Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm
Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.
But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:44 pm
It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.
"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."
She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:45 pm
Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd gathers in Sao Paulo and waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.
They are celebrating a sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death. The women wear white dresses with crinolines, colorful belts and headdresses. The men wear lace, pajama-style suits. They sing and dance in a circle for hours; the room gets warmer, the chanting more intense.
Suddenly, they are here: Orixas have possessed the chosen among the faithful. They are spirit gods, the deified ancestors who link humans to the other world.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 9:15 am
We told you recently about new allegations of violations at three Chinese factories that make Apple's popular iPhones and iPads. Now, we have more allegations of labor violations – this time against Apple's main rival, Samsung, and its operations in Brazil.
Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 9:16 am
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: I'm Greg Allen, in Miami. To gauge the impact of Brazilians here, you only need to go downtown and look up.
(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)
ALLEN: Just a few years after the housing downturn, in Miami, once again, cranes and construction crews are hard at work building high-rise condominiums. Thousands of units are going up all over town, and many are being built for Brazilians.
Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 7:26 pm
What's the busiest U.S. Consulate in the world? If you guessed in Mexico or China, you'd be wrong.
It's actually in Brazil, Sao Paulo to be exact. The consulate there is giving a record number of visas to Brazilians who want to visit the U.S. And that is giving a boost to the economies of cities like Miami.
On a recent day, Tiago Dalcien and his girlfriend stand outside the U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo clutching their passports and other documents. He is a 30-year-old banker; his girlfriend is a doctor.
Besides the horrific carnage inside Port-au-Prince, one of my most vivid memories of the 2010 Haiti earthquake is military helicopters idling out in Port-au-Prince Bay.
From the bridge of the Navy aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson, I watched H-53 and Seahawk choppers waiting for rescue and relief supplies that seemed agonizingly slow in arriving from U.S. and other foreign aid sources. International coordination, in fact, felt as wanting in those first few post-quake days as the food and medicine.
While the recent World Youth Day celebrations in Rio de Janeiro were a success for Pope Francis, they certainly weren't for the city government. Accusations of disorganization and transport failures have left residents wondering if Rio is really ready to host both the World Cup and the Olympics.
Millions of faithful thronged Brazil's Copacabana Beach to hear Pope Francis deliver Sunday Mass, the culmination of the Latin American pontiff's first papal trip abroad.
Francis, speaking from a massive stage erected on the beach, urged those gathered for World Youth Day's concluding Mass to spread the Gospel "to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent."