Archive for December, 2010

Nothing that is happening, has happened, or will happen in the immediate future in Brazil gives Brazil observers the warm fuzzies.

Brazil’s president-elect, Dilma Rousseff, named as her chief of staff a former aide to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who was forced to resign as finance minister in 2006 amid a corruption scandal.

Talk about a revolving door!

Congressman Antonio Palocci will head Rousseff’s team when she takes power Jan. 1. Chief of staff is seen as the most powerful Cabinet post.

It is the kind of thing that makes you wonder whether or not Latin America is serious about tackling its endemic corruption. Do they not know what signal they send to the rest of the world by selecting a man already disgraced and tainted by corruption to the most powerful Cabinet position? Business as usual is not good enough.

Source: News Wires



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Elite police units in borrowed navy tanks rumbled through a heavily fortified slum last week in an effort to apprehend drug gang leaders they blame for five days of widespread violence even as scores of armed youths fled the shantytown for a neighboring area.

Sound like Pakistan, Iraq, no, it’s Rio, home of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The slum, Germantown – or Complexo do Alemão – is a sprawling hilltop ghetto very close to Rio’s International Airport.  If it were in the United States, the hills would be dotted with WalMarts, McDonalds, Starbucks, and movie theaters.  In Rio, it’s lined with ramshackle home upon ramshackle home.  If you drive into Rio from the Airport, your route necessarily passes between the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and Germantown on the other.  The sheer size of the slum is mind-blowing, along with the remnants of its former beauty, as one of Rio’s original hilltop neighborhoods.

Brazilian authorities say the gangs had erected roadblocks on major highways to rob motorists en masse, torched more than 40 cars and buses, and shot up police outposts- all to protest against a security program that has been pushing them from slums where they’ve held sway for decades.

The officers arrived under the cover of police helicopters and amid the constant rattle of high-caliber gunfire despite the gang members’ efforts to block access with burning vehicles.

Read Juliana Barbassas’ The Miami Herald article here:



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Latin American small and midsize companies feel that the region’s economy has improved in the past year and see 2011, according to a survey done by TNS Gallup for United Parcel Service.

UPS Business Monitor Latin America IV is the result of more than 800 interviews of small and midsize companies in seven Latin American countries during September and October.

Half of those interviewed offered a positive view and said their situation is better now than last year.

Read Mar Cabra’s The Miami Herald article here:



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The shooting of a gay youth by men in military uniforms after a mammoth gay pride parade is raising alarm about continuing homophobic violence in a city widely seen as a global oasis of tolerance.

The shooting created particular attention because it came at a moment when Brazil’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community was holding its biggest celebration in a city voted the “Sexiest Place on Earth” by the travel site TripOut Gay Travel in 2010.

Yet despite Rio’s reputation as a gay-friendly and sexually uninhibited place, there have been 600 complaints of anti-gay violence in the last year just in Rio state, according to the government-run program Rio Sem Homofobia, established in 2009 to help fight discrimination.

Read Juliana Barbassa’s Miami Herald article here:



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Not very long ago, South Korea’s per capita income was a fraction of Brazil’s.  Today it is nearly three times as high. The Koreans changed their economy through strategic and heavy investments in education, science, technology and innovation.  It was not merely a matter of government spending, it was calculated investment coupled with incredibly high standards.

The economies of Latin America can learn from Korea’s model.

Read Andres Oppenheimer’s Miami Herald “The Oppenheimer Report”  here:



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Seems like a no-brainer to me, but the Brain Trust at Limited Brands, parent company of Victoria’s Secret, is surprised by their success in their tiny store in the Sao Paolo airport.

Read Tim Feran’s article here:



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Dilma Rousseff, the hand-picked successor of President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva, is holding onto her lead with just about a week to go before Brazil’s decisive presidential runoff, according to a string of Brazilian polls.


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