As promised in our previous article, Brazil: Charles Miller’s Official Biography, we are serialising the first chapter of John Mill’s official biography of Charles Miller. Although the book is in Portuguese, this is an English translation for www.gringoes.com readers.

Chapter 1. From Brs to England

Lets change our clothes lads, and even if the weather is
inclement and you fall, there are
worse things in life than a mere tumble in the grass,
and life itself is a football game.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scottish poet and writer

1812, Peninsula War, Fuentes de Ooro, frontier between Portugal and Spain. The British troops rest after their hard ascent to the village of Guarda, in Portugal’s Trs-os-Montes region. General Arthur Wellesley, better known as the Duke of Wellington, great victor of this war, adjusts his field-glass to analyse his next catch: Ciudad Rodrigo, on the other side of the Agueda River, on the entrance of the Salamanca plateau. This beautiful village surrounded by Roman walls was being defended by French troops under the command of Marshall Massna, one of Napoleon’s most renowned men, who would, however, soon fall into disgrace due to his military defeats.

William Wheeler, corporal of the 51st. Infantry Division under the command of Sir Thomas Picton, was resting together with his soldiers. He, who later would be promoted to sergeant and would survive the battle of Waterloo, always carried his bayonet in his right hand and a knapsack on his back, dreaming of his native town of Blackburn, where he used to run and play in the commons, after a football game with his friends.

A few moments before the British victory in the attack to Ciudad Rodrigo, the two armies decided to call a truce. William always had a football in his knapsack, along with his provisions. This ball had accompanied him on the defence of Torres Vedras and battles of Albuera and Talavera, and had been necessary in moments such as these. Sir Arthur Bryant, English military historian tells us in his book The Winning Years 1802-1812, that:

On the following morning, with a mild temperature, the two armies looked at each other on both margins of the river, but no attack is retaken. After a light cannonade, both armies start collecting the wounded, with the usual confraternity. The French then started playing their martial band and marching to impress the British, and these, very characteristically, to play football.

This biography is a tribute to Charles William Miller and his work, as well as to the game of football, introduced by him to Brazil. It was Charles Miller who organized the first football games and took part in the first Paulista Football League Association and Lawn Tennis. Besides this, he was a top goalscorer and thrice-champion with São Paulo Athletic Club, playing the first international game against Argentina, and refereeing many games for several years, and after his retirement from the football fields became a Councillor of the Paulista Leagues. All this always maintaining his gentlemanliness and fair play of which he was a cultor, apart from an unpaired humbleness. When he arrived in São Paulo with the two footballs, he never imagined the tranformation that this would cause, turning association football into a national passion and Brazil into the Country of Football.

With the building of the railway between Santos and Jundiai, inaugurated in 1867, the São Paulo Railway brought administrative and technical staff from the United Kingdom, and amongst them was John Miller.

John Miller was born on the 13th. June 1844, in Burnfoot, home of his parents, Andrew, a weaver, and Elizabeth Brown, in the village of Fairlie, next to Largs, this town is famous for the battle in which the Scots finally expelled in 1263 the Vikings from Scotland. Fairlie is located at the entrance of the Firth of Clyde Estuary, today on the A78 highway, also on the maritime route to the port of Greenock and city of Glasgow. Their dwellers were dedicated to fishing and weaving. John arrived on Paulista soil as a bachelor and soon, in 1870, married Carlota Alexandrina Fox, or Auntie Carlota, as she was known to the large Fox family. Carlota Alexandrina, was the daughter of Henry Fox (1812-1891) and Harriet Mathilda Rudge, and was born on the 3rd. May 1850, in São Paulo. Her father had arrived some years before from Hastings, in the County of Sussex, in the South of England, the city which was the setting of the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066, when William the Conqueror defeated Saxon King Harold.

Part 2 will be published next week…

The book can be found in the main bookstores, such as Livraria Saraiva, Siciliano, Cultura, LaSelva etc. or can be ordered through:

www.pandabooks.com.br
www.livrariasaraiva.com.br
www.submarino.com.br

Price: R$37,90 + postage”

By Mark Taylor
For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Bilhete Unico (translating to something like One Ticket” to highlight its simplicity) is a rechargeable card that allows you to travel on the buses and subway around São Paulo. It saves you having to scrabble for change, which can be a bit of a game with the bumpy roads, as you just swipe the card at the conductor’s point and pass through to the bus. You do have to remember to charge the card though!

Similar to the introduction of the Oyster card in London, in the UK, Bilhete Unico is being extended in its remit. You can now use it to pass through the gates on Line 2 of the Metro, which runs from Vila Madalena to Ana Rosa. If you have travelled on the bus in the past 2 hours you also get a discount on the normal R$2.10 Metro ticket, as you pay a combined ticket with the bus of R$3 for any 2 hour period of travelling (Note you are limited to 3 bus trips and one Metro/train trip, or 4 bus trips). Plans are to extend the scheme to all of the Metro by the end of April. Prior to this you were already able to use the ticket multiple times paying just a single ticket price on the bus within a 2 hour period.

The only problem is, as mentioned, remembering to recharge your card. I have yet to find a way to know how much is on the card, short of going to a recharge point e.g. a “loteria” (lottery) shop. Perhaps a simple point on the wall, at Metro and bus stations, to check would be a good idea.

The system has also become open to abuse, as some will pass their Bilhete Unico out the window of the bus in exchange for a Real. The receiver of the ticket then gets on the bus, and uses the ticket to gain free entry (or at least half price). They then pass the Bilhete Unico back to the owner.

Edit: Thanks to Sarah Jeanne who corrected the 3 hour period to a 2 hour period and also says “if you use the Bilhete Unico twice on the same bus, it gets charged two times, hence making it pretty impossible for anyone to pay half price for their entry on the same bus as the holder of the Bilhete Unico. Also, if you wait for 5 seconds after passing your card, the remaining value shows up on the screen next to the word ‘saldo.'”

Previous articles by Mark Taylor:

Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN

By Grumpy Gringo
Florianopolis at this time of the year (November) is quite beautiful. Not too crowded and very little traffic. Lots of not-yet-spoilt-by-tourism coast line that boasts of 42 beaches and isn’t Blackpool by any lysergic acid stretch of the imagination, and offers a suitably calming break away from Paulistas for a few days or so, from the hustle and goddamnit bustle of São Paulo.

On the first day I had my first privileged experience of spending some time with authentic backpackers in a hostel just 100 metres from the beach. Some empty-headed sun-bleached Australian/New Zealander surfers (2 well-built-not-to-mess-with lesbian surfers included), a practical and serious German, a perv Dutch, a couple of hippies selling jewellery and bongs, some affable Irish and a burnt out alcoholic Brazilian paraplegic, whose sudden shouts and screams and violent outbursts of song never really disturbed the tranquility of being on this lovely island. Not quite. The hostess and owner of Backpackers (the genius) was drunk when we booked in, drunker still as the evening progressed and hung-over and bleary eyed when we left. Rock and roll! Drunkenness was the general theme of the night. I certainly and predictably got drunk.

We spent the evening by the bar, a small terrace-cum-dining-area-cum-TV-room overlooking the rather pleasant Praia da Barra da Logoa, that was large enough to accommodate the 20 or so gringos. There was a nice bar system going on, you simply helped yourself to anything you fancied: beer, water, guarana, coke or fags – then wrote a capital B, W, G, C or F on a blackboard next to your corresponding name. This gave you the advantage of:

a) keeping an eye on how much you were spending and…
b) checking up on who was the most intoxicated and so…
c) avoiding them or…
d) chatting them up

I did none of the above anyway. After a few caipirinhas and more beers I was content just to remain standing and keep a conversation going. Though I must confess that talking about waves, catching waves and films about surfers talking about catching waves and those who didn’t and sadly perished wasn’t my favourite subject. The Brazilian paraplegic ensconced on the hammock, shouting out profanities in all languages, was a fountain of wisdom in comparison and soon my drinking pal.

The next early afternoon I woke up naked. This normally wouldn’t have sent the alarm bells ringing if it wasn’t for the fact that I was sharing a dormitory with 12 other backpackers, male and female. Not that some hippies would object to waking up to a dosage of penis and testicles – the communal spirit there was legal”; it was just that I wasn’t willing to put my cock on the line, as it were, and share it with the rest of these strangers. What exacerbated the situation further and shocked my penis into early retirement was that after some discreet feeling under my bed, and then the bed of my neighbour and on the bed above me, my pants, trousers and T-shirt had mysteriously vanished. I was just left with my Havaianas carelessly discarded some lengths away from my bed.

Then I remembered. Something. Vaguely. A shower. Yes, I’d had a shower before collapsing to bed. It was a somnambulist moment. People were sleeping and I was showering – with my trousers on. Then I remembered that while having a shower I remembered I didn’t have a towel – it was in the boot of the car some 300 metres away. Then, at some point, I’d dried myself with my T-shirt and made a run for it across the dormitory into the bed (unluckily situated at the opposite end of the room) and scrambling under the sheets lest I wake someone up and they see me in all my glory – burnt all over and baby pink were it matters most.

So I did the same cross-country run to the bathroom, strategically covered by a bed sheet this time. Finding my clothes in a wet heap in the shower cubicle. My favourite T-shirt nowhere to be found, and still missing. If anyone should happen to go to The Backpackers this year and find a pink T-shirt with a goofy looking rabbit on it – it’s mine. The owner said she’d keep hold of it if it was found.

At R$25 (5 quid), with a generous breakfast of fruit, cereal, toast, pancakes, ham, cheese, juice, tea and coffee, staying at the Backpackers is a super-bargain. You have lovely views of Praia da Barra da Logoa from your window, and you are a short drive away from all the local amenities in Centro da Logoa. The downside perhaps is that you never know who you may be sharing a dormitory with; if they snore or belch or fart, or, in fact, if they are some drunken fool running butt-naked up and down the room.”

By John Fitzpatrick
Brazilian Congressmen have started to make some long-needed reforms in the House of Representatives. These include ending extra payments for extraordinary sittings during the two official annual recess periods and cutting back on the number of holidays they enjoy. These moves have not been made for altruistic reasons but because of the public backlash against Congressmen, most of whom failed to appear in Brasilia during the recess while pocketing the extra money and perks. There were never more than a handful of members around even though they received two additional monthly salaries totaling around R$25,000 (about U$10,000) plus other benefits. This is in a country where the current minimum wage is R$300 (about U$130) a month. One member was reported to have spent part of the recess at an expensive health resort. This behavior is common during extraordinary sessions but this time the Congressmen went too far. The House’s reputation has fallen to a new low following the bribes for votes” scandal which has dominated the political scene since the middle of 2005. Congressmen knew they had to do something to assuage public opinion ahead of elections later this year.

The Lower House had a disastrous year in 2005. Things went wrong right from the start when, in February, Congressmen elected as their chairman Severino Cavalcanti, a crude old-style politician from the Northeast who was intellectually and morally unfit for the position. This decision, taken to spite the government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, showed contempt for the electorate. Fortunately, Cavalcanti was gone within a few months, victim of a bribery scandal, but the damage to the House’s reputation had already been done. Its response to the allegations that the Workers Party (PT) had been paying some Congressmen bribes in return for their votes was to set up three investigation committees (CPIs). However, it was the media which set the pace and new scandals and villains appeared virtually ever day.

The House did a poor job of sifting through this raw intelligence and the CPIs themselves became bogged down in disputes along party lines as well as egos. The PT members tried to dirty the image of the PSDB and extend the committees remits to the Fernando Henrique Cardoso years. Until now, only two Congressmen have been expelled – Roberto Jefferson of the PDT and Jose Dirceu, Lula’s former right hand man – despite the masses of evidence against various others. A few resigned to avoid losing their right to stand as political candidates even though, in the eyes of most people, they had committed offenses. The House has still to decide the fate of about another dozen members but few voters expect any exemplary punishment. With so much effort spent on the CPIs, the legislative process slowed down to a crawl and the country was left in the hands of the executive and judiciary branches of government.

Although most attention this year will focus on the elections for the presidency and the state governorships, there will also be elections to choose a new House of Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate. The House of Representatives results should let us see whether voters have paid as much attention to the scandal as the media coverage would imply. It would be nice to expect voters to punish errant Congressmen, clear out the dead wood and make way for an influx of new faces and ideas. This is unlikely for a number of reasons. One is the indifference of many Brazilians, particularly the less well educated, to what goes on in Congress. These people have never had any high expectations and have constantly returned Congressmen, Senators, mayors and state governors who have been accused of corruption. In many cases, voters remain loyal to party bosses for local or regional reasons or, in the case of members of evangelical churches, they follow the advice of their spiritual leaders who are also often their political leaders. At the same time, class loyalty means that millions of Brazilians from the lower income groups will continue to support Lula and the PT.

Same Old Parties, Same Old Faces
In any case, voters will have little chance of electing a legislature with a new look since the scandal has led to no radical overhaul of the parties. There has certainly been lots of public indignation, much of it whipped up by the press, but it has been contained. No popular anti-corruption movement has emerged, such as that which led to the resignation of President Fernando Collor de Mello in 1992. No new breakaway parties of any significance have been formed. The vice president, Jose Alencar, left the PL and helped found the PMR, a similar outfit with an evangelical bent, but this was due more to an internal spat than any reformist move. Another new party is the left-wing PSOL, led by Senator Heloisa Helena who was expelled from the PT. Although this party attracted some dissident PT members, it was in the process of being set up when the scandal broke. Neither of these are likely to attract mass support and voters will face the old familiar acronyms – PT, PMDB, PSDB, PFL, PDT etc – and same old faces.

PT Has Most to Lose
The PT stands to lose most. The scandal has torn aside its claim to be different from the other parties. It has been portrayed as amateurish, avaricious, bullying and cynical in the way it has used its power to browbeat or bribe Congressmen to support the government. It has lost its leadership and credibility. It has also lost the support of middle class people who voted for Lula for the first time in the 2002 election. Much will depend on Lula’s attitude. While Lula can easily exist without the PT, the PT cannot exist as a main party without Lula. Should Lula decide not to seek re-election then the PT would be in an extremely difficult position. Strong backing from Lula could ease the party’s worse fears but, in turn, Lula would demand greater unity and loyalty to his program.

PSDB Has Strengths..
The PSDB is in a strong position, with the brightest and the best potential candidates. It can point to eight years experience of the Cardoso government when corruption, although it existed, was not on the same scale as we have seen over the last year. It has two strong experienced candidates in Jose Serra, the mayor of São Paulo, and Geraldo Alckmin, the state governor. At the same time, it can call on Aeco Neves, the governor of Minas Gerais, which is Brazil’s second most populous state. Cardoso is in the background as the elder statesman and the party can also depend on the likes of Tasso Jereisatti, former governor of Ceara, who is now its national president. Having said that, there are signs of a fierce battle about to break out between the Serra and Alckmin camps. The latter is desperate for its candidate to be nominated soon while the Serra camp wants to take more time. The choice of either candidate is bound to upset the other and the PT – and the other main parties – will try and exploit this division.

..and Weaknesses
The PSDB also has some weak points. The investigations into illegal fund-raising methods for electoral campaigns led to the resignation last year of the party’s president, Eduardo Azevedo, who had used them during an unsuccessful re-election bid in Minas Gerais. The PT could also embarrass the PSDB by providing details of alleged corruption during the privatization process in the early years of the Cardoso government when the state telecommunications monopoly, Telebras, the mining giant, CVRD, and others sectors, such as gas and electricity, were sold off. The PT has also claimed that illegal methods were used to obtain votes to ensure that the Constitution was changed to allow Cardoso to stand for a re-election. It is unclear whether there is any truth in these claims the PT has been raising but damage could be done. PT members have recently succeeded in having a CPI set up to investigate the privatization process although it unlikely that it will ever get off the ground.

Lula will also point out that, whereas the Cardoso government devalued the Real and appealed three times to the International Monetary Fund for loans, his government has overseen an export boom, despite an overvalued Real, and paid off Brazil’s debts to the IMF, the Paris Club and even the United Nations. Lula’s government has also experienced average better growth than Cardoso’s and the signs are that an all-out effort will be made this year to ensure that the poorer section of the population feels the effects of this growth at first hand. Money will be spent on high profile projects to improve roads and schools and the government has started to make it clear to the Central Bank that it wants interest rates reduced much further. On January 18, the monetary policy committee cut the rate by 0.75% and further cuts are expected in the coming months.

PMDB Split but Strong
The PMDB has managed to keep clear of this scandal even though it is a member of the governing alliance. This is surprising considering the unsavory reputation it has as a group of vested interests rather than a cohesive political party. It says it will field its own candidate and there are already two names in the ring – Anthony Garotinho, former governor of Rio de Janeiro, and Germano Rigotto, governor of Rio Grande do Sul. However, the pro-government wing, led by Senate chairman, Renan Calheiros, is working for an alliance, with the party providing Lula’s running mate. It is a strong favorite to emerge as the party with the largest number of members in the next Congress.

PFL Plays Tough Guy
The other main party, the PFL, has also managed to keep its head above the scandal. It has played the role of the bad cop to the PSDB’s good cop in the opposition to the government. Its national chairman, Senator Jorge Bornhausen, has been aggressive in attacking the government and ruling out any possibility of forming an alliance. This goes against the party’s history as an organization which always had a place at the top table. Bornhausen recently gave an interview to Veja magazine in which he pointed out that the PFL was not socialist, like the PT, or social democratic like the PSDB. Bornhausen was too clever or too cowardly to admit that the PFL was a right-wing party and glossed over his own role in the Collor administration. However, it was refreshing to see a Brazilian politician take an ideological point of view for once and state, although rather vaguely, what he stood for.

The following table shows the make up of these four main parties in the House of Representatives at the time of writing and after the 2002 elections. It can be seen that they have all lost members as some PSDB and PFL members defected to the pro-government parties and vice versa as PT and PMDB members defected to other parties. They currently have a total of 278 seats or 54% of the total compared with 320 seats or 62% of the total in 2002. Other parties have significant blocs – PP (52), PTB (42), PL (40), PSB (29) and PDT (20). Since no party can hope to win an absolute majority the next government – whether led by a President from the PT, PSDB or PMDB – will need to form a Congressional alliance.

Party January 2006 After 2002 Election
PT 82 91
PMDB 80 75
PFL 63 84
PSDB 53 70

Source: House of Representatives web site: www.camara.gov.br

John Fitzpatrick 2005

John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish writer and consultant with long experience of Brazil. He is based in São Paulo and runs his own company Celtic Comunicaes. This article originally appeared on his site http://www.brazilpoliticalcomment.com.br. He can be contacted at jf@celt.com.br.

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on www.gringoes.com:

Brazil: João Pessoa – a Victim of its Own Success
No Consistency in Brazil’s Foreign Policy
Brazil: Sitting in the Shadow of Sarney and Magalhes
Brazil: Gentrification Creeps Up On São Paulo
Dirt Flies as Brazilian Parties Aim for Presidency
Brazilians Vote for Guns and Death Not Peace and Love
Brazil’s Gun Lobby Launches Hysterical Campaign Against Arms Ban
Jews and Arabs Find Success in Brazil
Brazil’s Politicians Start Looking Ahead to Next Year
Brazil: Lula Down but Certainly Not Out
Brazil’s Congress Struggles to Cope with Ongoing Crisis
Brazil: Scandal Threatens Presidential Mandate System
Brazil: If Lula is to Survive He Needs to Change His Tactics
Brazil: Many Parties – Few Ideas
Brazil Through Foreign Eyes
Helping the Helpless in Brazil
Pinheiros – São Paulo’s Best District
Growing Old (Dis)gracefully in Brazil
Canudos, Still With Us 100 Years Later
The Rise of the Brazilian Empire
Brazil and Portugal – The Samba and the Fado
Brazil – Just A State Of Mind
Brazil: For Lula, is Ignorance Bliss?
Brazil: Pay Day – or Pay Dirt?

This week’s entertainment guide for São Paulo features a Tex Mex restaurant in Pinheiros, an exhibition at MASP from the building’s creator, an adventure park for children, and this week’s recommended cinema release.

El KabongIf you’re after some “Tex Mex” then you might want to head over to El Kabong. The restaurant itself is well styled, including the classic Mexican hats on the wall. Appetisers range from taco salads, to the “nacho supreme” (nacho chips covered with their exclusive recipe of feijao pasta, creamy cheddar cheese, sliced cheese, tomatoes, olives, guacamole and sour cream, and salsa). The main Mexican dishes are all the typical favourites such as tacos, taquitos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and burritos. Kabong’s specials are variations on a theme for tacos, and some Mexican styled meat dishes. Aside from the traditional food you can also get burgers and lighter bites, such as sandwiches, salads, and reduced portion versions. Open Monday to Thursday 6pm-2:30am, Friday 5pm-4am, Saturday 4pm-4am, Sunday 4pm-2:30am. Rua Matheus Grou, 15. Pinheiros. http://www.elkabong.com.br

MASPThe creator of the MASP building and co-mentor of the institution, Lina Bo Bardi, has 200 of his works on exhibition at MASP. These include a wide range of items such as models, jewellery designs, furniture designs, scenery designs and theatrical figurines. Two other exhibitions at MASP in their final days are Candido Portinari and the Pirelli-MASP collection. Up to the 19th Feb, R$10 (free for children below 10 and the over 60s). Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-6pm (ticket booth closes at 5pm). Av. Paulista, 1578. Bela Vista. http://www.masp.art.br

Parque LdicoKids will no doubt love Parque Ldico. The park contains three interactive areas: “Bichos de Mata” (Beasts of the grasslands) with sculptures of giant animals; “Orquestra Magia” (Magic Orchestra) with instruments that are also toys; and “O Espao das Aventuras” (the area of adventures) which has tunnels and caves. Open Wednesday to Sunday 9am-5pm. Tickets R$1-6. Parking R$5. Sesc Itaquera (Av. Fernando do Espirito Santo Alves de Mattos, 1000. Itaquera.

Fun with Dick and JaneThe film recommendation this week is Fun with Dick and Jane (As Loucuras de Dick & Jane in Portuguese). A remake and update of the 1977 version, the film stars Jim Carrey and Ta Leoni as Dick and Jane, a seemingly erstwhile and content couple who are going places. Dick is surprised to get an incredible promotion, and incites his wife to leave her job. But Dick’s promotion was only to make him a scapegoat, and he loses his job as the company goes bankrupt. After his lawn is repossessed things get desperate, and the fun begins as both Dick and Jane turn to a life of crime to support their family. Although not a classic, the film is a fun story with a large streak of black comedy. http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0369441/

If you have been to a restaurant, club, park, or anywhere else in São Paulo that you would like to recommend to other readers in future Entertainment Guides then don’t hesitate to contact us!. Also if you would like to submit a weekly entertainment guide for your city we’d be interested to hear from you.

What’s On Guide, January 23 – January 29 2005
What’s On Guide, January 16 – January 22 2005
What’s On Guide, December 13 – December 20 2005
What’s On Guide, December 5 – December 12 2005
What’s On Guide, November 28 – December 4 2005
What’s On Guide, November 21 – November 27 2005
What’s On Guide, November 14 – November 20 2005
What’s On Guide, November 7 – November 13 2005
What’s On Guide, October 31 – November 6 2005
What’s On Guide, October 24 – October 30 2005
What’s On Guide, October 17 – October 23 2005
What’s On Guide, October 10 – October 16 2005
What’s On Guide, October 3 – October 9 2005
What’s On Guide, September 26 – October 2 2005
What’s On Guide, September 19 – September 25 2005
What’s On Guide, September 12 – September 18 2005
What’s On Guide, September 5 – September 11 2005
What’s On Guide, August 29 – September 4 2005
What’s On Guide, August 15 – August 28 2005
What’s On Guide, July 28 – August 14 2005
What’s On Guide, July 7 – July 27 2005
What’s On Guide, June 22 – June 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 15 – June 22, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 6 – June 15, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 26 – June 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 20 – May 25, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 13 – May 19, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 6 – May 12, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 29 – May 5, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 21 – Apr 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005

By Stephen Thompson
For the price of a small car, you can buy a restaurant business in São Paulo. You might make more money than you do teaching English. If you’re thinking of buying a business, start by looking at the negocios and opportunidades pages in the Estado, Folha on Sundays or Primeira Mao, or go to the website of Center Negocios, http://www.centernegocios.com.br, the biggest business agency in São Paulo. In Ro de Janeiro, try the Globo on Sundays.

It will be hard to get credit from the bank of Brazil to buy a business here, but most business owners will sign over the business for a down payment of 50%, and lets you pay the rest off from the takings. This informal form of credit makes it easier to buy businesses in Brazil, but of course when you sell the business, you also only get half the value back upfront, and run the risk that the new owner will mess the business up, go bankrupt and be unable to play off their debt to you.

Despite some of the most insane bureaucracy and red tape imaginable, São Paulo has a very entrepreneurial culture, and new businesses are opening and closing all the time. Of course, this means that the majority of them fail within a short time of opening. However, no one will think you’re mad if you open up a business, and almost all my English students have a close relative who runs a bar or restaurant or other small business.

With patience you will master the black arts of business management in Brazil. Here there are always two ways of doing things, the best way, and the legal way.

With a good accountant, you will avoid paying almost all your taxes, and get away with it. However, it is difficult and dangerous to not pay your employees benefits, which are high; they add up to around 120% of the value of their salaries. Brazilian employment legislation is strict, and the fine for employing an employee who is not on the books is 5000 Reais. São Paulo is full of lawyers who make their living suing businesses who did not pay employee benefits. Even so, many Brazilian businesses prefer to take this risk, rather than bankrupt themselves paying all these benefits, and the number of unregistered workers has been growing in recent years. Examples of employee benefits are: I.N.S.S. which is a kind of social security scheme, and F.G.T.S, which stands for Guarantee Fund for Time of Service.

Registered workers also receive a 13th salary payments, in two instalments, on the 7th and 20th of December, and have a right to 30 days paid holiday, with 40% extra holiday pay. Hours worked in excess of 40 must be paid as overtime. Each category of worker has a different minimum wage, for example the minimum wage for a waitress is around 550 reals per month. Employers are required to pay 94% of employees transportation costs. When all is this added up, Brazilian wages do not look so low, at least from the employer’s perspective.

If you dismiss a Brazilian employee, they will receive a payout from their FGTS fund. If they have done something to justify their dismissal, they will be dismissed with justa causa, which means they will receive less payment from the fund.

Brazilian workers employment history is registered in a small booklet which Brazilian workers keep, called the “Carta de Trabalho” (work card).

Of course a lot of the businesses which offers sale in São Paulo are going bust, or are going to go bust, and you have to be very suspicious. But some businesses are generally profitable, the owners may simply want to retire. Other reasons for selling up include conflicts between business partners or just giving up. It is common for business owners to claim they are selling because they are not “do ramo”, i.e. it is not their normal line of work. Again, it’s common for Brazilians to have a go and running at small business and then give up when they realise how exhausting it is.

The Brazilian economy has been stagnant for the last 25 years, and don’t expect it to start booming any time soon. Also, be suspicious of the statistics; when they say the economy grew through a 4% last year, don’t forget the population also grew 2%, so the real growth rate is more like 1 or 2%.

As you’re probably aiming your business at middle-class customers, you should be aware that the middle classes have been particularly hard hit by the very long recession. It is said that the gap between rich and poor has narrowed slightly during the Lula government, however this is mainly because living standards for the middle-classes have fallen, while those of the poor have stagnated. Four years ago, I was able to charge 50 Reais per hour teaching English, but since then my rent has gone up 70%, but the market won’t let me increase my rates by a similar amount.

However, the good news is that there is one business which never goes out of fashion, or at least not entirely; the restaurant business. Unlike North Americans and Britons, the Brazilians don’t feed on sandwiches at lunchtime. Brazilian employment legislation stipulates a one-hour lunch break, and this is often stretched into two or more, allowing plenty of time to eat out for lunch. So Brazilian cities have a surprisingly large number and wide variety of eating establishments, such as Pizzerias and Churrascarias. Bakers also serve meals here. For some reason, good ice cream is hard to find, which is surprising considering the large Italian community.

One form of restaurant business which has thrived in the years of economic hardship is the kilogram restaurant business. Here cost conscious workers can weigh every gram of their food, and decide exactly how much they want to spend. Average prices in São Paulo for a kilogram of food are around 15 to 20 Reais, and offerings usually includes meat, salads and pasta. It’s such a good idea that it’s surprising it hasn’t become more popular in other countries.

When you buy a business, you agree a price, which is usually a factor of three to 10 times the takings, and you make a first instalment, usually 25%. Then the owner will show you the ropes for the first month, while you check the takings to see how much the business really makes. If it adds up, you pay another 25%, and he signs over the firm, otherwise if there’s a shortfall, the sale price is discounted accordingly.

If you’re thinking of going into business, don’t forget that Brazil has more holidays than most countries. In particular, the weeks between Christmas and Carnival in February or March are usually very quiet, unless you are in the tourist business, in which case they are your best months. This is especially true in São Paulo which has no obvious tourist attractions.

Brazil has the world’s highest interest rates, which suppresses both consumer demand and business investment. One of the reasons interest rates are so high is the BNDES, or National Bank Of Economic and Social Development, which lends money to Brazilian businesses for much less than the commercial rate. Small Brazilian businesses can apply for loans to refurbish or relaunch, or even to pay day-to-day expenses.

Of course there are many other business opportunities here such as tourism. Brazil has an enormous tourist potential which has yet to be promoted in the way that other hot weather destinations. Brazil has 5000 miles of beautiful beaches, yet it receives only 5 million tourists a year.

But as Charles de Gaulle once said, Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be!

Stephen Thompson runs “O Gaucho”, a snack bar serving breakfast, juices, smoothies, sandwiches. Galeria 2001, 2001 Avenida Paulista, São Paulo. For an English menu contact stephenthompson@hotmail.com

To read previous articles by Stephen click the links below:

Brazil: To Free Or Not To Free
Brazil: Trail Biking in Chapada Diamantinha
Brazil: So Near, but So Far Apart
How to Get Into University in Brazil
The Pleasure of Driving a Car in Brazil
Brazil: The Bairro of Flamengo in Ro de Janeiro
Brazil: The Information Technology Law
Managing a Brazilian bank account
Brazil’s Middle Class Ruled By Political Apathy

This week in our continuing Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series we have an interview with Flavius Ferrari. Flavius’s work is related to hotels, and he lives in São Paulo, and has experience of foreigners from lots of travel in the USA. Read on as Flavius tells us about his impressions of foreigners, and gives some helpful advice also.

1. Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?

I am from São Paulo and after having lived in several countries in South America and USA, I am now living in Campinas, near São Paulo. There are lots of foreigners here, mostly Americans. I have a house in Miami where my daughter (32) lives and work at IBM. There also lives my son Armando (21) working and going to college. Flavia has my first Granddaughter, Zo Sophia (2). Flavia is married to an American, Christopher – Police Officer and son of the School Sheriff of Dade County.

I have worked with hotels all my life. Now I am working for Cendant Hospitality Division – Cendant is a large Real Estate, Hotel and Tourism Company – www.cendant.com – owner of Century 21 – Avis – Hertz – and franchises more them 6 thousand hotels all over the world, including Ramada – Travel Lodge – Howard Johnson – Super 8 – Days Inns etc. – They also own RCI – Resort Condominiums International which is the largest Time Share referral system in the world.

2. What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?

Language.

3. What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?

To think that there is some relation to the custom/habit and general behavior from where they came from. Brazil, same as all the other countries in Latin America, is unique. You may find some traditions from other countries, if you go to Santa Catarina among the Germans and Dutch’s, Italians in Rio Grande do Sul, or in districts of Japanese and Italians in capitals like São Paulo. But in general Brazilian customs are different from any thing you have around the world.

4. What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?

You have striking differences with Middle East and Asians nationals – But the average American that has traveled around the world, has good humor and knows how to deal with the day to day intricacies of foreign countries. British people are formal. Americans adapt to the ambience and start dressing as locals do. British people are more formal and dress as they where in London, independent of where they are in the world.

5. Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?

I prefer the American accent for normal everyday communication, although I think that the original British accent sounds better.

6. Favourite place travelled abroad and why?

Paris and London are my choice of favorite places to expend time on vacation. But driving a car in all countries of Europe is also very good. You go from France to Portugal and Spain, like driving from São Paulo to Rio and Minas and visit 3 real different countries and eat very differently in all of them.

7. Favourite foreign food?

France is the best place for food in general. Paella in Spain is also very good. But I also like American Food and every time I go to the USA I eat bacon and eggs, meat loaf, and KFC.

8. Favourite foreign band, book and movie?

Music: I love Jazz – Miles Davies – Diana Krall – old Dave Brubeck – Errol Garner – Oscar Peterson etc.

Book: In this era of the Da Vinci Code, I recommend The Passover Plot – written by Hugh J. Schonfield in 1965 where he asserts – and presents detailed evidence from the Bible and discovered Dead Sea Scrolls to prove that, an anonymous disciple of Jesus, Joseph de Arimathea – planned Jesus’s arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and arranged for him to be drugged on the cross to simulate death so that he could be safely and early removed and thus bear out the Messianic prophecies. Schonfield is a professor of Ancient Story in the University of Glasgow and became famous writing the Bible Was right, where he explained with scientific evidence (meteors, comets, eclipses, floods, earthquakes, plagues) all the miracles mentioned in the Bible.

Movie: I also like movies a lot – Of the new ones (I mean passed 1990) my favorite is The Shawshank Redemption – and the best I have seen lately was The Constant Gardner that I think is Oscar material – I am not going to name Casablanca – Magnificent Seven – One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest – Citizen Kane because there are among the 10 best movies of all times.

9. What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?

As a Brazilian, I can tell you my view from the opposite side but still how it is to date a foreigner. I lived many years in New York and Miami as a single person and dated a lot of Americans and Latin Americans. I think American women are a bit bossy – in Portuguese “mandonas” – European and Latin American women are more easy to please / handle, in the day to day of a relationship.

But if you’re talking about sex, Brasil is the best. The fact that “prostitution” is legal and one can go to a place like Caf Photo or W Club and meet a lady that will spend the night with you, without strings attached, is the best thing that a single or a married man can hope for. You pay for sex, different women every time, no commitments – not having to say I love you or to go hunting for furniture or a place to rent – This is just great.

10. Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?

I will use this question to comment about what I call a “culture shock” that happens every time I take my USA visitors – mostly executives from the companies that I represented in Brasil – to places like Caf Photo, explained all the rules of behavior etc and they love it. And when they call advising that they are coming back, they always say: make reservations at Caf Photo!

I think Americans with their Strip Clubs are hypocrites. How can you go to a Strip Club, seat in front of a balcony where a beautiful girl will take her clothes in front of you and the only thing you can do is to throw one dollar bills to her! Worse : Pay for a girl to ” lap dance ” – massage your body with her body and you can’t touch her ! ! In fact, American authorities are the hypocrites, allowing the lascivious behavior and not allowing going all the way!

I think that USA must be the country with more number of rapes in the world! There is even a song that my son has on a CD sung by a Rap group named Sublime, called – Date Rape !

11. What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?

If they are single and want to have a good night out, visit some of the local recommended Night Clubs in São Paulo – And in general, a visitor should get out of the tourism area and mingle with Brasilian at the Sunday fair at the MASP – Centro de Convivencia em Campinas – etc

If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to gringoes@www.gringoes.com

To read previous interviews in the Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes series click below:

Daniela Ribeiro
Adriano Gomes
Alexandre
Elizabeth Sacknus
Geberson Coelho
Rosaly Loula
Andreas Saller
Elvis Renato Barbosa Lima
Bruno Santos
Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf
Marta Dalla Chiesa
Cludia Ramis De Almeida
Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
Fernando Saffi
Gabriela Kluppel
Patrcia C. Ribeiro
Fabiano Deffenti

Press Release

Charles Miller – o pai do futebol brasileiro”

Charles Miller returned from England after studying in Southampton for ten years, bringing in his luggage some “treasures” to Brazil: two footballs, two shirts proudly worn for Banister Court School and for the Hampshire XI, a book of rules and an air pump. This was the “kick-off” to transform Brazil into the “pais do futebol”. Miller now has his first official biography. Historian John Mills reveals facts, details, documents and pictures, regarding the father of Brazilian football.

The book can be found in the main bookstores, such as Livraria Saraiva, Siciliano, Cultura, LaSelva etc. or can be ordered through:

www.pandabooks.com.brM
www.livrariasaraiva.com.br
www.submarino.com.br

Price: R$37,90 + postage

Although the book is in Portuguese, as a special treat for www.gringoes.com readers we are going to serialise the English translation of the first chapter over the next few weeks.”

By Teacher Claudia
Dear readers, besides the e-mails concerning Brazilian Portuguese, I often receive messages asking about Brazilian tips, especially about our manners.

Due to a very interesting one sent last week, I have reviewed your doubts, and the number one is how to tell a Brazilian person you’re fond of him or her. That beats me, as we’re considered a very emotional” people.

After thinking a lot about the question, I’ve decided to give my truest belief: just telling him or her. If it’s friendship or love, it doesn’t matter. If it’s meant to be or not, it doesn’t matter. If she’ll understand it or not, it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you haven’t shut up, you’ve been honest to yourself and, most of all, you’ve tried. It’s not a question of cultural differences, politeness or shoulds and shouldn’ts; it’s a question of loyalty. You’ll be loyal to yourself, to your feeling and furthermore to her.
Anyone deserves to know they’re loved, cared and thought of. Anyone has the right to know it, and to choose what to do after.

You just have to respect it and accept whatever comes after, as tough as it might be. Tell her, Stan, and if my words are not enough, remember the words of a grand teacher; “And now abideth faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” I cannot help thinking of a song, which blends Portuguese and English.

Amor I love you – Marisa Monte

Deixa eu dizer que te amo
Deixa eu pensar em voc
Isso me acalma
Me acolhe a alma
Isso me ajuda a viver

(…)
Meu peito agora dispara
Vivo em constante alegria
o amor que est aqui
Amor I love you
Amor I love you
Amor I love you

(Amor I love you
Let me tell you I love you
Let me like you
That soothes me
Embraces my soul
Helps me to live

(.)
My heart beats fast now
I live in a constant joy
It’s love that is here
Amor I love you)

Teacher Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at claudiafmla@uol.com.br

To read previous articles by Teacher Claudia click below:

Brazil: Ipiranga Museum
Portuguese Tip: Odd words
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
A Brazilian Holiday: October 12th
Portuguese Tip: Sounds
Portuguese Tip: Verb Tenses
Portuguese Tip: The Mystery of Seu, Sua
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 2
A Brazilian custom: Kissing the Cheek
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Past
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Present
Portuguese Tips
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

By Mark Taylor
There tend to be two types of gringos” (foreigners) in Brazil, in terms of people living here permanently: those who are posted here with a job, and those who aren’t. That’s aside of course from those who come here to retire, or similar.

For the former, chances are they are posted with at least a reasonable salary (which can be worth its weight several times in relation to the Real, dependent on the exchange rate), and all the perks a foreign posting can bring. Perhaps they exemplify the stereotypical gringo, at least in the eyes of Brazilians.

For the latter, finding work in Brazil can be a serious challenge, and that can be just the challenge of finding work full stop, let alone finding work related to previous careers, and that will pay a salary you are used to. If you are moving to Brazil to find work, or are thinking it will be easy to find a job, you may want to think again.

One situation this often happens with is when a foreign couple move to Brazil, with one having been posted. The other is then in the difficult situation of trying to find work. Another situation occurs with the increase in Internet usage and foreign travel, and hence long distance relationships. So often a foreigner might move here to live with a Brazilian partner.

I fall into the latter category, someone who came to Brazil to pursue a relationship. I’ll also preface the following with a caveat, that in 2 years of searching for work in Brazil I have yet to find a job related to my career or that pays at a level I’m even remotely used to. I know from Gringo friends here that this is the norm, and some people have been here significantly longer in the same position. I have worked in three jobs though, ranging from the classic English teaching, to part time technical jobs. Other opportunities have presented themselves, but often don’t pan out or are just very slow going in terms of being resolved, to the point where nothing happens.

Number One Tip
In terms of finding work, a phrase I’ve heard many times since coming here is “Não o que voce sabe, quem voc conhece”, translated as “It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know”. There’s a huge amount of truth in this. Those who come from Europe and the USA may be used to finding work easily through agencies and magazine/newspaper ads, but in Brazil work principally comes through networking and contacts. So the number one tip for finding work here is: network, network, and network some more. Networking is one of these nebulous terms that is easy to say, but not so easy to do. But essentially we’re talking about forging contacts at as many levels as possible. For example, find companies in the fields you are interested in, both multinationals and nationals, and ideally reconnoitre the Brazilian friends and contacts you make here to see if they know people who work in your field. Then probe them for details on where is best to look, and forge contacts. Also try direct contact with companies that are in the fields you are interested in e.g. contact their HR manager. The ideal is to try and find a company before you make your move to Brazil, as you may well end up in the fortunate state of being posted with a job which will typically mean your Visa is dealt with, aside from the financial benefits mentioned earlier.

Another area to network in are any Gringo societies or clubs e.g. chambers of commerce for your country. Often a chamber of commerce or society will have a publication and/or web site which you may be able to advertise in, typically for a price though. Chambers of commerce, your country’s embassy and business related organisations may also have details of multinationals from your home country as well, which gives a place to start in relation to business contacts. For example, the British Embassy has a list of British owned companies that can be found via their web site.

Aside from networking, it’s still worth trying the traditional routes of agencies and newspaper adverts, as well as any magazines or journals related to your career field. Catho is the most famous Internet agency in Brazil, but my experience and that of others is that it isn’t particularly useful in liberating results. My personal experience in applying for several hundred jobs via Catho was one hit, which liberated 2 hours per week of private English teaching. This lack of success with Catho may simply be down to the difficulty foreigners have with finding work, or the huge unemployment rate and oversubscription to jobs. Something that is going to apply across the board unfortunately. Bear in mind that you’re competing against not only those who are friends, family and contacts of the person advertising the job, but perhaps also several hundred Brazilians. I’ve heard with some advertised positions it’s not unusual to receive over 500 CVs. Make sure to keep an eye out for when your local newspaper publishes it’s job section e.g. Sunday for São Paulo’s Folha and Estadão.

Don’t forget also when applying for work the compounded problem factors of a very costly work Visa for a foreigner, and your possible lack of Portuguese fluency. The latter leading onto my next tip.

Number Two Tip
My second tip is to learn Portuguese. Fluency in Portuguese is typically a vital skill, so if you have no fluency or are lacklustre you need to get busy working on increasing it as much as possible. Would you employ someone in your country of origin who didn’t speak the principal language? Jobs that don’t require Portuguese, at least on some level, are going to be extremely rare.

English Teaching
English teaching is the age old profession that English speaking foreigners feel they can just drop into. But it’s not always that straightforward, certainly in recent years. For starters it’s often poorly paid unless you are willing to work very hard at building up a private client base, or you are lucky in finding one of the better schools. Also unless you have a qualification in English e.g. TEFL, it’s not as simple as you might think to do anything other than conversation classes. A lot of Brazilians are far better placed technically, due to their background and having learned English “the hard way”. Most schools will pay around R$10 an hour, and this often involves working evenings and weekends for the same uniform rate. You may also be expected to prepare lessons, mark homework and attend meetings on your own time.

Unfortunately the bottom dropped out of the English teaching market a few years ago, due to a combination of factors such as 9/11 and an increase in the number of Brazilians who can also speak English at some level. This is aside from a huge increase in the number of English school franchises. Even if you work on a private level the English teaching life will not be an easy one, and will most likely involve early starts, late evenings, and weekend working.

In Conclusion
Ultimately the more you do to try and find work, the more chance you have of finding something. Job hunting is typically a luck (probability) related process, so a shotgun approach coupled with a targeted approach will always give a better chance of finding something. It’s about being in the right place at the right time to find that opportunity, so make sure to increase that chance.

On that note I wish luck to everyone who is currently job hunting, and would also ask that if you can offer any more tips, constructive comment or experience on the topic then please drop me an email and I will add it to the article.

Readers comments:

Having a background in Business Administration, professional instruction (adult education) and IT, it was my expectation to be able to find work here on the local market with little or no stress. Well I’m here to tell you that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. When I left my position as Director for Latin America at a large German software company to remain here in Brasil, I almost immediately found a role with one of the “Big 5” consulting firms. Perhaps this spoiled me a bit, and distorted my perception of how difficult this aspect of life here in the Abacaxi can be.

When the consulting arm of my previous employer was purchased by a larger company, I received my first-ever pink slip. In 20 years of professional experience, this was the first time I was asked to leave a position. It was the beginning of a depressing phase in my life. I couldn’t fathom the logic behind their desire to work without my contribution, particularly given the fact that I am known as a “contributor”, generating sales and profitability for my employers. Where I come from, it normally doesn’t take more than a month to find a U$80k/year to U$90k/year job — so this was without a doubt a major setback. Well as I reflect back, I realize that it had nothing to do with my professionalism (as they told me in my out-processing meeting), it was simply a matter of market economics.

Another critical learning experience was the need for fluency in Portuguese. It took me a while to get it through my thick skull that I needed to become “pregnant with the language”, as one of my previous Brazilian mentors told me back in 2002, but I had a life changing experience that made the message crystal clear. It finally sunk in when I got robbed while in traffic, and afterwards couldn’t find the words to communicate the thieves descriptions to the police. I finally knuckled down, and now have the capability to understand and be understood by the average Brazilian. As Mark indicated in his article, fluency is without a doubt the NUMBER 1 requirement for foreigners who want to work in this country.

After having been let go in late 2002 as mentioned above, I bounced around playing business developer and strategy consultant for small local companies. But as most businesses here are family owned, the tendency for the owners to change direction ( i.e. start and stop investing) at the most ridiculous moments is a fundamental motive for microscopic business growth. Of the several hundred small businesses that I’m familiar with, less than 1% are capable of contemplating growth outside their local market (eg. beyond their city limits). And 99.97% are happy making enough money to upgrade their car every year, so mega-growth (new customer capture, which creates jobs) is not high on their list of desirability. Why? Because most business owners here are happy with the “status-quo”, and don’t want to risk losing what they’ve worked so arduously to gain by pursuing new opportunities that could double or triple their gains. “Don’t rock the boat” is the expression that comes to mind here.

Of course there is another key factor that Mark mentioned, and that is being well connected. The local expression is “It’s not IQ, it’s QI (quem indica)”… which roughly translates into “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know”. So he was right on target when stating that if you don’t do your do-diligence and network profusely, then your chances of finding rewarding work here are severely impaired.

My personal opinion is that Catho and Manager-on-Line are wastes of time, unless you’re ready to work for a slaves pay (between R$500 and R$1.500 per month). Just to be clear, these pay rates are highly sought after, because they represent a significant leap in living standards above the minimum pay of R$300 per month. For those who have a higher standard of living, these jobs are not worthwhile to pursue because you’ll be paying to work (automobile expenses, parking – when you can find it, etc.).

One strategy for anyone with an undergraduate degree is to invest in an MBA with a school like BSP (Business School São Paulo), where there is normally a fairly healthy database of active job postings in the finance and manufacturing markets for advanced positions (paying between R$5.000 and R$8.000 per month).

Another angle might be to get into the headhunting circles. Many of us veterans have long LONG lists of headhunters, but as the market has become somewhat saturated with them since 2001, it will require a bit of luck in finding one that actually has positions being actively filled. As a sidebar, many of the headhunters I’ve met and gone through “processes” with were former HR folks at the firms they currently work for. For one reason or another, they were dismissed and are headhunting as a way of trying to generate personal income – so, as in the US or EU, they can be counted on to do their best to sell you (particularly if you’re their first pick for the contemplated position).

My next recommendation is that you also consider talking with an “outplacement” firm like CareerCenter. There are a series of programs you can select from, including everything from a career (skills) evaluation to the full-blown job placement. Prices range from R$4.000 to R$8.000, depending on how much work you want them to do for you. I personally know a number of people who got their start in the market via this route, and have subsequently become completely integrated into the local job market.

And my final recommendation is that you consider perhaps starting your own business, providing services of one type or another. In my case, an ex-partner from one of the medium-size businesses where I worked on a project asked me to become a partner in a start-up providing outsourcing in the SMB (small & medium business) market. We’ve been working since February of this year, and have already reached break-even. Our next challenge will be in growing ourselves to the point where we’re able to start drawing modest salaries. But this is a topic for future conversations. The real message here is that in being your own boss, you can stop worrying about whether or not you’ll be included in that next round of “cost reductions” coming down the pike.

Action beats inaction any day, so get moving if you’re serious about working here in Brasil.

Good hunting, and even better networking!

— Alb

Previous articles by Mark Taylor:

Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Termites
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil… the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Piracy
Brazil: Gestures
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil: Halloween
Brazil says “No” to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil’s Gun Referendum
Brazil: Scams
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet – Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN