When it comes to save the environment, Brazilians are doing their best to make their country an example of good practices. Eighty-five percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources, and it’s a top producer of environmentally sensitive products like vegetable-dyed leather and Amazonian cocoa butter. Despite the 2009 financial downturn, Brazil had the second fastest clean energy investment growth rate among G-20 members. Recently, at the inauguration of the Usina Termelétrica Juiz de Fora – the world’s first ethanol-run thermal electric plant-, a Brazilian minister said: “We are paving the way for an increase in our ethanol exports, which are currently at 4.5% of Brazil’s total output, and towards becoming the world’s leading renewable energy producer.” Regarding the destruction of the Amazon Forest, there are still many problems, but the current and the former (Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the President) governments have taken many iniciatives to reduce the deforestation. Now, as says a New York Times´s article, “tourism is also going green, with a wide array of new conservation initiatives and eco-lodges proliferating across the country”.

São Paulo – A series of events will set the Day of the Arab Community in São Paulo, celebrated on the 25th of March. Amongst them there will have handicrafts workshops on the 25 de Março, traditional street in downtown São Paulo where many Arabs opened their business shops. The Day of the Arab Community in São Paulo, which is celebrated also as the Day of the Arab Immigrant, was instituted as a State Law in 2004. However, before the law, the day was already celebrated by immigrants and Arab descendants in São Paulo. They gave a very important contribution to the Brazilian culture – arab food, especially, is very appreciated in the country, where there influence can be seen everywhere, including in the language.

 

It all began more than 80 years ago. In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, needed rubber to make tires, hoses and other parts for his cars.  then the car magnate decided to grow his own. Fordland  was the prefabricated town at the heart of a rubber plantation deep in Brazil‘s Amazonian hinterland – an area of some 2.5 million acres, on the banks of the Tapajós River, a tributary of the Amazon about 600 miles from the Atlantic. It took Ford’s agents approximately 18 hours to reach the place by riverboat from the nearest town. “what the ­Americans and their Brazilian ­collaborators couldn’t do was overcome South American Leaf Blight, which started attacking the trees as soon as they ­matured. An infestation of very hungry caterpillars only added to the challenge. During its best years, Fordlandia’s three million rubber trees ­produced 750 tons of latex; but every year the Ford Motor Co. ­consumed more than 50 ­million tons”, says ” The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City”, by   Greg Grandin,   one of the many books on Henry Ford´s failed experience in the Brazilian Amazon Forest .

Following months of intense pressure, the governor of  Sao Paulo, José Serra, finally said in an television interview that he will formally announce his presidential  candidacy at the beginning of April. He belongs to the same party as the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the oposition PSDB, Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy.  The 68 years old politician, ex- Health Secretary, will have as main rival Dilma Rousseff, current Chief of Staff of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who hand picked her especially to be the Workers Party candidate. The Brazilian presidential elections will be held next October.


South America’s largest country, Brazil is an amalgam of peoples, cultures, and flavors.  Brazilians are mostly descendants of colonial and post-colonial Portuguese settlers and immigrants, African slaves and Brazil’s indigenous peoples, along with several other groups of immigrants who arrived in Brazil mostly from the 1820s until the 1970s. Most of the immigrants were Italians and Portuguese, but also significant numbers of Germans, Spaniards, Japanese, and Lebanese and Syrians.


Unknown to many outside Brazil, the cultural significance of cachaça, a distilled liquor, ranks among soccer, carnival, and samba. Although non-Brazilian’s compare cachaça to rum, their only similarity is that they both originate from sugarcane. Cachaça first gained popularity among slaves and peasants during Brazil’s colonial period but the spirit has recently become a favorite domestically and internationally regardless of the drinker’s class. Also, Brazilian cachaça exports to Europe and the United States have been aided by the trendy drink caipirinha. The cocktail’s global success has inspired other Caribbean and South American states to produce their own cachaça-like alcohols. Consequently, the Brazilian government has initiated protectionist measures at home and abroad to preserve cachaça’s foreign markets. These developments bring together cachaça’s trade, cultural, and environmental aspects.

Eike Batista jumped 53 spots in Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s richest people and had its biggest increase in net worth as the value of his oil, mining, energy and transportation companies soared.  Batista, 53, is the world’s eighth-richest person, with a net worth of $27 billion, Forbes said. That’s an increase of $19.5 billion from last year, when Forbes ranked him the 61st richest individual. Mexico’s Carlos Slim beat out Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for the top spot on the list, becoming the first person from outside the U.S. to lead it in 16 years.

Brazil is in 142nd place on female representation around the world, according with study by Inter-Parliamentary Union. It shouldn´t be so, because female voters outnumbers by far male voters. In the 2008 elections, there were 5 million more female voters than male – a difference of around 4% of the voting population. The October general elections in Brazil are expected to have the biggest participation of women in the country’s history. On the federal level, Brazil has only ten female senators (out of 81), 45 female deputies (representatives) (out of 513), two female justices on the Supreme Court (out of 11) and, during his almost eight years in office, president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has had six different women in his cabinet at different times (two at the moment). This year, two major candidates for the presidency will be women: the internationally acclaimed former Environment Minister, Marina Silva, for the Green Party; and president´s Luis Inácio Lula da Silva hand picked candidate for the Workers Party´s, current Lula´s Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff.

Click here to watch an interview with Marina Silva:


The state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil just unveiled a glittering new government complex by legendary architect Oscar Niemeyer, still working at the age of 102. His latest creation covers an expanse of 804,000 square meters, including a 265,000 square meter building housing the new seat of government. With the opening of the new complex, Belo Horizonte, the regional capital of Minas Gerais, becomes the city with the greatest number of building by Niemeyer: 14. The headquarters for the Minas Government will house around of 3000 employees that work in the Government, Vice-Government and the Military Office. In addition to the four floors, the building is formed by an underground and piers, performing 21 thousand square meters of built area. In the indoors, it will count with a hall with an area of 1,200 square meters, which will be designed for official solemnities and support services.  Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro, 15 Dec 1907.  An internationally acclaimed doyen of the Modern Movement, the Brazilian architect developed an intensely expressive and often controversial style in his large volume of executed work that was extremely influential in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, in the three decades from 1935. He employed an often exuberant aesthetic formalism, and his lyrical use of reinforced concrete was rivalled only by the later work of the French Le Corbusier.

In a move to attract more foreign visitors to the country, to give a boost to its tourism, Brazil´s Tourist Board – Embratur – has just made a partnership with Google. The aim is to produce a Google/YouTube brand channel, combining videos and Google maps, to provide an interactive online Brazilian tourism experience. Americans are the main target. That´s the first partnership of its kind in the world. The site – www.youtube.com/visitbrasil – currently features nearly a 100 videos from the most amazing places in Brazil. Though the country has an enormous touristic potential, the trend in the number of inbound tourists has been erratic, but unquestionably upwards. Arrivals have risen from 4.7million in 2001 to 7.2million in 2008. The decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the 2016 games to Rio de Janeiro is the latest positive development for the Brazilian tourism industry. Brazil is also going to host the 2014 World Cup. The country´s authorites expect that, by then, the number of tourists will have increased to around 10 million.