I digress from my usual topics on language learning to discuss my recent trip to Brazil that left me stunned at how the country is going downhill.

Brazil has been a country that I’ve adored ever since I went to Brazil the first time about 15 years ago, when I lived in Argentina. On my second visit to Brazil, I went to Rio de Janeiro and the city took my breath away in a way that only one other place had done in the past. I literally forgot about my life when I was there. I was so mesmerized by the beach, mountains, islands, fresh fruit juices and experimenting different creative sandwiches, like tuna with raisins, that I forgot about my life in Argentina. I forgot about my work, my responsibilities. It was an absolutely incredible experience. It was like the gods had made this beautiful place in Brazil to make people forget about life.

Brazil's economic crisis
Rio de Janeiro’s coastline

When I went to Brazil for the third time, I was enjoying myself, walking around the colonial city of Ouro Preto and I fell and sprained my ankle. A nice Samaritan on the street saw me having fallen, picked me up in his car and drove me to the nearest clinic. The clinic treated me for free. I came back home with this plaster cast, paid for by the Brazilian taxpayer. A Brazilian in the US, unless lucky enough to be near a free clinic, would have left the US with a medical bill and a cast. I have experienced so many wonderful things in Brazil but the people in Brazil don’t get so many wonderful things from their government.

Idioma e música
One of the great things on my last trip was finding my book, “Idioma e música” at Livraria Cultura in Brazil. However, the Shopping Iguatemi mall where I found it, was so expensive I could only afford a few things.

Of all the countries I’ve gone to, I think in Brazil I found the people to be the friendliest, the most helpful and very generous with helping a foreigner, whether it was by helping me with my suitcase to get through the turnstile on the bus or giving me directions. I’ve always found wonderful people to talk to in Brazil, and have very deep conversations. The language, this mellifluous tongue of Portuguese is gorgeous. I love to hear and speak it.

In total, I have been to Brazil five times in fifteen years and this last trip saddened me. I was sad for these people who have treated me so well on every trip I’ve had in Brazil in different cities. I was sad because of the reality that they live in.

On this last trip in January 2015, I gave myself the purpose of seeing if I could live in Brazil because I’d been harboring a dream of setting up a business in Brazil. It became super apparent very quickly that moving to the largest country in South America was not going to happen. Before even getting to Brazil, I had some trouble getting a visa at the Brazilian consulate in San Francisco. There’s almost a five-week wait to get into the consulate. Unless, of course, you want to pay the Brazilian visa mafia about an extra $500 to expedite your visa and send it to some consulate or to the embassy on the East Coast, you have to wait those five weeks. I didn’t want to pay the mafia. Luckily, at the last minute, an appointment opened up. I got my 10 year visa and wondered if I really wanted to live in a country that was like this where you have to wait so long just to get into the consulate for a visa or you have to pay a mafia to get you an appointment. Does the consulate think it is Helen of Troy?

This is what I discovered on my trip about why Brazil is turning into a failed state:

1) Water

When I got to Brazil, I saw a very good friend of mine and he told me about the water crisis in the country and that many places across the country are in a drought. I asked about the floods in Brazil a few years prior. He told me that during the floods the government hadn’t set up any aqueducts to move the water from the flooded areas to the reservoirs. Currently, the city of São Paulo, which is the biggest city in Brazil, the largest in the Americas and the 12th largest city worldwide, with a population of around 20 million people (including the areas around the city), doesn’t have enough water to make it through the year. Newspaper headlines when I was there said that water might be rationed to two days out of seven. National Public Radio reported in the article, A Historic Drought Grips Brazil’s Economic Capital that water is already cut off during the day.

It’s hot and it’s humid. People need to take showers. So much for the 3-4 showers a day Brazilians like to take in the heat. How can one of the largest economies in the world survive when the government hasn’t invested in infrastructure and in getting water from the aquifer on which Brazil is located? How they’re going to live on two days of water in a week I don’t know.

The Olympics are coming up in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. I really don’t understand how Rio de Janeiro, if it’s still going to have a drought in a year and a half, is going to provide water to athletes. Athletes need a lot of water. Maybe they’re going to have to truck in bottled water from the Andes, from Chile or Argentina. But that goes completely against the International Olympic Committee’s sustainability initiative of the Olympics.

Olympian baby wipes
Will 2016 Summer Olympians need to wash themselves with baby wipes because of the Brazilian drought?

It seems pretty ridiculous for a country to host a major sporting event with many, many tourists during a drought. Will the athletes have to clean themselves with baby wipes or other moist paper towels instead of with running water and lather their hair with the waterless shampoo used in hospitals? I can imagine cartoonists salivating at the prospect of drawing caricatures of the 2016 Summer Olympians running with their medals to a large box of Pampers Diaper Wipes. Maybe I am giving the Pampers company a new reason to be a co-sponsor of the Olympics.

2) Electricity outages

In addition to the drought, there’s an electricity problem because much of Brazil’s energy comes from hydro-electric dams. There have been electricity outages around the country and now the price for electricity is about to go up. Blackouts can have severe consequences for businesses. Some machinery might break unless all companies have good surge protectors to protect their equipment.

There was an interview in one of the major magazines, Veja, in the middle of January 2015 with the Brazilian Minister of Energy about the problem with the electricity outages and the increase in electricity prices. The electricity went out during the interview and there was a picture of the Minister in a darkened room! Even the Minister of Energy can’t arrange it so that during his interview, the lights don’t go out! Brazil is the seventh largest economy in the world and they’re going to have more electricity outages. The economy can’t grow with electricity outages. It’s going to have to go backwards and the country’s already in recession. olympic-torch
Are Olympians going to have carry torches for real, not just for the Opening Ceremony as traditions calls for, but because there is no electricity?

Let’s say Brazil is so lucky that the Water Gods descend many storms upon Brazil so that Brazil isn’t in a drought. Those storms could also knock out the electricity. When I was in a supermarket in Paraty, the electricity went in and out, because of the rain. I was just standing there at the cash register for a while until the cashier could finish the transaction because she, of course, needed electricity to have her cash register work. Then the Internet didn’t work because of the rains and the rains weren’t torrential rains.

3) Violence

Not only will electricity outages affect the economy, but they’re also going to affect violence. Violence in Brazil is something that if you don’t feel it, somebody else you know has felt it.

The electricity outages are going to affect violence because with electricity outages, criminals can go at night and rob stores, homes and buildings with just a flashlight and run away and people aren’t going to be able to identify the criminals because it’s dark. The police won’t be able to run after them because they won’t know who to catch. Violence is only going to get worse with the electricity outages.

I talked to a friend of mine whose father had been killed a few months prior, just in his house. Somebody came to rob him. He was a bus driver and didn’t have a lot of money. The violence can affect people who have money or don’t have money.

Some statistics say that more people in Brazil die from violence in the country than those killed in Iraq. It’s pretty sad to think that I have a better chance of staying alive in Baghdad than in Brazil. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to plan a trip to Mesopotamia and look at the Babylonian ruins anytime soon!

There are bullet-proof vested Military Police even on the beach in Rio! It’s 40 degrees Celsius (104 Farenheit) and humid and these police look like they’re guarding a military fort, not a tourist destination. The MPs are in many places, even the São Paulo metro. They are there for our safety but I didn’t like seeing bullet-proof vested MPs. It made me feel like I was in a war zone.

4) Prices

I was shocked when I went into the grocery store and I found that the prices were actually the same or more expensive than in the United States, even though the cost of labor is lower in Brazil. I couldn’t understand why the food was the same or more expensive in Brazil. (I was shopping for fruit, vegetables, peanuts and bottled water.) The only thing that I could find cheaper than in the U.S. were the bananas.

Of course, when people can’t afford things, that’s going to lead to more robberies. Stores are going to have to hire even more security guards than they already have. To pay for the security guards, the prices are going to go up again. This is going to become a vicious cycle.

The cost of making mobile phone calls in Brazil is plain robbery. There’s no free roaming from one state to another. So if you have a phone number from Belo Horizonte and you either make or receive a call in another city like Rio de Janeiro, you pay almost $1.50 or more a minute! The Vivo phone company told me if I didn’t like their service that they didn’t give a damn and that I could go to any other Brazilian cell phone company and get just as ripped off. Oh yeah, customer service in Brazil is terrible.

The prices have increased dramatically but the services have stayed the same as they were 15 years ago.

5) Transportation

The transportation was exorbitantly expensive for the same bad quality that I remember from 15 years ago. In São Paulo when I was on buses, I mostly had to stand, holding onto the strap while beads of sweat poured down my chest. One time, at the non-rush hour time of 10pm, the bus was so packed I couldn’t even get out through the turnstile at my stop. Since the city is so big and the metro doesn’t go everywhere, you sometimes have to take two buses and a metro to get from place to another. For each of those, you have to pay 3.5 Reais, which is a little over $1.50. Unless you have a discount card, you pay $1.50 per ride. If you have a discount card, the price goes down. But within a 24 hour period, I paid 30 Reais, which is $13.00 to stand most of the time on the buses and the subway using the discount card. It was appalling that I would have to pay that much for such bad quality of service. I’ve been in other countries where I’ve had to stand most of the time on the bus, but I haven’t been robbed to the point of paying $13.00 in 24 hours.

When I was in Tokyo, I paid $15.00 a day for the mass transit. When I went on the off-peak hours, I mostly was able to sit on the bus and on the metro and the buses came very quickly. If you work in Tokyo, you can afford $15/day for transportation. In New York City, a seven-day Metro Card is $30. You could spend $30 on public transportation in São Paulo in two and a half days.

Thirteen dollars in a 24 hour period to somebody in Brazil is a lot of money. The minimum wage is about $300 a month. So if you do the math, $13.00 for a 24 hour period, is an extremely high amount of money. Some people get transportation cards paid for by their employers so that means they don’t have to pay for transportation. But if you’re working as a freelancer or have several part-time jobs, you might not have one of those cards and you’re going to have to pay for all the buses and the metro yourself.

I don’t know how people withstand going on two or three crowded buses to get to work and still work a full day and then have to take all that transportation back home. The difficulty with transportation must also have an effect on efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

That’s why there have been these protests in Brazil since June of 2013 about the price hikes. During the protests in the summer of 2013, they were massive protests and the government decided not to raise the bus fare. Now the buses are even more expensive than before. When I spoke to some people about the protests, they wanted to participate but they said that the police were so violent that they were afraid to join the demonstrations and get hurt. I really wonder what’s going to happen because if people are afraid to protest but they’re feeling robbed at every turn in their life, whether it’s going to the grocery store or being on the bus, they’re going to have to let out their anger in some way. I don’t know what that’s going to turn into. It could be even more violent than some of these protests.

Riot police fire tear gas at demonstrators inside Faria Lima subway station during a protest against fare hikes for city buses, subway and trains in Sao Paulo January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce (BRAZIL - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TRANSPORT)
Riot police fire tear gas at demonstrators inside Faria Lima subway station during a protest against fare hikes for city buses, subway and trains in Sao Paulo January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Nacho Doce (BRAZIL – Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TRANSPORT)

Don’t get stuck in the metro with there are protests going on! One night, I was on the blue line in the São Paulo metro while demonstrators made their way into the Faria Lima station and the police fired tear gas on them. My train was stuck several times, sometimes with part of the power turned off, probably because of the tear gas issue.

Brazil, of all the countries I’ve been to, is the only place where I’ve ever seen the passengers actually have to push the buses. This has happened to me twice in Brazil. Given the fact that the prices for transportation are so high, one, as a passenger, wouldn’t think that they should also have to push the bus.

Now, of course, if you have lots of money, you could just use a helicopter and forget the buses in general. São Paulo has more helicopters than anywhere else in the world. That’s great if you have a lot of money. But mostly people have to use public transportation.


6. Bad infrastructure for tourism

It happened to me several times that when I looked for the price and schedule of a long-distance bus online. When I got to the bus station, the price was higher and the schedule was different. The bus companies weren’t actually being honest to their consumers by having a different price online or they weren’t updating their websites.

As a foreigner, it’s extremely difficult to buy long-distance bus tickets in Brazil unless you go to the bus station. This is another thing that hasn’t improved in 15 years. If you want to buy a long-distance bus ticket and you’re Brazilian, you can go online, put in your CPF number (a national identification number) and you can buy with a credit card. If you’re a foreigner and you don’t have a local address and CPF number, you can’t buy a ticket. You can’t use your passport number. So that means that if you’re in a rush and you don’t have time to take two buses to the main bus station to buy your ticket for a bus which is going to be full, you may be stuck without a bus. Or you could illegally use a Brazilian’s CPF number and pay with your own credit card number. In Brazil, sometimes if you want to get something done, you have to take shortcuts and sometimes do things illegally, thus fueling even more corruption in the country.


7. Oil

The state is going to collapse. One of the main sources of currency for the government has been oil money but the price of oil per barrel has dropped significantly, leading to the economic decline in Russia and other countries. The same thing is going to happen in Brazil.

Brazil right now has major corruption scandals, one of which is with the oil company, Petrobras, which is currently in a legal dispute in the US because of a corruption scandal involving bribery to buy a refinery in Texas. There are thoughts that the President, Dilma Rousseff may be impeached because of her involvement in the corruption scandal. There is even an investors’ lawsuit in the US, where the Brazil president is cited in a lawsuit against Petrobras. How many G8 leaders can claim Rousseff’s fame of being cited in a lawsuit in the US? I think she is the only one with this honor.


8. Brain Drain 

I was shocked at how many people told me that they’re trying to leave Brazil legally. They asked me suggestions of the best countries to go to and how to find a job abroad.

One journalist I talked to said that English schools who sell packages for families who want to learn English intensively to leave the country have been selling more packages to families ever since the last elections in Brazil in October 2014. It may be good for the countries that receive these people who have either the money or the brains to leave, but it’s not good for the country that is seeing these people go.

If Brazil is going to be losing its best and brightest or just the people who happen to have money, connections or the courage to jump ship, then you wonder what’s going to happen for the future of the country.

At the end of my trip, I was talking to my hosts in São Paolo, who were considering various countries where to move, and I said to them, “I don’t want to induce the brain drain from Brazil. But I have to tell you, life does not have to be this hard.”

Brazil deserves to have a bright future. The people in the country deserve to not be robbed when they have to take the bus, whether it’s by the government or by criminals. Why such a warm, welcoming people have to suffer every day, I don’t know. I left the country feeling for the first time ever that I was witnessing a failing state, that Brazil was like the Titanic waiting to happen. Unless something dramatically changes, Brazil is going to become a failed state.

Unfortunately, I’m no stranger to failed states having been born in one, the Soviet Union (before the fall), having worked and lived in the aftermath of another, the former Yugoslavia, and having observed elections in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and USSR.

Will Brazilians wake up to the reality of their country’s demise after Mardi Gras?

I was in Brazil during the January vacation when many are out on the beach or otherwise vacationing. Maybe they don’t realize that the bus fares had gone up, that there’s going to be water and electricity rationing and that food prices will rise because of the drought. But after Carnaval (this week and weekend), when people return to work, they’re going to realize what’s going on and it’s going to be ugly. I can’t say the proverbial s&%t will hit the fan after Carnaval because there may not be enough electricity to power the fan!

You may read this and think that Brazil’s demise into a huge failed state is a far-fetched idea. Remember where Russia was exactly a year ago? It was strutting its stuff at the Winter Olympics at Sochi with Vladimir Putin regaling in the glory of showing the world how rich and powerful Russia was. (Interestingly, they also had a water problem there and foreign journalists showed brown water coming out of Sochi showers.)

Look at Russia now after oil prices tanked and US and EU sanctions have cut off some of its banking and commerce. Russia’s credit ranking has plummeted, as has its currency, the ruble, and it is involved in a war in Ukraine. Who saw that coming a year ago?

Oddly, Brazil just hosted the World Cup and is gearing towards the Olympics in 2016. Russia hosted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and will be home to the 2018 World Cup. I would not be surprised if one or both of the countries has to pull out of hosting.

A robbed people, devoid of water, electricity, decent and affordable transportation led by a government mired in corruption armed with military police, will eventually run out of money to buy the expensive food in the stores. This is a recipe for disaster.

Rio de Janeiro took my breath away at first sight because of its beauty. Now the entire country may be choking because of government mismanagement, corruption and the drought.


  1. I’m saving enough money to leave the country next year, and I suggest anyone who’s capable to do so.

    There’s no hope.
    I’ve lost faith in Brazil.
    I’m not sinking with this leaky boat.

    • Interessante abordagem.
      Gosto da liberdade da imprensa ao trazer esta visão bem próxima dos eventos que agora aqui ocorrem.
      Na análise da articulista porém, alguns fatos estão emocionalmente descritos com o viés comparativo de realidades estereotipadas.
      Se o Brasil passa por problemas de identidade ideológica – o que é verdadeiro – por outro, brasileiros que aqui vivem estão no seu dia a dia batalhando para reverter o que está errado, através até mesmo do sofrimento, porque as soluções do Brasil estão nas mãos do seu próprio povo.
      Não é verdade que se usará lenços de papel para limpar o suor após cada competição olímpica. Aliás não teremos como ontem aconteceu em Copenhagen um tiroteio fundamentalista. Esse problema certamente aqui não tem.
      Essa pequena senhora poderá continuar a ser o arauto de sua canhestra visão apocalíptica de um Brasil falido, pode nos agredir como povo e como nação que passa por um período turbulento de sua história; mas continuará a encontrar seus livros nas prateleiras das livrarias. Sabe porque? Por que aqui todos tem liberdade de falar o que quiser – até besteiras – e nós vamos ler e discutir suas visões estapafúrdias. Coisa que se fizesse a respeito dos países islâmicos nesta hora estaria em maus lençóis.
      Mas não tem importância não, continue a escrever, pois mesmo na miséria e no sofrimento nós ainda temos uma coisa que ela e os estrangeiros de muitas origens não podem entender: solidariedade e amor pelos que padecem.
      E no final das contas, quando a galé faz água, os primeiros a pular na água são os ratos.
      Sou apenas um sofrido patriota que não arreda o pé de amar o Brasil incondicionalmente.

      • Onde é “a solidariedade e amor pelos que padecem” do lado do governo? Na forma violenta da policia? Da forma de gastar dinheiro numa refinaria no estado de Texas?

        Esse post não tem nada que ver com o fundamentalismo islâmico. Não entendo os seus comentarios sobre o tema.

        Quando falo de como sempre amei Brasil e quanto adorei os brasileiros, você podaria explicar porque disse que “pode nos agredir como povo e como nação”. Nunca no meu texto, agredi o povo, falei das problemas que existem no pais que vão dirigir o pais ao fracaso. Você leu que eu tambem sou de um pais falido? Então se sou de um pais falido, porque vou agredir o povo de um pais que estã sofrendo?

        O meu post e para abrir os olhos das pessoas que não sabem do horror que vai acontecer no pais se a situação não mudar. Mas se você prefere ver o artigo como uma ofenda pessoal, está perdendo o objetivo do artigo.

      • O que o estado islâmico tem a ver com isso? Outro brasileiro mais que quer enfiar a cabeça na areia e fingir que está tudo muito lindo e bom.

      • Você é Petista? Acredita que tudo vai melhorar milagrosamente ou que ela está 100% errada? Orgulho cego não resolve nada, não deixa você assumir que tem problemas horríveis no nosso país, muita coisa no texto dela é ironia ou piada com a situação, e qual o problema nisso? Veja meu longo comentário adicionando e corrigindo pontos, mas nem por isso discordando totalmente do que ela disse.
        Aonde está a solidariedade do governo ladrão nesse momento? Ele é solidário com o próprio partido e com seus ladrões que precisam ser salvos da cadeia, você é solidário com a Petrobras pagando caro na gasolina pra financiar um projeto político que quer se armar caso perca a próxima eleição, isso aqui vai virar uma Venezuela se todos pensarem como você e esperarem uma solução milagrosa.

      • Nossa, esse seu post é quase tão lixo quanto o Brasil. O grande problema do Brasil é esse povo idiota, inepto, imediatista e malandro. Os políticos são um mero reflexo deles.

  2. The most important point that leads to all the suffering we are having here and you didn’t consider in your text are the politicians, Brazilians keep voting on the same politicians year after year.

    They let companies create cartels and combine prices, so everyone will pay one way or the other, they steal all the money like in Petrobras scandal, they don’t make the necessary improvements to water and electricity systems and spend it all in World Cup stadiums that are big piles of thrash now.

    Brazilians give their votes for lies, food, bricks, dentures!! Sadly, the poorest part of the population votes on the candidate that will spend more money in social (money distribution) programs, despite being robbed, starving, etc.

    I would like to add my point of view of some problems you cited:

    1-Flood water cannot be directed to reservoirs, most of this water (at least here) comes from polluted rivers or streams, full of trash and bacteria, you can’t even chemically treat it for drinking. The right thing to do here would be to fix pipes and stop wasting water (currently about 30% is wasted on distribution systems), and educate people to stop wasting also (washing cars, sidewalks, changing flush systems, etc).

    2-Besides the drought problem we have oil and coal powerplants to help in this case, but they are wasted, obsolete, the government didn’t keep them as needed, now they are failing, so the current president, which was minister of mines and energy should have seen that coming.

    3-I have lived in Rio 10 years ago and I can say that violence didn’t change that much, the big difference is that now everyone can see it, it’s not only happening for the poor people who live in slums. I never saw Rio as a safe place, and São Paulo is not very far from Rio on this problem. Governments, both federal and state, let things get out of control, they pay ridiculous salaries for the police that often helps the criminals or even participates in criminal activities.

    4-I don’t know if you noticed that Brazilians love to spend thousands on anything that gives them “rich” status, that inflates prices here, people will pay anything to show everyone they can afford cars, clothes, restaurants, I’m sure you compared prices like the Honda Civic (80k reais vs 20k dollars). Even US companies sell things at prohibitive prices here, did you see the iPhone 6 starting at $1800? A lot of people paid for it, because it gives them “rich” status.

    7-Brazil exports crude oil and imports gasoline, oil is not a big part of government currency, and they are dumb enough to not refine oil to gasoline here and buy it at higher prices. Even with the oil prices going down we are paying more on the gasoline as a way to salvage Petrobras, because the government and the workers’ party almost robbed all the company’s money. Here we do things the most hard, dumb and exepensive way, we build houses brick by brick instead of using pre-molded walls, dry walls, it’s way more expensive and time consuming.

    I’ve been to the US three times and loved it, besides seeing mostly good cities and neighborhoods I know people are trying to improve things, doing things the right way and most people are hardworking.

    In Brazil a lot of people use the “jeitinho brasileiro” (Brazilian’s way) to do things like skipping lines, parking on spots for disabled and elder, avoiding taxes, they do so many wrong things that they cannot (or won’t) complain about politicians, if they do and join a demonstration they will break into places to steal, they will break things, stores, banks, set fire to buses, trains, even when it’s a peaceful demonstration the government or other parties will pay bus and food for people to go there and break everything so they can pervert the demonstration and complain against the population.

    We are not a Venezuela yet, but we are going their way if we don’t change our politicians and people’s mind soon.

    • Thanks for the explanation about the water.
      At the rate the government is going, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Brazilian government implement currency export controls, like Venezuela & Argentina, to stop the flow of currency out of the country. This will only fuel the brain drain even more!

  3. I highly encourage anyone wanting to leave Brazil to do so. Leave the country and it’s resources for the ones that actually care enough to try and do something about it.

  4. I would like to know who is the author of this text. Amazing how he (she) has been so many times to Brazil, and did not realize the violence, deficiency of transport and others points raised. It looks like a political pamphlet, as well as most comments posted bellow.

    • I have no political affiliations in Brazil nor any political motivations to speak of. This was a reflection of my recent trip in comparison to previous visits.

      The prices for transportation, food and other products were never as bad in my previous visits 15 and 7 years ago.
      There were no electricity blackouts, water shortages, military police guarding the beach &
      central areas and there were no violent protests with tear gas that stopped the metro.

      • Susanne, don’t worry. Some Brazilians tend to hide their heads in the sand pretending that all is wonderful and colorful. I have lived for 25 years in Brasil and can correlate to your experience.

  5. Next time, visit Parana and his capital Curitiba. Brazil is not just Rio, Sao Paulo and Brasilia. But sure, I agree with all that you have told

  6. Great article Susanna, I knew the Brasilian economy is slowing down and the infrastructure problems are great, however I didn’t realize how bad it’s become since I was last there. It also sounds like these are long-term problems that will not be resolved even in a decade. It’s a shame, because as you say, the people are so friendly and happy. It can be an amazing place.

  7. Suzana, há séculos temos estes problemas sociais que você citou e são realmente terríveis mas, felizmente, o Brasil hoje é uma grande potência econômica assim como Índia e China. E Índia e China possuem problemas sociais muito mais graves que o Brasil. Os empresários brasileiros investiram muito nos U.S.A. em plena crise do petróleo. Não só investiram na refinaria do Texas mas em muitas outras grandes empresas americanas que hoje são controladas pelo capital brasileiro. Espero que as condições sociais e políticas melhorem algum dia para nós brasileiros, que o governo pare de explorar o povo mas os atuais escândalos de corrupção do governo estão ligados ao gigantesco e incontrolável crescimento econômico do Brasil.

    • Gigantesco e incontrolável crescimento econômico do Brasil? Com a recessão e desemprego atual causados pelo governo? Não estamos crescendo nada, Índia e China tem problemas sim, principalmente sociais, mas lucram e crescem muito mais do que o Brasil, aqui a única coisa que cresce é a inflação e a fatia que o governo do PT está roubando.
      O investimento no Texas foi um grande roubo, um péssimo negócio, assim como o porto em Cuba e outras obras faraônicas do PT.

      • Agora estamos colhendo a total falta de investimentos na infra-estrutura, o abuso na multiplicação dos impostos e os ultra super faturamentos de obras públicas. Mas que país da América (ou do mundo) joga fora 100 Bilhões só pra fazer obras pra Copa e Olimpíadas? Fora os gastos faraónicos do BNDES em obras dentro e fora do país. É que eu sou do tempo que o Brasil não tinha grana nem pra levar equipes pras Olimpíadas.

  8. Most of these problems could have been seen in your previous visits, maybe except by the water crisis. Perhaps they are harder to be hidden nowadays.

    • The prices for transportation, food and other products were never as bad in my previous visits 15 and 7 years ago. There were no blackouts, military police guarding the beach & central areas and there were no violent protests with tear gas.

    • I think these problems are much harder to hide nowadays indeed when SOME people are getting out from under the media’s umbrella that everything is wonderful and the country is the greatest in the universe.

      • I agree, high prices and violente are problems that exist in the daily life of ordinary brazilians since always.

  9. I’ve been living here in Brazil for 4 years and I can confirm most of the explanations she have made in this article, even though she is exaggerating the Brazilian currently situation, it is true that every day the panorama seems to worsen to the point that I am considering to return to my homeland.

  10. Hi Susanna

    Congrats for your book, I just checked some reviewes of it
    and it seems really interesting. I’ll probably get it on Kindel at Amazon,
    since I am not rich enough to afford buying it here in Brazil.

    Your comments about Brazil show that you worry about
    brazilians, which includes pointing a finger at the wrong things you saw. Some
    people get very sensitive with critics, which blind them for the problems
    and prevent any chance of solving it. From my part, I really appreciated your
    comments, as I do with any foreigner that loves Brazil to the point of writing
    about it. It is much easier to go back to US and forget about the mess here.

    With that said, I would like to put a different perspective
    on some points you mentioned.

    Brazil is suffering the worst drought in 80 years. While it can be said that the government should have planned for it, it should be considered also that we are a poor country ( don’t get misguided by the guys in helicopters). It is about priorities, 50 % of the homes in Brazil doesn’t have sewer systems, the dejects are thrown in the sea or any lagoon nearby. This happens in Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio! This is just an example of how poor we really are in terms of infrastructure, so we´re far away from California for instance. Your point about the games in Rio is perfect, we have more important things to do than spend on World Cup or Olympics.

    You were too soft on safety…60.000 Brazilians are murdered every year in the country, which means around 160 per day, or 13 people killed per hour. Less than 5% of these murders are investigated by the police, And it is much worse in Northeast nowadays, Rio and SP are actually getting less violent than 10 years ago, believe it or not, you can check some statistics: http://exame.abril.com.br/brasil/noticias/rio-e-sao-paulo-nao-sao-mais-donas-da-violencia-no-brasil

    You´re absolutely right about the prices. They are ridiculous and will continue to go up. Among the causes you´ll find the high taxes, a very closed economy that does not stimulate competition, and the Government that appears to be focused on creating problems for entrepreneurs.

    Most of your points are related to our absolute lack of infrastructure. To give you an example, the president went on national TV a year ago to announce a reduction on the energy prices. This led to less investment in infrastructure and now the prices are rising and the energy is lacking…so much for populism.

    About the protests, I guess you received a partial information. The protesters against transportation prices have used violence on a regular basis. They destroy metro stations, put fire on public and private property, destroy stores and bus stops and use the so called “black bloc” tactics, which includes defy the police whenever possible to create confrontation that can generate images against the police. They protest on weekdays, at the end of the day, to stop the city and create caos. Please check this videos.



    I have been to many protests on weekends, with no riots or destruction of property. I had never experienced problems with the police. I am not saying that there are no mistakes, I am just saying that these protesters are not willing to make a peaceful manifestation, they are criminals willing to destroy things and hurt people if necessary.

    • As for the price of my book, believe me, I wasn’t happy with how expensive it is in Brazil either! I intentionally made the price in USD low for the Portuguese version of my book, Idioma é música. However, due to shipping costs, taxes & the bookstore’s profit margin, the book is not cheap, as are most imported books in the county. So the ebook or PDF is the cheapest way to obtain the book abroad unless you use Book Depository (http://www.bookdepository.com/), which doesn’t charge for shipping to Brazil & other countries.

      Thanks for your points. I did know about the black blocs tactics. However, I had also read or heard that those violent protesters could have been planted by a political party to intentionally make a mess and de-legitimatize the protests. It is good to know the weekend protests are peaceful.

      Unfortunately, people in the US can also be too defensive at criticisms of the US, especially those who have never left the country. The difference is when someone is criticizing a country to be mean, snobbish or rude or when someone is pointing out things leading to the destruction of the country, as I was. What is upsetting in Brazil is to see that some prefer to be blind to reality even though this reality may lead to cataclysmic events in the near future.

      Unfortunately, ignorance can be bliss.

      • Hi Susanna

        Thanks for the suggestions about the book, I’ll definitely check it.

        It is probably true that this violent protesters were infiltrated at first. Nevertheless, they are accepted by the so-called non violent protesters. I would not take part in a protest that has people destroying property. And if I see someone doing it, I call the police. These protesters for freebusrides are not doing that…there is going to be a big protest on March 15th, try to check it ou through facebook, check Movimento Brasil Livre, Vem pra Rua and others. There will be lots of images soon.

        I guess you’re right on your last comment, you can add this item “Brazilians are proudly walking towards their doom!”

  11. For sure we have a lot of problems in Brazil. I am very disappointed with politicians and economy in Brazil, even though we are the most friendly and nicest people in the world and I am so proud of being brazilian and have brazilian culture in my blood

  12. After living in Brazil for a couple of years, for reasons unrelated to the economical situation in Brazil, my family and I decided to move back to Europe beginning 2013. In hindsight it happened to be the best possible decision we could have made. From then on the country more or less imploded. At this moment it’s not only a country without any actual national leadership or governance, but because of the widespread corruption in all layers, national, estadual and municipal government, and the quest to eradicate mayor chunks of this disease, the whole country came to a standstill.
    Even a large amount of the Brazilian company’s are without leadership due to investigation or are actually in prison. The ones who are not, obviously try to make as little noise as possible. Most of them are guilty of more or less the same sort of crimes e.a. corruption. All this corruption goes back a long time and is therefor tremendously widespread.
    Unfortunately what i noticed while living there was an alarming lack of rebellion from the new generation about all this. Most of our children s friends had only one goal after their graduation and that was to join the elite in corruption,robbing and stealing. No-one talked about trying to change things, about a revolution or protest, at least very little. Joining mother Petrobras, working your way up the ladder in one or another government agency knowing that all of them were dirty and corrupt organisations, was number one on everybody’s mind.
    I know it sounds harsh, but in fact the generation of lets say young folk in their twenties, recently left university or about to leave uni soon, can almost be considered lost already. Their mind is not set on changing, their mind is set on joining. Therefor I think that it will last a long time for Brazil to really recover. Perhaps the new generation, now 10 years of age or so, will be able to change things. Here’s a big role for the educational institutions. Unfortunately funding for education is constantly reduced.
    However not all is bad. Corruption has been widespread, obvious for everybody to see for a long time. At least at this moment there is some movement towards solving this problem. But only after a new generation acknowledges corruption as a problem and as something in which they don’t wish to participate, Brazil can and will resurrect and will be far better of then their highest peek up to now.

  13. Hi Susanna, do you think Brazil maybe could work better if substituted by smaller groups of states? I mean,it’s a very big country that never had an efficient government in 200 years, and I think it’s really difficult to manage such a big country. Brazil is obviously out of hand and it’s really impossible that people could live in poverty in the americas. That continent has all the resources to make ordinary people’s lives decent. Corruption,disorganization and crime are too much widespread

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