President Dilma Rousseff is not known for her fondness of foreign policy. But last year, the US gave her the inspiration she needed to embark on an international crusade when it was revealed that Washington was spying on her phone calls. Furious at this affront, the Brazilian leader called on the United Nations annual general assembly to push for better governance of the internet.

Next week, her ambition of creating an international civil code governing the use of the web will come a step closer to fruition as the world meets in São Paulo to discuss the issue at NETmundial – the “Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance”. Continue reading »

Few things appeal to Brazilians more than the combination of a cold beer and a barbecue while watching a soccer game. If the match happens to be part of a World Cup, especially one being hosted in Brazil, then that’s just another excuse to drink more beer.

The recipe for a good festa in Brazil this year seemed almost infallible – that is, until this week, when the government intervened with some terrible news: it plans to increase taxes on beer and some juices, as well as sports and energy drinks. Continue reading »

Back in January, at what I had hoped was the height of São Paulo’s unusually intense summer heatwave this year, I went out to buy an electric fan. My first four stores had sold out. The fifth was down to its last item. Later, reading the newspapers, it became apparent that this was happening across South America’s largest metropolis.

The heat is one thing. More worrying is that this year it has not been accompanied by the usual late afternoon thunder storms. The result is a water shortage so severe that São Paulo’s main reservoir, the Cantareira System, is full to just 15 per cent of its capacity, its lowest level since records beganContinue reading »

“But you are Brazilian!” – after I rejected a sexual advance.

That’s what it says on the card above, one of several used in a campaign to report discrimination suffered by Brazilian students at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. Continue reading »

In recent weeks, social media in Brazil has been abuzz with talk of the rise of a new breed of vigilantes or justiceiros in society.

With the World Cup later this year, and the summer Olympics in Rio in 2016, overseas visitors will naturally be concerned with their safety. However, the sort of treatment being meted out by citizens rather than officials may do more harm than good for Brazil’s image. Continue reading »

‘Imagine if this happens during the World Cup?’ or ‘Imagina na Copa?’, as the phrase goes in Portuguese. That has been the refrain in Brazil about everything from inclement weather to political protests since football’s organising body Fifa announced the Latin American country would host the 2014 World Cup what seems an age ago now.

Usually, the concerns have been around more mundane issues, such as delays in stadium construction or poor public transport. Over the weekend, however, a more serious problem reared its ugly head – hooliganism. Brazil was shocked by live footage of a national league match between southern team Atletico Paranaense and Rio de Janeiro’s Vasco da Gama, in a regional city, Joinville. Continue reading »

Brazil’s imminent hosting of the Fifa World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016 has shone a spotlight on the country’s often woefully inadequate infrastructure. But it has also prompted some hasty work to encourage private-sector investment. In civil aviation, as well as in other areas, this is gathering pace – which can only be good for the country’s aviation sector. Continue reading »

Justice in action

For the first time in their country’s recent history, Brazilians finally had a taste of seeing politicians going to jail for corruption.

Last Friday – symbolically, the same day that the Proclamation of the Republic is celebrated in Brazil – the court decreed prison for a group of 12 politicians and bankers involved in the scandal of Mensalão or ‘big monthly payment’, the vote-buying scheme in Congress that used public funds to pay bribes. Continue reading »

A plan by financially troubled Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista to build a port in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the so called Superporto do Açu, or the “Rotterdam of tropics”, is by any measure ambitious.

Slated to be one-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan Island, Açu has required the expropriation of huge tracts of agricultural land from the surrounding families in the municipality of São João da Barra, in Rio de Janeiro state. Continue reading »

For the government, some good news. The IPCA consumer prices index for July released this Wednesday showed a 0.03 per cent rise compared with June – the smallest increase in monthly inflation in three years.

It seems finance minister Guido Mantega finally has the answer he has been looking for to the question posed by FT Brazil bureau chief Joe Leahy on Tuesday – that is whether Brazil has “overcome its recent phase of above-target inflation”Continue reading »

It has been two years since the former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left his job in Brasília after serving the maximum two consecutive terms.

But he remains in the headlines, though not always for reasons he would like. This week, persistent rumours that he is “sick” surfaced again, paradoxically alongside other mutterings that he might be considering a comeback for president next year. Continue reading »

After Brazil’s somewhat dramatic response to a report earlier this month that the US was intercepting calls and emails by Brazilian individuals and companies, foreign minister Antonio Patriota (pictured left) on Tuesday suddenly sounded much more relaxed about the whole affair.

In contrast to the government’s earlier outrage, when asked about the issue at a press conference, his advice was for people to simply be more careful. “So, let’s be more vigilant,” he said when asked if privacy was a thing of the past in Brazil. “I’ve always been careful with what I write in emails or say on the phone,” he said. Continue reading »

Brazil’s Congress is a lot like a chaotic call centre. No one knows who is responsible for your complaint; the problem is constantly referred on to another person; and it is resolved only when you threaten to take the matter to a superior, or to sue.

This week in Congress is a case in point. Continue reading »

When Brazilians took to the streets to protest last month, one of the most surprising elements was the absence of traditional political parties and unions.

The unions tried to make up for that on Thursday with a so-called “Day of Struggle”, but ended up giving out more of a squeak than a roar. Continue reading »

There has been some noise and confusion around Brazil’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT) recently, particularly regarding what on earth its champion, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, thinks about the recent political upheaval on the streets and how his anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff is handling it. Continue reading »