Tom Murphy & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 06/24/2013
Brazil’s largest state of Sao Paulo on Monday froze all highway tolls at current levels until July 2014, a decision taken by Gov. Geraldo Alckmin following weeks of protests focused, in large part, on the high cost of transportation.
Despite the climate of protest, Mr. Alckmin said that “this is not a populist measure. We’ve been working on this problem for the past two years.” The governor spoke at a news conference.
The decision covers both government-run highways and roads given over to private concessions through a series of auctions dating back to the 1990s.
The growing influence of the Brics nations in world affairs was symbolised by the staging of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and the World Cup in South Africa 2010, and will be further underlined by Brazil‘s forthcoming hosting of both events.
Leaving aside the public relations value of putting these host countries in the global spotlight, they have tried to use these mega-events to boost development by accelerating investments in infrastructure and lifting services, governance and local business to international standards.
However, the cost to the public purse and the communities affected can be enormous, prompting criticism that the money would be better spent at grassroots level, on improving health and education, rather than on awarding prestige projects to construction companies.
Police in Brazil’s most populous state can no longer give first aid to victims injured in violent crimes or in shootouts with law enforcement officers.
Sao Paulo State Public Safety Department says in a statement posted on its website that as of Wednesday only emergency response teams and paramedics can provide treatment to victims at the scene of the crime or shootout with police.
Department head Fernando Grella Vieira said the state government enacted the measure “to safeguard the health of victims and guarantee the preservation of the crime scene for forensic investigations.”
At least 12 people were killed and 15 others shot and wounded in recent hours in the southeastern Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, while the recent uptick of violence in the southern state of Santa Catarina continued with the torching of eight buses.
Seven of the homicides occurred in Greater Sao Paulo, according to police reports cited Thursday by local media.
The other five killings occurred in Araraquara, a city 270 kilometers (170 miles) from Sao Paulo, in two separate attacks Wednesday night targeting a group of people walking on the street and customers at a bar.
In metropolitan Sao Paulo, at least three police also were shot and wounded, two in attacks on off-duty officers in their respective vehicles and the third in a robbery at a bar.
Sugar cane-growing areas in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, will get rains this week, preventing the start of the new crop’s harvest, according to weather forecaster Somar Meteorologia.
Heavy rains will fall in the states of Parana and Sao Paulo from tomorrow to April 27, Marco Antonio dos Santos, an agronomist at the company in Sao Paulo, wrote in a report e- mailed yesterday. Rainfall may exceed 50 millimeters (2 inches) and will help soil moisture and plants, he said.
Wet weather over the weekend favored the development of recently planted sugar cane, according to the report. New crops were already smaller in size and inferior in quality because of dry weather earlier this year, dos Santos said.
Brazil’s state-run energy giant Petrobras on Tuesday reported that 160 barrels of crude oil may have spilled from a deep-water well off Sao Paulo state but said the situation was under control.
A company statement said a production string rupture of the FPWSO Dynamic Producer (vessel platform) was detected early Tuesday, roughly 300 kilometers (180 miles) off the coast of Sao Paulo state, where water depth reaches 2,140 meters (6,600 feet).
It said the well was automatically shut down after the rupture by the safety system and has been secured.
Police in Brazil’s southeastern Sao Paulo state are investigating the theft of 50 metric tons (55 U.S. tons) of corn from a moving train.A police report says the thieves greased the train tracks, making the wheels of the 54-wagon locomotive skid and slow down before they used a tow truck with a hook to remove the corn-filled containers.
The report says the theft occurred as the train traveled through a rural area about 180 miles (300 kilometers) north of the capital. The train was headed to the southeastern port of Santos with 60 metric tons (66 U.S. tons) of corn and sugar.