Archive for the ‘Cities’ Category

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Brazil, 20 years from now

February 24, 2010

From the Chrystal Ball series:

The Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology released today a study that outlines how the country and the planet will (probably) evolve in the next 20 years. Produced by the Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, the document offers a time line based on several sources. It is meant to help government plan its future strategies.

Part of its content is easily predictable, considering recent tendencies. But there are some surprises.

Among its main forecasts:

Economy

  • In four years, Brazil will go back to its tradition of successive commercial balance deficits
  • Brazilian Gross Domestic Product will be 925 billion dollars in 2015 (which means, less than our present GDP, around 1.6 trillion dollars. It is not very clear how Goldman Sachs, the original source of this information, came up with this number)
  • Brazil, the brand, will increase its value. The demand for products associated to the country’s cultural diversity will grow

Keep reading

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Brazilian Baroque

February 17, 2010

Igreja de São Francisco, Mariana, in Minas Gerais state

When you think of Baroque, you probably remember the curvy, exaggerated, passionate form of art that  blossomed in Europe since the 17th century.  You may think of Caravaggio and Bernini in Italy, or the rococo in France, or Bach and Handel in Germany. Less known but equally important was the Brazilian Baroque, that dominated the art scene in the country between the end of the 17th and the 19th centuries.

Although both literature and music incorporated baroque elements, it is in architecture that Baroque really excelled.

Most baroque churches have sober exteriors that contrast with very ornate interior decoration, including chubby angels, birds, vines and a profusion of color.  Cities that were rich at the time, thanks to diamonds, gold or sugar trade, such as Salvador, in Bahia, or Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, could afford to use gold leaves and noble materials and to hire the best artists of the time. Among them, Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho (The Crippled, a nickname given in less politically correct times), and Manoel da Costa Athaide (or Mestre Athaide). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Life in Brazil costs an arm and a leg

February 7, 2010

A worker that earns the average Brazilian salary would need to work 40 minutes in São Paulo and 51 minutes in Rio to buy a Big Mac. In contrast, an average New Yorker would have to work mere 14 minutes to buy McDonald’s bestselling sandwich. The so-called Big Mac Index is only one of the instruments used by the Swiss bank UBS to illustrate the fluctuations of the purchasing power in several parts of the world.
São Paulo and Rio are, indeed, pricey cities. The disproportion is the same for other products. To buy 1 kilo of rice, for instance, you have to work 12 minutes in São Paulo, 15 in Rio and 8 in New York.
Still according to UBS – that systematically compares the cost of life in 73 cities – São Paulo got the 45th position and Rio the 48th in the last survey. This means they are more expensive than Prague, Bangkok, Beijing or Moscow. Naturally, there are fluctuations depending on the product or service you look at. Even if renting an apartment is expensive in Brazilian metropolis it cannot be compared to the exorbitant NY rentals. This explains why New York appears in the UBS study as the 6th most expensive metropolis.

Thomas Berner, an American economist that works for UBS on this study, says prices have been growing consistently in Rio and São Paulo in the last 10 years. The price of the products and service that the bank uses as a reference became aproximately135% more expensive in reais, the national currency, between 2000 and 2009. Berner was interviewed by G1, a website related to Globo, the main Brazilian news network. G1 chose the Honda Civic to illustrate this. The car costs around 15,000 dollars in the United States and 65,000 reais (35,000 dollars) in Brazil.

Once the average income didn’t grow proportionally, you have to work many more hours to keep buying the same. Consequence: the average paulistano may consume less than half what a New Yorker can purchase.

What is your experience? Do you find you find your purchasing power lower in Brazil?

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Brazil in numbers

February 4, 2010

From  useful to futile, numbers that help explaining the country.

  • 43% of adults that live in state capitals are overweight.
  • Those who have access to the internet spent 2.8 days connected in the month of September.
  • 9% of the kids born in 2008 were not registered.
  • 473 million reais ( 256.6 million dollars or 184.5 million euros) were collected by the government of the city of São Paulo thanks to driving and parking tickets. 99% of the Brazilian cities have budgets lower than that.
  • 57% of the inhabitants of the city of São Paulo would like to move away (Is this related to the previous number? Maybe).
  • Brazil is the 88th country in the education ranking produced by Unesco. Paraguay and Bolivia are in better shape.
  • 1 in 5 Brazilians that have a formal job works for the public service.
  • President Lula spent 87 days abroad in 2009 – a personal record.
  • 9 in 10 Brazilians have a cell phone.
  • 500 million reais (271.3 million dollars or 195 million euros) will be spent to fix up Maracanã stadium, in Rio, for the 2014 World Soccer Cup.
  • The Brazilian delegation to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last December had 743 members. It was three times bigger than the American delegation.
  • 1819 houses and buildings at Brazilian roadsides have been used for child prostitution. It’s one every 27 kilometers.

Source: recent editions of Veja magazine

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São Paulo, 456 candles

January 25, 2010

Favela do Moinho, a downtown shanty town

Happy anniversary, Sampa.

A few pictures to sum up the highs and lows of my hometown. Plus, images produced in 1929 by Rodolfo Lustig and Adalberto Kemeni, when São Paulo, then the coffee capital of the world, was transitioning into a huge industrial and financial hub. It was also the eve of the so-called Revolução de 30, when its  historical alliance with the state of Minas Gerais collapsed, and São Paulo lost a political battle to define who the next president would be. The main outcome of the conflict was the rise of Getúlio Vargas, that commanded the country for most of the following two decades.

Postscript – I did a lot of reflection after receiving Ray’s comment and seeing, at least partially, his point, decided to remove the homeless boy’s pictures from my original post. I appreciate my readers help. This blog is still trying to find its voice and its right tone

At Araçá Cemetery

Teatro Municipal