Networks, which was acquired by Mumbai-based Geodesic).

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The army blocks a truth commission

January 10, 2010

The Economist, 01/07/2010

IT IS 25 years since Brazil moved from dictatorship to democracy, but its army remains surprisingly unreformed. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was rudely reminded of this just before Christmas when he signed a decree calling for a truth commission to investigate torture, killings and disappearances during military rule between 1964 and 1985. Within 24 hours the heads of the three armed forces threatened to resign along with Nelson Jobim, the defence minister. Lula seemed quick to retreat. He was reported as saying the government would think again.

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