By Joe Lopes
Continuing from last week here’s part 15 of Joe’s excellent guide to teaching English in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the relevant links at the bottom of the page.

One Last Call
I get ready for my noontime class. Before leaving, I make myself a light snack just to have something solid in my stomach. As I munch on my sandwich, the telephone rings. My wife answers and it’s Vera, a lawyer friend of mine, who dabbles as an English language teacher on the side.

Lately, because of the turnaround in the economy, Vera’s law practice has been sliding a bit, so she’s been doing more translation and teaching work as financial stopgaps. I take the call, knowing that my friend will keep on calling me until I respond to her query.

She says she needs my help with a translation of some phrases” for a legal document she’s preparing. I spend about twenty minutes on the line with her, trying to waylay her “doubts” about the text. She wants me to review her work and make any changes to it before she prints it out for her client. I tell her to send it to me via email and I will get to it later today. She thanks me for my help, as I hand the receiver back to my wife.

I met Vera while I was attending a gathering of teaching colleagues at a mutual friend’s house. She earned her Master’s degree in Linguistics, taught English as a Foreign Language at União Cultural, and was currently working on her post-graduate thesis in Comparative Law.

As a non-native speaker, though, there were moments when she was simply unable to grasp the innate subtleties of the English language. At those times, she required the assistance of a competent legal advisor.

Since I happened to have a paralegal degree from an accredited American university, I was more than willing to help Vera with her ingls jurdico (legal English), which is used in all forms of Contract Law, Criminal Law, Procedural and Substantive Law, Civil and Matrimonial Law, as well as Bankruptcy and Immigration Law.

For Vera’s law studies group, I was even able to teach several courses of my own design, which were taught in English (with a smattering of Portuguese), and tailored to the tastes of lawyers, law students, secretaries and other legal professionals.

As I mentioned before in Lesson 1, prospective teachers need to look carefully at their own business backgrounds or past specialties, and try to turn their previous work experience into potentially lucrative fields that may involve the use of English.

Other areas that may be applicable here are the airline industry, journalism, travel and tourism, hotel and hospitality, manufacturing, metallurgy, agriculture, crop science, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, engineering, Internet, computer technology, and sales, marketing and research.

Take a Card, Any Card
Your business card can be your entry ticket to many potential teaching opportunities, both of a temporary or permanent nature.

Be sure to have your pertinent contact information (including name, home address, home telephone number, cell phone number, pager, email address, and Internet website) all professionally printed on good quality stock. You can either do this yourself, if you have the requisite software and high-speed printer, or have one of the many specialty print shops around town do it for you.

While you are at it, try to think up a clever phrase, slogan, or jingle describing exactly what you do. It makes it easier for your potential pupils to remember you by. And have it printed on your business card, too. It can be anything within reason that tells students you’re in the “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” business.

Have a recognizable foreign symbol or logo printed onto the card that will connect you to your place of origin. For example, I used to have the American flag and a bald eagle – quite apropos, in my case – placed on all my business cards, followed by my title (Mr. Joe Lopes, but not Josmar, which sounds too Brazilian), my profession (English Teacher), and a brief description of my services (translations, subtitling, dubbing of videos, English for Business Purposes, Legal English, whatever).

Hand them out to as many people as you come into contact with on a regular basis. You never know where they will end up, or in whose hands.

Before you know it, your telephone will be ringing off the hook, especially after Carnival, when most companies and their employees seem ready and willing to get down to the serious business of learning English.

Part 16 next week…

Copyright 2006 by Josmar F. Lopes

A naturalized American citizen born in Brazil, Joe Lopes was raised and educated in New York City, where he worked for many years in the financial sector. In 1996, he moved to Brazil with his wife and daughters. In 2001, he returned to the U.S. and now resides in North Carolina with his family. You can email your comments to

To read previous articles by Joe Lopes click below:

Teaching English In Brazil Part 14
Teaching English In Brazil Part 13
Teaching English In Brazil Part 12
Teaching English In Brazil Part 11
Brazil: Thrills, Spills, and… Oh Yes, No Ifs, Ands or Head-Butts, Please
Teaching English In Brazil Part 10
Teaching English In Brazil Part 9
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 4
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 4
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 3
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 2
Brazilian World Cup Debacle: Just Wait Till 2010! Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 3
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 2
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 2
Brazil: A Fever Called Corinthians Part 1
Brazil: Taking Flight on Florencia’s Fragile Wings Part 1
Teaching English In Brazil Part 8
Teaching English In Brazil Part 7
Teaching English In Brazil Part 6
Teaching English In Brazil Part 5
Teaching English In Brazil Part 4
Teaching English In Brazil Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 4
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 3
Teaching English In Brazil – Part I
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 2
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest Part 1
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 3
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 2
“Down in Brazil,” with Michael Franks Part 1
Brazil: A Candid Talk with Gerald Thomas
Getting to the “bottom” of Brazil’s Gerald Thomas
A Brazilian Diva Torn Between Europe and Brazil
The Enraged Genius of Brazil’s Maestro Neschling
A German Ring in the Brazilian Rainforest
Brazil’s Musical Polyglots: What Was That You Were Singing?
Did Bossa Nova Kill Opera in Brazil?

By Stephen Latham
This is a series of articles written by Stephen which date back to May 2005, and recount the transition of his life from the UK to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. To read the previous parts click the link at the end of the article.

Yesterday was my birthday so on Saturday evening we had a small party here in our apartment. We invited family and friends. The federal university largely shuts down (apart from exams) from December until after Carnival is over which this year is 28 February. However I believe my classes will start again at some point before this. Sadly it is very likely that most of the class will go their separate ways and next semester there will only be a few of us continuing. The party is probably the last time most of us will be together as a group.

Following advice from others who also had to learn Portuguese, I am going to start watching one of the many novelas on TV. The novelas are a kind of Brazilian soap opera that are televised 5 or 6 nights a week that most people watch. Apart from perhaps football, they are the most popular past time in Brazil so are also good from a cultural perspective as well. Not sure if I will like them, but guess I could get hooked and it’s an excuse to watch TV.

Although the Portuguese classes are over, I am hoping to be able to continue getting some tuition. Fatima, one of Eneida’s friends that teaches English in Belo Horizonte, has offered to ‘exchange’ some Portuguese tuition if I help her with some English teaching. To me it sounds like a very fair deal particularly as I find it hard to sit at home studying.

My trip to the UK to get my permanent visa and to ship my belongings to Belo Horizonte went smoothly. I am hoping to have my boxes before Christmas but this will depend on the port authorities in Santos, São Paulo and the UK. I’m looking forward to finally having my books, CD’s and other personal items with me.

I am also now well on the way to getting all the documentation and identity cards etc that I need to live and work here. I have my temporary ID and a document allowing me to drive for the next 6 months. I now have to wait for probably around another month or two for my actual permanent RNE (identity card) to be processed. This in turn will then allow me to apply for a provisional driving license that lasts 1 year. There are a couple of other things I need, but they are also only available once I have my permanent RNE. However thankfully the temporary ID was enough, after much discussion, to allow me to open a bank account. I will be very pleased when all this is over, but although things are getting easier, it will be at least another year before I have a full and permanent everything.

On returning to Brazil I was asked to get involved in a small press conference in São Paulo by a former colleague but after a similar event in London where no guests turned up, the production company who were organising the event in Brazil decided to pull out. However I contacted the production company that was taking over responsibility and was asked to continue in my role of overseeing the technical aspects here. However after another change of date, struggling to find a company that could build the set (or at least get one to quote in under a week!), the event was eventually cancelled a week before it was due to happen. I’m hoping that it will happen at some point in the future. It could still end up being my first job here.

Now that I have the required documents, I am starting to look to for work. I expect this to be varied for quite a while. Unfortunately, since I arrived in Brazil, the exchange rate has dropped by about 30% so am now finding it tough to live off the rent I am getting in the UK. In terms of work, I would like to become a local contact for European or American production companies working in Brazil. Given that it will take time to build up contacts, last week I also applied to a language school to teach English. In the short term I think teaching English is perhaps the most likely way to earn some money. Once my Portuguese has improved, I intend to start looking for work as a lighting designer here in Belo Horizonte but I expect this mainly to be architectural rather than event based projects.

We have decided to spend Christmas in Rio de Janeiro with some family and friends. We haven’t decided our plans yet for New Years but may stay in Rio if the weather is good or chose to travel elsewhere. At some point in mid-January we also plan to have a week away relaxing before Eneida goes back to work in February.

Although it will not be the first time I have spent Christmas on the beach, I am looking forward to getting some sun and a tan. Contrary to what you may think, the weather in Brazil is not always nice. Since returning from the UK 5 weeks ago, we have probably only had 5 nice sunny days. Lots and lots of cloud, many thunder storms and rain most days. Not much different from what it is like in the UK apart from being around 10-15C warmer. The rainy season apparently usually starts in late December or January and not November so I am hoping it will end early this year as well.

Previous articles by Stephen:

Postcards from Brazil Part 2
Postcards from Brazil Part 1

By Mark Taylor
I recently had a chance to read The Accidental President of Brazil – A Memoir, by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (with Brian Winter). For those who have not heard the name before, Fernando Henrique Cardoso has long been associated with Brazilian politics, and was president of Brazil from 1995 to 2003.

Although written as a memoir, as the title suggests, The Accidental President of Brazil is almost two books fused into one. Fernando Henrique (as he’s known to the Brazilian populace) recounts not only his own fascinating insight into Brazilian politics, but also that of his family and their brushes with other historical figures, such as Emperor Dom Pedro II. So on the one hand it’s an interesting memoir, and on the other a good summary of the last 120 years or so of Brazil’s history.

Curiously the book starts with a foreword by Bill Clinton, who it transpires towards the end of the book became good friends with Fernando Henrique during their parallel presidencies, and continues to be a good friend post-presidency.

The book starts with the first time that politics interrupted Fernando Henrique’s life, age 6, 1938, while on Niterói beach in Rio de Janeiro. His father, who ultimately became a General, was abruptly called to defend the president of the time, Getlio Vargas, from an uprising against the presidential palace. This account, like much of Brazil’s politics, took a surreal turn when Vargas himself was required to defend the palace, first with a hand gun, and then with a mounted machine gun.

From this first chapter, serving as an introduction to both Fernando Henrique, his family, and Brazil itself, we jump back in time to the era of Emperor Dom Pedro II. Fernando Henrique paints Dom Pedro II in a sympathetic light, and even loosely credits him, via a fascinating historical anecdote, of making the telephone a success when he sought it out at the Centennial Exposition, along with its inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Dom Pedro II’s retort It speaks!”, in response to Bell reciting Hamlet down the telephone, was reported around the world making it the sensation of the exposition. It was later on that Fernando Henrique’s grandfather crossed paths with Dom Pedro II, when he was one of the soldiers led by Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca in the military coup against the emperor.

Fernando Henrique then guides us through his middle-class childhood in Rio, and then his subsequent move to São Paulo, where he ended up studying philosophy and sociology at Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Staying at USP following his graduation he was somewhat bemusingly labelled a militant during the March 1964 military coup, and had to go into hiding. Finally, as the situation worsened, he decided he had to leave Brazil, and fled to Argentina, then a month later to Chile (for a job opportunity).

Thankfully, given some time, the situation in Brazil relaxed a bit and Fernando Henrique was able to return in 1968. Although things weren’t quite as relaxed as he suspected, but he stayed firm and primarily in São Paulo, with the conviction of improving life in Brazil. Working within the system he finally was put forward as a candidate for the Senate in 1978, and despite a shaky start managed to beat the government candidate. It was around this time that Fernando Henrique met Luiz Incio Lula da Silva (Lula), who was a prominent union leader, and pledged his support to Fernando Henrique’s general and non-threatening policies.

During his time as a senator, albeit with one foot still in academia, Fernando Henrique was part of the “Diretas J!” (Rights Now!) and “Mudancas J!” (Change Now!) movements, which rocked the military government’s boat, but not sufficiently. Further political instability continued, until he was requested, in 1993, to be the Finance Minister by the then president Itamar Franco (despite declining, Itamar still named Fernando Henrique the minister). Believing it the end of his political career, as the government had already gone through several Finance Ministers in a disastrous economic situation, Fernando Henrique was determined to try and effect a sensible and simple financial plan, despite his background lacking the right experience. The Plano Real resulted, and was widely credited for bringing Brazil out of economic chaos.

In 1994, with the Real plan on the verge of instigation, Fernando Henrique decided to run for president, against the favourite, Lula. One of his key motivations was to keep Lula out of the presidency if possible, to prevent him destroying the Real plan. After a very up and down presidency race Fernando Henrique won, and was voted in on October 3rd, 1994. Perhaps one of Fernando Henrique’s greatest triumphs, whether he sees it that way or not, was with AIDS in Brazil. His government decided to make the issue very public, with high infection rates in Brazil, and promoted safe sex over abstinence and fidelity. This was coupled with free access to retroviral AIDS drugs through a law passed in 1996. His government challenged the World Trade Organisation (and principally the USA) in a bold step, over pharmaceutical patents, and threatened to produce generic retroviral drugs if they weren’t supplied at low prices. It seems certain that these policies saved hundreds of thousands of Brazilians from being infected, based on UN predictions versus the reality in Brazil today.

Fernando Henrique was elected for a second term on October 3rd, 1998. This followed a controversial amendment to the constitution that he proposed, that was passed through the senate, to allow a president to serve more than one term. His primary aim was to see the Real plan through several more years, to help Brazil’s economic stability. During this time he became good friends with the then US president Bill Clinton, although following George Bush’s election the US contact with Brazil dropped dramatically.

Then on January 1st, 2003, Fernando Henrique handed over the presidential sash to Lula, despite fielding what he thought would be a great candidate as his replacement, Jos Serra. Following a brief break Fernando Henrique continues his busy and varied life, lecturing at conferences on topics from economics to AIDS, as well as taking part in many international assignments.

The book ends with four Brazilian presidents (3 ex, and 1 current) meeting mostly by coincidence at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

The Accidental President of Brazil is not a light nor a heavy read at around 270 pages, but the pace of the book is fast enough to make time fly when reading. There’s also the rich detail about both Fernando Henrique’s life and his often fascinating anecdotes, as well as the history of Brazil during that time. That again is the strength of the book, in that not only do you get the interesting account of Fernando Henrique’s life, but also a good summary of the political events and an insight into the sociology of Brazil that would perhaps make dull reading elsewhere. Fernando Henrique’s encounters with Lula also give an insight into how he has changed over the years into the president we see now.

So in summary a highly recommended read for anyone even remotely interested in Brazil’s recent history and/or politics, and purely as a fascinating memoir about an interesting individual.

The Accidental President of Brazil – A Memoir, by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (with Brian Winter). Preface by Bill Clinton. Published by PublicAffairs.

ISBN-13: 978-1-58648-324-1
ISBN-10: 1-58648-324-2

To purchase a copy of The Accidental President of Brazil click here.

If you have a comment on Mark’s article or would simply like to contact him then email

Previous articles by Mark:

Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 1
The PCC Shows a New Level of Organisation
Brazil: Metr-ettiquette
Brazil: Trading Places
Brazil: São Paulo’s Pinacoteca
Brazil: Don’t Forget, You’re in Another Country!
Brazil: PCC Violence Returns to São Paulo
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
Brazil’s World Cup Defeat Party
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 4
Brazil: Japanese Standard Chosen for Digital TV
Brazil: NET Petition Feedback
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 3
Brazil: Football Love
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 2
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 1
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 3
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 1
GPS in Brazil
Brazil: PCC Attacks in São Paulo
Brazil: Tips on Buying or Renting an Apartment or House
Brazil: A Critical Sensitivity
Cleanliness is next to Brazilianiness
Brazil: Manners
Brazil: No Change, No Sale
Brazilian TV
Brazil: Ubatuba
Brazil: Professional Children
Brazil: We deliver… everything!
Brazil: Terrao Itlia
Brazil: A Layman’s Carnival Guide
Brazil: Portunglish or Engluguese?
Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
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 Lee Safian
For those of you who have never been to a beach in Brazil, you are missing a real treat. My beautiful Brazilian wife, Mariuza, first introduced me to them during one of our frequent visits to her Brazilian family in São Paulo. I have been to beaches in New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, as well as in the countries of France and Israel. None of those places has beaches as relaxing as those in Brazil. I have been to Brazilian beaches in the cities of Guaruja, Porto Seguro, and Rio de Janeiro. If you are staying at a hotel, they will provide you with a chaise lounge, umbrella, and towels. If you are not staying at a hotel, you can have a free chair put out for you by the people running the many kiosks on the beach. They will bring to your seat an assortment of food and beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. If you do not care to sunbathe on a chaise lounge, you can always sit at a table near one of the many kiosks. You can enjoy a relaxing meal or a drink and enjoy the magnificent scenery.

While relaxing on the beach you can buy from the many different vendors who walk up and down the sandy beach. The large variety of items includes: hand embroidered table linens; homemade jewelry; sarongs; flip flops; hats; swim suits; sunscreen; sunglasses; homemade kites; ice cream; chilled coconut milk; fried shrimp on a skewer; peanuts; etc. You can bargain with the sellers and even pay later if you do not have the money with you.

For those people who like to exercise, the beaches in Guaruja and Rio de Janeiro have beautifully designed sidewalks that run parallel to the beach. It is a nice place for a stroll. More active people might also enjoy riding a bicycle, or rollerblading on the path that is next to the sidewalk. Of course, you also have the option of playing volleyball or futebol (soccer) on the sand.

Other differences between the beaches in Brazil and the USA are that the Brazilian beaches do not charge a fee like at the New Jersey beaches. Furthermore, because Brazil does not have hurricanes, the beaches do not erode like the American beaches. Best of all, you can enjoy the warm Brazilian weather at the shore almost all year long. In the northeast of the United States, our warm weather only lasts three months.

Finally, the beaches that I have visited in Brazil are clean and manned by lifeguards. In Guaruja, for instance, there are also showers provided near the kiosks to cool off and to clean off one’s feet before leaving the beach. For the men reading this, it is also nice to sit in one’s chair and watch the beautiful Brazilian women walking around in their tiny Brazilian bathing suits. We cannot wait to return.

By Kimberly Kubitza
I can still remember the tears my husband and I cried as we watched my parents ride away in taxi for their flight back to the USA. Ten days earlier they had accompanied me, my husband and 2 small children to assist us in our move from Ohio to the state of São Paulo. I should probably mention that, at this time, I was eight months pregnant with our 3rd child and this was NOT a corporate move – meaning, we did not have the help that many other families have when they are relocated for business. So after months of preparation and anticipation we were alone: no car, no language, no friends, no family and no idea what lay ahead of us.

Our first few days in Brazil were spent at a hotel. We had maid service, a huge breakfast buffet, a pool and a never ending source of cafzinho. It was like being on vacation: but our honeymoon with this strange land would soon come to an end. That first night we decided to venture out into the neighborhood for dinner, I mean, after all, if this was going to be our home than let’s not waste any time being timid. We were armed with a small tour book map and my mom’s Portuguese Phrase Book” so we really thought we were ready for anything. How naive, not the cute kind of naive – the stupid kind.

We decided on a bakery that was serving a buffet as it seemed to be the easiest of our choices. Perhaps assuming that anything can be easy was my first mistake. When we walked in we stood around for 5 minutes before we realized that it was a self-seating establishment, the waiter had to mime “do you want a booster seat for your kids” and after thinking that ordering water for drinks would be a no-brainer we then had to figure out why our waiter kept asking about our gas. By the time we made it once around the buffet we had already been thoroughly amused and embarrassed. It was becoming apparent that we would have to work hard for the things that we never thought about at home.

When we had finished eating there was an argument about who would ask for the bill but then we noticed a weird plastic card on the table and thought, “well, what the heck is this?”. At the bakery counter I managed to order a dessert to take back to the hotel but realized the attendant was placing my tort on a plate when I wanted it “to go”. Oh boy, more charades – I had to think fast – try walking in place and act like you are carrying a small package. I am sure, to this day, the wait staff laughs at us when we walk past. Sometimes I want to go in and elegantly order off the menu and really look like I know what I am doing to show them how far I have come. But one thing I have learned is that as soon as I think I know what I am doing something unexpected happens and I am back to being a dumb American.

From that day on there has rarely been a day when we have not felt either really silly or totally stupid as we attempt to assimilate into this new culture. Of course some differences are very subtle. For example, walking out to the hotel pool to find that my mom and I are the ONLY ones wearing a one piece and, as a side note, I was not the only pregnant girl there. Other differences are much more obvious, like finding out that I was planning an all-natural water birth in a city that has a cesarean rate any surgeon would love.

There are several important things I have realized through this experience so far. First of all, a sense of humor is paramount. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, and we do a lot of laughing. Equally important, I have begun to see myself in all the foreigners living in my home country. All of a sudden I am innately aware of their struggles, frustrations, joys, fears and dreams. So the next time I am in the express lane at Wal-Mart and some immigrant is wasting my time with a cart full to the brim, shrugging her shoulders while the cashier is trying to explain very loudly and with expressive gestures that the line is for “10 and under” I will smile kindly and think of the time I held up a long line of people for 40 minutes at the post office in Brazil trying to mail a postcard.”

By Jose Santiago
Hiring a lawyer in Brazil is no different from anywhere in the world. Start by asking your friends and relatives for referrals, do some internet shopping, participate in online forums. You can also get referrals from local BAR offices, Chambers of Commerce, and Embassies or Consulates.

Here are some relevant tips to do the initial screening to whittle down you list to two or three prospective candidates:

  • Look at the biographies and web sites for the lawyers. Do they appear to have expertise in the area of Law that you need?
  • Search the Internet under the name of the lawyer and his or her law firm. Can you find any articles, FAQs or other informational pieces that the lawyer has done that that give you a level of comfort?
  • Ask other people if they have heard of the lawyers and what they think about them.
  • Look to see if a lawyer is affiliated with associations that cater to your legal issues. For example, most bar associations have sections in real estate law and other related categories. Having a lawyer who is involved in a chamber of commerce or other local organizations may also be a good sign, depending on your legal needs.
  • Before you hire a lawyer, always ask for references. You will want to talk to people who could comment on the lawyer’s skills and trustworthiness. Ask if it is okay to talk to some of the lawyer’s representative clients. A residential real estate lawyer, for example, should be able to give you the names of a few real estate agents.

The second step is to get more detailed information on each one. In Brazil, every single lawyer admitted to practice law in Brazil must be licensed, affiliated, and registered by and with the local Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil”, known as the OAB, which is the Brazilian version of the American BAR. More information regarding the OAB can be obtained at:

Having said that, you should make sure the lawyer is licensed and is in good status, meaning, his license is neither suspended nor revoked. Some office branches, such as the Rio de Janeiro branch has a website where you can run a search based on name or license number (

Once the inscription and good status are confirmed by the local OAB, the third step is to request a bio or a resume of qualifications and a reference list, so you can attest the lawyer’s past experience and education, as well as consult with his or hers past clients.

Furthermore, when comes to assisting foreigners, is fundamental that lawyer speaks the client’s language fluently, otherwise there will always be a communication barrier between the professional and the client, which cannot take place in such important relationship.

Also, education and experience abroad is very important. The lawyer must be able to explain the differences between the legal systems by using the technical terms used in the other country, so his clients can have a better understanding.

It is prudent to ask your future lawyer questions such:

  • Are you specialized in this area of Law?
  • Have you handled matters like this one before?
  • Approximately how many matters like this have you handled previously?
  • Do you provide a written contract in my language? If so, ask to see an example.
  • Can you call and expect a reasonably prompt response?
  • How can I contact in case of an emergency? Can I have your cell phone or pager?

Part 2 next week…

Jose C. Santiago
Multinvest / Elite International
Licensed Attorney – Brazil
Licensed Real Estate Agent – USA
Phones: (55-11) 9348-5729 – São Paulo, Brazil
(800) 983-7060 – Miami, USA
Skype: josecsantiago

Previous articles by Jose:

Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 4
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 3
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 2
Tax Information for Foreigners in Brazil Part 1
8 Reasons to Invest in Brazil’s Real Estate
The Brazilian Resident Investor Program for Foreigners
Brazil: Annual Required Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number
Legal Aspects of Acquiring Real Estate in Brazil

The American Roots Trio will be playing this Saturday, September 2nd, in Jardim Paulista. Stop by for an enjoyable evening of food, drinks, music, and conversation.

The American Roots Trio is formed by Nashville-trained musicians Rodrigo Haddad and Thiago Farah, and American writer Jason Bermingham. The set list includes the best of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp, and other American artists. For more, visit

Saturday, September 2, at 10 p.m.
Rua Henrique Martins, 483
Jardim Paulista – São Paulo
To reserve a table: (11) 3889-0010
Cover charge: R$6.00

By John Fitzpatrick
GDP growth is a bit of an obsession in Brazil. You can’t attend a seminar or presentation without GDP growth grabbing the center of attention and the same old arguments and comments being made. Everyone agrees that the country needs to grow if it is to increase its wealth and bring an end to the social inequality which is a sad hallmark of what is otherwise one of the world’s most convivial countries. Everyone knows how this is to be done – remove the heavy hand of government, cut bureaucracy, reduce taxes, open the economy and, hey presto, growth will appear. If it was that easy why have the governments of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva been unable to do so?

The answer is equally simple – because the Brazilian political scene is so complicated and the Constitution such a dead weight, dragging everything down with it, that any meaningful reform requires an effort which would be unthinkable in a more mature democracy or, of course, in a dictatorship like China. This was the lesson the PT learned when it came to power. To deal with this situation, the PT bought votes and, by doing so, showed it was as corrupt and unethical as other political parties and vested interests.

Growth has been unimpressive over the last decade and there is little prospect of Brazil reaching consistent annual rates of 6% or 7%, the levels at which analysts feel the country needs to make the kind of leap forward we have seen in China. This fact shows that much of this debate is academic and of little relevance to the real world.

Back in the days of Brazil’s economic miracle” between 1969 and 1973, GDP rose in annualized terms by an average of 11.2%. In 1973 alone, it soared by 13%. This growth rate slowed down to a still impressive average of 6.7% between 1974 and 1978 before things started to go wrong and the country entered what became known as the “lost decade”. This era was marked by rising inflation which ended with Brazil defaulting on part of its foreign debt. It also led to the military handing power over to civilians two decades ago. Some Brazilian observers look back with nostalgia at these fantastic growth rates. Even Lula has spoken admiringly of some of the economic achievements carried out by the military regime which jailed him at one point.

Growth has not approached these previous levels over the last decade even though the Real Plan, launched in 1995, ended high inflation. With the exception of 1994 and 2004, when growth came to 5.9% and 5.2% respectively, GDP has risen sluggishly. In some years, such as 1998, 1999 and 2003, there was barely any growth at all. For this year, most analysts are forecasting growth of around 3.5% while government ministers and supporters are talking of 4%. Opposition supporters and the anti-Lula media are trying to use these estimates to show that things are not going as well as the government is claiming.

Media Attack
For example, the business section of the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper recently featured an article entitled “O PIB e a poltica econmica” or “GDP and the economic policy”. This piece discussed the latest Central Bank survey which showed that market analysts had revised their estimate for GDP growth this year downwards to just under 3.5%. The article said that the government was not doing enough to boost the economy and that policies to encourage economic growth, such as making credit more available were not working. It also criticized rising government expenditure which it claimed was preventing Brazil’s sky-high interest rates from being cut further. It called for a “courageous” reform of the costly social security system and for priority to be given to infrastructure.

This article, which appeared on August 22, is a good example of the academic approach mentioned above and ignores what is happening in the real economy. First of all, the formal economy is performing well and Lula is banking on this feel-good mood among ordinary people to give him a landslide victory in the upcoming election. Formal employment and real wages are rising. Recent surveys show that 95% of pay negotiations held in the first quarter of this year brought pay increases equal to or higher than inflation. Another crucial point is that the Central Bank is continuing its policy of cutting interest rates.

Although Brazilian interest rates are among the highest in the world, the Central Bank has been cutting them consistently since September 2005 and they are expected to fall to 14% by the end of this year. It is worth pointing out that the current base rate is the lowest since the Real Plan.

Secondly, inflation is well under control and is likely to be within the government’s target of 4.5% for this year and next. Thirdly, Brazil is still enjoying an export boom despite the fact that the Real has appreciated considerably against the dollar. The treasury has seized this opportunity to pay off practically all of Brazil’s outstanding foreign debt. (This comes on top of the repayment of the country’s debt to the IMF and Paris Club.) This trade surplus created by the export boom has allowed the Central Bank to build up foreign reserves of around US$70 million. This is a war chest which could be used to face any speculative attack on the currency.

Fourthly, there are no signs that whoever wins the presidential election in October – Lula or challenger Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB – will alter the economic policy in any radical way. Lula stated recently that he would maintain the primary surplus at 4.25% of GDP.

There are certainly many problems facing Brazil and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. The Estado article is right to point to rising government expenditure and the need for the money to be spent on improving infrastructure. However, it is futile to call for a “courageous” reform of the social security system since there is simply no political will for any such reform in any quarter – left-wing, right-wing or center. A statement like this makes no positive contribution to this vitally important debate. Unfortunately, the sheer size of Brazil and its large number of political parties means this subject is practically out of bounds. The country will have to face it one day but for the moment, the problem has been brushed under the carpet.

Importance of Informal Economy
Finally, one of the reasons why a difference of half a percentage point or even a whole percentage point in GDP growth is not as worrying as it would be in a developed country is because of the huge size of the informal economy in Brazil. It is impossible to get accurate figures and I have seen estimates ranging from 35% to 70%. You just need to walk down any street to see the informal economy in action whether it is someone peddling CDs and DVDs, setting up a fast food stall or offering to carry your shopping from a market.

This black economy has many negative points since it thrives on crime, corruption, smuggling and counterfeiting, and deprives the government of tax revenue. On the other hand, it provides a social safety valve to bridge the gap between the better and worse off. It allows middle class and rich Brazilians to sleep (more or less) soundly at night knowing that there are no bands of revolutionaries controlling large parts of the country and posing a threat to their way of life, as is the case in Colombia and was the case in Peru until recently.

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 He can be contacted at

Previous articles by John Fitzpatrick on

Brazil’s Election – Alckmin Hands Lula Victory on a Plate
Lula Hits Back at Congress
Brazil’s Presidential Election May Not be a Walkover for Lula
Pity the Brazilian Voter
Brazil’s Fainthearts Let the Nation Down
Now is the Winter of Brazil’s Discontent
World Cup brings Out the Best and Worst in Brazil
Brazil’s Big Spender
Brazil: The Dogs of War are Unleashed in São Paulo
Brazil: Self-Righteous Indignation Marks Bolivian Nationalization
Brazil: Lula Still Vulnerable
Brazil: The PSDB Takes the Hard Road
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 3
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 2
Fooling Around with Brazilian Politics and History Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin the Hare Takes on Serra the Tortoise
Patronizing Brazilians the Politically Correct Way
Brazil: Election Gives Voters Chance to Clean Up Congress
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 restaurant in Jardins, an art exhibition at Pinacoteca, this week’s recommended film release, and a roundup of some other upcoming events.

Gero"This week’s restaurant recommendation is Gero, a well known restaurant in São Paulo. The restaurant is part of the Fasano Group (as was Parigi last week), and opened in 1995. Gero has a contemporary and elegant style, and not surprisingly Italian cuisine is the restaurant’s speciality. The cuisine, award winning, varies from risottos, pastas, and meat and fish dishes. Open Monday – Thursday: 12pm – 3pm and 7pm – 1am, Friday: 12pm – 3pm and 7pm – 1:30am, Saturday: 12pm – 4:30pm and 7pm – 1:30am, Sunday: 12pm – 4:30pm and 7pm – midnight. Rua Haddock Lobo, 1629. Cerq. Csar.

Alexander CalderOpening this week at Pinacoteca is an exhibition of work from the US artist Alexander Calder. Calder (1898 – 1976) is famous for his work in the early to mid 20th century with wire modelling and kinetic art, creating a series of kinetic sculptures dubbed “mobiles”. Calder also experimented with static self-supporting sculptures which were similarly dubbed “stabiles”. The exhibition at Pinacoteca is the result of three years of research by the historian Roberta Saraiva, and the sculptures come from Brazilian collectors. There are 50 works on show. The exhibition finishes on October 15th. Note that Pinacoteca has other temporary and fixed exhibits. Tickets R$4 (Students R$2, free on Saturdays). Open Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm. Praa da Luz, 2. Bom Retiro. Tel. 3229 9844.http://www.Sããopaulo/cultura/museus_pinac.htm

Miami ViceThis week’s film recommendation is Miami Vice (titled Miami Vice in Portuguese as well). The film is a modern take on the famous 80s TV series with vice cops Crockett and Tubbs. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas are replaced by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in this version. In a similar tale to the original series the two cops go undercover as smugglers, where they take on international drugs traffickers. The line between cop and smuggler gets blurred though as they get drawn into the underworld they are trying to investigate, and so the story unfolds. The film has been received relatively reasonably abroad, and is recommended for fans of action films. Rated R in the USA, and 15 in the UK. IMDB’s page on Miami Vice. Guia da Semana’s page on Miami Vice, with showing cinemas and times.

Here’s a roundup of some other events happening around São Paulo over the coming weeks: The German dance company of Pina Bausch present their show “For the Children of Yesterday” (Para as Crianas de Ontem) at Teatro Alfa on August 29th to September 3rd (tickets R$30 – 200, Tel. 5693 4000). Famous Brazilian singer Chico Buarque is on tour for the first time since 1999 with his new album “Carioca”. His show will be at the Tom Brasil Naes between August 30th and September 17th (tickets R$80 – 160, available from Ingresso Rpido, Tel. 2163 2000). US heavy metal band Slayer bring their album “Christ Illusion” to the Via Funchal on September 1st and 2nd (tickets R$100 – 200, tel 3089 6999). The Bill T Jones and Arnie Zane dance company, from the US, are bringing their show “Another Evening” to the Teatro Municipal on September 1st and 2nd (tickets R$10 – 120, available from Ticketmaster, Tel. 6846 6000, British pop artist Jamie Cullum is coming to the Via Funchal on September 5th (tickets R$100 – 350, tel. 3089 6999). The Campari Rock festival returns to São Paulo on September 6th at the Via Funchal, with British group The Gang of Four and Swiss group The Cardigans (tickets R$100 – 180, tel. 3089 6999). To commemorate 95 years of the Teatro Municipal the Orquestra Experimental de Repertório will be playing music from Shostakovich made for the cinema, such as the theme from The Battleship Potemkin (tickets R$10 – 15, available from Ticketmaster, Tel. 6846 6000, The festival event Motomix Art Music comes to Espao das Amricas on September 16th, and brings a mix of International groups and DJs such as Art Brut (UK), Adult (USA), Franz Ferdinand (UK), Addictive TV (UK), Peter Hook (UK), Radio 4 (USA), The MFA (UK), Schneider TM (Germany), Annie (Norway), Isolee (Germany), Swayzak (UK), Gui Boratto (Brazil), Andrew Weatherall (UK), Adam Freeland (UK), Modeselektor + Pfanfinderei (Germany). The famous musical Sweet Charity comes to Citibank Hall on September 17th (tickets R$60 – 120, available from Ticketmaster, Tel. 6846 6000, The rock festival Live ‘n’ Louder is coming to Anhembi on October 14th, and famous Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura will be playing along with the Finnish group Stratovarius and German group Primal Fear (tickets R$120 – 250, available from Ingresso Rpido, Tel. 2163 2000). Famous British band New Order are coming to the Via Funchal on November 13th and 14th (tickets R$160, tel. 3089 6999). The British rock veterans Deep Purple play some of their greatest hits, such as “Smoke on the Water”, at Tom Brasil on November 28th and 29th (tickets R$100 – 200, Ingresso Rpido tel. 2163 2000).

If you have been to a restaurant, club, park, museum, 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 are a bar, restaurant , or night club owner (or hosting any other form of event that might be of interest to foreigners) that would like to be reviewed by, as well as appearing in our entertainment guide, please contact us to arrange a visit. If you would like to submit a weekly entertainment guide for your city we’d be interested to hear from you also.

What’s On Guide, August 21 – August 27 2006
What’s On Guide, August 14 – August 20 2006
What’s On Guide, August 8 – August 13 2006
What’s On Guide, August 1 – August 7 2006
What’s On Guide, July 24 – July 31 2006
What’s On Guide, July 17 – July 23 2006
What’s On Guide, July 10 – July 16 2006
What’s On Guide, July 3 – July 9 2006
What’s On Guide, June 26 – July 2 2006
What’s On Guide, June 19 – June 25 2006
What’s On Guide, June 12 – June 18 2006
What’s On Guide, June 5 – June 11 2006
What’s On Guide, May 29 – June 4 2006
What’s On Guide, May 22 – May 28 2006
What’s On Guide, May 15 – May 21 2006
What’s On Guide, May 8 – May 14 2006
What’s On Guide, May 1 – May 7 2006
What’s On Guide, April 24 – April 30 2006
What’s On Guide, March 27 – April 2 2006
What’s On Guide, March 20 – March 26 2006
What’s On Guide, March 13 – March 19 2006
What’s On Guide, March 6 – March 12 2006
What’s On Guide, February 20 – March 5 2006
What’s On Guide, February 13 – February 19 2006
What’s On Guide, February 13 – February 19 2006
What’s On Guide, February 06 – February 12 2006
What’s On Guide, January 30 – February 05 2006
What’s On Guide, January 23 – January 29 2006
What’s On Guide, January 16 – January 22 2006

By Boris Goldshmit
Here is part 3 of Boris’s article, with advice on how to hire a suitable real estate agent in Brazil. To read the previous parts click the link at the bottom of the article.

Taking on a listing
In order to publicly advertise a property for sale (newspaper ads, web site listings, etc) it is necessary for a broker to have an exclusive listing contract.

It is a very unfortunate fact that in many cases brokers do not bother to get exclusivity nor take any steps in order to investigate or even to visit a property they are expected to sell.

In the ideal case, the broker would obtain exclusivity (lack of MLSs, competitive market, and poor working relationship with the public often result in properties advertised by a number of brokers/agencies with different prices), visit the property and conduct preliminary due diligence investigation.

Such investigation should include obtaining historical title extract (Certidão Vintenria AKA nus Reais), and any additional documentation that could shed light on the legal status of the property and its owner(s).

It’s been estimated that about 40% of properties currently on the market in Brazil have some issue with the title. Confirming that the person selling the property is actually the owner and there are no any other immediate irreparable impediments to the ownership transfer should be one of the first steps of preparing a healthy listing.

The broker should make at least one visit to the property to confirm and investigate its location, integrity, and peculiarities. It is imperative to speak with the owner, neighbors, sindico (condominium administrator), and any other source that could potentially provide valuable information that could not be found on legal documentation about the property.

As a client you can contribute to increase in professionalism and combat of informality on real estate market by always making sure that the real estate professional you are working with is legit and that all the necessary preliminary steps have been taken before visiting a prospective property or allowing your property to be listed.

The state professional association – CRECI (Conselho Regional de Corretores de Imóveis) – can offer little but a professional reprimand and judgment by peers.

Hiring a broker
Technically, a client/broker relationship begins with the signing of a listing or a service provider agreement.

The set of contracts that can be signed between a broker and a client is generally known as: CONTRATO DE INTERMEDIAO IMOBILIRIA (Real Estate Brokerage Service Contract.

The following types of contracts are recognized:


Despite the fact that a service contract is obligatory (by professional and legal standards) between a client and a real estate broker, there have been numerous cases where commission rights had been granted to a contesting broker even when no such contract existed.

Part 4 next week…

Boris Goldshmit is the founder of and a Licensed Real Estate Broker based in Rio de Janeiro. He can be contacted at

Previous articles by Boris:

How to Hire a Real Estate Agent in Brazil Part 2
How to Hire a Real Estate Agent in Brazil Part 1