International Executives in High Demand in Brazil

“Headhunters in São Paulo, the southern hemisphere’s most populous city, say foreign executives used to come to Brazil, if they came at all, to get a few years of managerial experience they could parlay into a move somewhere more important. But now Brazil is the destination — especially now that salaries exceed what’s on offer in the developed world,” says Time.

“A recent study by the Dasein Executive Search firm found that CEOs in São Paulo today earn an average annual salary of $620,000, more than their counterparts in New York ($574,000), London ($550,000) or Hong Kong ($242,000).

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Rio’s Decaying Infrastructure a Risk

With the World Cup and Olympics looming, “two tragic events have underlined Rio’s need not just to invest in new hotels, venues and transportation but also to take drastic action to shore up the city’s crumbling infrastructure,” says Time.

“On Jan. 25, a 20-story office building collapsed in the city center, bringing down two others and killing at least 17 people. Five days later, a manhole cover blew out of the ground, killing one man and injuring two more, the latest in a series of accidents caused by underground explosions. These events come hot on the heels of other tragedies in which pedestrians were hit by crumbling buildings and a shocking accident last August when a defective tram careened out of control, killing six people and injuring 57 more.”

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Brazil Beckons Skilled Foreigners

The Washington Post adds to the heavy coverage of the brain drain to Brazil: “With an economy that recently surpassed Britain’s to become the world’s sixth largest, Brazil is offering a sunny and often lucrative alternative to the downcast prospects in the United States and Europe. In a sort of reverse brain drain, foreigners are flocking to Brazil.

“The number of foreigners residing in Brazil reached nearly 1.5 million last year, up from 961,000 in 2010 … Americans have led the way, with 7,550 receiving work permits in 2010. In addition, 2 million Brazilians who had been living overseas have returned home since 2005.

“Despite the formidable red tape for foreign workers, this country of 194 million has an increasingly diverse economy with room for those in finance, engineering, Web design, petro-engineering and other highly technical professions.

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Controversy Continues on Huge Brazil Dam

Plans for the multi-billion dollar Belo Monte dam, the world’s third largest, on the Xingu River in northern Brazil “have long been controversial,” says Al-Jazeera.

“Critics say it will only help local industries and not the general population, with some claiming that it will be one of the most inefficient hydropower projects in the country’s history.

“Environmentalists also point to the loss of biodiversity in the region and the risk of extinction of hundreds of species of fish in the Xingu River.

“But it is the social implications on the local population that frequently makes the headlines. About 24,000 people are expected to be displaced to make way for the construction.”

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Rousseff in Cuba to Discuss Trade and, Perhaps, Human Rights UPDATED

“Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff began a tour of Cuba on Monday in a visit emphasizing trade and economic cooperation … Her office said the trip would seek to bolster trade between the two nations, which rose 31 percent from 2010 to hit a record $642 million last year,” says the AP.

The heavy public accent on trade and investment does not preclude potential private conversations about human rights: earlier this month, Brazil granted a tourist visa to Yoani Sánchez, a dissident Cuban author.

“President Raul Castro on Tuesday in the capital and also tour the nearby port of Mariel, which is being expanded with the goal of turning the facility into a base for industry and oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Brazil has financed almost 80 percent of the port project’s $683 million price tag.”

UPDATE

“Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday that her country acted properly in granting an entry visa to Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, but that it’s an internal matter for Cuba as to whether Sanchez is allowed to leave the island,” reports the AP.

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Foreigners Riding Brazil’s Technological River of Doubt

If Brazil is the next China, asks Holly Finn in The Wall Street Journal, “why aren’t more online entrepreneurs diving in?”

“First, Brazil lacks tech role models. There’s no famous garage in Copacabana. Other Brazilian industries may have inspirational success stories—aerospace, petrochemicals, advertising. But not technology. The scrappy start-up mentality isn’t necessarily encouraged, either. President Dilma Rousseff just signed a law making companies pay overtime for calls and emails outside of work hours.

“Second, the country has the sort of riches that America had at the turn of the last century but not its built-in awe of entrepreneurship. Eike Batista, the wealthiest man in Brazil, is trying to promote bullish business people, rather than beautiful soccer stars. He’s investing in a naval university in Rio to train both engineers and managers.

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Brazil Gets Good Marks on Environment

“Brazil ranks 30th in addressing pollution control and natural resource management challenges … according to the 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)” well ahead of the United States (49th), reports The Times of India.

China ranks 116th and India 125th, suggesting ”that a concerted focus on sustainability as a policy priority will pay dividends – and that the level and pace of development is just one of many factors affecting environmental performance.”

Switzerland gained the top spot in the study.

Chevron to Face Criminal Charges over Brazil Spill

“A Brazilian prosecutor plans to file criminal charges against Chevron Corp and some of its local managers within weeks, adding the threat of prison sentences to an $11 billion civil lawsuit as punishment for a November offshore oil spill,” according to Reuters.

“The filing in federal court in Campos, Brazil, will likely include a request for criminal indictment of George Buck, chief executive of Chevron’s Brazil unit, as well as other staff.

“The backlash against the Chevron spill has highlighted the risks that energy companies face as they rush to get a piece of Brazil’s oil bonanza. Chevron’s legal troubles come as new oil rules give Brazil’s government more control over the country’s vast oil wealth. The regulatory overhaul has also delayed investment projects and new drilling licenses.

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Fears of a Slide Back for Amazon Protection

“Since Dilma Rousseff was elected president in late 2010, there have been signs of a shift in the [Brazilian] government’s attitude toward the Amazon. A provisional measure now allows the president to decrease the lands already created for conservation. The government is granting more flexibility for large infrastructure projects during the environmental licensing process. And a proposal would give Brazil’s Congress veto power over the recognition of indigenous territories,” reports The New York Times.

“Brazil has made great strides in recent years in slowing Amazon deforestation … The rate of deforestation fell by 80 percent over the past six years, as the government carved out about 150 million acres for conservation — an area roughly the size of France — and used police raids and other tactics to crack down on illegal deforesters, according to both environmentalists and the government. Brazil’s former environment minister, Marina Silva, became an internationally respected defender of the Amazon. She ran for president in 2010 on the Green Party ticket and won 19.4 percent of the votes.

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Iranian Adviser Accuses Brazil of Ruining Relations

“After President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran took a four-country tour of Latin America this month, during which he met with several outspoken critics of the United States but was notably not invited to stop in Brazil, one of his top advisers took a public swipe at Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, saying she had “destroyed years of good relations” between the two nations,” says The New York Times.

“The Brazilian president has been striking against everything that Lula accomplished,” Ali Akbar Javanfekr, who has worked as Mr. Ahmadinejad’s top media adviser, said in an interview published Monday by Folha de São Paulo, a leading Brazilian newspaper, in which he compared Ms. Rousseff to her predecessor and political mentor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“Mr. da Silva, who left office a year ago, visited Tehran in 2010, wading into Middle East diplomacy in an attempt to defuse the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. Together with Turkey’s government, he forged a fuel-swap deal for Iran to ship low-enriched uranium abroad.”