Brazil’s Reaction to Death of Hugo Chavez

Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, announced that Brazilian flags will be flying at half mast for three days to mourn the passing of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Chavez had a goal to unite Latin America and empower Latin America, and in those efforts maintained a good relationship with Brazil.

The president’s statement was as follows:

“His death is a sad day for all Latin and Central Americans. Chávez was, with out a doubt, a leader committed to his country and to the development of the people of Latin America. On many occasions, the Brazilian government did not agree with Chávez, but today, as always, we recognize him as a great leader, an irreparable loss, and above all, a friend of Brazil and of the Brazilian people.”

President of the Federation of Industries in Sao Paulo, Rubens Barbosa, made a statement to Globe TV on the matter stating that “the relationship between Brazil and Venezuela should continue as before.” While adding that “Commercial relations between the two countries will likely not alter.” and that the change “will translate to be more rationality when it comes to commercial economic discourse.”

Brazilian analysts are assured that for the time being, Brazil’s  friendly relationship with Venezuela will continue. A historian at the Federal University of Rio de Jainero, Rafaek Araujo, stated that with the new successor, Nicolas Maduro, the good relationship between the two countries will remain intact, but without the “radical discourse” of Chavez.


Preparations Being Made in Rio for Dengue Fever Season

Data that has been recently released shows that dengue fever cases have tripled throughout Brazil, however in Rio a ten percent decrease has been shown between the time period of January 1st through February 16th. Dengue fever is a tropical disease spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that typically lasts about 5-6 days.

During the same time last year, Rio had 16,398 suspected cases and one death, however during this same time period in 2013 14,838 cases were reported and no deaths. Four strains of the virus currently exist – ENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4, with all strains producing the same symptoms of high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and joint and muscle aches.

A Rio resident, Leonardo Lima, told the Rio Times recently “It’s awful. I felt kind of weird, dizzy. It was as if I was not in my body. I was having chills, my fever went up to 41. I had pain in the knees, ankles and kidney. […] That was a Friday night, the worst night. By Wednesday I was 95 percent cured.” Lima took a blood test and was confirmed to have dengue fever. His father is a doctor who practices at a private clinic and states that a “blood test should be taken exactly five days after the first symptoms” and that “people should look for a doctor as soon as they think that they might have dengue.” (Rio Times)

A training program to assist doctors and nurses in combating dengue fever was instituted in 2011. It helps them learn the proper protocols and diagnosing and treatment. The training began in January 2013 and had a goal of having more than 700 new health care professionals trained by March. Roughly 7,000 have participated so far. Unfortunately, health care professionals can only treat patients after it has been contracted as there is no current vaccine available to combat the virus. Therefore, taking preventative measures is the best way to combat its spread.

In order to assist with this prevention, the State Department of Health created a campaign called Dez Minutos Contra a Dengue, which translates to Ten Minutes Against Dengue. It offers a guideline for ten minute actions that can be taken each week to help prevent the spread of the disease. Such actions include: covering pools and water tanks, monitoring areas for standing water where the mosquitoes prefer to breed, and overturning buckets and containers that may have standing water outside. Insect repellent and staying indoors when possible is also recommended.




2013 Confederation Cup Stadiums in Brazil

The 2013 Confederations Cup is to be held in 4 months in Brazil, for which Brazil is now entering the final stages of completion of the six stadiums it built for the competition. After completion, all stadiums will have to pass safety tests before hosting FIFA matches.

Two of the stadiums have already reached completion, and have already hosted matches. The Mineirao stadium in Belo Borizonte and the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza both hosted matches at the beginning of the year. The Mineirao stadium will also host a match in Aprial between the Brazilian Nationals and Chile.

The Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia will be hosting the opening ceremonies for the Confederations match in June, despite the city not being well known for its place in soccer.

The Arena Pernambuco stadium in Recife experienced some delays near the end of October last year, however they are set to be completed on Schedule. The roof installation began earlier this month. Hopes are high for the stadium to be completed within the next month so it can host 3 matches during the Confederations Cup.

Unfortunately, the Maracana stadium in Rio is causing a bit of concern as of late as it has had some strike issues and delays. They are currently struggling to get it completed before the date of June 2nd so the Brazilian nationals can play the first official match against England. December of 2012 and February of 2013 were the original completion dates set, however they were missed. The current completion goal date is May 28th.

The Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador had a grueling two month delay, however it is scheduled to be completed today, February 28th. The finishing touches were being put on the museum just last week. The third-placed match will take place at the Fonte Nova stadium. Brazil’s second group game against Italy will also be hosted here.


Record Coffee Harvest for Brazil

Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer, and this harvest season they are seeing a record production amount.

For the 2013-2014 season, Brazil will yield an export amount of 55.2 million 60 kilo bags. This is down from their 56.8 million bag amount from the 2012-2013 season, however this is currently an off cycle year, so the numbers are very impressive. Brazil has traditionally had a cycle where they produce a large crop on year, then a smaller one the next. This year was scheduled to be a smaller crop year.

Volcafe reports “The normal on/off-cycle fluctuation in the last 10 years has been between 20 percent and 40 percent. This year the off-cycle represents just a 3 percent drop.”

This is coming at a good time as production is predicted to drop in the 2013-2014 crops from many other Latin American countries due to the ‘leaf rust’ problem destroying many crops currently. Brazil’s larger crop will result in the highest carryover stockpiles in over a decade, which some might say it’s right on time.

Volcafe says of the rust issue in Central America “We had been positive on the production trends in Central America, and in Honduras in particular. The latest field surveys tell us, however, that rust has got a strong foothold across swathes of coffee areas, due to a lack of treatment, ultimately because of economics.” They believe that the coffee industry will be upheld by the world’s 3 largest coffee producers while Central America recovers, stating “These three biggest producers, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia, are providing more than enough coffee for the world, even with lower production in Latin America.”

Coffee supply is expected to be 5.4 million bags bigger than the worldwide demand in 2012-2013 due to the excess of supply from Brazil. However in 2013-2014 the market may see a shortage of roughly 600,000 bags of coffee.



Overseas Workers are Sought to Come Back to Brazil

Brazil has been making recent efforts to recruit skilled workers to their country, however they also support keeping Brazilian citizens in good well paying jobs. A program has also been initiated to bring Brazilian nationals who are currently working abroad back to Brazil.

The reason for this program is it has been seen that many skilled Brazilian workers who are employed in other countries are becoming unemployed or under-employed as a result of the global economic crisis and immigration issues. Brazil has reached out to these individuals, however a good portion of them are calling out for better wages, social services, and tax rates before returning to the country. The current estimation is that about 3 million Brazilian nationals currently work abroad, however this figure is also estimated to be higher as many of them have outstayed their Visa lengths or are unregistered in the countries they immigrated to.

A cross-ministry commission was created to address this issue and make new proposals this month. President of the National Immigration Council, Paulo Sergio de Almeida, states that Brazilian businesses will see significant benefits from contracting Brazilian citizens. He states “When visiting Brazilians living abroad, we often hear that, after years of work and now with grown children, many are unemployed. These are highly-skilled people. Brazil can now offer a place for these people to return to work.”

The prime candidates the country is seeking are graduates and highly skilled workers that are in industries that are currently in high demand in Brazil, such as oil, gas, infrastructure, logistics, and technology. They seek to repatriate these candidates.

Brazil was originally focusing its efforts on bringing qualified candidates in from Span and Portugal, however issuing work Visas to non-citizens hit some snags and was put on the back burner. They have since refocused their attention on bringing back ready-to-work Brazilians. This is all part of the plan to make Brazil an easier investment country in the eyes of overseas investors.

Many Brazilians overseas are liking the sound of this program, and are willing to re-locate back to Brazil if the program is carried out in their favor.

Rio Hotel Rates to be Controlled by Brazilian Government

Brazil has numerous major sporting events coming up, including the FIFA Confederations Cup, the FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. In light of this, the Brazilian government has promised to monitor hotel rates to ensure they don’t take advantage of the events and raise rated to levels to high for tourists.

Gaston Vieira, Minister for Tourism, says “Starting now, we are going to control the daily [hotel] prices together – both the government and Embratur [the Brazilian Tourist Board] and owners and industry members.”

The government has already held conferences with hotel owners and industry reps. They hope these talks will reduce any punitive measures or interventions that may have to be taken in order to keep prices down. Vierra has also said that they have also been trying to contend with airline prices and trying to get more seats offered. He says tourism in the country remains too expensive, and he hopes these steps will help develop legislation to increase tourism within the country.

There is also a consulting firm, called Mise En Place, that was launched in Rio recently in order to help the hotel industry prepare for hosting such large events as the ones coming up. They are assisting in developing new properties and helping to improve current properties, operations, and service standards.

Recently, the Rio+20 Summit, that was attended by top officials and diplomats, was seen as a trial run to see how the city can handle such large events. It assisted the government in pinpointing the areas in the hospitality industry that still need improvement. They intend to further improve with the upcoming Confederations Cup before eventually hosting the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, as they intend for these events to run as smoothly as possible.

Champions Parade in Rio After 2013 Carnival Close

G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel are the 2013 Carnival Champions, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Another year of Carnival came to a close last Saturday (February 16th), it was closed by the winner’s parade. There was a huge crowd turnout to see the G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel make their victory parade.

The night was opened with Grande Rio giving a performance examining the oil industry in Rio, and hinting at the desire for the city to retain its resources (which has been a controversy as of recently). Then came the Salguiero school, that hails from Tijuca, and was led by Viviane Araujo as they performed their “Fame” theme, which also featured dancers dressed as stars such as Marilyn Monroe. They also made a tribute to the victims of the recent night club fire disaster. Following them was the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school, whose theme gave them fourth place. Then came the champion from last year, Unidos da Tijuca, as they performed their theme based on the mythical god Thor. Next was Beija-Flor, 2013 runner up, whose theme celebrated horses throughout history. Lastly was the 2013 champion, Vila Isabel, who gave an energetic display of their theme that celebrated Brazil’s agriculture.

Cable Car Controversy

The teleférico in Providência Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

There’s a new cable car system, called Teleférico, that is being planned and built for Rio’s Morro da Providencia favela community. It’s currently set to begin operation in May, and will be the second of its kind in Rio. However, Rio citizens have mixed emotions on its arrival, especially with some residents being evicted to make way for the cable car.

Three stations will make up the cable car system, all linking to Rio’s central train station. It will feature 16 gondolas and have the ability to transport 1,000 people per hour while shuttling along a 721 meter long line. This number may even increase if the demand is shown to be there.

The development is costing R$75 million and is part of a larger R$163 million infrastructure package that is being implemented in the area. The other cable car, similar to this one, was opened in the Complexo do Alemao favela community in Rio in 2011.

Providencia is Rio’s oldest favela community, at 115 years old. It was originally started by veteran’s of Brazil’s Canudos war. The community, previously a drug and crime haven, was ‘pacified’ under the government program in 2010 aimed at restoring law and order to drug communities.

Some residents are positive about the coming of the cable car, stating it will help them negotiate the steep staircases in the favela better. The local residents are even getting 2 free tickets per day for use. The pricing for visitor transportation is not yet set, but expected to be around R$1.

There’s another side to the residents of the favela, however. About 670 families face eviction over the construction in order to make way for two concrete towers to hold the wires for the cable car. The government will supply new homes for evicted residents, but they are reportedly frequently inadequate or too far away. Only a third of the families whose homes are marked for demolition have moved so far because of these concerns. They also believe the cable care line is mostly being built to serve tourists, especially right before the 2016 Olympics are set to be hosted in Rio, and is not a favela resident necessity.

Experts believe Rio is about to see a string of court cases in the months to come as residents are increasingly unhappy, and even accusing the government of not giving them prior warning or enough notice before this construction project began.


Monobloco Closes 2013 Carnival

Carnival officially ends on Fat Tuesday, which was last Tuesday, February 12th. However, 48 blocos continued to parade down the streets of Rio over the weekend. There was even an appearance from ‘Blue Man Group’. The group Monobloco closed out the ceremonies with it’s performance that drew 500,000.

Monobloco is well known for performing songs from other genres and performing traditional marches. The procession this year included four main songs: A Deusa dos Orixás“ (The Goddess of the Orixás, about Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea in the Candomblé relegion), “Timoneiro” (Helmsman), “Das maravilhas do mar” (The wonders of the sea”) and “Marcha do remador” (Song of the rower).

This large percussion type band was created in 2000, and always draws a large Brazilian following. Pedro Luis, along with members of his band “Pedro Luís e a Parede” created Monobloco. They are given credit for starting the now yearly trend of “bloco de rua”, which continues to grow each year and features small and big bands performing in Rio’s streets during Carnival.

“It is a great pride and responsibility for us to have enabled lay people to become musicians and often founding their own blocks” Pedro Luis says.

Some other performers included: Quizomba andFanfari.

Carnival 2013 Winner Announced

Unidos de Vila Isabel Carnival 2013, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

On Wednesday afternoon, February 13th, G.R.E.S. Unidos de Vila Isabel was announced winner of this year’s Carnival in Rio. This marks the third championship for the samba school and the closing of Carnival.

Crowds and judges alike were amazed by Vila Isabel’s theme presentation: A Vila canta o Brasil, celeiro do mundo – Água no feijão que chegou mais um” (The Vila sings Brazil, world’s breadbasket – Add more water to the beans, one more has arrived). They were lead by Carnival designer, Rosa Magalhaes, who ensured the parade was maxed out with bright costumes and beautiful and elaborate floats. The theme song the school played during their parade was also highly praised, and could be heard being sung by people in the crowd throughout the rest of Carnival. It was composed by Brazilian composer, Arlindo Cruz.

The schools that were closely behind Vila Isabel were Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, and Empress Leopoldinense. But, once the scores were tallied on live television, Vila Isabel was the clear winner.

Vila Isabel will parade again amongst the other top five schools – Beija-Flor, Unidos da Tijuca, Imperatriz,Salgueiro and Grande Rio – on Saturday, February 16th at the Sambadromo.

You can watch a clip of Vila Isabel’s performance here: