U.S. could learn from Brazil’s Bolsa Familia

U.S. could learn from Brazil’s Bolsa Familia

Is ending poverty as simple as giving people money?  Brazil’s Bolsa Familia program has risen millions of families above the poverty line.  In the U.S., safety net programs are being examined by analysts and government officials to see how effective they really are.  It is true that programs like income tax credit, extended unemployment insurance, food stamps and other safety net programs kept millions from falling into poverty.  A study by the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers estimates that the boost in safety net spending held the increase in poverty to a minimum even as the US endured extreme economic woes.  In the long term however, a recent study on economic mobility in the U.S. found that the figure has been stuck for a half century – despite the many programs meant to help the less advantaged climb the income ladder.  The politics of poverty remain divisive – clouded historically by racial and demographic dynamics.

Brazil confronted a similar political landscape when it began discussing a broad assault on poverty more than a decade ago. The poor were predominantly black, clustered in the north, and uneducated. There were strong arguments that simply giving away money would be a massive rip-off for taxpayers.  Though controversial, the government a decade ago decided that any family under the poverty line would be given enough money to put them over it.  The “Bolsa Familia” program now provides 14 million poor families with much needed income.  There are relatively few strings attached.  The only requirement, is that children in the families who receive funds go to school.  Brazil believes that for the individual family, “income is the easiest criteria to move…start with income and then solve the other stuff.”  After a decade, follow up studies show falling infant mortality rates for the families involved with the Bolsa program; and, remarkably, poor kids are now performing above the national average in high school.  Should the US adopt its own “Bolsa Familia?”

A Coupon for Culture?

A Coupon for Culture?

Brazil has a new prerogative: promote culture.  The government will begin giving out “cultural coupons” worth $20 a month to individuals that make up to $300 a month.  The money, loaded on a magnetic card, is designated only for purposes broadly termed cultural – though that category could include dance lessons and visits to the circus in addition to books and movie tickets.  Why?  “What we’d really like is that they try new things,” Culture Minister Marta Suplicy said in a telephone interview. “We want people to go to the theater they wanted to go to, to the museum they wanted to go to, to buy the book they wanted to read.”  In all, the government wants to refine citizens taste.

Brazilians pick up an average of just four books a year, including textbooks, and finish only two of them, a study published last year by the São Paulo state government showed. Almost all of Brazil’s 5,570 municipalities now have a local library, but only one in four has a book shop, theater or museum, and only one in nine boasts a cinema, according to the government’s statistics bureau.  “This is innovative and cool, and no one in the world is doing anything like it,” Suplicy said. “My hope is that it will be revolutionary for culture here. It provides an opportunity for people who never had it and, at the same time, has an impact on cultural production.” So far, 1,300 companies and 356,000 people have signed up for the program, and government officials hope as many as 42 million could eventually enroll. State-run companies are obliged to join, and ministers are actively encouraging unions to demand the Vale Cultura in their annual wage negotiations.

Brazil and Saab

Boeing-articleLargeBrazil has recently bought 36 fighter jets from the Swedish company Saab. Brazil decided against Boeing in favor of Saab due to the cooperation agreed upon Saab and Brazils aerospace programs. It will not be until 2018 that Brazil will receive the full amount of the 36 fighter jets however, they did manage to purchase the jets for 4.5 billion dollars. Some blame the spying scandal over the US for Boeings failure to secure the deal.

Living Large

Fugutive train robber Ronnie Biggsimg_panel_1387370760 made Brazil his home in 1974 after he fled from Britain. He profited from his fame for the incident as he published his book, “Odd Man Out,” while he was living large in Brazil. Biggs lived in Brazil till 2001 when he decided to return to the United Kingdoms. As soon as Biggs made it back to the UK he was rapidly sent back to jail, where he would spend the rest of his days. His ashes are apparently to be spread in the UK as well as in Brazil.

Funding from the French



President Francois Hollande of France decided to fund a metro line in Sao Paolo. He realized the need and potential for the line apparently after he endured the city’s heavy traffic. The md
etro line will end up running from the airport to Sao Paolo’s city center, along with the added benefit of more job creation and even better relations with France. France sees the upcoming powerhouse of Brazil, that is why they are one of the biggest foreign investors in Brazil. The outlook for additional trade and investment between the two countries is very high as relations continue to improve.

Some Good News for a Brazilian Oil Company

7420521196_9199e13cce_z1-300x199Figures for OGX are due to be much better than in 2012 after an announcement stating that the number of barrels previously expected would triple. This is good news for OGX as the company had to file for bankruptcy last month and the future was grim for the company. This increase in the production of oil will help boost the company and refile their already low amount of resources. However, it is still to early to tell whether this will truly be an opportunity that will save the company from more failure.

“Land of Opportunity”

Former U.S President Bill Clinton payed a visit to Brazil’s summit meeting1_clinton____01-300x200 in Rio, where Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was giving a speech. Rousseff stated that Brazil is the “land of opportunity” as she went on to describe the direct investments coming into the country. Up until 2012 Brazil has had an increase in its economy, however, more recently the economic boom has slowed down or even stopped. That is why critiques are bringing up recent events and issues in Brazil, which are in contrast to Rousseff’s statements.  Brazil has made great strides in its economy, but it still has a ways to go.


New Car Manufacturing Plants in Brazil.

_71563753_evoqueDue to the boom in the number of cars on the road in Brazil, companies such as Jaguar and Land Rover are starting to move in. They plan on building a car plant in Brazil that can output 24,000 cars a year. This will also help the companies sales as they will not have to deal with high import tariffs when producing the cars locally. More jobs and more cars can be expected from this venture as Jaguar and Land Rover move deeper into a land of opportunity.

US Technology Company to Start Business in Brazil


The US company Good Technology is starting up business in the Brazilian market. Good Technology is finding increasing opportunities in Brazil due to the growth in the use of personal devices. Due to Brazil’s vast market and emerging economy, the use of personal devices has grown along with the use of social media sites such as Facebook. This provides a good market for information security providers such as Good Technology. There are already ongoing talks between Good Technology and several Brazilian companies over contracts. Though no agreements have been made yet, the future seems to be bright for Good Technology in Brazil.

The Strategic Plan for the Center for Brazilian Studies

The Strategic Plan for the Center for Brazilian Studies


The strategic plan outlined here presents concrete steps required for improving a première Center for Brazilian Studies at the University of Washington. The interest in this project stems from a broad coalition of forces – business and government interests in Brazil, the Brazilian heritage community in the Washington, and business, education and civic leaders in the Puget Sound who appreciate that a deeper familiarity with and richer understanding of Brazil is key to this region’s future.

Presently there is a growing realization that Brazil is and will increasingly become one of the major superpowers in the world. It is already the 6th largest economy in the world and is a central economic and political broker to much of South America ; it is geographically the 5th largest country on the planet and therefore controls a tremendous amount of natural resources which places it on the front lines of the battle against global warming and renewable energy; it is a potent social-cultural force given its cultural richness coupled with a media empire; and population wise it ranks 5th internationally.

Brazil is also part of the B.R.I.C, that refers to the countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China that are deemed to all be at a similar stage of newly advanced economic development. Now is the time to start strengthening the relations between Brazil and the Pacific Northwest. The University of Washington with its students and academics could benefit a lot with a deeper understanding of Brazil. Building this bridge now will surely bring future partnerships between Brazilian companies and Universities and the Pacific Northwest Academics and Business.


The Washington, which has a private and non-profit sector that are largely dependent upon and oriented toward global trade, cannot hope to thrive in this century if it remains largely in the dark about Brazil. Thus, the mission of the Center for Brazilian Studies is focused on changing this. Its aim is to fill this large knowledge gap. Its purpose is to elevate the level of Brazilian Studies to be at least on par with the area studies of other world superpowers.

The Center for Brazilian Studies, once adequately funded and staffed, will be one of the première resource centers for Brazil in the U.S. It will stimulate the establishment and growth of Brazilian-related opportunities for students, researchers, teachers, businesses, non-profits and policymakers. 1) At the UW and elsewhere CBS will lobby for issues that affect the study of Brazil. 2) It will help to strengthen the ties among the Brazilian community (4.000 people approximately) through offering Brazilian related events and other opportunities for networking and community building. Thus, through these various venues it will help to close the knowledge gap identified above. We will serve as a reference of Brazil, guiding people in any subject related to Brazil in the state of Washington.

Strategic Plan

The Center will meet its goals by
Promoting lectures with successful Brazilians working in different areas such as ; entrepreneurship, technology, arts , literature, sustainability, Non Profit organizations etc. In a way to broaden the horizons of people who live in Washington about Brazilian affairs. These lectures could take place at the University of Washington or other venues. This would be fundraising events for the Center.
Organizing workshops where people from the Brazilian government will come and explain the steps of how to start a business in Brazil from abroad.
Increase the number of exchange students , professors, and researchers from the US and Brazil. Increasing the relations between academics, researchers and intellectuals in both countries.
The Center will serve as a reference and offer links, information and resources for people interested in different themes about Brazil. The Center will be the connection for other Universities and agencies interested in promoting exchange programs with Brazil.
Promoting events (happy hour,fundraising,concerts) related to Brazilian traditions/culture to gather the four thousand Brazilians that live today in Washington and share Brazilian culture with the pacific Northwest. We will also promote parties such as Carnival, Saint John celebration, World Cup and Olympic Games. These events will serve to promote Brazil while bring the Brazilian community together.
Offer Brazilian Consular Services at the University of Washington at specific dates since the nearest Brazilian Consulate is in San Francisco. These services would be for Brazilians that need to regulate their documents (passports,birth certificates, marriage certificates) and Americans (visa, travel information,residence).
Help to improve and promote the Brazilian Events that already exist in Washington, like Brasilfest. We will serve as a bridge with Brazil to bring more musicians and attractions to Washington.
Assisting Brazilians who wish to visit this region for business or educational purposes. CBS will assist K-12 teachers who wish to develop their curriculum on Brazil.
Helping businesses by using our connections in Brazil to help with the myriad of issues they may face vis-à-vis exporting and importing, and give them a larger pool of employee candidates who have Portuguese language skills and knowledge of Brazil.
Assisting government officials in making contacts with their peers in Brazil.
Promote a “Brazil week” once a year where Lectures will take place everyday. Each day there will be talks on a variety of subjects. At the end of the week a party will be hosted offering the opportunity for people to meet and network.
Create a Brazilian Portuguese After School Program in Bellevue or Redmond to keep Brazilian expat children in contact with our culture.
Sponsorship and partnership with the Brazilian media shows in Seattle, like Raizes at KBCS-FM and others.

Budget and Financial Estimates

To create a Director and Associate Director of Brazilian Studies, an US$ 2 million endowment is needed. This will allow for a faculty member to be paid roughly 20% more in exchange for assuming the administrative responsibilities of director. CBS realizes that to build this endowment, an individual is required to devote all his/her energies to this project. And so in the short-term we are seeking US$ 60.000 to hire a full-time development specialist to help us to build such an endowment. This would give an individual at least one year to work on building the endowment and at the minimum garnering enough money so that she or he could continue work on building the endowment and creating ways to make the Center for Brazilian Studies sustainable. It is clear that the need for this Center at the University of Washington is widely recognized. But without someone with the resources and time to devote to building the endowment, we are unlikely to make the degree of headway that needs to be made. Such an individual can hold fundraising events, spend the necessary time networking, search for grants, and learn from the strategies of other area studies centers. This so-called Executive Director would report to the Board of Directors. The Executive Director will give the daily energy and hands on mentoring that is critical to the Center’s mission. He/she must be experienced in fundraising, social networking, have a well-rounded understanding of Brazilian academic, cultural, and business environment, and have leadership abilities and interpersonal skills.

Facility, Site and Organizational Structure

CBS is now located in 122 Thomson Hall in The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. It’s website is http://jsis.washington.edu/brazil/. CBS is also at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, already building the social network necessary for the Center. CBS, as part of the University of Washington, enjoys non-profit status 501(c)(3). Thus, all contributions are considered charitable donations. CBS is currently composing its board of directors which will have about 5-9 members consisted of people with a mixture of business and entrepreneurial experience, government officials, people from the so-called third sector and representatives of area higher education institutions. The Center will be staffed by a Director and Associate Director. The Director will have CEO responsibilities and the Associate Director will be responsible for assisting the Director with development and administrative matters