Saturday, September 30, 2006


Major Air Accident in Brazil

On September 29th 2006, an air accident occurred in Brazil, which may have been the deadliest ever in the History of the country.

A Boeing 737-800 (the most modern version of 737) took off from Manaus heading to Brasília. At cruising altitude, there was a collision with a jet Legacy, an executive jet made by Brazilian aerospace company Embraer. The Legacy had just rolled out from Embraer, and was being flown by the new owner to the USA.

After the collision, the Legacy was still able to land.
The Boeing crashed into ground, killing 159 passengers and 6 crew.
This was the deadliest air accident in Brazil. Previously, in 1982, a 747 crashed near the city of Fortaleza and killed 137 people.

The airliner involved in the accident, Gol (the Portuguese for goal), is currently the second biggest carrier in Brazil.
The company was founded a few years ago, and is the first in Brazil to operate in the low-cost low-fare sector. Gol keeps a fleet of uniform aircrafts, to save in maintenance; Gol had only 737-700 until recently, and is changing to more modern 737-800.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Revenue from international travellers is growing

The Central Bank of Brazil (which controls all the flow of foreigner currency in and out of the country) released today some figures about the international tourist flow.

From January to June of 2006, the foreigner travellers spent a total of US$ 2.195 billion in Brazil; this is more than the amount spent in the entire year of 2002 (US$ 1.998 bi) and is nearing the total of 2003 (US$ 2.479 bi).

The figure for 2006 equals a growth of 17.51% over the same period last year.
The Central Bank forecasts a total for 2006 of around US$ 4.5 billion, up from US$ 3.861 bi in 2005 (so far, the highest ever).


Varig is sold

At last, Varig, which until not long ago was the biggest Brazilian air carrier, was sold.

Varig had been facing financial problems for more than a decade. The company was big in the 1980s, but they didn't adapt to the new times. The owners of the company were their own employees, and they were too reluctant to the adoption of modern management practices (e.g., personnel reduction, payments for performance).
In the 1990s, when fresher companies like TAM and GOL entered the market, Varig could not stand the war of prices.

Varig was sold to VarigLog, a subsidiary created by Varig in the 1990s to compete in the market of courier services; ironically, the offspring (managed more professionally) managed to outgrow the mother company.
The company was sold in a Judicial bidding process; there were very few bidders, and some of them were disqualified by the Justice.
In the end, Variglog paid US$20 million in cash, and issued another US$ 485 million in bonus. The new board of directors announced that, of the current 10,000 employees, less than 2,000 should remain. The number of aircrafts and the number of routes to be operated by the new company is still under discussion.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Another mega scandal: the "sanguesugas" (leechers)

Another mega-scandal involving Brazilian politicians is in the news.
This time, the case involves ambulances, the federal budget, and corruption.

The problem derives from the way that Budget is voted and executed in Brazil. Every year, the budget is first drafted by the Federal Administration; then it goes to Parliament, where Deputies and Senators propose amendments; however, even if the amendments are passed into law, the Treasury is not obliged to actually release the funds to cover the amendment; the actual release of funds depends, theoretically, on the convenience and importance of the amendment, but, in practice, it depends much more on "political factors".

In this case of Sanguesugas, the scheme was:
a) the owner of an ambulance maker approached Deputies and Senators;
b) the Deputy proposes an amendment, requesting funds for ambulances at his hometown;
c) the owner employed illegal means to: get the funds released (by bribing key people in the Ministries) and sell ambulances by a price way above the market (by defrauding bidding processes);
d) part of the profits was shared with the Deputy who proposed the amendment.

The amount of fraud is into the hundreds of millions of reais.

The Federal Police investigated the case in silent, and last month arrested several people, including the chief of the scheme (the ambulance maker). A Probing Comission was created in the Congress. Investigations (the main accused are collaborating with the Police) indicated that as many as 100 Deputies were involved.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court declared that the name of 56 Federal Deputies and one Senator should be made public. These people are formally indicted of several crimes connected with the scheme. This is the biggest criminal case involving members of Parliament in the History of Brazil.

The only Senator indicted so far is Ney Suassuna, from Paraiba.

These are the 56 Federal Deputies indicted:
1. Paulo Feijó (PSDB-RJ)
2. Paulo Baltazar (PSB-RJ)
3. João Caldas (PL-AL)
4. Cabo Júlio (PMDB-MG)
5. Pedro Henry (PP-MT)
6. Vanderval Santos (PL-SP)
7. Iris Simões (PTB-PR)
8. Benedito Dias (PP-AP)
9. Lino Rossi (PP-MT)
10. Edir de Oliveira (PTB-RS)
11. Tetê Bezerra (PMDB-MT)
12. Fernando Gonçalves (PTB-RJ)
13. Almeida de Jesus (PL-CE)
14. Pastor Amarildo (PSC-TO)
15. Milton Capixaba (PTB-RO)
16. Almir Moura (PL-RJ)
17. Reinaldo Betão (PL-RJ)
18. Isaías Silvestre (PSB-MG)
19. José Militão (PTB-MG)
20. Welington Fagundes (PL-MT)
21. Mário Negromonte (PP-BA)
22. Laura Carneiro (PFL-RJ)
23. Zelinda Novaes (PFL-BA)
24. Vieira Reis (PRB-RJ)
25. Junior Betão (PL-AC)
26. Ribamar Alves (PSB-MA)
27. Eduardo Gomes (PSDB-TO)
28. Eduardo Seabra (PTB-AP)
29. Osmânio Pereira (PTB-MG)
30. Jefferson Campos (PTB-SP)
31. João Batista (PP-SP)
32. Vanderley Assis (PP-SP)
33. João Mendes de Jesus (PSB-RJ)
34. Dr. Heleno (PSC-RJ)
35. Reinaldo Gripp (PL-RJ)
36. José Divino (PRB-RJ)
37. Alceste Almeida (PTB-RR)
38. Marcos Abramo (PP-SP)
39. Nélio Dias (PP-RN)
40. Ricarte de Freitas (PTB-MT)
41. Cleonâncio Fonseca (PP-SE)
42. Benedito de Lira (PP-AL)
43. Reginaldo Germano (PP-BA)
44. Ricardo Estima (PPS-SP)
45. Neuton Lima (PTB-SP)
46. João Corrêa (PMDB-AC)
47. Amauri Gasques (PL-SP)
48. Maurício Rabelo (PL-TO)
49. Coriolano Sales (PFL-BA)
50. Marcelino Fraga (PMDB-ES)
51. Raimundo Santos (PL-PA)
52. Edna Macedo (PTB-SP)
53. Irapuan Teixeira (PP-SP)
54. Itamar Serpa (PSDB-RJ)
55. Enivaldo Ribeiro (PP-PB)
56. Elaine Costa (PTB-RJ)

Friday, July 07, 2006


Candidates to President: personal assets

The Brazilian law demands that every candidate to President of the Republic declares, before the election, their personal assets.
The candidates to the election of October 2006 declared:

Lula, current President, candidate to re-election: R$ 839,000
Geraldo Alckmin, main oposition candidate: R$ 691,000
Heloisa Helena: R$ 121,000
Rui Pimenta: R$ 33,000
Luciano Bivar: R$ 8,7 million
José Maria Eymael: R$ 985,000
Cristovam Buarque: R$ 769,000

The dollar course is approximately US$ 1 = R$ 2.20

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Corpus Christi - Holiday in Brazil

Corpus Christi is an official holiday in Brazil. Most businesses close in Brazil.

The commemoration was introduced by the Portuguese.
The Azorians introduced the practice of building colorful carpets with wood dust; this practice disseminated to other cities, but remained strong particularly in Florianópolis, where there was a higher concentration of Azorian immigrants.

Read more about Corpus Christi.


Beatification of Padre Eustáquio

Today, June 15th, in the Mineirão Stadium, in the city of Belo Horizonte, a ceremony for beatification of Padre Eustáquio will take place. It is expected that 70,000 people will attend the ceremony; the invitations were distributed by the Church.

Padre Eustáquio (Priest Eustaquio) was the name adopted in Brazil by Humberto van Lieshout, born in 1890 in Holland.
He arrived in Brazil in 1925, along with two brothers of the Congregation of Sacred Hearts. His first mission was in the city called Água Suja (Dirty Water), currently Romaria, one of the poorest city in the the western part of Minas Gerais.
Afterwards, Padre Eustáquio went to small cities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, before returning to Minas Gerais, where he died in 1943; today, a District in Belo Horizonte is called Padre Eustáquio; many people already consider Eustáquio to be a Saint.

Last year, after years of investigation, the Church recognized a miracle attributed to Eustáquio.
In 1962, Gonçalo Rocha, priest in Belo Horizonte, was diagnosed with throat cancer. He was advised by Priests Resende Costa, then archibishop of Belo Horizonte, and Serafim Fernandes de Araújo, today a cardeal, to pray for Padre Eustáquio.
The day that Gonçalo Rocha would be submitted to a surgery, the doctors noticed that his throat had a better aspect. Further exams showed that the tumor had disappeared.

Read more about Padre Eustáquio.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Brazil in the World Cup

The World Cup in Germany starts today.

Read more about the History of Brazil in the World Cups.

Also, check out some News in the World Cup Blog.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Magazines: Violence in São Paulo, Body Age

violence in Sao PauloEpoca 418: How Long?
Epoca shows a photo of a burning bus, and asks How Long (will the population have to stand this?)

Isto É 1909: The Chaos.
The magazine also publishes a photo related to the violent week in São Paulo.

Veja 1957: The Real Age.
Veja affirms that different body organs (heart, brain, bones, muscles) get aged at different paces, thus requiring different cares. The magazine gives tips on how to assess and retard aging of the body organs.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Brazilian alpinist dies in Everest

vitor negreteBrazilian alpinist Vitor Negrete, aged 38, died yesterday, May 18th, after reaching the summit of Everest, in Nepal. Vitor climbed the North face of Everest, without oxygen masks.
He was on the way back, and called for help when he was 550 m down from the summit. Aiders reached him still alive, he didn't survive the cold.

This expedition was troublesome. On Tuesday, English David Sharp had already died. Then, Malaysian Ravi Chandran had his fingers frozen and had to abandon the expedition.

On Wednesday, Vitor decided to climb, alone.

Vitor Negrete had already reached the summit before, on June 2nd 2005. Also, Negrete is the alpinist who climbed most times the Aconcágua, highest mountain in the Americas.

Visit his website: Vitor Negrete

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Violence in São Paulo: the revenge of the Police

More than 100 people were killed, allegedly because of "confrontation with Police forces", from Sunday to Thursday.
Reports say that 43 policemen were killed last weekend.
Despite negatives from the Police Administration, newspapers have accused the Police forces of acting with excessive violence, killing innocent people in the process.

The Police Chiefs, the Governor of São Paulo, and the Minister of Justice came to the media to deny that Police are acting arbitrarily (e.g., killing people who could have been arrested), and to affirm that, if abuses were committed, they shall be investigated and punished.

The population, who was scared with the criminals, now is fearing the Police.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Organized crime stopped São Paulo

Death toll of the violent weekend: 43 policemen and policewomen, 52 criminals.
Across the State, 85 public buses were burned down. Criminals shot against several Police Stations. At least eight banks were destroyed by bombs.

The buses stopped running, as the companies feared more attacks. A few metro stations also shut down, on rumors of eminent bomb attacks. Commerce, schools, public offices, universities and other businesses closed early. The transit became even more chaotic than usual.

Two news surprised and revolted the population.
First, surprisingly, the Governor of São Paulo, Claudio Lembo, refused the aid offered by the Federal Government (who could send in the Army, the Federal Police and the National Guard). Lembo said that there were already cooperation between the Intelligence sectors of the Polices and Army, and that troops would not be necessary.
Lembo said that he trusted the police forces of São Paulo. He mentioned that, despite the rebelions, there was not any escaping from prisons, nor there had been any concession to the rebels.

What caused revolt was the disclosure that the Police Intelligence knew that a violent movement had been planned for the Mother's Day weekend. Yet, no action was taken, particularly to protect lives of policemen and prison guards.
Governor Lembo said that they attempt to isolate the leaders of organized crime, to prevent them from combining their movements. However, the isolation seems to have yet another factor to start the rioting, as it infuriated the gang leaders.

The Security authorities said that the cellular phones are the main weapon of prisoners; criminals use phones to communicate with partners outside prisons. Widespread corruption makes it easy to smuggle phones into cells.

TV news demonstrated how easy is to install equipments which block phone signals.
The authorities reacted to this information by sending a draft of bill obliging the phone operators to develop a technology to block the signals.

Meanwhile, the incompetence and laziness of authorities continue to claim lives.

The violence in São Paulo is in the world's headlines:
Miami Herald
Financial Times

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Magazines: Ronaldinho, Uranium, Da Vinci Code

RonaldinhoEpoca 417 : "Better than Pelé?"
There are no doubts that Ronaldinho is the best football player in the World today, but Epoca casts the question: is Ronaldinho playing better than Pelé at his peak?
Epoca notes that just the admittance of such question is a great honor for Ronaldinho; never has a player in Brazil (including Romário, Ronaldo, Zico, Rivelino, among others) been seriously compared to Pelé.
Epoca ran a survey among famous journalists and players, which concluded that, out of eight criteria, Pelé was better in five, there was a draw in one, and Ronaldinho was better in two (dribbling and ball control). Pelé himself admitted recently that Ronaldinho is capable of things that he wasn't.

Isto E 1907: "The smuggling of Brazilian Uranium".
The Brazilian Federal Police found out that people were exploring mines of uranium and thorium in States of Brazilian Amazon.
According to the investigations, groups of foreigners based in Amapá would be purchasing land to, supposedly, dig for gold; instead, the groups would be illegally exploring Uranium and Thorium and sending it to countries in Europe and Asia, particularly Russia and North Korea.

Veja 1956: "Da Vinci Code". A review of the movie, which opens in Brazil this week.


Gang violence in São Paulo

Since last Friday, May 12th, the State of São Paulo has been facing a number of concerted rebellions in prisons and a surge of violence on streets.
Several prisons were overtaken by the convicts, who made many hostages. Many policemen, on and off duty, were murdered; several Police Stations were attacked.

Brazilian media says that the rebellions are commanded by the organized crime; although arrested, the criminal leaders would have sent orders to the other prisons to start rebellions and to the members of the gang outside prison to start riots.
The cause of the rebellions would be the transferring of about 600 criminals to new prisons, of high security.

The main criminal organization in São Paulo is called Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Command of the Capital). The gang is funded by extortion, drug dealing and bank robberies. The gang was created inside the prisons; most leaders are arrested, but they keep control of activities inside and outside the prisons.

Organized crime in Brazil is concentrated in two States: São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, there are a few gangs, the most known is Comando Vermelho (Red Command).

The origin of the gangs in Brazil dates back to the period of military dictatorship. Political prisoners were kept confined along other criminals. The political prisoners were usually better educated, and passed their knowledge (how to organize, how to fight the Police, guerrilla tactics) to the other criminals. The first gangs resulted from this combination of aptitudes; the name Vermelho (Red) in Comando Vermelho is a reference to the "Reds", communists.

Today, São Paulo is besieged by crime.
Read news by BBC and CNN.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Bolivia seizes oil companies

President of Boliva, Evo Morales, announced yesterday, on the 100th day of his Government, that all international oil companies operating in Bolivia would be occupied by the Army.
Morales determined that, in 180 days, all companies should get in agreement with YPFB, the State owned Bolivian oil company, to adjust new contracts. Morales said that, with his act, Bolivia was recovering sovereignity over their natural resources.

The news came like a bomb in Brazil.
First because Petrobrás is today the biggest foreigner investor in Bolivia; it is estimated that Petrobrás has assets of US$ 1 billion in that country. Petrobrás operates the largest gas fields, and exports most of the production to Brazil.

The Brazilian government was more surprised, however, because in recent meetings Evo Morales had assured to President Lula himself that there would be no kind of intervention, at least as far as Petrobrás was concerned.

During the Presidential campaign, President Lula manifested his support to Evo Morales. Like Lula, who was an ex-metal worker, Morales came from the lower classes in Bolivia. Like Lula and Chavez, from Venezuela, Morales wants to strenght the "dignity and sovereignity" of their countries.

For the first time, Brazil, who always claimed to be exploited by the international capital, is now being charged of being the exploiter.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Anthony Garotinho starts a hunger strike

Anthony Garotinho, important Brazilian politician, announced yesterday that he is in a hunger strike.
Garotinho is ex-Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro; last elections, he ran for Presidency (finished third), and his wife, Rosinha Garotinho, was elected Governor of Rio.
Garotinho is again attempting to be candidate of his Party, PMDB, to the Presidential elections to happen in October this year.

Last month, Garotinho travelled around the country, to make contacts. A few days later, newspapers denounced that those travels were paid by "donations" of companies which, indeed, didn't exist (they were registered in the Commercial Bureau, but didn't have physical existance). Later on, it was revelead that those companies belonged to people who had connections inside the Government of Rio; there are suspicions that those people got some illegal public money, and gave a share to Garotinho.

Garotinho said that he didn't see any problem with the donations, but he would return the money.
Next, Garotinho said that there is a conspiration against him, and, to combat the conspirators, he would start a hunger strike.
To finish the strike, he has two demands: first, the elections must be accompanied by international observers; second, he demands space in what he calls main conspirators (Veja magazine and TV Globo) to present his defense.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Telê Santana died

Tele SantanaTelê Santana, the coach of the Brazilian team in the World Cups of 1982 and 1986, died yesterday, at age 74. Telê had been for nearly a month under intensive care of abdominal infection.

Telê had a mentality that football should be a show: fair play, but goal oriented. Zagallo, Parreira and Felipão, who won World Cups, are known for having a pragmatic mentality: winning by 1 x 0 is enough.
Much because of Tele's mentality Brazil lost the Cup in 1982: Brazil had the advantage of the tie against Italy, the game was tied, but Telê ordered the team to go ahead to win (and Brazil lost). He was recognized; in 1986, he was again invited to command the squad.

Telê had some success as player, defending Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro. Starting his career as a coach, he was Brazilian champion in 1971. A series of successes led him to the Brazilian team, in 1980.

After the two failures in World Cups, he went to São Paulo FC. In 1992 and 1993, São Paulo was bi-champion of the World Clubs Championship.


Brazil reaches self sufficiency in petroleum

Petrobras productionYesterday, April 21stst, President Lula turned the key which started out P-50, the largest Brazilian petroleum platform.
Brazil is now producing 1.8 million barrels a day, the samem volume consumed; by the end of the year, forecast is that Brazil will be producing 1.9 million barrels/day.
Today, 80% of the production comes from off-shore wells, and, of these wells, 90% are located in the Campos basin, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
President Lula celebrated the event by putting his hands on oil and stamping a Petrobras uniform; he repeated the gesture of President Getulio Vargas in 1953, when Petrobras producing their first barrels.

Petrobras was created in 1953. In 1995, the company lost the Constitutional monopoly; however, because of its large assets (Petrobras retained the budget, staff, wells and knowledge), no other company can face Petrobras in Brazil.

Self sufficiency is important, even more at these times of uncertainty (USA and Iran are currently having hard talks over Iran's intention to produce nuclear weapons), when the oil prices increase (this week, price reaches over US$70 for the first time ever).
Brazil is still paying the price of the first and second petroleum shocks, in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the country depended heavily on imported oil by then, and saw its foreigner debt increase very rapidly.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Prosecutor General indictes 40 people

For nearly a year now, Brazil has been watching a sequence of denounces against members of the Government and of the Parliament. By means of a process called "mensalão", the government would be using the administrative structure to collect illegal money and pay Deputies in exchange of votes.

When the first denounces appeared, the indignation of the population obliged President Lula to fire Minister José Dirceu, charged of leading the scheme, and also obliged Parliament to impeach a few Deputies, including Roberto Jefferson, the man who first spoke about the scheme.
However, many members of the government, including President Lula and José Dirceu, always denied the charges, claiming they were being unfairly charged by the "elites".

Three parallel lines of investigation were opened:
1)The Comission of Ethics of the Federal Chamber examined the accusations against all Deputies. In the beginning, three Deputies were impeached, and a few others resigned to avoid impeachment. However, as the indignation settled down, the Parliament became also more lenient: all Deputies who were judged by their peers recently were found not guilty.
2) Chamber and Senate created joint Probing Comissions. The Probing Comissions dont't have the power to condemn anyone; instead, they prepare a report which is sent to the General Prosecution.
A few weeks ago, one such report reaffirmed that there was a corruption scheme within the government, with the participation of important members of the Worker's Party, including José Dirceu, José Genoíno (ex-President of the Party), Delúbio Soares (ex-treasurer), Silvio Pereira (ex-secretary).
As usual, Government and PT denied the charges, again arguing that everything was only political manoeuver.
3) Criminal investigation. The body in charge of investigations denounces of crimes practiced by high authorities is the Procuradoria Geral da Republica (General Prosecutor of the Republic).

The Prosecutors worked in silence, behind the curtains. They have powers to lift bank, phone and tax secrecies. They can use the Federal Police to follow leads. They heard many people.

Yesterday, the General Prosecutor presented his first report.
He indicted 40 people, charged with several crimes, including corruption, laundering money, criminal administration.
Among the indicted, José Dirceu, José Genoíno, Luiz Gushiken, Roberto Jefferson, many other Deputies (including those who were found non guilty by their peers), Duda Mendonça and others.

Most previous charges were confirmed; new charges were added. The difference is that the charging now comes from an independent party. There is no more room for allegations of political biasing.

Read the full libel containing the names of all 40 indicted and all criminal charges: 40 indicted by corruption in Brazil.
Read also Bloomberg.

The case now will be examined by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Minimum wage: ideal and real

President Lula passed a Provisional Measure readjusting the minimum wage to R$ 350, from April this year until, probably, March 2007; at current conversion rates, this is about US$ 165 or 135 euros.
The complete text of the Provisional Measure is here; the new salary of R$ 350 had a significant readjustment from the former R$ 300.

According to DIEESE, a non-government economic institution, the minimum wage necessary to satisfy all the demands (food, health, habitation, transportation, leisure, clothes, etc) of a typical family (parents and two kids) should be R$ 1,489.33; read more about the DIEESE study on minimum wage and prices of essential food in Brazil.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Ellen Gracie: a woman in the Presidency of the Supreme Court

Ellen GracieEllen Gracie was the first woman to be appointed to the Brazilian Supreme Court.
From the next March 30th, she will also become, at age 59, the first woman to become President of the Supreme Court; she was elected by the other Justices to occupy the Presidency after the retirement of the current President, Nelson Jobim.


Geraldo Alckmin to run for President of the Republic

Geraldo AlckminIn 2006, there will be elections in Federal and State levels.
President Lula will run for re-election.
The main candidate of opposition was defined today: it will be Geraldo Alckmin, from PSDB. There was a fierce internal dispute in PSDB between José Serra and Geraldo Alckmin; Serra was candidate in 2002, when he lost to President Lula. Serra is currently mayor of the city of São Paulo; Serra is, among the potential candidates of opposition, the one with highest ratings in the recent surveys.

Alckmin is currently in the second term as the Governor of the State of São Paulo. Along with his predecessor, Mário Covas, Alckmin conducted a severe adjustment in the public accounts of São Paulo. The State today has a manageable debt and the investments in the past few years have been only growing.

Recent surveys show that President Lula is recovering popularity, after the slumps caused by the denounces of corruption. Alckmin is in a distant second (Lula has about 50%, Alckmin about 20%), but only from now on will he start to divulgate his ideas.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Brazilian Army ends slums occupation in Rio

Ten days ago, a gang of drug traffickers invaded a military basis and stole ten machine guns and one pistol. Besides, reports say that the soldiers on duty were slapped on the face.
It looks like the Generals thought that the bandits went beyond limits.
The Army obtained in courts an injunction order to search individuals, vehicles and residences in search of the guns.
The slums of Rio were sieged by 1,500 Army soldiers. Shoot outs were frequent during the days of occupation. Yesterday, the weapons were found abandoned in a corner of a slum.
There were discussions about the legality of the operation. According to Brazilian law, any action by the Armed Forces must be officially ordered by the President of the Republic. President Lula was in England when the operation started; he gave verbal support, but not official support.
Rumors say that the weapons were delivered after behind-the-curtains talks between the Army and the drug lords. The Army operation was hurting the drugs business.
Read what BBC wrote about Brazilian Army in Rio.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Peasant women invade and destroy premises of a gen-tech company

Yesterday, to celebrate Women's Day, a group of women who belong to a group called Moovement of Peasant Women, invaded the premises of Aracruz Celulose, a respected Brazilian company in the business of pulp production (Aracruz is traded in NYSE).
The group rented 50 buses to take 2,000 volunteer women from Porto Alegre to the city of Barra do Ribeiro, 56 km away, where Aracruz is established.

The Movement, which is affiliated with MST (Landless Workers Movement), is against the use of genetic technology to improve agriculture. MST has invaded some soy plantations in the recent past. Now, Aracruz was attacked because it uses genetic to improve the eucalyptus grown to produce pulp.
The invaders destroyed seeds, bushes, laboratories and computers; Aracruz estimates losses in US$ 20 million. More important, researchers saw works of 10 - 15 years completely lost.

Update 8 April: yesterday, 37 people were indicted by Justice, charged of invasion and destruction of private property. Among the 37 people, there are four foreigners: Swiss journalist Corinne Chantal Dobler, Spanish Paulo Nicholson, Indonesian Henry Saragih and Dominican Juana Ferrer.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


President Lula meets Queen Elizabeth

President Lula is in a 4-day official visit to the United Kingdom.
Yesterday, March 7th, Lula and wife Marisa were received by Queen Elizabeth and family.
According to Brazil media, the main themes of conversation were the affair Jean Charles de Menezes (Brazilian citizen who was mistaken by a terrorist and killed by the British police) and the destruction of the Amazon (Greenpace also organized a public protest).

Lula was accompanied by some Ministers ( Finance, Antônio Palocci; Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Luiz Fernando Furlan; Science and Technology, Sergio Rezende; Culture, Gilberto Gil; and Education, Fernando Haddad), and should talk to Prime Minister Tony Blair and British Ministers.

The last time a Brazilian President officially visited UK had been Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in 1997. Queen Elizabeth came only once to Brazil, in 1968.

Monday, March 06, 2006


General uses authority to embark in a commercial flight.

On the Wednesday after carnival, the Commander of Brazilian Army, General Francisco de Albuquerque, arrived in the airport of Viracopos, São Paulo, with a ticket to fly to Brasilia; he was not on duty, he was not wearing his uniform.
The airline, TAM, had overbooked the plane; the General, who arrived only fifteen minutes before the departure time, would not fly.

The General called up other authorities (in Brazil, both the Infraero, which administer airports, and Department of Civil Aviation, which regulates the sector, have connections with the Air Force). The airplane, which was going to the runway, turned back to the airport; a couple got off, the General and his wife got on; TAM says that the couple who got off the plane did so spontaneously.

Read more in Portuguese:

There are two ways to look at this fact:
1) Many people in Brazil fell they are better than others; this happens with Judges, Politicians, Militaries, and many other people with some authority (including all the respective wives).
2) The case with the General repercuted in the media. In other times, few people would dare to accuse a General, even less the Commander of Army. This time, however, many people expressed the unconformity with such an outrageous act; signs that Democracy and freedom of expression are growing stronger and stronger in Brazil.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Only light themes this week. Brazil is getting ready for carnival. Economy and politics slow down.

quality of lifeIsto É: "Quality of Life".
The holiday season is nearly over. Isto É publishes some tips on how to maintain the Quality of Life of vacations even during day to day routine. The article had a contribution from the Brazilian Association for Quality of Life.
The magazine published the following nine rules for a high Quality of Life: take care of the sexual life; have daily pleasures (take a walk, do nothing, skydive, whatever you like); have time for yourself; exercize the body; keep a healthy nutrition; don't demand too much from yourself; see the doctor regularly; keep good relationships; develop the spirituality.

Veja: "Ambition". Veja investigates causes and consequences of why some people are more ambitious (success driven) than others.

Epoca: "Are we all hyper active?". Report on a survey which researched the causes of brain hyper activity.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Brazilian economy grew 2.3% in 2005

IBGE, the official Brazilian statistics Institute, announced today that Brazilian economy grew 2.3% in 2005; in 2004, the growth had been 4.9%.
In 2005, the average growth of the world economy was 4.6%; in Latin American, only Haiti grew less than Brazil, with an expansion of 1.5%.

In 2005, when consumer price indexes closed around the 6% mark, and general indexes closed around 3% (the lowest in decades), the average basic interest rate was 19.5%. Also the dollar, which reached almost R$ 4 in 2002, finished 2005 around R$ 2.20. Tax burden, according to specialists, also increased another bit.

High interest rates, unfavorable currency value, more taxes, less government spendings; all these factors contributed to less investments, less foreigner trading, less spendings.
The number didn't surprise the markets.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Brazilian banks have record profits

The major Brazilian banks had had record profits in 2004. In 2005, they all set new records. The state-run Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco do Brasil, along with private banks Bradesco, Itaú and Unibanco (in this order, the three largest private banks), all reported record gains in financial operations, fees and interest charges.

Bradesco, Brazil's biggest bank, had the biggest profits in Latin America: US$2.566 billion (R$5,514 billion), an increase of 80% over 2004. Bradesco's loan portfolio was worth US$37.7 billion (R$81.1 billion), up 29.2% for the year.

Itau had profits of US$2.444 billion (R$5.251 billion), up 39%. Itau's loan portfolio rose to US$31.511 billion (R$67.7 billion). Unibanco had profits of US$851.8 million (R$1.83 billion).

As for the big state-run banks, Banco do Brasil's profits were up 37.4% to US$1.95 billion (R$4.2 billion) and the CEF had its biggest profits ever at US$1.256 billion (R$2.07 billion), up 46%. Banco do Brasil is a mixed capital corporation (with shares traded in the Stocks, but the government keeps control), whereas CEF is entirely owned by the government.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Gospel according to JudasEpoca: "The Gospel according to Judas".
Época was the only major media news to bring the subject to the headlines.
Being a predominantly Catholic country, Judas is seen as the biggest betrayor in History. Epoca says that documents found in Egypt by a collector may the Gospel of Judas; among other shocking revelations, this Gospel says that Judas didn't betray Christ, that Christ forgave Judas and Judas wouldn't have commited suicide.
The documents are being translated into English, German and French, and are due to be revealed to the world around the Eastern.
Read this Washington Post article about the Gospel of Judas.

Veja: "Plasma or LCD".
The market for TV sets with new technologies is growing fast in Brazil. Veja explains the differences between LCD and Plasma screens. Also, Brazil is about to officially anounce which standard of digital TVs the country will adopt; the choices are American, European and Japanese standards; there are strong lobbies from all groups.
Currently, the standard for analogic TVs in Brazil is PAL-M, a variation from European PAL. Most TVs today, though, are compatible with American NTSC. PAL-M is better than PAL, which is much better than NTSC; colors in NTSC are not realistic and change often - some say that NTSC stands for Never Twice the Same Color.

Isto É: "Mommy, don't go to work".
Mothers in Brazil, like everywhere else, have to conciliate career and children education. Isto É published a report ont his matter.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Petrobras announces record profits

Petrobras, the largest corporation in Brazil, announced yesterday that their profits in 2005 reached R$ 23.7 bn, up from R$ 16.8 bn in 2004.
Considering that the exchange rate on Dec. 31st was US$ 1 = R$ 2.34, that profit converts into a little more than US$ 10 bn. This was, again, the biggest profit of a Latin America corporation; Petrobras had also had the biggest profit in LA in 2004 and 2003.
The increase in profit had two main reasons: the increase in production of oil and gas (1.9 million barrels of oil a day, up from 1.8 million in 2004) and the increase of oil prices in the international market.
Petrobras is traded in the Stocks Exchange, but the Federal Government still retains control. Since after Petrobras lost the monopoly, in 1998, the company has been following market practices; one consequence of this is that gasoline prices in Brazil now follow international prices; in Feb. 2006, one liter of gasoline costs about US$ 1.1 (varies from State to State).
Read more: article by O Globo (in Portuguese)
Article by Reuters (in English)

Friday, February 17, 2006


Supreme Court: Judges must dismiss relatives working with them

Last year, the newly created National Council of Justice determined that Judges could not appoint their own relatives to occupy trusting position in their own courts (most civil servants in Brazil must go through an admission process; only the servants in trusting positions may be freely appointed, in the cases determined by law).
This decision by the CNJ was acclaimed by Brazilian population. It was not uncommon to see a Judge employing his wife, sons, daughters, in-laws and parents to occupy positions in his staff, under the argument that "he should trust that person". The salaries of such positions are usually high, and because the boss is a close relative, the jobs are far from being physically or mentally demanding.
Many (most) Judges disputed the NCJ decision. Of course, nobody said they wanted to increase the familiar income, but that the decision was an interference in the free functioning of the Judiciary Power. Many Courts refused to comply with NCJ, alleging they were waiting for a final decision from the Supreme Court. On Feb. 16th, the Supreme Court sentenced that the NCJ decision must be obeyed; ten Justices voted, nine in favor of the NCJ, one (Marco Aurélio) against.


Rolling Stones and U2 in Brazil

The Rolling Stones will be playing in Copacabana on February 18th; this is the third time the band will perform in Brazil (they had been here in 1995 and 1998).
The good thing is that this time the show will be for free for the audience; the city of Rio de Janeiro paid (so say the rumors) US$ 500,000 for the show.
There will be only one performance, starting around 10 pm (Rio de Janeiro time), right on the beach of Copacabana; organization expects 1.5 million attendants. Globo, the largest Brazilian media group, will broadcast the show live on TV (and probably on the internet).
From BBC: The Stones' Love Affair with Brazil; BBC says that Mick Jagger had a son with Brazilian model Luciana Gimenez; thanks to this affair with Jagger, Luciana became somewhat famous and is now hostess of a not much popular TV show; visit her website.

Another big band playing in Brazil is the U2, which will perform two shows in the Morumbi stadium, in São Paulo, on the 20th and 21st of February; actually, only one show was scheduled, but because of the high demand another day was arrange.
It was difficult to organize the selling of the about 75,000 tickets for each show (read BBC); this blog informs that people were lining up in front of the gates since Friday, the 17th, to secure a good place to watch the show; also, the blog says that tickets were being sold in the black market for R$ 500 (about US$240), which is more than the monthly Brazilian minimum wage (currently at R$300).
TV Globo will also broadcast the show live (possibly in the internet as well).

Monday, February 13, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Rolling Stones in Brazil
Istp É: "Rolling Stones".
The Rolling Stones will play in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 18th. The magazine recalls the History of the band, which played in Brazil in 1995 and 1998.

Epoca 404: "Who said that Lula was dead?"
A survey shows that President Lula is recovering his popularity ratings; Lula started 2005 as favorite to the 2006 elections; along the year, with the succession of corruption cases, Lula lost much of his popularity.
According to the survey, published by Epoca, if Lula and José Serra (the runner up in the 2002 elections) were candidates, there would be tied (there is a slight advantage to Serra, but within the margin error).

Veja: "The Truth about Diet and Health".
Veja lists which kinds of food are healthy for each kind of people.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Weekly Magazines

FHC : PT is dishonestIsto É #1894: "FHC: The Ethos of PT is Stealing".
Isto É published an interview with ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
FHC criticized the government of Lula and his Party, the PT. According to FHC, Lula wants to compare results in economic and social fields, in an attempt to hide the many denounces of corruption and dishonesty.
To FHC (and many other people, btw), Lula seems not to care whether or not his Ministors and advisors are caught in corruption acts; in the past (while not in government), PT used to say that they were the only honest Party in Brazil; today, they say that "there are no evidences" (in their eyes) of corruption.
The interview, as expected, caused turmoil among the government leaders, but no judicial action was taken.

Veja #1942: "Clash of Civilizations"
The magazine discusses the causes and effects of the current state of war between the Western world and the Muslim world.

Epoca: "Depression"
An article about depression. Epoca discusses pros and cons of different treaments, like prozac and meditation.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Veja: "Free, at last"
This year, Brazil will become self sufficient in the production of petroleum. After Petrobras lost the constitutional monopoly in 1998, its productivity increased. Today, Brazil consumes about 1.8 million barrels a day.
The article also mentions the success of the Brazilian program of alcohol (ethanol) fuel. Brazilian car makers developed an engine which works with either gasoline or alcohol; last year, 80% of Brazilian cars rolled out with this kind of engine, called Flex.
The Brazilian Alcohol program is so successful that, this week alone, it received mentions by George Bush and Bill Gates, and caused Page and Brin, Google founders, to visit an alcohol mill in Brazil.

Bruna surfistinha
Epoca: "Bruna and her tribe"
A call girl called Bruna Surfistinha (Bruna, the little surfer) created a blog where she published details of datings with clients (no personal details are revealed).
The blog became successful, and Bruna published a book with the story of her life (the book also became a best-seller).
Now, thanks to Epoca, everyone knows that Bruna was a middle class girl, raised by an adoptive family, who fought her step father over the use of drugs and left home.
Visit Bruna The Surfer blog.

(see Bruna blog).

Epoca's article also shows that this is a growing trend in Brazil. While in the past only poor girls resorted to prostitution, nowadays many middle class girls become escort girls so as to get money to pay for their small luxuries.

Isto E: "Surgeries without suffering"
Article about how the progress of science is diminishing the suffering of patients who go through surgeries.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Isto É: "The Electoral Race is On".

The magazine writes about the most important candidates to President in 2006. The cover shows photos of Lula (President of Republic), José Serra (mayor of São Paulo), Geraldo Alckmin (governor of São Paulo), Anthony Garotinho (ex-governor and husband of current governor of Rio de Janeiro), Heloisa Helena (Senator), Germano Rigotto (governor of Rio Grande do Sul) and Nelson Jobim (Justice of the Supreme Court).

Época 401: "Wikipedia: the biggest encyclopedia in the world, for free".
A report about wikipedia.

Veja 1940: "Virtual Cheating"
Article about how Brazilian men and women are using the internet to cheat their partners. Many times, the affair is only virtual (physical contact never happens); Veja analyses the impact of these affairs on the lives of the couples involved.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Central Bank cuts interest rate

Central Bank of Brazil cut basic interest rate in 75 basis points.
The Selic now is 17.25%

Monday, January 16, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Veja 1939: "Duda did, Duda does".
Duda Mendonça crimes
A report about Duda Mendonça, the publicist who coordinated, among others, the campaign of President Lula to Presidency in 2003.
Last year, Duda admitted that he received money from the Worker's Party (over $ 10 million) in an offshore account without due declaration, which is a crime, both on his side and the Party side.
Now, Veja reveals that Duda may have a much more important role in a possible scheme of corruption involving PT and the government. Veja says that Duda's agencies received much more money than their marketing work (Duda gained big contracts with Petrobras, Health Minister and others) would justify; the extra money would be product of corruption within government. Veja says that part of this money returned to the Worker's Party, without proper declaration; this money could have been used, for example, by Delúbio Soares and Marcos Valério to corrupt legislators.
Veja also investigated the personal finances of Duda Mendonça, and concluded that his assets grew at a noticeable quick rate after President Lula became President.

Isto É: "Itaipu: US$ 2 billion not accounted".
Itaipu is the biggest hydroelectric plant in Brazil, and one of the biggest in the world. It is a joint venture between the governments of Brazil and Paraguay. Because it is bi-national, its accounting and controlling are conducted in a different way from other Brazilian state owned companies; for example, TCU, the Brazilian counterpart of the General Accounting Office, doesn't have full access to Itaipu accounts.
Isto É interviewed an ex-Finances Manager of Itaipu. He declared that, since 1991, there has been a parallel book account, not declared to any authority, with registers of about US$ 2 billion in 2005. This State owned money is not controlled by anynone but a few Directors; no tax is paid on transactions with this money.

Época 400: "Inside Opus Dei".
An article about the secrets of Opus Dei in Brazil, defined by Epoca as "the most powerful and influential organization within Catholic Church"; this is the Brazilian version of Opus Dei.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Lothar Matthaus to coach Brazilian team

It has been confirmed that German retired player Lothar Matthaus will be the coach of Atlético Paranaense, a team in the State of Paraná, Brazilian champion in 2001 and vice-champion in 2004. Atlético has one of the best management in Brazilian football, and the stadium, Arena da Baixada, is the most modern in Brazil.
The news came as surprise. Other foreigner coaches have worked in Brazil, but most came from South American countries. It is the first time that a famous European sportsman comes to work in Brazil.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Brazilian General commits suicide in Haiti

General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar was found dead, shot by a gun, on Saturday January 7th 2006 in Haiti.
Gal. Bacellar was the commander of the Brazilian Peace Forces in Haiti.
Forensic doctors confirmed that the General committed suicide. He put the gun in his mouth and shot.
Other officials say that the General was showing symptoms of depression; not many details were revealed. The Brazilian Army, as expected, says that all officers and soldiers are ready to fulfill their duties.

The Brazilian Army attended a UN request to send a Peace Force to Haiti. Many criticized the decision, arguing that the Brazilian government should have the internal problems at a higher priority. Others say that this was a manoeuver by the Brazilian Diplomacy to pave the way for Brazil to gain a seat in the Security Council at the UN.

Fact is that the complaints by the soldiers have been growing much lately. Off record, officers say that the Brazilian government is not sending enough financial or human support. The situation in Haiti is not getting any better, because the country doesn't even have an official government (elections are due in February). The problem in Haiti is not of military nature, like in Iraq, and thus can not be solved by Armies; the problem in Haiti is of social nature, and requires other kind of intervention to be solved.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Weekly Magazines

Juscelino KubitschekEpoca 398: "JK: Dream and Illusion"
This year, it will be 50 years after President Juscelino Kubitschek took office as President of Brazil, and 30 years after his death.
JK, as he is known, was one of the most popular Brazilian Presidents ever. During his government, Brazil experienced a quick growth (JK's motto was "to grow 50 years in 5"). JK was important for the industrialization of the country (he invited important car makers to establish in Brazil), and was the main responsible for the construction of Brasilia.

Now, the media is taking a look at the other side of JK. A series in popular Brazilian TV Globo will be focused on his personal life (he was married, but popular with women). Economists say that Brazil paid and is still paying for JK's dreams; Brasilia, for example, was paid with funds from Security Savings, and that is the root of the deficits Brazilian have to cover today.

Juscelino is also on the cover of Isto É, with the headline: "JK: why the myth survives".

Veja 1398: "Good for the Brain". The magazine investigates the influence of modern appliances, such as videogames, computers, etc, on the mental development of children.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Weekly Magazines

SmileEpoca 398: "Smile"
The magazine publishes an article about how Smiling can help you have a better life along the new year of 2006.

Veja and Isto É do not publish issues at the first week of the year.

Monday, December 26, 2005


Weekly Magazines

Science and GodIsto É: "Science meets God". How scientists and teologists are joining efforts in an attempt to explain religious mysteries under the light of science.

Veja 1937: "Retrospective 2005". Summary of the most important events of 2005. Besides the title, the cover brings the phrase: "The year when the star broke apart"; star, here, is a reference to the symbol of the Worker's Party, a red star.

Época 397: "The Nano Revolution". How the nano technology will impact our lives in the near future.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Federal Universities to finish the strike

The Union of professors of the Brazilian Federal Universities announced today (Dec. 20th) that they would stop a strike which has been going on for 112 days; at the peak of the strike, professors in 39 out of the 61 Federal Universities joined the movement. This was the longest strike ever (in 2001, another strike lasted 108 days).
To recover the lost time, students will have to attend classes during the weekends and holidays.

Union leaders declared that they were not happy with the government proposal of an increase of 9.75% in salaries.
Professors wanted asked for an increase of 18% in salaries, and an increase of 30% in retirement benefits (today, retired professors have a decrease of 30% in benefits, compared to salaries).
According to the Union, the payment of professors today consists of 25% base salary and 75% productivity bonus. The base salary ranges from R$ 700 to R$ 1,089, for adjoining professors with exclusive dedication (40 hours/week).
Read this article in Portuguese about strikes in Universities.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Weekly Magazines

Ana Carolina is bi sexualVeja 1936: "I am Bi. So what?"
Young, beautiful, successful singer Ana Carolina declared her bi-sexuality. She sold 800,000 CDs in 2005, becoming one of the most successful artists in Brazil.
She said she was declaring her sexual option NOT as a means to cause controversies or to defend whoever's rights. She just thinks that there is no problem with the options she makes or with revealing them.

Isto É: "Jammed Up".
Until last year, President Lula was the absolute favorite to winning the elections in 2006.
A few months ago, surveys indicated that Lula would go to the second round of elections, but would lose to José Serra.
This week, for the first time, surveys show that Serra would beat Lula in the first round and the second round. Moreover, other candidates gained strenght, such as Geraldo Alckmin (governor of São Paulo) and Anthony Garotinho (ex-governor, and husband of the current governor of Rio de Janeiro).

Época: "Jesus. The beginning".
Article on how the words of Jesus gained the world.


São Paulo FC is World Champion

Sao Paulo champion in Tokyo

Dec. 18th. 2005 São Paulo FC won Liverpool by 1 x 0 in Tokyo and became the champion of the World Clubs Championship (aka Toyota Cup).
This is the third time that São Paulo wins that title, repeating the achievement of 1992 (beating Barcelona) and 1993 (beating Milan).

The teams:São Paulo: Rogério Ceni, Fabão, Edcarlos and Lugano; Cicinho, Mineiro, Josué, Danilo and Júnior; Amoroso and Aloisio (Grafite).
Liverpool: Reina, Warnock, Carragher, Hyypia and Finnan (Riise); Alonso, Sissoko (Sinama), Gerrard and Luis García; Kewell and Morientes (Crouch).

Liverpool played better most of the match. São Paulo scored the goal early in the first half. Goalkeeper Rogério Ceni, from São Paulo, was the best player of the match.
São Paulo, like all other Brazilian teams, doesn't have great stars (all the best Brazilian players are in Europe). Rogério Ceni and Cicinho sill probably be in the World Cup 2006, but as substitutes. Besides them, only Júnior and Amoroso have played with the Brazilian National team in the past.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Federal Deputy involved in corruption is found not guilty

Wednesday, December 14th 2001, the Federal Chamber voted the impeachment of Federal Deputy Romeu Queiroz (affiliated to PTB in Minas Gerais). Only 250 Deputies voted for the impeachment (out of a total of 513 Deputies). For the impeachment to be approved, 257 votes were necessary.

Romeu Queiroz confessed that he received about R$ 450,000 (about US$ 200,000) from Marcos Valério, the man who carried bags full of cash and involved the entire Lula government in a corruption scandal. He did not declare that money, either to the Electoral Justice or to the Brazilian Tax Agency; both these omissions are tipified as crimes by the Brazilian legislation.

In his defense, he said that he passed all the money on to other affiliates of his Party (he did not give any names).
The Government used his influence to help Romeu. Minister Jacques Wagner, of Institutional Relations, and Minister Walfrido Guia, who is affiliated to the same Party of Romeu, spent the day talking to Representatives and trying to persuade them to vote in favour of Romeu.

The result caused indignation among Brazilian citizens.
Read report by O Globo about the case.


Central Bank cuts interest rate

Dec. 14th. The Brazilian Central Bank cut interest rates in 50 basis points.
Now, the SELIC (inter banks) rate is at 18%. Inflation forecasts are at around 5%.
That means that the real interest rate in Brazil is still at 13%, by far the biggest in the world.
As a consequence, there is still a large influx of hot money into the country, and the Brazilian currency, real, is still overvalued (currently, US$ 1 = R$ 2.25).

The graph below shows the interest rates in the recent past:
interest rates


Censorship in Brazilian internet

A Federal Judge prohibited several important websites (including Google and the official site of the Brazilian government) from publishing information about a controversial case.

Read more about this attempt of censorship in the Brazilian internet.

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