By John Fitzpatrick
Brazilian and foreign shareholders must be wondering why decisive punitive action in an insider trading scandal involving one of Brazil’s biggest companies has been taken by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and not the Brazilian equivalent, known as the CVM. The SEC announced on February 21 that it had imposed penalties on the former chief financial officer of the meat processing company Sadia, amounting to around US$364,400 for illegally buying shares in another meat processing firm, Perdigão, just before Sadia tried to acquire it last July. A former employee of the ABN AMRO bank was also ordered to pay a total of around US$135,380 for his involvement. The CVM issued a statement on February 22 saying that it had cooperated with the SEC investigation yet gave no idea when its own investigation would be completed. In other words, it has taken the US authorities, located almost 5,000 miles away in New York, just over six months to do what the CVM has failed to do on its own doorstep and punish the wrongdoers.

There was something strange about this matter – both in terms of corporate governance and insider trading – right from the day the Sadia bid was announced. The proposal was dubbed Brazil’s first hostile corporate takeover bid but if you had been away for a week you would have missed it. The initial bid made on Monday July 17 was rejected on Tuesday by Perdigão as being too low. Sadia came back with an improved offer on Thursday which was rejected by Perdigão on the same day. On Friday, Sadia then said it would not be making any further offer and gave up.

Had the deal gone through, it would have created the world’s fourth-largest food processing company, with over 80,000 employees and annual revenues of around US$5.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. Yet these decisions were taken at breakneck speed by a handful of people – the managers of some pension funds with stakes of around 55% in Perdigão and some Sadia executives. Around 45% of shareholders in Perdigão had no say despite the fact that Perdigão shares are traded on the Novo Mercado of the São Paulo stock exchange which requires high levels of corporate governance and transparency and only lists companies with widely held shares, all with voting rights. Sadia’s shareholders were not consulted at all.

Those shareholders who may have wanted to hold on and await developments were not allowed to do so, due to the precipitous rejection by the Perdigão board of directors, which refused to even consider calling a shareholders meeting. Sadia’s hasty retreat also raises questions since it had originally given Perdigão shareholders until as far ahead as October 24 to make a decision. When one thinks of the long drawn-out takeover battles in other countries, such as RJR Nabisco, so memorably described in the book Barbarians at the Gate”, Vodafone and Mannesman, Mittal and Arcelor, Oracle and People Soft one can only wonder why this affair was so short and sharp.

As to the insider trading, it was obvious to anyone that news of Sadia’s approach had leaked or had been leaked. On Thursday July 13 when the market index, known as the Ibovespa, fell by around 2.4%, shares in Perdigão rose by 1.9% and Sadia shares rose by 1.1%. On Friday July 14, when the Ibovespa remained virtually flat, falling by 0.01%, Perdigão shares jumped by 5% and Sadia shares by 2.6%. On Monday July 17, when the offer was made public, Perdigão shares soared by 17.6% and Sadia shares by 1.9%. Anyone who chose to sell shares in either company, but particularly Perdigão, on that particular day would have made a nice profit indeed. Shares generally rise in the target company but it is not so common for them to rise in the bidder. This is another odd feature of this affair.

Considering these factors, it seems strange that the CVM has not acted sooner or even issued an interim report. A senior official at the CVM’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro told me on February 26 that its own investigation was continuing and he had “no idea” when an announcement would be made. Nor would he give a rough estimation in terms of weeks or months. The official also seemed unconcerned that there was no English version of its statement, issued on February 22, on its site and was unsure if an English version would be posted. Considering that both Sadia and Perdigão are traded on the NYSE, one would expect an English version of such an important announcement to be available.

Brazilian companies have made great progress in terms of corporate governance in recent years and the Novo Mercado has been a great success in attracting new and existing companies. Foreign investors own the majority of shares in many of these companies. There are now 35 Brazilian companies listed on the NYSE where their shares are traded as ADRs. However, this episode shows that the capital markets in Brazil still have a long way to go before they match standards in more mature markets. Investing in shares is a risky business anywhere but investors are unlikely to be prepared to take on additional risk due to poor oversight by the board of directors of companies and a dilatory approach by the regulatory body.

Notes: 1) Under the SEC agreement, the two men “Without admitting or denying the allegations. have each consented to the entry of a final judgment imposing injunctive and monetary relief.” The SEC also stressed that it was still investigating the affair and referred to a former senior member of the Sadia board of directors who had resigned over his involvement in the scandal. The deal means that presumably no criminal charges will be taken against the men in the US. The CVM pointed out that although it could also reach a similar agreement it could also hand over the results of the investigation to the public prosecutor’s office.

2) For more on this subject see my article “Brazil’s Stock Market – the Path to Riches or Rags” at Brazil Political Comment, November 7, 2006.

John Fitzpatrick 2007

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 Opposition Parties Try to End Disarray
Lula Faces Arm-Wrestling Contest with New Congress
Brazil Waits for Lula to Return from Holiday
Around Brazil: Santana de Parnaiba
Brazilians Start to Stand Up for Their Rights
Darfur – Brazil’s African Side Show
Economics and Politics in Brazil – a Tangled Web
Brazil’s Strange Idea of Democracy
Brazil: John Pizzarelli – the Boy from Ipanema
Brazil’s Stock Market: the Path to Riches or Rags?
Brazil: Lula Unlikely to Change Course after His Massive Victory
Brazil: Privatization – Lula and Alckmin Defend the Indefensible
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 2
Brazil: Many Emigrants, Fewer Immigrants Part 1
Brazil: Alckmin Hits Lula but Lands No Killer Blow
Brazil: Lula Pays the Penalty for Complacency
Brazil: Does Lula Deserve to Win?
Brazil: Cardoso Writes a Poison Pen Letter
Monte Verde – Brazil’s Green Mountain
Brazil’s Gross Disappointing Product
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?

By Jose Santiago
The frequency of wire transfers out of Brazil is increasing in frequenty, due to the latest increase in the value of the Brazilian Real compared, specially, to the American Dollar. Foreign homeowners and foreign real estate investors in Brazil are selling their real estate in order to cash out not only the real estate equity made, but also the income created due to increase of the Brazilian Real.

For example, last week I had a client who purchased a property 2 years ago for R$200,000 at R$2.70 per US$1.00 or US$74,000 approximately. The same property built up an equity of 25% (which is the national average of real estate appreciation for the past 2 years in Brazil) bringing the price up to R$250,000 alone and dividing that figure by today’s current rate of R$2.08(commercial rate of dollar on 2/21/07) he got more than US$120,000 or 61% in total equity.

Having said that, questions such, how do I send the money back and what are the restrictions of sending my money back, have become very frequent in my office.

In general terms it is a little more complicated than sending money into Brazil, but is 100% doable and safe. There are some requirements, for example, property must be in your name, your tax ID (CPF) must be valid and in good standing, and your tax income situation must be in good standing with Receita Federal as well. In the above example, my client had not renewed his CPF or done his tax declarations (declaracao de isento), therefore these two things had to be done before we were able to wire his account in the US. He spent US$40.00 in bank’s wire fees and received the money in the US within 24 hours.

Should you need additional information related to this matter, please feel free to contact me.

Jose C. Santiago
Licensed & Certified Title Attorney – Brazil
Paralegal & Licensed Real Estate Agent – USA

Previous articles by Jose:

The Closing Process in Brazil
Permanent Visas in Brazil
Brazil: International Money Transfers
Brazil: Squatters Rights (Usucapião) – Be Aware!
Brazil: Annual Procedures to Keep Your CPF Number Valid
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 3
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 2
How to Hire a Lawyer in Brazil Part 1
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

By Boris Goldshmit
Before we start discussing the intricacies of the renovation process in Brazil it would be a good idea to get some notion about the cost of different options.

Let’s take a typical Rio de Janeiro apartment of about 100 sq. meters (or 1,060 sq. feet) 2-bedroom/2-bathroom as a benchmark model for the sake of our discussion. The apartment would be about 40 years old with very little maintenance work done on it over the years.

Some of the typical necessary work that has to be done would include:

  • Electrical upgrade, such as rewiring and relocation of the electrical outlets and switches. (Many older apartments can have electrical service set as low as 30 amp single-phase)
  • Plumbing/sewage overhaul including extending hot water to all bathrooms and the kitchen.
  • Retiling kitchen/bathrooms
  • Refurbishing cabinets in kitchen and bathrooms
  • Window repairs
  • Floor repair and refinishing

    Note: Many of the older apartments have maid quarters that include an additional small bedroom/bathroom combination that actually turns this apartment into a 3-bedroom/3 bathrooms by other then Brazilian standards.

    The overall cost estimates based on the timeline, type of finishing materials, and a few other factors would be between R$300 and R$1,200 per sq. meter or US$14 to US$55 per square foot.

    This price includes labor, materials, and finishing. The lower end of prices will be with basic finishing materials, such as inexpensive ceramic tiles and wall paint without plaster.

    The high price renovation could include three-coat wall plastering; marble/granite wall and decorative features in the kitchen and the bathrooms; new kitchen and bathroom cabinets; new hardwood floors for living room and bedrooms; granite floors for kitchen and bathrooms; custom light project with decorative moldings features, etc.

    R$550 per sq. meter (US$24 per sq. meter) for the example project pictured to the left. Porcelain tile, non-plastered walls, hardwood wallboards. This project required reversal of a bathroom entrance and relocation of the shower and the toilet seat.

    Part 3 next week…

    Copyright 2007 by Editora Prometheus LTDA

    Boris Goldshmit is the founder of Lifestyles Brazil, a licensed Real Estate Broker, and a Residential General Contractor.

    He can be contacted at:

    +55 21 2255-6068
    +55 21 9149-6856

    See completed projects photos here:

  • By Jos Henrique Lamensdorf
    Here’s part 5 of Jos’s article about sworn translations in Brazil, subtitled Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Certified/Sworn Translations in Brazil”. To read the previous parts click the link at the end of the article.

    11. What is consularization? Consular authentication? Consular notarization? Consular legalization?

    These are all different ways to call the same thing, and there doesn’t seems to be any definitive right or wrong name for it. As there is nothing else similar enough to be confused with, all refer to the same thing.

    Depending on the purpose of the documents to be translated, their consularization may be required, for them to be accepted in Brazil. The best way out is to ask the entity where you will submit such documents whether the consularization is required or not. If it is, get it done before sending it for a sworn translation.

    Consularization is an endorsement by the local Brazilian diplomatic authorities, to certify that it’s legit. As I said before, the sworn translation does not add to the validity of any document.

    The Brazilian government has been taking steps to gradually dismiss the required consularization, both for Mercosul (Common Market of the South) countries and for others which don’t require it on Brazilian documents. This is a good enough reason for checking first.

    Consularization is seldom required on private business documents, such as trade agreements. This requirement is more often related to school documents and especially papers granting powers of attorney to anyone.

    Information on consularization can be found at Brazilian diplomatic offices in other countries, as well as these countries’ diplomatic offices in Brazil. One site (in Portuguese) that may help your search is:

    12. I have a document issued in Portugal (or any other Portuguese-speaking country). Does it need a sworn translation to be acceptable in Brazil?

    The technically correct answer would be “no”. First, the Brazilian Federal Constitution, in Art. 13th says that “The Portuguese language is the official tongue of the Federal Republic of Brazil”. It doesn’t leave room for regional variations of our language.

    Second, every Certified Public Translator in Brazil is implicitly licensed in Portuguese, and at least one foreign language. There is no such thing as a Brazilian Certified Public translator licensed for European, Continental, or Iberian Portuguese, as they are not seen as foreign languages by our Constitution.

    13. Are there public or sworn translation firms or agencies?

    Technically, no. According to the law, the Public Translator’s work is personal and cannot be assigned. However there are companies that resell Public Translators’ services. A sworn translation will always be signed by a duly licensed Public Translator, regardless of who received the payment. And this Public Translator will be the one responsible for the accuracy of the translation; the in-between will have nothing to do with it.

    Part 6 next week…

    Jos is a certified public translator and interpreter located in São Paulo city. He can be contacted via

    IMPORTANT NOTICE: All information herein is given in good faith as a free public service, based on the material available at the time it was compiled. It is merely for elucidative purposes, and there is no liability implied as to its accuracy. Information available on web sites linked here are the sole responsibility of their respective authors. No endorsement whatsoever is implied by these links.

    Previous articles by Jos:

    Understanding Brazil: Sworn Translations Part 4
    Understanding Brazil: Sworn Translations Part 3
    Understanding Brazil: Sworn Translations Part 2
    Understanding Brazil: Sworn Translations Part 1

    Meet Matt Bowlby, from the USA, who has lived and worked in, and travelled around Brazil. Read the following interview where he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences from Brazil and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

    1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

    I am an American and a recent university graduate. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota but spent most of my undergraduate studies abroad, with study experiences in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. I currently live and work in the Arab world in international development and humanitarian relief.

    2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

    I first came to Brazil during high school as a public health worker in the rural northeast. The experience was an incredible introduction to the country and certainly far from the Brazil most foreigners (and even Brazilians) ever see. I lived with a family in a one-room mud house in a small village in the sertão of Rio Grande do Norte.

    Later, I spent a year in Belo Horizonte studying at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais while living with a Brazilian friend of mine and his family. While studying I worked for a Brazilian non-profit, had a Brazilian girlfriend, and in a very real sense, became Brazilian. After that year I returned for an internship in São Paulo for a summer and left Brazil for the last time about a year and a half ago.

    3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

    As an American, it always astounds me to find other countries that have a sense of national identity and pride that rivals my own country. More than that, it’s the myth that fascinated me from the very beginning – o mito das trs raas, o pas do futuro, or in the words of Pero Vaz de Caminha, nesta terra, tudo que se planta, d!” It’s something I think Americans can relate to with our Manifest Destiny and the fairytale story of America (beacon of freedom and democracy, melting pot, etc.). Brazil, like the United States, is a country of great contrasts and superlatives.

    Beyond that, I first lived in an area of Brazil that few Brazilians have any idea really exists. I showed friends in São Paulo and Minas pictures of my travels there and they often refused to believe they were actual photos of their country. There more than anywhere you see the heart and soul of Brazilian kindness, o homem cordial and that noble struggle that I feel throughout Brazil in different ways.

    Above all, I am fascinated by that place. It’s the only place I’ve been where from the very moment you touch the ground, you want to become it. You feel this amazing desire to want to immerse yourself in everything and, as much as you can, be part of Brazil.

    4. What do you miss most about home?

    When I’m in Brazil, I miss some things about home. When I’m home, all I can think about is getting back to Brazil. But there are of course things in Brazil that I will never get used to – the crime, the incompetence of government beauracracy (it’s bad everywhere, but Brazil has perfected the art), the difficulty in doing simple things like opening bank accounts, always having to be on your toes and not being able to trust people like you can in the US. I miss things that work, work that gets done, order and cleanliness. But this is only at times and all part of the complex place that is Brazil.

    5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

    I have had many, like nearly being robbed three or four times. Most frustrating is perhaps my many bouts with the Polcia Federal in trying to get visas renewed and trying to find permanent work. It’s also unbelievably difficult to do business in Brazil and that frustrates me to no end.

    6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

    So many. I remember taking a cab through Rio in the middle of the night when a man stepped out in front of the cab with a huge gun. My cabby slammed on the brakes and did the most amazing 180 maneavur I’ve ever seen, before cutting through side streets, all without looking, and with one hand on the gun hidden below his seat. My hero – best tip I ever gave.

    7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

    As the Brazilian government slogan says, “o melhor do Brasil o brasileiro.” It’s true – they are an amazing people and impossible to describe in words. Beyond that, I love so many things – um bom forrozinho, pão de queijo, aa com xarope de guaran, samba, arroz e feijão, ceveja bem gelada, o jeitinho, anything rodzio, catupiry, doce de goiaba, I could go on forever.

    8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

    If you’re ever in Belo Horizonte and you want a real Brazilian experience, throw on your havaianas, a pair of bermudas and a t-shirt and head over to Opão. It’s right up the hill from Shopping del Rey and is without a doubt the best samba de raiz in town. Cheap Skol (bem gelada), a real copo sujo samba spot that will make you fall in love with Brazil right there. Opão gets kickin’ at around nine o’clock or so, so get there early and afterwards take a ride downtown to a nightclub or a great forró somewhere in the city. I also love the cervejaria Albanos – great chopp and salgadinhos. For a little fim de noite, take a trip over to the Bolão, a small and simple restaurant/buteco in Santa Teresa that’s open all night and serves a hell of a mexidão for a cheap price. Everybody in BH knows it and it’s the spot for late night eats and the obligatory saideira.

    9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

    Ahh… do I have stories… however, most of them probably aren’t fit for this page.

    10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

    Something I always find striking outside the US and Western Europe, is that you can buy your way out of almost anything. For us foreigners, it’s a good thing, but it certainly doesn’t do much for equal opportunity or access. It’s nice to be able pay a few dollars to take care of a parking ticket or an expired visa and to know that no matter what happens, you can usually get out of things. Another striking thing is Brazilian social interaction. I don’t know how else to describe it except for fake. If you’ve lived in Brazil you’ll remember the many times someone told you, “amanh te ligo” or “passe l em casa”, and they either never called or looked shocked when you actually showed up at their door. Then of course there’s the obligatory “voc sumiu”, to try and tell you you’ve dissapeared when in reality you didn’t see each other because you’re not really friends. It’s a weird Brazilian desire to please everyone and to never say no. I come from the Midwest, but there you want to make everyone happy and you actually try to do it. In Brazil, it’s all the promise and none of the follow through. What’s most scary is that after a year in Brazil I started doing it myself without even thinking about – saying I’d call when I knew I never would, promising to help someone but not really meaning it. And of course, “e a cara, voc sumiu hein!”

    11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

    I came to Brazil with fluent Spanish, so everything came quite easy for me from the beginning, and I spent the first two months in a small village where no one spoke English. Now I’m fluent, but the only way I got there was by completely immersing myself and surrounding myself with everything brazilian. I never spoke English and refused to speak to people in anything other than Portuguese, even when they wanted to practice their English. It sounds selfish, but it’s the only way. Also, remember that Spanish and Portuguese are two very different languages and treat them as such. Try as hard as you can to make the divison in your mind and pronounce Portuguese as Portuguese, Spanish as Spanish.

    12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

    Everyone says this, but let me reiterate: aprende portugus! It should be the first and last thing you do – learn to communicate and never stop learning. If you’re in Minas, learn to talk like a mineiro. If you’re in Rio, take on the carioca twang. It makes all the difference. And learn idioms and colloquialisms. You’d be surprised at how far it gets you. A few colloquial expressions and Brazilian jokes are the difference between someone just learning Portuguese and a true fluent speaker. Watch TV, listen to the radio, hang out with old men at butecos, street vendors, the guy who makes your x-tudo, everybody! Don’t hang out with the foreigner/ex-pat crowd and turn off the BBC!

    13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

    Forget São Paulo for a minute and see as much of Brazil as you can – or rather, see as many Brazils as you can. It truly is the pas de muito pases. Take it all in and fall in love with it all.

    Jokingly, I always tell people they should never go to Brazil if they’ve never been. Why? Because once you go, you’ll never want to leave. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been back in nearly two years. I remember when I first arrived meeting foreigners as I travelled around. I’d ask them what they were doing and they always said something like, “I came for a two week vacation… that was ten years ago.” Funny, but there’s something about that place.

    You can email Matt at

    Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

    To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

    Alan Longbottom – UK
    Eric Karukin – USA
    Eddie Soto – USA
    Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
    Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
    Emile Myburgh – South Africa
    Bob Chapman – USA
    David Barnes – USA
    John Milan – USA
    Chris Coates – UK
    Matthew Ward – UK
    Allison Glick – USA
    Drake Smith – USA
    Jim Jones – USA
    Philip Wigan – UK
    Atlanta Foresyth – USA
    Lee Gordon – USA
    Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
    Lee Safian – USA
    Laurie Carneiro – USA
    Dana De Lise – USA
    Richard Gant – USA
    Robin Hoffman – USA
    Wayne Wright – UK
    Walt Kirspel – USA
    Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
    Caitlin McQuilling – USA
    Nicole Rombach – Holland
    Steven Engler – Canada
    Richard Conti – USA
    Zak Burkons – USA
    Ann White – USA
    Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
    Johnny Sweeney – USA
    David Harty – Canada
    Bill McCrossen – USA
    Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
    Ethan Munson – USA
    Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
    Sean McGown – USA
    Condrad Downes – UK
    Jennifer Silva – Australian
    Justin Mounts – USA
    Elliott Zussman – USA
    Jonathan Abernathy – USA
    Steve Koenig – USA
    Kyron Gibbs – USA
    Stephanie Early – USA
    Martin Raw – UK
    Sean Coady – UK
    Hugo Delgado – Mexico
    Sean Terrillon – Canada
    Jessie Simon – USA
    Michael Meehan – USA
    Thales Panagides – Cyprus
    Tammy Montagna – USA
    Samantha Tennant – England
    Ron Finely – United States
    Bob Duprez – United States
    Peter Baines – England
    Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
    Van Wallach – USA
    Lesley Cushing – England
    Alexander von Brincken – Germany
    Hank Avellar – USA
    Ed Catchpole – England
    Penny Freeland – England
    Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
    Amy Williams Lima – USA
    John Naumann – England
    Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
    Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
    John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
    Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
    Lorelei Jones – England
    Adam Glensy – England
    Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
    Aaron Day – Canada
    Graham Debney – New Zealand
    Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
    Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
    Frank de Meijer – Holland
    Carl Emberson – Australia
    Kim Buarque – Wales
    Damiano Pak – South Korea
    Jonas Helding – Denmark
    Pari Seeber – Iran
    John Milton – England
    Ken Marshall – Australia

    Amazon Plane Crash Developments
    Some further developments in the case surrounding the worst air crash in Brazil’s history, involving a collision between a GOL Boeing 737-800 and an Embraer Legacy executive jet. The developments concerned a leaked copy of the lengthy transcript between the pilots and air traffic controllers, obtained by the Folha newspaper, which highlight various problems. These include difficulties for the US pilots of the Embraer Legacy in understanding the English of the air traffic controllers. It also highlighted that the US pilots lost radio contact with air traffic control a minute or so before the crash. The loss in communication occurred during a check on altitude.

    New Air Traffic Control Chief
    President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has named Brigadier Juniti Saito the new chief of Brazil’s Air Traffic Control, along with changes to the leaders of the army and navy. The director of air traffic control, Lieutenant Brigadier Gen. Paulo Roberto Cardoso Vilarinho, was dismissed in November due to his mismanagement of the system and subsequent delays.

    São Paulo’s Metr Head Quits
    The head of São Paulo’s Metr Luiz Carlos David has resigned, citing personal reasons. He stated that the Metr has challenges ahead. David’s resignation follows last month’s collapse of construction work on the Pinheiros station which killed seven people, in which doubt has recently been cast on the quality of the concrete used in the construction.

    Rio Police Official Gunned Down
    Inspector Felix dos Santos Tostes, a police official who was suspended for being involved with a militia battling drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro’s slums, was shot and killed by gunmen last Friday. Tostes was shot more than 40 times by at least four gunmen, who then fled the scene by car. Tostes’ wake was attended by 500 slum dwellers, who praised him for the work he had done.

    Summertime Ends This Saturday
    Summertime ends at midnight this Saturday (24th) for southeast, south and centre-west regions. Don’t forget to put your clocks back!

    This article was sponsored by TABU, located in Sonesta São Paulo, the lodging answer for all your business and leisure needs.

    Tabu Restaurant São Paulo Sonesta Hotel São Paulo

    By Tamashin
    Here is part 5 of Tamashin’s article about his road trip from São Paulo to João Pessoa. To read the previous parts please click the relevant links at the end of the article.

    There comes a time when nature calls and you have to stop. Choose your station wisely. While the restaurant may look very clean the loos may be exactly the opposite, to the point of making you retch. There are no clear guidelines as even some stations, which looked liked brand new developments with restaurants and snack-bars, had really lousy toilets. One particular find was the hole in the floor which I had never seen before. No pan, just a ceramic hole in the floor with foot-treads either side. At first I thought someone had stolen all the pans! Heaven help the person who walks in there in the dark. However, there are places which show a bit of ingenuity. While washing my hands in one place, I realised my feet were getting wet. Ingenious! The waste wasn’t connected so as you washed your hands, the water ran straight onto your feet. Obviously they were thinking about the people who had put their foot down one of the toilet holes.

    Then in one particular restaurant (I use the word loosely) the waitress was keen to impress by personally showing me everything in all the trays. There’s probably something here you’ve never had before” but looking at the congealed lumps of unidentifiable food, I could only think it would be botulism or salmonella.

    We did eat well though, in most places, which meant the children slept for a couple of hours. I ate rather too well on one occasion and while driving had to open up my belt and top button of my bermudas.

    About an hour up the road, there was a call from the back of the car for a “pee” stop. I obliged by pulling into a service station. They all got out followed by yours truly. There followed one of those “past the point of no return” moments when as I stretched my arms one way, my bermudas went the other, gravity being the aggressor. This greatly amused the children and annoyed the wife. The impromptu pantomime over, I made my way to the caf with my dignity in tatters.

    It took five days to get to João Pessoa with nearly 3000kms travelled. We crossed the states of Sergipe, Alagoas and Pernambuco very quickly. I had consulted DETRANs website on road conditions and had expected something a lot worse than I had read or been told about. Instead, in most areas, I came across well paved roads and a super highway being built in Pernambuco towards the borders of Paraiba. This is not to say they were perfect but they were far from being described as Swiss cheese or full of holes.

    There was, however, something incongruous about the signs along the highways in these states which read “Preserve the Mata Atlantica”, for on most occasions there was no “Mata” to be seen. Stretching out for as far as the eye could see were fields of sugar cane. For me it seemed like the Mata didn’t matter and Joan Mitchell singing about trees in a tree museum had an eerie ring of truth about it.

    Another thing about these states was the increased presence of the MST or people without land. Their tiny ramshackle, timber and polyethylene homes were built right up to the roadside. Signs said “We have no food” or “give us food”. As a complete contrast there were new “casas popular” in the small villages en route all brightly painted, in little rows. These were obviously built by the local council.

    The BR101 through Paraiba and João Pessoa as far as Mamanguape was in excellent condition with long, straight, fast roads and little traffic. We stayed in João Pessoa for several weeks. We didn’t know on arrival that our return journey would be by a different route.

    The sixth and final part next week…

    Tamashin is a retired civil engineer who first came to Brazil in 1993 to help build a community centre for street children in Rio. He now lives in Minas Gerais with his Brazilian wife and children.

    Previous articles by Tamashin:

    Brazil: The Great North Road Part 4
    Brazil: The Great North Road Part 3
    Brazil: The Great North Road Part 2
    Brazil: The Great North Road Part 1

    By Max
    I’ve been asked some crazy questions in Brazil, like how long does it take to get to London (my hometown) by bus? Err, do I really have to answer that?

    Brazilians have an excuse for their ignorance concerning world matters, with public education ranking one of the worst in the world and their general disdain for reading. The so-called developed world, however, does not. So, I thought I’d turn the tables for a second and give them some credit by airing my experiences here in the good old US of A.
    I live in Brazil but travel to Phili almost every year so I have found myself comparing the two worlds almost daily.

    The question, Are you from Brazil or Rio?” was asked to me in Philadelphia, USA in the year 2006! For those who want to know, I simply answered Brazil. Didn’t bother to shed some light on this poor ignorant soul for I was too much in shock to really say anything.
    Instead I just took a minute to reflect on some of the things I had started to realize in American society and about Americans in general, compared to that of Brazilians.

    We all know that most people from the developing countries would die, sell their mothers or generally commit crimes to get a US passport (let alone a green card). I say, American, because of the strength of that culture in Brazil (and the world) and the general ignorance concerning other “developed” countries. For people from developing countries, Americans are seen as privileged beings in this cruel, cruel world. They can travel to any country in the world without a visa, or with very easy and convenient access to a visa if needed and their embassy actually does help them if they are in need. Moreover, in the Brazilian consulate in New York, the Americans get attended quicker and better than Brazilians. Sadly, Brazilians do seem to have an inferiority complex when it comes to the USA and seem to stand in awe when the mere word “Americano” is mentioned.

    Brazilians have another excuse for their ignorance; most don’t have the money or means to travel. North Americans, on the other hand, do. Regardless of your financial situation, as long as you have no criminal record and are not on parole or probation, have ID or a birth certificate, any American citizen can go to a passport agency and apply for their passport in 24hrs. In case of emergencies, in as little as 2 hours! It only costs about US$60 and would rarely exceed US$200. Anyone can get one. Although amazingly, only 2 out of 10 Americans have a passport.

    Let’s assume you are an American Citizen and you don’t have the money to travel. Considering you are from the First World, you can very well decide to inform yourself of how things are in other countries around the world, including Brazil. There is certainly no lack of means; all Americans have the Internet at home, PCs, excellent libraries.. things that the average Brazilian has to give a left kidney for. There is simply no excuse for such ignorance and misinformation. Perhaps the reason behind this problem is that the USA shows and tells Americans that there is really no other civilization other than the USA. They live as if the USA was the world and the rest is a big, black void.

    When Brazil is shown in the media, they show the poverty, the dirt roads and the Amazon. North American people of all classes and races believe what they see and are being told. I have been asked if there is electricity in Brazil, banks, cable TV, McDonald’s, cars, and clubs.

    When ‘Cidade de Deus’, came out, people in America thought that Brazil was presently as portrayed in the movie, set in the 1970s. I repeat: they think that we, in Brazil, are still in the 70s!

    When North Americans do decide to take the dive, I think 99.9% of them go to Rio. Why? Probably because Snoop Doggy Dogg did his video there and said it was cool, or maybe after they watched Michael Jackson’s video or that Pepsi ad. Whatever. Basically, Brazil does not exist to most Americans, only Rio, which to them is a world apart from Brazil.

    Some Americans decide for a package tour to resorts in the Islands, that they can visit without a passport. All included. They don’t even have to exchange their money and rarely leave the resort to mingle with the natives and really get to see what the country has to offer.

    After asking around, I found out that the vast majority are scared of being kidnapped, especially after seeing so much of it on the international news channels across America.
    So, what do some Americans (and other foreigners) come to Brazil for? Sex!

    What with the videos, child porn sites, real life stories from Americans which have been to Rio and have had wild sexual encounters to pass along to tell their friends back home about, to many Americans Brazil is just a place to lie in the sun, get drunk and have cheap or free sex with Brazilian women that are either hookers, desperate to leave Brazil, marry a gringo and come to America. In some cases, maybe true love occurs. Keep in mind that the amount of men that marry and claim to have fallen in love with a woman that they cannot even speak to because they don’t know the language is more than a handful. Maybe it is simply refreshing to them. Most American women want a man to pay their mortgage, car, and to get their hair done. A Brazilian woman is happy just to be with you. In the worst case, she may just want some money to go out to dinner with her friends, although she may not even ask.

    Americans go to Rio in the same way they go to Jamaica, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic or the Virgin Islands. They don’t see Brazil as a country but as an ISLAND!!! I have even been asked how far Rio is from Jamaica, as if they are in the same vicinity.

    For those courageous Americans that wander off the resort America has been kind enough to supply you with, with the worldwide chains of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Wendy’s, Outback Steak Houses, etc., I am sure that in some Brazilian supermarkets you will find plenty of things that you are used to eating in America. You can even change your money, if you must… ANYWHERE. You will even find that in a country where few people speak English, the names of shops, supermarkets, dishes, drinks, phrases on T-shirts and a million other things, are in English. Once I went to a McDonald’s in São Paulo. They had maracuja, orange and grape juice. On the machine it was written in English so I assumed they understood so I asked for grape and the poor attendant had no idea what I was talking about! I then asked for ‘uva’ and she smiled, as Brazilians do. What were the words ‘grape’ and ‘orange’ doing on the machine when they could have changed them to ‘uva’ and ‘laranja’? It’s the general worship-like feeling Brazilians have of the USA and everything related to it.

    What they don’t know is that the USA wants to keep Americans in America. That is undeniable. The USA refers to the World Cup and the World Series when the only ones actually playing American football are Americans. The rest of the world hasn’t an inkling it is being mentioned.

    I am a court TV fanatic and watch loads of trials. Many times they say, the ‘world’ is waiting for the verdict when referring to national and state cases.

    One could list a million ways of how Americans are brain washed into believing that there is nothing out there worth seeing.

    Let me address those few people out there that put on their backpack and head for the remote mountains, towns and villages across the world to explore all the wonders out there, all that the world has to offer, all that Brazil has to offer. I bow to you and hope that you are also frustrated at how little Americans know and even think of exploring concerning other countries, cultures and traditions, specifically in the country which I love and want to grow old in, Brazil. I say this to you, so that you too can try in your own way educate those people and give them the chance to see what the world has to offer and see Brazil for what it really is.

    Let them know that they need not be scared that they will be kidnapped, that they will die of food poisoning in some deserted hospital (that is free!) if they eat the native food, which is probably better that American food anyway. Shout out that São Paulo city alone has over 18 MILLION PEOPLE! That America is a peanut compared to Brazil and that if they believe that it is all barren land, thick forest, dirt roads and weird dark-skinned people carrying spears, they are so far from the truth it is not even funny.

    I believe all countries have a good and bad side, including the USA and Brazil. I guess it is just a question of what one wants for oneself and ones likes and dislikes. Personally, I prefer Brazil as my country of residence. We all know what America has to offer; even people that have never been to America know this more than Americans living in America. But Americans don’t know what Brazil has to offer. They don’t know the good side, the side that travelers have seen for themselves.

    My word of advice to Americans is that when you come to Brazil check out São Paulo, Bahia, Florianopolis in Santa Catarina state, Brasilia, Fortaleza in Ceara state, the Pantanal, and all the in-betweens. Don’t just focus on Rio and the so-called “vacation cities”. Brazilians are ready for tourists and in places where there is no tourist infrastructure, they improvise, which is what Brazilians do best. Try the food, it’s excellent. Don’t be scared. You have a greater chance of getting hit by a bus crossing the street in America or getting hit by a stray bullet than you do of being kidnapped and killed while on vacation in Brazil.

    Unlike most people in developing countries, take advantage of the fact that you are lucky enough to have the means, the opportunity and support you need to be able to see the world… and Brazil.

    Max was born in Philadelphia, raised in London, then back and forth to Brazil and the USA. His father was from São Paulo. He was a musician and singer, as is Max. Max lives in Florianopolis now and goes to the USA twice a year. In Brazil he has a band by the name of Miss Max and D-Black. He has traveled to many countries in his life with his father, and alone, and gets frustrated by how people from the USA never really mingle with the natives.

    Readers comments:

    I couldn’t agree more. Brazil is a place of breathtaking beauty and the charm of its people is out of this world. I have been there twice – once for work (with the UN) on a 6-week stint in Brasilia, Niteroi, São Goncalo and, yes, Rio de Janeiro; the second trip was to go see about a girl. During my first trip I was particularly impressed by the positive attitude of folks in Rocinha and Cantagalho-Pavao-Pavazinho, two favelas that stand out like a sore thumb in Rio’s breath-taking landscape. Not that they had much going for them, but just being there shows you a whole new perspective of how others live and dream.

    Brasilia was my home for many weeks, and despite the bad reputation it has for being a dismal place where the average Joe feels as lonely as a man on the moon, I found people’s friendliness to be the best antidote to what would otherwise amount to life in any other large city in the USA.

    Brazil pra voce!

    — William

    In reply to your newspiece; I found it very interesting; estou Carioca!

    I once lived in Rio; in the great 70’s; married a Brazilian and worked for a Brazilian company! Led the life of a gringa in rio!

    The only difference being that I married a very well educated but financially poor medico! The marriage didn’t last long but I learned the language; had an interesting life and still keep in contact with friends and family in Brazil!

    I’m glad that I got to live there in the 70’s; not today, obrigada!

    — Maureen

    Excellent article! I am a Brazilian-born US Citizen who currently lives in Edmonton, Canada, but looking forward to going back to Brazil within the next 3 years.

    I couldn’t agree more with Max.

    — Pedro

    I didn’t especially care for the author’s snotty tone, (and by the way it’s called the “Superbowl”, not the “World Cup”) but unfortunately, his portrayal of American society is mostly correct.

    The thing is, as a Portuguese speaking American (not fluently, mind you) who’s spent almost 2 years off and on in Brazil, I don’t WANT all of the fat, pasty, ignorant, McDonald’s eating Americans (and most especially the hip-hop crowd) invading this country. I’ve already seen how they are transforming Costa Rica.

    Keep up the good work, gringoes!

    — John

    I’ve been a reader (and even contributor) for years. I was drawn to Max’s recent article on American ignorance regarding Brazil for a number of reasons, not least of which because: i) I’m American; ii) I lived in Brazil for ten years, teaching economics at a university in São Paulo; and iii) I’m well aware of the shortcomings of many of my fellow citizens when it comes to international affairs.

    That said, I was truly dismayed that this article was nearly as ignorant and stereotypical as the author claimed that Americans are about Brazil, and the rest of the world in general. Generalizations are dumb no matter to whom they refer; and they demonstrate a lack of nuance and deeper understanding on a subject. In short, they reveal a person’s intellectual laziness to research a subject in more detail.

    Why do I take such issue with this article? Let me enumerate:

    1) Blatantly incorrect information

    2) Promoting ignorant stereotypes

    3) Its failed attempt to be tongue-in-cheek

    For instance, let’s begin with some blatantly incorrect information. “.only 2 out of 10 Americans have a passport.” Actually, it’s 1 in 4 and will be 1 in 3 shortly, now that the US is requiring Americans to get a passport in order to reenter the country from many places that they do travel to, such as Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Central America. I’ve heard this claim before that Americans don’t travel internationally, but like most people around the globe, they tend to travel to nearby destinations, in part because, unlike many other countries, most Americans only have 2 to 3 weeks of vacation a year, and often can’t use it all at once.

    Another false claim: “all Americans have the Internet at home.”. While undoubtedly there is much better access to the Internet in the United States than Brazil, it’s only in around 75% of homes and, as one would expect, tends to be used by family members under the age of 40. In a country of 300 million people, that leaves at least 75 million without Internet access, which is nearly half of Brazil’s population, and more people than the entire population of Great Britain.

    Here’s a good example of promoting ignorant stereotypes: “I repeat: they [Americans] think that we, in Brazil, are still in the 70s!” This is just wishful thinking. First of all, perhaps 10% of Americans even saw “Cidade de Deus”, and most who did, saw it because they had been to Brazil, knew a Brazilian or were interested in Latin America in general. In short, this claim may apply to 0.0001% of the American population.

    More misinformation: “When North Americans do decide to take the dive, I think 99.9% of them go to Rio”. Based on what? The last time that I looked at tourism statistics regarding Brazil, most Americans were actually going to São Paulo for business tourism more than anything else. In fact, the largest American expatriate population is (not unsurprisingly) in São Paulo, which leads to more Americans visiting there, if for no other reason than they have some connection and place to start their trip.

    These are probably the two most idiotic phrases in this entire article (and that’s saying something!): “Most American women want a man to pay their mortgage, car, and to get their hair done. A Brazilian woman is happy just to be with you.” Can anyone say “misogynistic, misinformed, stereotypical and rude”? Enough said.

    Here’s the author demonstrating his own ignorance about what the “World Series” is: “The USA refers to the World Cup and the World Series when the only ones actually playing American football are Americans.” Here’s a hint, Max – you play the World Series with a ball and bat (and it’s not cricket).

    Another odd turn of phrase: “.That America is a peanut compared to Brazil.”. I’m not even sure what this means, but I can’t really think of any way in which it might be possibly true.

    Here’s a statement that I really wish were true: “Brazilians are ready for tourists”. Unfortunately, having traveled extensively in Brazil, from Porto Alegre to Belem, and having brought my entire family to travel with me throughout the country over the years, I can categorically say that most of Brazil is not ready for any type of foreign tourists. That’s actually part of the reason why the country’s tourism industry suffers so much. Just ask Embratur, which is constantly lamenting the lack of investment in the sector.

    And the kicker, to close things out: “You have a greater chance of getting hit by a bus crossing the street in America or getting hit by a stray bullet than you do of being kidnapped and killed while on vacation in Brazil.” What?????? Max, do you even live in Brazil? Because, having grown up in America, then spending ten years living in Brazil, I’m 100% sure that this is patently false. You unfortunately have a better chance of getting hit by a bus, a stray bullet, kidnapped and killed in Brazil than in most countries. It’s a shame, but true. Compare international statistics if you don’t believe me.

    Oh yeah, and by the way, I’m from Pennsylvania, and we refer to our largest city as “Philly” not “Phili”. I’d assume that someone as worldly as Max would know that.

    I truly hope that this type of journalistic refuse doesn’t make the editorial cut in the future.

    — John

    Surprisingly there are some real truths in this article. I have friends and family that are in shock when I tell them how modern Brazil is. We have medical care here that rivals any medical center I have ever been to in the USA,
    WE have decent roads, they’re not all dirt, there are taxi’s, subways, and buses, not everyone is poor. We have
    airconditioning, there are even modern shopping centers, gasoline, alchohol, diesel, natural gas, way ahead of the USA in transportation. There are modern facilities everywhere most Americans I know are very ignorant about Brazil and this article was dead on. I enjoyed it very much.

    — Eric

    I would like to say how much I enjoyed reading this article. Nothing in it I already didn’t know of course having been here in Rio for 6 years but it was nicely packaged. The notion of Rio as an island made me smile, I suppose she is almost one as Zona Sul is surrounded by water on 3 sides. Being a Scot living in Rio I am often called upon to clarify similar misconceptions, like the distinction between the English and British, and the Scottish and Irish. Incidentally I get the same questions from some educated US people as I do from your average Brazilian. Having come here to work originally, I am not one of those who married the beautiful mulatto, she herself seduced by the prospect of escape to a better life, however I have seen a number of my ex colleagues go down that path with mixed results. Despite the problems Brazil is still wondeful, exciting, frustrating, and puzzling. Most of my expat friends after weighing the pros and cons of residing here can think of no better place.

    — Allan

    By Ricky Skelton
    I don’t really need to say anything about Cristo in Rio, do I? Good. What people don’t realise is that Buenos Aires has its own statue of Jesus, which is probably almost as big as the one towering over Rio (I’ve only seen his feet close up, so I can’t tell for sure but the feet were quite big, and you know what they say…). But unlike the well lit, well prominent Rio version, the Christ in BA is quite well hidden. In fact very well hidden most of the time. I couldn’t even see him at first. I was trying to find a huge swimming pool complex to spend a hung-over Saturday afternoon, and the bus driver helpfully told me to get off about 16 miles too early. After an hour of melting like chocolate in the burning early afternoon sun, and with no shade around, I came across buses at a gateway, and a queue of adults and children queuing to get in. I saw something that looked like the tubes of waterslides above the fence. At last. But the sign said ‘Terra Santa’. What? Through the gates I could see three plastic crosses on a hillside with figures attached to them, and plastic figures and plastic palm trees around. Why plastic when you can have real ones? Even with my Spanish, I could work out that it was a theme park based on the Bible story. Possibly the tackiest thing I have ever seen, but I couldn’t see right inside to judge properly.

    An hour later, and I’d found my way around the fence to the pool complex. After getting my feet checked for verrucas, I made it to water. Sometime towards the afternoon, as the pool aerobics were beginning, I was sat on the edge of the pool, enjoying the setting sun and splashing my legs, when I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye. Over the fence in the Holy Land, a figure was rising out of the plastic dirt. My mouth dropped open as a huge statue of Jesus came sneaking out of his hole, like a meerkat coming out of its burrow. We pointed and laughed incredulously as he made it to his full height, complete with lighted halo, and began to spin slowly. First to one side. Then the other. Then he looked up at the heavens. Then down at the people. The hands at the end of his outstretched arms swivelled slightly too, like he was trying to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square and nobody had told him that it was now illegal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t close enough to hear if he spoke to his flock in a mechanical voice, like The Terminator with a beard and a pastel-blue robe. Sadly, his eyes didn’t flash red. Something startled him and he began to disappear back into his burrow, taking his red sash with him. We had almost stopped laughing when it happened again half an hour later. Without doubt the tackiest thing that I or anyone else has ever seen.

    Brazil 1-1 Argentina

    You can visit Ricky’s blog at

    Previous articles by Ricky:

    Around Brazil: Salvador
    Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
    Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
    Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
    Around Brazil: Praa Pateo do Colegio
    Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
    Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
    Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
    Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
    Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
    Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
    Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
    Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
    The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
    Understanding Brazil: Dogs
    Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
    Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
    Understanding Brazil – The Shower
    Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
    Brazil: Understanding Novelas
    Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

    By Mark Taylor
    I’m a fan of the crazy US series Mythbusters, where the moustachio’d Jamie and bespectacled Adam set about proving, or disproving, a variety of mostly urban myths. I hear various myths purported about Brazil, some obvious and some not so obvious, and this is my take on them, with a (sometimes tongue in cheek) view to busting or not.

    The Capital of Brazil is Rio de Janeiro
    For good or bad, Rio is the city that will spring to mind for the majority of foreigners when asked to name a city in Brazil, and on that basis I assume this is why Rio is often believed to be the capital. In some senses that’s not so far from the truth as Rio was the capital of Brazil several decades ago, but in 1960 the purposefully constructed capital Brasilia took over the reins. São Paulo is actually the largest city in Brazil by quite a margin, usually thought of as the business capital of the country, and one of the largest cities in the world. Brazil itself is also a vast country, and very diverse in both its cities and cultures. In any event, myth = busted. Other busted Rio based myths are that the famous Brazilian carnival is only celebrated there, or that it’s only worth seeing in Rio. Carnival is actually celebrated in varying ways across Brazil, and it will depend on what your preference is as to where it’s best to see.

    Brazil has the Most Beautiful Women in the World
    This is a touchy subject, and one that can be argued for hours over a Brazilian lager or two. Many is the time that I’ve been asked by a Brazilian guy, mostly just to confirm, whether Brazilian women are the most beautiful in the world. I think part of the reason the myth exists for foreigners is that often North American men and Europeans are attracted to the often tanned Brazilian female, partly down to the difference. Although presumably the healthy Brazilian pride plays into their own view on the topic. In my experience though Brazilian women range in beauty, like any country, and isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? So, on that basis I’d have to say myth = busted.

    Most Caring Women in the World
    A second feature for Brazilian women in the myths list, perhaps mostly because it’s a topic dear to the heart of many men foreign to Brazil. Another reason foreign men give for being attracted to Brazilian women is the heartless” nature of North American and European women, and the “caring and feminine” nature of Brazilian women. Is there any truth to this? Well, short of a huge and detailed independent study into this, my experience is that the answer is “no”. Brazilian women can be as “tough” and “heartless” as their northern, or northeastern comrades, and sometimes even more so based on the tough lifestyle they are often brought up in. They may well stand for less nonsense than the average American or English gal. Again though, before someone shoots the message bearer, I ought to say that just like anywhere else women range dramatically in character, although as a general stereotype my feeling is that the myth = busted.

    Samba is the Only Thing Brazilians Dance
    If the only thing you watched about Brazil was carnival then you might be forgiven for thinking that the only dance in Brazil is Samba. The reality is that Brazil was the birthplace for various dance styles, such as Afox, Xaxado, Forró, Pagode, Gafieira, and Ax. So, myth = busted.

    Brazilians Live at the Beach
    Another of those mental images that is furnished by the foreigner thinking of Brazil, is that each Brazilian spends every waking minute outside of work, and perhaps even during work, at the beach. Other than the lifeguards, the reality is that a large percentage of the country is significantly inland, so it’s difficult from a practical standpoint for the average Brazilian to get to a beach in a large number of cases. Some cities are famed for their beach lifestyles, such as Rio, where the social life for some centres around the beach. Other cities such as São Paulo see millions of citizens decamping during holidays to head east to the coast, where they descend on and fill the coastal towns. So Brazilians will certainly spend some time at the beach if given the opportunity, and place the beach in high regard. But do they live at the beach? Myth = busted.

    Brazilians Love an Excuse to Party
    Along with the mental image of the samba’ring, beach dwelling Brazilian, is the idea that a Brazilian will find any excuse to go out and have a party (presumably while dancing the samba, on a beach). The reality is again not quite like that, and not every Brazilian is some extrovert entertainment machine. In fact in my experience the majority are not, and quite “normal”, so myth = busted.

    Don’t Trust an Invite From a Brazilian
    For the person that has spent a bit of time in Brazil, you may well hear from another foreigner that if you’re invited out by a Brazilian you shouldn’t be waiting at said venue on the dot. Or that you in fact probably shouldn’t bother waiting at said venue at all. There are certainly circumstances in which this can be the case, particularly when a vague offer of “getting together some time” is made. Even when a date and time is selected, it’s not unusual for Brazilians to cancel, and rarely just not turn up at all. Brazilians can be similar in business, and it’s the wise foreign businessperson that won’t count their chickens until they’re hatched, have gone to playschool, and learned to count. Brazilians will tell you this is because they hate to disappoint, at least when an initial offer is made. So for this one and only situation, I have to say myth = plausible.

    Brazilians Speak Spanish
    If I had one centavo for every time I’d heard someone say “so, they speak Spanish in Brazil, right?” well I’d have about 50 centavos. Aside from that though there’s this impression that the de facto language for a Latin American is Spanish. Brazil is bucking the trend by being one of the very few countries in Latin America that doesn’t speak Spanish, so perhaps it’s easy to see how the misconception arose. But due to its Portuguese roots the language that predominates is Portuguese. Of course the other languages within Brazil that are spoken by the Indian natives shouldn’t be forgotten, such as Tupi, and Guarani. In any event though Spanish is not on the menu, so myth = busted.

    There Are 5 Times as Many Brazilian Women as Men
    This is an odd one I’ve heard several times, that there is some inordinately greater population of Brazilian women compared with the men, and therefore Brazilian men can pick and choose their spouse, it’s a playground for foreign men etc. I’m not quite sure how people buy into there being some mindblowing freak of nature such that only women predominate in a country of around 180 million people. In any event, data from 2000 shows that there are 97.5 men to every 100 women, so although a small imbalance, it’s just that. Myth = busted.

    Are there any myths that you’d like to bust, confirm, or simply raise? Or do you disagree with my ill researched analysis? In either case then drop me an email, and I’ll add your comments to the article.

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

    Previous articles by Mark:

    Brazil: Enough of the “Estrangeirismos”
    Understanding Brazil: Sense of Humour
    Brazil: The “Turistas” Storm in a Teacup
    Understanding Brazil: Christmas and New Year’s Traditions
    Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 5
    Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 4
    Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 3
    Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 2
    Brazil: An Interview with Marcia Loebick
    Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 2
    Brazil: Google Maps Gets an Upgrade
    Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 1
    Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 1
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    Brazil: Torrent TV
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    Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
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    Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
    Brazil’s World Cup Defeat Party
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    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
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    Brazil: Manners
    Brazil: No Change, No Sale
    Brazilian TV
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    Brazil: Professional Children
    Brazil: We deliver… everything!
    Brazil: Terrao Itlia
    Brazil: A Layman’s Carnival Guide
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    Brazil: Feira Food
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    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