Archive for the ‘International Events’ Category

Rio Floods: Fixing Favelas and the Future

April 9, 2010

At least 170 people died after a week of heavy rain prompted mudslides and floods in Rio de Janeiro state. More than 50 houses were engulfed as mud and rubble poured into the Morro do Bumba favela near Rio de Janeiro. The shantytown was built on top of a disused landfill which makes it prone to landslides.

Most of the victims were swept away in landslides that roared through favelas (slums) built on steep, unstable hillsides. The tragic affects of the floods do not touch tourist areas.

With the images of the deadly mudslides and flooding in Rio de Janerio circling the globe, the Brazilian government has sought to preempt any ideas that rains risk turning the preparations or the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games themselves into debacles.

In a conference call with international reporters this week Brazilian Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo said funds were being marshaled to repair damages from the flooding in Rio and elsewhere (other Brazilian population centers have also been lashed by floods lately). In the call, Bernardo said 7 billion reais ($3.9 billion) had already been set aside for recovery of flood-stricken areas as part of the government’s pro-economic growth package.

He also said that investments will be made in sanitation, housing and infrastructure so that Rio and other cities will be better prepared for heavy rains in the future.

“So the government is not predicting—is not foreseeing any type of major hindrance or disaster in this regard because all the measures are being taken … We do not foresee any natural disasters … during the World Cup or the Olympic Games because … they will be held … outside the rain season in Rio de Janeiro particularly.”

On Thursday, the government also announced it was dispatching some $100 million in emergency funds as well as a new fleet of ambulances and medical systems to help Rio de Janeiro cope with the impact of the flooding.

For more maps of the areas around Rio, click HERE.

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Brazil Announces $880 Billion Infrastructure Plan

April 1, 2010

Brazil has announced big, big plans to build $880 billion-worth of infrastructure between 2010 and 2016.

The projects are part of an economic stimulus program whose first phase is half-completed, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced Monday.

The new plan, named the ‘Growth Acceleration Program 2’ or PAC 2, places importance on increasing the country’s energy production capacity, construction of homes and necessary improvements for hosting the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“PAC 1 and PAC 2 are a commitment by the Brazilian state to the redemption of this country. Whoever arrives in the presidency will not be able to tear it up and do something else,” Lula said while rejecting the opposition’s allegations that the announcement only hides the electoral motives of the ruling party.

The president, however, said bureaucratic red tape has been delaying the PAC projects, which ‘cannot stop’ and must begin ‘as soon as possible.’

The new programs include construction of two million homes, which will contribute to reducing the country’s housing deficit by half, and a high-speed rail service between Rio and Sao Paulo.

Visit RentinRio.com to plan your stay in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro: The Past on Film

April 1, 2010

American fascination with Brazilian culture is nothing new—we’ve been enamored with the beats, bright lights, and gyrating bodies of Rio de Janeiro for centuries. Modern Brazilian Carnival originated in Rio de Janeiro in 1641 when the city’s bourgeoisie imported the practice of holding balls and masquerade parties from Paris. It originally echoed the European form of the festival, and later absorbed elements derived from Native American and African cultures.

Until the dawn of the technological age of the 20th century, the only way to simultaneously witness the sights and sounds of Rio was to sail to Brazil and experience it firsthand. With the development of movies, Americans became voyeurs of this exciting and exotic culture.

Here are two examples of films that aimed to portray Brazilian culture in the early 1940s.

It’s All True
An unfinished Orson Welles feature film, this compilation contains three stories about Latin America. “My Friend Bonito” was shot in 1941 and both “The Story of Samba” and “Four Men on a Raft” were shot in 1942.

It was the subject of a 1993 documentary written and directed by Richard Wilson, Bill Krohn and Myron Meisel. Both a documentary and a unique exercise in film restoration, The documentary It’s All True tells the complex story of Orson Welles’ ill-fated attempts to make an anthology film about the life and culture of South America and concludes with a reconstruction of one of Welles’ unfinished segments, edited together from rediscovered original footage. The idea for Welles’ South American project was conceived by the American government as a sort of cultural exchange to improve relations with Latin America. Using interviews and period footage, the filmmakers tell of how the project quickly turned sour, as both the Brazilian government and RKO studio executives objected to Welles early footage. They wanted Welles to use more people with white skin coloring, and often asked Welles to try and avoid using black people. Thanks to a local witch doctor, the film could literally be said to be cursed. Although Welles stuck with the project, RKO eventually withdrew support from the film. It’s All True concludes with a partial reconstruction of the “Four Men on a Raft” segment, in which Welles tells the true story of a dramatic, thousand-mile raft journey by four Brazilian peasants.

Here is a clip of Welles discussing the project

Carnival in Brazil (1942) Directed by Leslie Roush

Review from Variety:
“Sock Latin-American one-reeler, lacking a dull moment. The annual Mardi Gras of Brazil is excuse for parading Latin-American artists and atmosphere, with newsreel shots of actual Rio de Janeiro festival trimly dovetailed into production material. Singing of Elsie Houston, Brazilian soprano, fits nicely into the opening sequence while the wild gyrations of Jose and Lolita Vega are nearly as primitive as some of Brazilian stepping captured (but a mere flash) by the newsreel camera. Fernando Alvarez supplies change of pace by introducing the current South American carnival anthem, Carolina. Exciting enough to make on want to visit Rio at carnival time. Another to Les Roush’s credit.”

One interesting thing to note about this production is the lack of black faces. This says a lot about the US in the 1940s. After the failure of Welles’ film It’s All True, Paramount Studios, in an attempt to appeal to the American public, opted to not portray the black population in this follow up project.

Truly important works, these historical films capture the essence of Brazilian culture as seen through the eyes of the American voyeur.

-Jennifer Bunin

New Report Provides Positive Analysis of Brazil’s Tourism Industry

March 26, 2010

Brazil Tourism Report Q2 2010 – New Market Report Published

This quarter’s tourism report has shown that Brazil’s tourism industry has already benefited greatly from the announcement of several high profile events planned to be held in the country. The 2014 FIFA World Cup is set to be a huge draw for visitors and the addition of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will further boost the industry. In January 2010, the government said it would invest 1 million Brazilian reals to improve facilities throughout the country before of the World Cup. 

Inbound visitor numbers had been growing but the industry could benefit from greater stability. While arrivals rose from 4.7 million in 2001 to 7.2 million (about a 65% increase) in 2008, the report estimates a fall in that number in 2009 because of the impact on developed countries of the global financial crisis. The recovery should be relatively quick, with a forecasted increase of tourist arrivals of 9.2 million by 2014.

The number of Brazilians looking to travel within their own country and that can afford to do so is growing. According to Instituto Brasileiro de Turismo (Embratur) president Jeanine Pires, the revenue generated by tourism in 2008 was nearly 17% higher than in 2007, which was the best year on record. 

Sector growth appears to be building up momentum as the global economy recovers. Brazilian airline Gol Transportes Aéreos reported an increase in year-on-year (y-o-y) growth for January 2010. Compared with January 2009, Gol’s revenues were up by 32.1%. 

In the hotel sector news has been positive too, with French corporation Accor planning to add nearly 5,000 rooms in Brazil with an investment of about EUR200mn. This will be achieved through expansion of their 20 Formule 1 and Ibis hotels in Brazil throughout 2010.

Renovations are a positive area for investment in Brazil’s tourism infrastructure. A lack of infrastructure has held the sector back to date but this looks set to change as investment increases over the coming years.

View the report here.

To rent long and short term vacation apartments in Rio, visit RentinRio.com.

Brasileirão (Brazilian Soccer Championship) 2010 to Begin May 8th

March 12, 2010

The Brazilian Soccer Confederation (CBF) announced on March 8th that the Brazilian Soccer Championship 2010 will open with three games on Saturday, May 8. The Campeonato Brasileiro de Futebol is aptly called Brasileirão (the “Big Brazilian”) due to its massive popularity and large number of competitors. The competition features 40 teams in two divisions (“Série A” and “Série B”), playing hundreds of games until the last round ends on Dec.5.

This year, the championship will have a pause from June 6 to July 14 because of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Here are the 20 teams that will compete in the main division (“Série A”) this Brasileirão:

Atlético-GO
Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Paranaense
Avaí
Botafogo
Ceará
Corinthians
Cruzeiro
Flamengo
Fluminense
Goiás
Grêmio
Barueri
Guarani
Internacional
Palmeiras
Santos
São Paulo
Vasco da Gama
Vitória

To see the full schedule for the fist phase of games, open this CBF page and click on “Veja a Tabela da Série A”.

For accommodations, visit RentinRio.com

Brasília to Celebrate 50th Anniversary

March 12, 2010

Catedral Metropolitana de Brasília

Yesterday Brasília, the capital of Brazil, announced the attractions for the party celebrating its 50th anniversary on April 21.

Disney World characters will parade on Eixo Monumental at 10:30 a.m. Concerts at Esplanada dos Ministérios will start at 6 p.m. and feature Brazilian artists NX Zero, Para lamas do Sucesso, Luan Santana, Daniela Mercury, Bruno and Marrone.

In order to fully enjoy all Brasília has to offer, you must not think of the city as an image of corruption, and discover every good thing this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. Be sure to see the amazing plan and architecture by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, check out the bars and restaurants, and visit the surrounding cerrado, home to Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks, also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Cathedral, one of Brasília’s top attractions, won’t be fully renovated by anniversary day. Work should be concluded by June. However, according to recent reports in Brazil media, the cathedral will be opened for anniversary day celebrations.

For accommodations, visit RentInRio.com

Unidos da Tijuca Wins Rio de Janeiro Carnival

February 19, 2010

Samba school Unidos da Tijuca is the Champion of the Special Group Parade in Rio de Janeiro Carnival 2010. The school, one of the oldest in Brazil, won their last title in 1936. Their parade was themed “It’s a Secret” and also granted talented carnavalesco (Carnival director) Paulo Barros his first title. Barros had already made his mark in Rio de Janeiro Carnival with ideas such as the DNA float in the same Unidos da Tijuca in 2004. The theme was suggested to Carnival director Paulo Barros by a teenage boy on social networking website Orkut, and explored mysteries that have intrigued people through history.

The parade started with a bang. The Comissão de Frente, or Abre-Alas – a group of no more than 15 people who open the parade with choreographies that sum up each samba school’s theme – developed a series of moves based on illusionism (watch a video on G1).

This year’s parade entirely engaging and enjoyable. The crowd at the Sambódromo participated with elation, and joyously watched the spectacle. The meticulously rehearsed choreography of the abre-alas (opening section) deserved all the praise it received. On Tuesday, the school was awarded the Gold Banner (Estandarte de Ouro), an indication that the samba school had a good chance to be the champion.

Recbeat 2010 in Recife

February 12, 2010
Céu

Céu

From February 13th to the 16th, Recife will host Recbeat 2010. This huge, free festival will again bring pop and alternative rhythms to the land of frevo and maracatu.

In celebrating its 15th edition, the festival has Brazilian singer Céu (photo) as one of the top attractions. Local bands and international guests will also be performing. See the list of featured artists on the Recbeat website. Recbeat will be at Cais da Alfândega. For accommodations, visit RentinRio.com.

Official Olinda Carnival Guide 2010 Now Available Online

February 8, 2010

Olinda has a seemingly endless amount of Carnival events, so to help you organize your Carnival schedule, programs are listed by day in the newly launched Olinda Carnival Guide 2010! Just click on “Programação”.

To the right of the homepage, you have can search using the “buscar” box if you have a specific group you would like to stick with. The search result will yield the full list of events for that day. Take advantage of this useful resource to make this Carnival even more wonderful than the last!

Go to RentinRio.com for Carnival accommodations!

Carnival Parade: A Cautionary Tale and A Word of Advice

January 29, 2010

Carnival in Rio de Janerio is the event to which every other carnival is compared. The parade is among one of the most incredible spectacles in the world. You will dance the night away with the samba, the lights and the sounds of carnival. In order to fully enjoy all the wonders of the carnival parade, it’s important to think through what kind of parade experience you want. For the parade, there are two types of seats:

Grand stand seats (bleachers) offer open seating. You can get as high and you want and sit wherever you want.

Allocated/numbered seats All seats in sector 9 (the tourist sector) are also numbered and reserved. The reserved seats are either in boxes or you can plant yourself on the concrete, so be sure to bring blankets and seats to make yourself comfortable.

There are pros and cons to both options, but let the following “harrowing tail” help shape your decision:

Back in the days where Rent in Rio’s President Danny Babush first began to frequent Carnival, he opted to watch the parade from sector 3. He took a seat next to a delicate French woman who resembled Audrey Hepburn, and struck up a conversation with the girl and her husband, explaining the history of the parade. Next to the girl was approximately 21 centimeters of seating space, hardly enough for a single butt cheek of an average sized person. In the midst of jovial conversation, cushioned by the comfort of just enough space for belly laughs, a woman towering at over 1.8 meters tall, donning a green derby, a star on her cheek, and with a rear-end easily a meter wide, began to make her way towards Danny and his new friends. Throwing her an uneasy sideways glance, Danny wrongfully assumed that she was merely trying to pass them to reach the isle. Positioning herself in front of the wispy French girl and the sliver of space beside her, the woman began not-so-discreetly wedging herself into the “seat.” The green derby shaking on her head and a grin from ear to ear, the woman did not cease until the whole of her was seated and the French girl was smushed, shoulders crossed, like a one slice ham sandwich.

The moral of the story: If you can’t take the heat, reserve a seat in the tourist section. The only disadvantage of viewing the parade from sector 9 is you miss out on close contact with cariocas—but in such a crowd, there is such a thing as too much contact.

-Jennifer Bunin