Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Flying Brazilian - A Busy Bee

It is a public secret that President Lula, from the very beginning of his first term in office, indicated his intention to see the world before his second term in 2010 will end. That’s why he bought, immediately after his inauguration as president, a new plane (an Airbus A319CJ ).

In 2008, the President made 33 international trips, almost the same number as in 2007 (36). It is for sure that in 2009 the ‘AeroLula ', as his plane popularly is called, will make many international flight hours.
In the year before the presidential elections and the penultimate year of his second term, president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva packs his bags for many an international flight, to activate his strategy for Brazil as an active participant in the discussions on the measures to be taken to get the world economy off the ground. 2009 will be a year of intensive international discussions regarding the global economic crisis and Lula wants to use this situation to try to fortify his international prestige.
We made a photo-reportage of his most important trips in 2008.
......... continue reading and enjoy the photo reportage of Lula's travels

Friday, 26 December 2008

Economic crisis? What economic crisis?

While worldwide governments design and implement financial stimulus packages, President Lula mainly limits himself to stimulate the Brazilians to continue spending money and to buy goods to support the Brazilian industry. In Brazil apparently payment of the 13th month is seen as stimulus package to rescue the economy and beat the financial crisis. In the month of December, the Brazilian economy will be "enriched", with approximately BRL 78 billion (25 billion euros) due to the payment of the 13th month.

This amount represents about 2.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and includes workers in the formal sector, including domestic servants, pensioners and beneficiaries with a state pension.

According to calculations of Dieese (Department of Statistics and Socio-Economic Studies), the BRL 78 billion will be paid to about 68 million people. Dieese didn’t take into account the self-employed and informal workers, who may also receive a kind of compensation at the end of the year, but whose details are impossible to obtain.

According to Dieese the national average paid will be BRL 1,105 (€ 354). The 13th month for Previdência (something like a general old age pension scheme) is BRR 753 (€ 241). Workers in the formal market receive BRL 1,331 (€ 427), while household staff is entitled to an average of BRL 495 (€ 158).

Beneficiaries in the capital Brasilia go home with the biggest share (taking into account all categories) i.e. BRL 2,378 (€ 762), while beneficiaries in the federal state of Piauí have to be content with BRL 662 (€ 212).

According to a survey, the vast majority of consumers (60%) plans to use the 13th month to settle debts, an increase of 3,45% compared with the previous year. According to the study conducted by Anefac during the month of October 2008, among 573 consumers from all social classes, the number of consumers that plans to use the 13th month for the purchase of gifts decreased from 20% to 15%.

In 2008, only a small number of consumers (2%) will set that money aside for the expected costs in the first month of next year. However, according to research from Anefac, the number of consumers who drew a loan in anticipation of the release of the 13th month grew with 28,57%. This quota represents 9% of the total national entitlement to the 13th month payment.

Although (thanks to the idle words of President Lula) the Brazilians believe that Brazil will be little affected by the international financial crisis, the majority of the population reviews the outlook for 2009 negative in terms of inflation, unemployment and personal income. According to a poll by Ibope commissioned by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), the Justify Fullmajority of the Brazilian population believes that the inflation will rise, however they think the international financial crisis has reached the country, they do noy expect to be affected personally by the unrest, which started in the US market.

According to the CNI/Ibope survey the number of respondents that expect an increased unemployment rate in 2009 stepped up from 40% to 63%, while the number who expect a job increase in 2009 fell from 55% to 35%.
The expectation of people about their income also declined, albeit with lesser intensity. 38% think they have an increase next year, compared with 41% who believe that their income will not change and 13% who believe in a deterioration.

But despite all the fine words of Lula Christmas dinner became significantly more expensive.

Less than a week before Christmas, the demand for food for the traditional Christmas dinner increased substantially. With the high dollar, which made a leap from BRL 1,60 in October to BRL 2,30 in December, and the rise of inflation in the last three months, everything is more expensive, especially imported products such as fruits and vegetables. And clothing prices rose to unprecedented heights while the Brazilian traditionally needs to wear new ones for Christmas.

An analyzes of Dieese shows that products such as turkey, chester ham and cod, in this time of year very popular products, showed a price increase compared with the same period last year.
One of the most consumed products at a Christmas dinner, the frozen chicken is the only one which remained stable. A kilo costs an average of BRL 3,94 (€ 1,26).

In addition to these increases of traditional products, Christmas dinner this year will also be affected by higher prices of fruit. Some increased with more than 30%, such as the chestnut. The fresh plum increased by 31%. The Argentine apple 36% and imported pear increased by 50%. The largest increase however was for dark seedless raisins, with a peak of 67%.

The Christmas shopping did not provide significant results, although retailers are still optimistic. The expectation in Belém is a higher turnover of 10% over the previous year, although during the first two weeks of December, few shoppers could be found.
Finally on Christmas Eve the total results were not disappointing. Striking was that consumers bought and paid with cash, quite unusual in this time of the year when normally credit card companies celebrate their highest output. But with a current interest rate on your credit card of 175% annually you have to disregard that option.

Merry Christmas

Cartoon courtesy J. Bosco/O Liberal

Thursday, 25 December 2008

A Christmas Story - 5-year Deivid Sent a Letter to Papa Noel with his Dearest Wish: Shoes

The Christmas letter from the small Deivid José Pereira da Silva, of only 5 years old, addressed to Papa Noel, differed strongly from the usual Christmas wish list of his classmates in the kindergarten. While other children asked toys, Deivid put a pair of (tennis) shoes on his wish list. The boy's worn shoes, with its see through holes, justified this unusual request of a child of his age.
Deivid used the same tennis shoes for three years. Already second hand when he got them, too big for his feet, acquired at a bazaar organized by the Parish of St. Anthony of Lisbon, they are the only ones the boy has.

Since last Saturday afternoon, after the daily newspaper O Liberal had Deivid's story on its front page showing a photograph of Deivid with his torn shoes, dozens of inhabitants of Belém went personally to the boy's house in the neighbourhood of Cremação presenting him the Christmas gift he had asked Papa Noel for: tennis shoes. Also throughout Sunday Deivid Jose received presents of shoes, toys and food.

"The first Christmas presents were four pairs of new shoes and toys," says the proud father, Luiz Roberto Correa da Silva, 37 years old, a professional handyman, "On Sunday, many more people came to our house to bring shoes and clothes. He has already received 40 pairs of shoes."

Now, with his dearest wish materialized, his next wish moves a little upwards. "A real motorcycle," says the boy, under the curious eyes of his little sister Deise of 4 years, who's scarcely able to grasp all the toys her brother received.

While the O Liberal reporters were visiting Deivid’s (municipal) kindergarten Caripunas the Director of the school received two calls leaving him in tears. The calls came from the municipal Department of Education (Semec), which in fact is responsible for this kindergarten for impoverished children, condemning the action of the supervisor to tell the story of Deivid to the press. To accentuate their incompetence, they prohibited the school management to speak any further with the press and ordered the press to leave the school.
"We just wanted to help the child. Those who actually have a duty to help the child condemn us now", lamented one of the crying teachers.

Anyway, Deivid steps into the New Year with new shoes at his feet.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Does the future belong to the youth ?

"Literacy and the struggle against hunger are connected, closely interdependent," Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio said Sunday (07/12) in his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy. The 68-year-old Frenchman continued with: "One cannot succeed without the other. Both of them require, indeed urge, us to act."

From a president who himself had no chance to follow a proper education, you expect the portfolio of education in his government highly favoured and enjoying all the (financial) support it deserves. Indeed the future belongs to the youth and that’s certainly true for an emerging economy as Brazil. But not so in Lula’s mind. Apparently Lula believes that if he has been able to become president without education, everyone else must be able to reach the top on his own merits. The results are disastrous and will wreck the future development of this country. Shortness of skilled personnel is already the major complaint of businesses and in several cases, foreign investors pulled out, especially in those regions desperately needing investments. Thus the North!

Although elementary education is ‘enjoyed’ by 97.6% of 7-14 year old children, this figure is no synonym for quality. The majority of the Brazilian school children between 8-14 years can neither read nor write. Data from the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - Institute for Statistics) also show that of all the Brazilians who can not read or write 1.7% are 14 years old, although these 58.1 thousand pupils almost finished elementary school. Nearly half of that group (approx 29 thousand youngsters) is illiterate, even though they are going to school.

IBGE also points to inequality in education based on colour or race. In absolute numbers: of the approximately 14 million illiterates aged over 15 years, nearly 9 million are black or mulatto. Of the white population 6.1% can read nor write, of the black and coloured population 14%.
In relation to gender, women show a better result than men. The female population studies on average a year longer than the male part. The female presence dominates also in the higher education, 57.1% of university students are female, compared with 42.9% male. Notwithstanding this, women still occupy only a small part of the management level.

Education in Brazil has everything to do with income. Cross-linking the data shows that the Brazilians up to 17 years are the hardest hit by poverty. In this age group 46% belong to the poorest part of the population (with a monthly income of half the minimum wage (about € 70) per capita). Most children in this situation are living in the northern and north-eastern regions.

But even a higher income and sending your child to a private school is no guarantee for better education. Matheus Aguiar, 17 years, is an exception in the 4 million participants in the Exame Nacional do Ensino Medio (ENEM = National Exam for Secondary Education).
The ENEM is a voluntary test for students of the 3rd year of secondary school. The popularity of ENEM jumped since with the founding of the Programa Universidade para Todos (ProUni = University for Everyone) in 2004, the federal government distributes university scholarships to poor students. Participation in the exam is a prerequisite for anyone who hopes to start a university education. The result of the exam requires a minimum of 45 points on a scale of 100.

And in this nationwide exam Matheus Aguiar ended as fifth and is the best from the federal state of Pará. Matheus is in the third year of the (private and exclusive) College Nazareth in Belém. With 93.65 points in the general section and 100 in 'editorial’ (writing an essay) he reached an average of 96.82 and the fifth place out of four million examinees. Although Matheus studies at a private school, his results of the ENEM exam are important as private colleges and universities use the results as a parameter in the selection. Matheus wants to study 'mecatronica' at the University of Brasilia,

But unfortunately the good performance of Matheus seems to be an exception. The state which yielded the fifth best secondary school pupil in the country, ranked as a whole at the 10th place from the bottom with an average of only 36.9 points. The pupils from Pará scored 4.8 points lower than the national average. Pará belongs to the sad bottom of the northern region, of which all ended up in the 10 lowest places. A region that did not go beyond an average of 36.07 points. The lowest ranking compared with other regions.

But the results of the pupils from other federal states are not much better. At the top, the secondary school students of the Federal District (capital Brasilia) with a poor 45.39 points. Let’s not forget that the minimum requirement is 45, and that all examinees (public and private education) voluntarily participate in the exam, so that they can obtain a place with a university. The nationwide average of the exam was 40.59, which is 4.41 point below the minimum requirement.
What is supposed to be the level of the schoolchildren (the largest group), which do not go for the ENEM exam, but just quit school and try to find a job.

Secondary school students pushing a "Lula-puppet" in protest against the education policies

Of course, the financial situation of students reflects in the performance. The results show that between a public school student and a private school one there is a gap. For Pará the difference is more than 16 points. The average score of students from a public school was 33.37 points (more than 12 points below the minimum requirement), while the students from a private school scored 49.95 (only 5 points above the minimum requirement).

Should a private school guarantee a better education, in Pará (as with so many things) it is a bit different. The examinees of private schools from Pará, compared with the rest of the country, show up on the twentieth place, only seven states are worse. While public schools score the 11th place from below.

The figures from the Ministry of Education unfortunately do not show how many secondary public school students have met the minimum threshold of 45. At an average of 33.37 points, few students will be able to make the (subsidized) step towards a university, I'm afraid.

Photos: Matheus Aguiar and "Lula-protest': O Liberal
Source: O Liberal, Agência Brasil

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Graduate as Santa Claus

All the latest posts had a serious undertone. That’s not quite what "Brazil in Hot Pants" is all about, as it promised to involve a wink to the sometimes lofty Brazilian society with a hint of its beauties.
Hence this post about Papai Noël, as Santa Claus is called here. What have these “dirty old men” to do with Brazilian beauties? Well, Brazil should not be Brazil if Papai Noël did not have assistants, called Noeletes. Is Papai Noël required to be old and fat with a barreled belly, from the Noeletes is expected, that they are 18 years and ........ of course.
Scroll down and see for yourself.

As in several places in Brazil, Tijuca (Rio de Janeiro) is organizing a course that leads to qualified Santa Clauses. In four weeks time, the student is taught how to behave as Santa Claus.

"Ho ho ho, happy Christmas!" is the battle cry, which leaves, during this time of the year, almost certainly a beatific smile on the innocent faces of all children. But the words should sound well and a proper imitation of the famous smile of Santa Claus requires preparation. The course instructs candidates how to become 'the good old man’, to be able to work during the Christmas season in shopping malls and other areas.

The actor Silvio Ribeiro, 59 years, is responsible for one of the courses. In addition to the training for Papai Noël (Santa Claus), Mamãe Noël (Christmas mother) and of course Noeletes (assistants), he also recruits for the casting agency Claus Artistic Productions, which has 60 vacancies this year.

But it is not that simple to become a Santa Claus. There is a number of requirements. "First, he must like children. If the candidate has no patience with children, then he has no chance. He should not be chubby, but quite fat with a protruded belly, as well as lively and communicative (looks like he must be an old dirty male pseudo-pedophile). According to Ribeiro, children talk with Santa Claus as if they were old acquaintances.

During the course, the candidate Santa Claus receives tips how to tackle and circumvent idiotic questions from curious toddlers. The most difficult part of being a good Santa Claus is the hours and hours sitting in a chair, showing a slight smile, taking punches and pushes, a finger in the eye, in the mouth, pulling the beard, etc, etc, etc ... without showing any stress. Because Brazilian children are, as everywhere in the world, bloody nuisances.
Who succeeds and gets his diploma can win a temporary job. Employers offer a salary and expenses. For Papai Noël BRR 900 (USD 400), Mamâe Noël gets BRR 700 (USD 310, difference should exist) and a Noelete goes home with BRR 600 (USD 266), but for both Papai Noël and a Noelete this can rise to about BRR 3,000 (a good USD 1,330). For Mamãe Noel (logically) there is less interest.
The requirements for a Mamãe Noël are identical to Papai, so she should be chubby and lively. For a Noelete it is a bit different, she has to be at least 18 years, attractive and friendly. Many students transform into a Noelete during this month.

It is no surprise that the children are interested in Papai Noel and the fathers thereof prefer to ogle the Noeletes.

My favorite Noelete remains Sabina Sato.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Lula and the Financial Crisis

Apart from other things, Lula is famous for his blundering utterances in public.

Since the financial crisis in the U.S. started to worsen, president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva changed his tone.

March 30, 2008: "Bush, my son, solve your crisis."

September 17, 2008: "What crisis? Ask Bush."

September 22, 2008: "Until now, thank God, the crisis has not crossed the Atlantic."

September 29, 2008: "For Brazil, if it comes close, it will be very minimal."

One day later:
September 30, 2008: "The crisis is very serious and so intense that we do not yet know the magnitude of it."

October 4, 2008: "There [in the USA], the crisis is a tsunami. Here, if it reaches us, it will be a marolinha (high wave), not even good enough for surfing."

cartoon: J. Bosco in O Liberal

October 5, 2008: "We want this issue of the crisis presented to Congress."

November 8, 2008 opening the G20 meeting in São Paulo: ”Nobody is safe and all countries will be affected by the crisis.”

During the São Paulo G20-summit (one week before the summit of heads of state in New York), ministers of finance and presidents of the central banks, discussed measures against the financial crisis that began in the United States. The group intended to rally forces to get more influence over the direction of the global economy. In his openings speech, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the crisis is serious, requires coordinated actions, and that no country in the world will be spared.
Lula also said that the G7 countries - the United States, France, Italy, Germany, UK, Canada and Japan - no longer are in a position to lead the direction of the world economy solely. He called for more participation by emerging countries arguing that in 2007 these countries accounted for 75% of the growth of the world economy.

’The crisis is global and requires global solutions also. It is time for a pact between governments for the creation of a new global financial architecture.” he said.

For the world press assembled in São Paulo the G20-summit was a nightmare. Due to a failure of the press service, journalists from around the world could not hear Lula’s speech.
While the president gave his speech at the Hilton Hotel, the journalists were confined in a room of the Hyat Hotel, at a short distance of the Hilton, where the meeting took place. All should be watching the speech by Lula via a tv-screen, but the screen did not work.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the transmission system of the NBR failed and the journalists were unable to follow Lula’s speech.
”It is a shame, it is a shame,” shouted the foreign journalists accompanying the meeting of the G20.
Nevertheless the summit was the perfect moment for all who, often only preaching to empty pews, resisted the "neo-liberal" free market economic model highflying in the past few decades. Politicians, economists and social activists want to take advantage of the current financial crisis to bury this model once and for all, together with all forms of speculation.

Since the beginning of the crisis, President Lula gradually changed the tone regarding the crisis in the global financial system and its consequences in Brazil. Apparently the crisis came unexpected, with a huge foreign capital outflow that took both the government and the private sector by surprise. It generated mistrust between banks which stopped lending money.
In a clear change of behaviour, the government and its economic team finally began to realise the seriousness of the problem, that Brazilian companies had with derivatives - bets on the recovery (over-valorisation) of the real - and the over-optimism of President Lula, who came to say that the crisis of Bush would not reach the country.

Some internal contradictions within governments, especially between Central Banks and Economy Ministries, are becoming more acute. In Brazil, the dominance of the monetary authority (the Central Bank) suffered a blow when emergency measures were needed to avoid a greater economic slowdown.
The G20 summit in São Paulo - Minister of Finance Guido Mantega and President Lula

The disagreement between Brazilian Minister of Finance Guido Mantega over the conservative policies of the Central Bank, which advocates high interest rates and an unrestricted floating exchange rate, was already common knowledge. But the crisis and the recommendations of the G20 strengthened Mantega's position. As chairman and spokesman of the meeting, he emphasised the need for anti-recession measures.
The president of the Central Bank, Henrique Meirelles, tried to soft-pedal this approach, underlining instead the concerns over inflation that were also expressed in the meeting’s final communiqué, and the special characteristics of each country.
The G20 summit in São Paulo - president Lula and the CB president Henrique Meirelles

Walking and talking between two fires Lula said that despite the financial crisis Brazil will maintain all works in progress of the Programa de Aceleração de Crescimento (PAC = Program for Accelerated Growth). The president said that the global financial crisis not caught Brazil unprepared and promised that the government will not allow that the country's economic growth will be hampered. "My government and the people have made sacrifices and are now beginning to reap the rewards ... with our expanded home market, which protects us partly of the international crisis," said Lula. "The government will not allow our growth compromised," added the president.

Former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso criticized the way Lula’s government was facing the economic crisis and was ironic, calling Lula a "great economist", in reference to the statements Lula made by calling the crisis a marolinha when coming to Brazil.

“No need to be aggressive with anyone personally, but we have to say that not everything the master is saying, is right, because it is not. We have to say the king is naked here, there, and yonder. Put your clothes on, Mr. President. Do not talk nonsense, Mr. President. Be more consistent with your history. Don’t be as fast in your judgments as the others. Note that a nation is made in the course of generations. Don’t be so pretentious. Be a little more humble,” completed Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The former president said that people realize when things are not going well.
”I understand that the president have to animate the country. But the country is not silly. The country understands when things change. Things have changed in the world, changed for the worse. It is cyclical? It is momentary? Yeah, but we have to be able to view the future to leave the ruinous situation we are in and don’t continue saying that it is not ruinous. It is ruinous."

But after all nothing really changes. All governments in the world are implementing stimulus programs, not so in Brazil. Apparently the Lula’s statement that all-works-in-progress of the Programa de Aceleração de Crescimento (PAC = Program for Accelerated Growth) will continue is, in Lula’s opinion, sufficient enough alongside the high level interest rates and (disputable) interventions of the Central Bank in the exchange market, selling its stock of dollars to keep the real over-valorised, in favour of the banks, disgracing the products manufacturing segment.

President Lula planting an aroeira tree

sources: UltimoSegundo, O Globo, IPSNews, J. Bosco/O Liberal


Saturday, 15 November 2008

Seven Federal States and the Federal District Concentrate 80% of the GDP

And nevertheless Pará is the champion of economic activity.

About 80% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Brazil is generated by only eight of the 27 states of the Federation, concentrated in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Bahia, Santa Catarina and the Federal District.

The concentration of the GDP in eight regions reduced by 1% (from 79.7% to 78.7%, equivalent to R$ 23.7 billion (USD 10.8 billion) between 2002 and 2006, while the Northern Region increased by 0.4%.. São Paulo alone realizes some 34% of the Brazilian GDP.

The survey of the IBGE also shows the per capita GDP in the regions. At this moment, the Federal District still has the highest GDP per capita (USD 17,090), almost three times the national average (USD 5,767) and well ahead of São Paulo with USD 8,885 and Rio de Janeiro with USD 8,043.

Pará, with all its minerals (iron ore, gold, diamonds, bauxite and whatever you want) letting his soil be robbed for a pittance, Pará with its obviously inexhaustible stock of hardwood illegally cut down and disappearing, Pará with its abundance of fish in its inner waters but ransacked scot-free, Pará does not belong to the above mentioned list of Prime Producers, Pará has just officially an insignificant share in Brazil’s GDP.

Nevertheless Pará is the undisputable leader. A sad leadership. Ranking No. 1 at the list of slave labour.

Pará remains at the top of the list of slave labour in Brazil. According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE), just this year, the Special Group for Mobile Labour Inspection held 28 operations throughout the state, during which 592 workers who were in conditions similar to slavery were “freed”. Above that a 1.000 bookings for misconduct were issued and for more than R$ 1.6 million (USD 730,000) payments for compensation and arrears of wages cashed.

The MTE calls attention to the growing rates of slave labour in states that until then, did not appear on that list. Among them, Goiás and Alagoas.

According MTE, this scenario is directly linked to the expansion of the sugar cane industry, a major protagonist in the international market for bio-fuels. And in the southern region of the country, an increase in the number of enslaved labourers is detected in fazendas which grow pine, a species widely used for reforestation. In both cases, the indecency is that slave labour is being used to support activities theoretically sustainable, for which the basic principles as respect for the environment and concern for the social aspect should be fundamental.

'Methanol is a 'clean' energy in regard to the environment. But we need it also to be clean in the sense of respect for those who work in the production of it", said the president of the Sindicato Nacional dos Auditores do Trabalho (National Association of Labour Prosecutors), Rosa Campos Jorge.

To prosecutor Jonas Moreno, the increase in the number of ‘freed’ labourers reflects the intention of the Brazilian government to step up the enforcement actions to repress this rank injustice.

In other words there are still a lot of slaves out there to be ‘freed’.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

What Is Washington Up To In Cité Soleil?

"Military experts” might argue that there are no ships available for the 4th Fleet, the actual situation in Haiti proves otherwise and the Latin American countries don’t recognise the US offerings as chocolate ice cream, but exactly as what it is: a bucket of bullshit.

According to the chief of the Southern Command, Adm. James Stavridis, the 4th Fleet will accomplish specific peaceful missions, among others humanitarian operations and medical aid and continues to say that the largest vessel to operate in the region is a hospital ship (U.S.N.S. Comfort).
In September Military Sealift Command hospital ship U.S.N.S. Comfort (see photo: Thony Belizaire/AFP-Getty Images) could been seen at anchorage off the coast of Haiti near Port-au-Prince, while (officially) on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical treatment in a dozen countries.

So the argument of Busch/Cheney, voiced by Adm. James Stavridis, is true? Well, doubtful. The problem with the hospital vessel is that it is not unloading humanitarian or medical aid, it is unloading (building) material for something else .........

The 4th Fleet is not on a humanitarian mission and the Latin America countries have a good reason to mistrust the reactivation of the 4th Fleet, as the US government is expropriating and demolishing the homes of thousands of Haiti's most impoverished by expanding the U.N. military occupation force's outpost in the giant Port-au-Prince shantytown of Cité Soleil.

The infamous US government contractor DynCorp, a quasi-official arm of the Pentagon and the CIA, is responsible for expanding the base named "Konbit pou lape" (Get Together for Peace), which houses the American soldiers of the U.N. Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) that began with US Special Forces kidnapping President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his wife from their home and flying them into exile on Feb. 29, 2004.

According to Cité Soleil mayor Charles Joseph and a DynCorp foreman at the site, funding for the base expansion is provided by the State Department's US Agency for International Development (USAID). A very unorthodox use of development aid.

Lawyer Evel Fanfan, the president of the Association of University Graduates Motivated for a Haiti With Rights (AUMOHD), says that about 155 buildings would be razed if the base expansion goes forward.
"They started working without saying a word to the people living there," Evel Fanfan said. "The authorities have not told them what is being done, if they will be relocated, how much they will be compensated or even if they will be compensated."
Most of the buildings targeted are homes, but one is a church.

"They have begun to build a wall around the area to be razed," explained Eddy Michel, 37, an assistant to Pastor Isaac Lebon who heads the Christian Church of the Apostle's Foundation, which serves some 300 parishioners. "They have already built a 10-foot-high L-shaped wall, which cuts us off from the road. Once they complete the rest of the wall, the remaining 'L', we will be completely enclosed and we fear the destruction will begin."
Alarmed residents of the area formed the Committee for Houses Being Demolished (KODEL), which contacted AUMOHD. Evel Fanfan put out a press release and KODEL held a press conference. MINUSTAH soldiers came (stealthily) to the press conference and told the residents to get a lawyer to talk to the American Embassy as the American Embassy is responsible for the work.

"Legally, the Haitian government has not authorized anybody to do anything," said Evel Fanfan. "The Cité Soleil mayor [Charles Joseph] supposedly, between quotation marks, authorized the construction, but there is no paper, no decree, no order which authorizes it."

The involvement of DynCorp is particularly telling. DynCorp International (offering, as its Web site states, "Global Integrated Solutions") belongs to a select group of behemoth corporations like Blackwater, Brown & Root, and Halliburton that exist mainly to carry out US government strategic projects and programs.

Founded in 1946 and based in Reston, Va., near CIA headquarters in Langley, DynCorp was the principal contractor deployed in Colombia to carry out Washington's supposed war on drugs called "Plan Colombia" in 2000. It conducted aerial dusting of supposed coca fields, a practice that resulted in 10,000 Ecuadorian farmers lodging a class-action lawsuit against then DynCorp CEO Paul V. Lombardi in 2001. Lombardi tried to intimidate the plaintiffs, warning them that the "politically charged litigation" was inappropriate after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
DynCorp has been an important "private" player in other US wars around the globe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia.

In 2002 Uri Dowbenko wrote in his book "Dirty Tricks, Inc.: The DynCorp-Government Connection": "DynCorp (…) has garnered a reputation as a shadowy company with a spooky pedigree, rumored to be a CIA 'cut-out,' or front company, for the Agency's dirty tricks." ... "Using high-level government insider connections, DynCorp provides a range of 'services' one would expect to facilitate fraud and money laundry activities, acting like a virtual conduit between the corporate (private) and government (public) worlds. According to DynCorp, the US Government is its biggest client, accounting for more than 95% of its revenues."

But why the interest of the US government and DynCorp in Cité Soleil?
Of course you guess right!

First, as Port-au-Prince's largest, poorest, and most pro-Aristide slum, it has been a hotbed of anti-occupation resistance for the past four years. Although most of the popular organizations carrying out armed struggle were dismantled in early 2007, unrest continues there, particularly with Haiti's and the world's worsening economic crisis. Hence, military domination of this important northern flank of Haiti's capital is supposed to be critical.

Furthermore, Haiti's bourgeoisie and Washington's strategists have for some years coveted the prime real estate on which Cité Soleil sits. The quadrant has a port, is close to the airport, sits on the main road to the north, and is ringed by factories and the old Haitian American Sugar Company complex (HASCO). Rumours are continually afoot that Haitian and American economic and political powers want to level this shantytown of 300,000 to replace it with more factories, office buildings, and other business development.

As Haiti reels under the devastation brought by Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna as well as ever-deepening hunger, it is ironic that Washington is spending money to expand a foreign military base and uproot Haiti's poorest of the poor, using the MINUSTAH peace mission as cover for their insatiable hunger for more profit.

The US government’s expansion of MINUSTAH's base, outsourced to DynCorp, seems more likely to rile Cité Soleil's citizenry than pacify it. Ergo, it is expanding Latin America’s mistrust to the USA.
Once again, as in its other misadventures around the globe, Washington seems to have, as the Kreyol (Creole) proverb says, "byen konte, mal kalkile": Well counted, but badly calculated.

This is an edited story based upon a September 9, 2008 article by Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté

Source: Haitianalysis

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Why are the Russians present in Latin American waters?

In one of my previous diaries I wrote about the Bolivian crisis and Bolivia and Venezuela booting out the respective US ambassadors. This post is about what happened in the previous months, leading to the hateful relationship with the USA en the subsequent presence of the Russian fleet in the Latin American waters.

Having the US administration of Busch and Cheney in mind, the Latin American countries see in them the embodiment of the famous words of Frederick Douglas (1818 - 1895):
“There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”

US decision to reactivate the 4th Fleet is a matter of concern
The decision of the United States Navy ‘out of the blue’ to re-establish the 4th Fleet in order to have a higher profile in Latin American and the Caribbean waters raised concern in the hemisphere. The 4th Fleet emerged in 1943 during World War II, with the aim of protecting navigation and fighting Nazi submarines. It was deactivated in 1950, after being considered unnecessary by the US military sector.

The Venezuelan and Bolivian governments condemned the US announcement that warships will set sail on Latin American and Caribbean waters as of July 1 and termed it an insult to regional sovereignty. In their opinion, the reactivation of the 4th Fleet may provoke chaos, disorder and violence, and divide nations.

And they were not the only ones, who saw the dangers. Among others President of the NGO France-Libertés Danielle Mitterrand warned against US coup plans. In a letter published by local media, the former first lady, widow of late French President Francois Mitterrand, demanded the current US government to adopt a clear position regarding the Latin American countries.

But spokespersons for the US Navy insisted on saying that the move "is administrative in nature" and does not imply a bigger military presence. While Washington claims that this new navy component will not have "a military purpose, but one of cooperation."

As from July 1, the 4th Fleet will be based in Mayport, Fla., while it will be responsible for more than 30 countries, covering 15.6 million square miles, focusing on the waters adjacent to Central and South America, the Caribbean Sea, its islands, the Gulf of Mexico and an area of the Atlantic Ocean.

Rumours claim that the 4th Fleet has appointed the new George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier and several submarines. The chief of the Southern Command, Adm. James Stavridis, reasserted that the unit "will have never an offensive possibility. It is a promise." (But we all know the value of a Busch/Cheney or for that matter a McCain/Palin promise)

According to the Southern Command, the 4th Fleet renewed operations accomplish five specific missions: responsiveness in the event of natural disasters, humanitarian operations, medical aid, antinarcotics efforts, and cooperation in environmental and technology matters.

However, Venezuelan authorities have doubts about the underlying intention of the move. They think that the United States government seeks to "scare" Latin American countries, as they move to the left, particularly Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Cuba, and more cautiously Brazil and Chile.

In Latin American view, the revival of the navy component is a threat, because the administration of President Bush uses humanitarian tasks to get valuable information in the theatre of operations, such as recognition, communications testing, and salinity testing.

Such assumptions have been dismissed by Adm. James Stavridis, who feels that "hardcore populism" does not endanger his country. "I think that in this region there are different ideas in terms of politics and economy. For the United States, they are democracy, free market, freedom, and human rights. There are other ideas in the region that compete with those, but they are not threats," he said in a recent interview with the Argentinean daily La Nación.

But the treats are there, fresh in everybody’s memory.
The by the USA in conjunction with Spain orchestrated coup d’état in 2002 against the democratic elected president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and the recent (diplomatic) intervention in the election of Fernando Lugo as president of Paraguay and the “physical” intervention in the crisis in Bolivia, are sufficient reasons for the Latin American countries to look for some ‘heavy’ friend. You can’t blame them that they turn to Russia (and China) at a moment they obviously can’t trust their neighbour any more. Latin America might be seen in the USA as its back-yard, but as the US doesn’t take care of it properly and with honour, the owners of that ‘back-yard’ have to call upon a faraway ‘barrel-chested friend’.

And here we sit with the consequences of the reactivating of the 4th Fleet.

A new Cold War in Latin American waters?
Two Russian strategic bombers, Tupolev TU-160, landed a week ago 60 kilometres outside the Venezuelan capital Caracas, at the Libertador Air Base, to "carry out training flights" in the region, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.
A few days before the arrival of the bombers Russia announced that it will dispatch a naval squadron to the Caribbean Sea and a spokesman for its navy, Igor Digalo, said that the vessels "will make a series of exercises, including joint manoeuvres, search and rescue operations, as well as telecommunication tests ", with its Venezuelan ally. The vessels would be the nuclear-powered cruiser "Piotr Veliki" (Peter the Great) and the anti-submarine frigate Admiral Chabanenko and probably anti-submarine aircraft."
"We want to calibrate our defence capacity with our strategic allies, and Russia is such an ally," Chavez said when the TU-160 arrived. Venezuelan Rear Admiral Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas said Venezuelan aircraft and submarines would be involved in manoeuvres with the Russians. "This is of great importance because it is the first time it is being done [in the Americas]," he said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency and local media

Confirming the plans, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said it was not aimed against any third country.
(A same statement as the Americans have made. Who can we trust Bush/Cheney, McCain/Palin or Medvedev/Putin? Let's hope there is an Obama/Biden alternative, so the choice is hopefully more obvious).

Although Argentine and Brazil expressed their concern, Brazil downplayed the announcement, but denoted later that:
The Brazilian Navy will practise a fictitious war to protect the "Blue Amazon"
After discovering huge reserves of fossil oil before the Brazilian east coast, which might make Brazil the number one oil-country in the world, out manoeuvring Saudi Arabia, the Brazilian government, without doubt the reactivating of the US 4th Fleet in mind, launched vast military operations in the so-called "Blue Amazon", the 4.5 million square kilometres of Brazilian sea.

The combined navy and army manoeuvres simulate a war for control of the oil fields, pipelines and refineries on the coast of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.
With more than 10 thousand operational armed forces and 17 vessels, 40 aircraft and just over 300 military vehicles, the officers expect that the exercises guarantee the security of the riches of the Brazilian sea.
"The 'Blue Amazon’ is as important as the ‘Green Amazon’. No more important, but as important," said Admiral Edlander Santos, commander of the manoeuvres.

During the manoeuvres, the "green country" - composed of Rio de Janeiro, north of Sao Paulo and parts of Minas Gerais and Goiás - will attack the "yellow country" - Bahia and Espirito Santo - to get control over the mega-rich oil fields of Petrover, a fictitious state-owned company of the "green country". The location of the manoeuvres is not random.

According to Admiral Edlander Santos, the manoeuvres also bring answers to any questions involving the defence of the area.
"Will we have the vessels and means to protect the 4.5 million square kilometres?" He asked. "Well let's find out."

The initiative to the presence of Russia in the Latin American waters is as a matter of fact the consequence of a US ‘invitation’.
For Thomas Gomart, analyst with the French Institute of International Relations, the sending of Russian military units "is a double investment for Moscow: increasingly questioning the hegemony of the United States and support for nationalization in the areas of energy”.

What were Busch and Cheney thinking when they ordered ‘out of the blue’ the reactivation of the 4th Fleet, without giving any information to its neighbours, not even its most solid ally, Brazil? What did they expect? Any reasonable thinking person could prophesise the reaction!


Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Owner Doesn't Care Much

There is still no strategy to defend the Amazônia
In just one month, the deforestation of the Amazônia exploded. The National Institute for Spacial Research (Inpe) reported data on deforestation in the Amazônia Legal, for the month of April. According to the Deter system (Detecção do Desmatamento em Tempo Real = Deforestation Detection in Real-Time) there was an increase of 774.48% in deforestation in the region, eight times more. In March 2008, 145 km ² was cut down, while the number in April rose to 1,123 km ². Unfortunately Deter is only able to detect deforestation polygons of areas larger than 25 hectares due to the resolution of the space sensors.

And the owner of the Amazônia?
Unfortunately it occurs that the Amazônia has a not-properly-caring owner. Approximately 62% of the Amazônia delta with its rain forests belongs to Brazil, but the numbers of deforestation are alarming. Just in the first five years of Lula’s government, it was 100 thousand km2 (2½ x the Netherlands).

The Brazilian economic columnist Míriam Leitão stated in Bom Dia Brasil: “The argumentation that the world has no right to claim the protection of the Amazônia because rich countries pollute or have already destroyed their forests, is not quite correct. If the Amazônia is ours, we have to preserve it. ........ If Brazil protects its biodiversity, they have to use its wealth for the production of medicines, cosmetics, timber in a sustainable way and industrial production of various items.”

That’s why the Brazilian Academy of Sciences proposes to invest heavily in universities, technological institutes, training of scientists in the Amazônia, to activate research in the region to find the best model of exploitation of its wealth. Today, it is only being occupied by ‘grilagem’ (unlawful claiming of rain forest areas), deforestation and even criminal slave labour.
This is not development.

The main task of the extraordinary minister of Strategic Affairs, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, as coordinator of the Plano Amazônia Sustentável (PAS = Program for a Sustainable Amazônia) is to develop "a strategy of zoning the Amazônia, one with forest and another one without forest." As quoted by his own words.

"Let’s stop talking about the fiction that there is a war between environmentalists and developers. This is not the problem. The problem is that we have not yet formulated the necessary measures neither to defend the forest, nor to develop the Amazônia," he assessed.

The coordinator of the PAS believes (what others are saying for years on end) in a correlation between the unemployment rate and the (illegal) deforestation of native forests: "The Amazônia is not just a collection of trees, it is also a group of people, and if the Brazilians who live there do not have economic opportunities they will be inexorably led to illegal deforestation activities."

But from whom is the Amazônia, after all?
A story published in the American newspaper The New York Times suggests that global leaders argue that the Amazônia is not a unique heritage of any country, which is causing concern in Brazil. And continues: "a chorus of international leaders are more openly declaring the Amazônia as part of a much larger heritage then the only nations that share its territory."

The newspaper quotes the former US vice-president Al Gore, who in 1989 said that "contrary to what the Brazilians believe, the Amazônia is not owned by them, it belongs to us all."

In the meantime the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tries to pass a law to restrict access to the Amazônia Forest, imposing a licensing scheme for both foreigners and Brazilians.

"But many experts say that the Amazônia in the proposed restrictions conflict with his own efforts (of President Lula) to give Brazil a greater voice in the negotiations on global climate change - an implicit recognition that the Amazônia is critical to the world as a whole," the article reads.

"It's a fight that shall only become more complicated in the coming years in the light of two conflicting trends: a growing demand for energy resources and a growing concern with climate change and pollution."

But President Lula is adamant: "The Amazônia has an owner and that’s us, Brazilians."
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said, attending the 20th National Forum in May that "the world needs to understand that the Amazônia has an owner and that we, Brazilians, are that owner."

He questioned the conditions of developed countries, the biggest polluters, to discuss this issue. "The countries which are responsible for 70% of the world’s pollution are talking now about the Amazônia," he said. Lula advocated the preservation, but also the development of the Amazônia. "It will be a discussion for the next two decades," he said.

“But don’t cry out prematurely”, the "Economist" is right after all
Although most Brazilians do not like it when someone, particular a gringo, wants to "put a finger" in the Amazônia, as President Lula called it, the truth is that the British "The Economist" had it spot on, when it stated that it is almost impossible to put rules in the region,” writes the Brazilian journalist Ricardo Kotscho in one of his columns. And he follows with:

In its story "Welcome to our shrinking jungle" the Economist states bluntly that it is very difficult for the Brazilian government to control the exploitation and deforestation of the Amazônia forest "because there is no control over the ownership of land in the region."

Nobody has control - and hardly somebody will one day. I say this with sadness. In Amazônia region everything is too grand, too immense, too vast, too dense and far too huge for anyone to even dream to place the forest under some form of order.

You can see it with the naked eye: the pastures progressing in cleared areas owned by nobody, where the law has not yet arrived and the State is a distant mirage for the owners of cattle that are multiplying in geometric progression.
Some alarming data show how the burst of cattle raising is devastating the forest:

• In 1964, Amazônia had a flock of about one million cattle and less than 1% of the area had been deforested for pastures.
• In just thirteen years, between 1990 and 2003, the Amazônia herd rose from 26,6 million to 63 million heads, an increase of 6,7% per year, ten times the increase in Brazilian population.
• Today, the pastures shelter more than 70 million heads of livestock, one third of the entire cattle herd in the country. Since the Amazônia has a population of 23 million people there is an average of three heads of cattle per capita (including babies and old people).
• To open the pastures 16% of the forest area has been deforested, which is more than 70 million hectares, equivalent to Spain and Portugal together.
• The Amazônia continues losing 24.000 km2 of native forest per year, an area equivalent to two thirds of the territory of Belgium. As 1% of the forest turns into grass each year, and the current progress of livestock in the region is kept, in 2050, half of the forest will have been cut to house a corral of 285 million head of cattle.
• The main reason for this burst in cattle raising is the low or even non-existent price of land by pure and simple invasion of public areas, the popular ‘grilagem’. It is cheaper to cut trees (USD 200 to USD 300 per hectare) than to recover land from areas already deforested and degraded and turned into ‘juquira’ (USD 700 to USD 750 a hectare). Juquiras are deforested areas which are claimed back by nature with the springing up of small trees and an abundance of weeds. As sugarcane took the place of pastures in the fever for ethanol and soybean moved to the centre west of the country, cattle farms were pushed into the Amazônia in search of new pastures.

A study carried out by Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia (Imazon = Institute of Man and Environment of the Amazônia), and commissioned by the World Bank, brought to light that 42 million hectares - an area corresponding to 8,5% of the Amazônia (an area the size of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium together) is in illegal possession and totally outside the control of the government.

"This is, in practice, a free privatization of the forest. They never paid for the land and continue without paying taxes," said the coordinator of the research, forestry engineer Paulo Barreto. The process is always the same: the ‘grileiro’ "lends" the land to a timber friend to "clear the area", that is, overthrow the forest, and then plant grass, moving forward without limits and without any control, because, here a title deed is a fiction, even if it were existing.

In this context, some initiatives announced by the federal government to stop the destruction of the rain forest after the world started to protest against the progressive deforestation, sound romantic. But the government actions are entirely insufficient and even laughable and can only be considered as serious and might even revert the situation, if and when the federal government sends the Brazilian Armed Forces with all available equipment including helicopters and planes to the Amazônia.

The worst thing is that this time, we are obliged to accept that the English magazine is correct to say: "In practice, it is almost impossible for the Brazilian government to impose its will within the limits of its empire, even if it wanted."

If Lula claims: "the Amazônia is ours." Why can he only launche a grand-scale manoeuvre with the armed forces, including the navy and air forces, to defend the Amazônia Azul (Blue Amazon, in my next post I shall explain the Blue Amazon) and not do the same for the Green Amazon. Well, frustratingly, the answer is simple, as always: the Amazônia Azul has all to do with oil, while the Amazônia Verde has, as it is, only to do with the environment and global climate change.

source: IG Ultimo Segundo, Ricardo Kotscho

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Laugh: Obama in Brazil

The US is not the only one having elections this year, as we, here in Brazil, have some too in October. Ok, it is less important and world shocking but for the local people the election for mayor and the municipal council are of utmost importance.
And so ... Obama inspires and candidates in Brazil “borrow” his name

The candidate for the presidency of the United States Barack Obama enthused and inspired candidates for prefeito (mayor) and vereador (councilman) in Brazil, adopting his name in the municipal elections in October. There are candidates for mayor and councilman taking a ride on the fame of the US Democrat presidential nominee and decided to couple the name of Obama in their quest for success in the polls. No candidate in Brazil is using the name of John McCain.

The Brazilian law allows candidates to use nicknames during election campaigns and in their identifications. The adoption of the name “Barack Obama” is non-partisan and occurs in various regions of the country

The candidates said they appreciate the life story of the American and want to represent change in their municipalities, one of the banners of the real Obama campaign in the US presidential elections. They also said that the racial issue weighed in their decisions.

(photo above) "I am the first black candidate for mayor of my city," said “Claudio Henrique Barack Obama" who disputes on a PTB-ticket (Labour Party of Brazil) a seat in the municipal council of Belford Roxo, in the federal state of Rio de Janeiro. Officially: Claudio Henrique dos Anjos, is a consultant in information technology and is optimistic. He said that he occupies the third place in polls and consequently has a chance to go to the second round. (In Brazil there is a multi-party system and a candidate needs to be elected by an absolute majority (50% and one vote), if candidates not reach this absolute majority in the first election day, there is a second election day (second round) 14 days later between the top two or three candidates only.

Jovelino Selis (Labour Party), a mathematics teacher at the city's public college and a union leader, does not deny the reason for using the nickname of "Barack Obama" to compete for municipal councilman of Ubiratã in the federal state of Paraná. He didn’t have a choice. Not having the 20 thousand reais (12,000 USD), the opposition has, to activate a campaign, he decided to appeal to Obama’s popularity. "It was a marketing move. The idea caught. People are talking about you,” he observes.
Despite the satisfaction with the successful campaign, the candidate regrets the problems generated by the personal choice of his nickname. "They are calling my youngest son Obaminha (Little Obama)," he said, “ridiculing him in school.”

The Brazilian Obamas suffer the same prejudices as the real Barack Obama. Selis said that a few days ago he heard a rumour that he was using an Arabic name by now because of his links with terrorists. "They said that now I have links with the people in the Middle East. I have to do a teacher’s job to show that this is a lie."

Alexandre Jacinto Nunes (centro-democrats), "Alexandre Barack Obama," fears that the anti-American sentiments [rapidly expanded during the Busch/Cheney administration] are a backlash in his campaign for councilman in Petrolina, in the rural savannah like area in the federal state of Pernambuco. In some conversations with voters, Jacinto prefers to omit the nickname he chose for the campaign. Still, the salesman of air conditioners says he does not regret having adopted the name of the US presidential candidate.
Jacinto battles to achieve his dream. With few (financial) resources, he tries to convince the voters of Petrolina that he will improve the sanitation of the city and help revitalize the river San Francisco. "My difficulties are huge. I have to beg for shoes, as mine were only holes and I walk much. It is ugly," he says. "I campaign on foot, by bicycle and motorcycle when someone is funding the fuel."

For the full list: Meet the Brazilian "Obamas" click here
Meet the Brazilian "Obamas" (updated as from 01 Sept. 2008)

Alexandre Jacinto Nunes (centro-democrats), Alexandre Barack Obama, competes for a chair as city councillor in Petrolina, in the sertão (savannah) of Pernambuco. He is a salesman of air conditioners.

Claudio Henrique, (Labour Party of Brazil) candidate for mayor of Belford Roxo. Former parliamentary adviser to Minister Edson Santos (Secretary of Racial Equality) competes for the first time for public office.

David Cardoso, the Obama of Assentomento, competes for the second time for public office in Pompeu (Minas Gerais). He is candidate for city councillor for the Labour Party of Brazil. Is farmer, married, raised his own and other children, in total eight. He is 41 years and finished high school. Lives in a settlement with (just) 146 other families and did not know Barack Obama, till he got called by that name by others. He aims to fight for "the people who are suffering most."

Epaminondas Bernades Birth is the candidate for city councillor in Barretos (state of São Paulo) and registered for elections with the name: Epaminondas Epa Obama Brasileiro.

Fabio Alonso Jose de Melo, or Fabio Melo Barack Obama, is candidate for the municipal council in Marialva (Paraná). Compete for the PPS (Socialist Peoples Party). He is a law student at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica in Maringa, is 27 years and single. He adopted the nickname after seeing "the picture of the blessed on the Internet."

Jovelino Sellis, candidate for councillor in Ubiratã, Paraná, for the PT (Labour Party). He is a mathematics teacher with the High school and College education network in the state of Paraná. He is married with four children, evangelical, and is said to be a fan of Obama.

Marlúcio Pereira runs in this election for mayor of Aparecida de Goiania (Goianas), a city of 500 thousand inhabitants. He won the nickname “Barack Obama of the Savannah”, but did not register the name with the Election Board. He is black, evangelical and admits to the media that if the US senator takes off favourably, he certainly will embark on the wave until the elections here in October.

Natalino Braz, who simply is registered as Obama, is candidate for the council of Mendes (Rio de Janeiro) for the third time. He is a DEM (democrat) who joined the coalition with the Partida Communista do Brasil. He is a construction worker, is 60 years old and did not finish preliminary school. He is married and adopted the nickname Obama "to see if he was lucky this time."

sources: Revista Epoca, Noticias Terra