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This year will be marked by successive homage Brazilian people will pay to the late medium Francisco Cândido Xavier in the year of the centenary of his birth. Born on April 2, 1910 and christened with the name of Francisco de Paula Cândido, Chico Xavier became famous not only as a medium and one of the largest publishers in the history of Spiritualism, but as a true apostle of love and charity. Born in Pedro Leopoldo, metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, his parents were named Maria João de Deus and João Cândido Xavier. Educated in the Catholic faith, Chico had his first contact with the Spiritist Doctrine in 1927, during an obsessive process, which affected one of his sisters. He proceeded to study and develop their abilities, which, as he reported in a note in the book Parnassus from Beyond the Grave, only gained greater clarity at the end of 1931. Spiritism is is the belief that spirits of the departed are all around us and that the physical world is influenced by, and influences, the spirit world. Much of its main ideas are in The Spirits Book, which was compiled by Allan Kardec in France in the mid 19th century. The Spiritist Doctrine was taken to Brazil by Brazilians educated in France and there it took hold with the general population.

For the first time in more than 30 years, Brazil and the United States are going to sign a military agreement on Monday. This will be the major bilateral military cooperation agreement between the two countries since 1977, when Brazil was still a military dictatorship.  Earlier this week, a senior U.S. government official told The Associated Press that the agreement provides a broad framework for military cooperation but differs from military pacts Washington has with Colombia and its NATO partners. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.”It deals with military exchanges, everything from comparing military equipment to the exchange of students and instructors at military academies,” the official said. “There will be provisions for U.S. Navy ship visits and sharing lessons in peacekeeping.” According to Brazilian press reports, the agreement would create a “multinational, multifunction” base in Rio de Janeiro to monitor drug trafficking.  O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, which broke the story, did not specify what role the US military would play, but the article says that foreigners cannot command operations in Brazil.

Why Brazilians are so optimistic these days? The inhabitants of the largest economy of Latin America were always seen as having a very positive vision of life, buy now they seem to be overoptimistic. The well-known BBC presenter Robin Lustic went to Brazil to find out what makes them so happy: “For millions of them, the past few years have brought greater wealth, more jobs – and with them, it seems, more happiness. In four years’ time, Rio will host the World Cup final, and two years later, in 2016, the Olympic Games. What more could anyone want?” – says him, adding: “Over the past decade, average income for the least well-off in Brazil has risen by more than 70 per cent. For the richest, incomes have risen by just 11 per cent. As a result, the gap between the rich and the poor has narrowed. Between 2003 and 2008, more than 30 million people were lifted out of poverty.”

Finally, Americans and Europeans are discovering one of the most incredible places in Brazil: Trancoso, which  is a former fishing village, located in the far south of Bahia´s state, in the sunny Northeast of the country. Its unspoiled beaches and amazing natural beauty  has turned it into a super-trendy getaway for Brazilians and fashionable jet-setters willing to pay St.-Tropez prices for rustic accommodations on an inspirational beach.

“In January, Rodrigo Hilbert and his wife, Fernanda Lima, both Brazilian television actors, were spotted dancing at the Pink Elephant beach club. Francesca Versace and Dimitri Mussard, an heir to the Hermès fortune, party-hopped in Trancoso over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. And the Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto tied the knot here in February in an informal wedding with 50 guests” – writes ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO, in The NewYork Times.

When it comes to save the environment, Brazilians are doing their best to make their country an example of good practices. Eighty-five percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources, and it’s a top producer of environmentally sensitive products like vegetable-dyed leather and Amazonian cocoa butter. Despite the 2009 financial downturn, Brazil had the second fastest clean energy investment growth rate among G-20 members. Recently, at the inauguration of the Usina Termelétrica Juiz de Fora – the world’s first ethanol-run thermal electric plant-, a Brazilian minister said: “We are paving the way for an increase in our ethanol exports, which are currently at 4.5% of Brazil’s total output, and towards becoming the world’s leading renewable energy producer.” Regarding the destruction of the Amazon Forest, there are still many problems, but the current and the former (Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the President) governments have taken many iniciatives to reduce the deforestation. Now, as says a New York Times´s article, “tourism is also going green, with a wide array of new conservation initiatives and eco-lodges proliferating across the country”.

São Paulo – A series of events will set the Day of the Arab Community in São Paulo, celebrated on the 25th of March. Amongst them there will have handicrafts workshops on the 25 de Março, traditional street in downtown São Paulo where many Arabs opened their business shops. The Day of the Arab Community in São Paulo, which is celebrated also as the Day of the Arab Immigrant, was instituted as a State Law in 2004. However, before the law, the day was already celebrated by immigrants and Arab descendants in São Paulo. They gave a very important contribution to the Brazilian culture – arab food, especially, is very appreciated in the country, where there influence can be seen everywhere, including in the language.

 

It all began more than 80 years ago. In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, needed rubber to make tires, hoses and other parts for his cars.  then the car magnate decided to grow his own. Fordland  was the prefabricated town at the heart of a rubber plantation deep in Brazil‘s Amazonian hinterland – an area of some 2.5 million acres, on the banks of the Tapajós River, a tributary of the Amazon about 600 miles from the Atlantic. It took Ford’s agents approximately 18 hours to reach the place by riverboat from the nearest town. “what the ­Americans and their Brazilian ­collaborators couldn’t do was overcome South American Leaf Blight, which started attacking the trees as soon as they ­matured. An infestation of very hungry caterpillars only added to the challenge. During its best years, Fordlandia’s three million rubber trees ­produced 750 tons of latex; but every year the Ford Motor Co. ­consumed more than 50 ­million tons”, says ” The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City”, by   Greg Grandin,   one of the many books on Henry Ford´s failed experience in the Brazilian Amazon Forest .

Following months of intense pressure, the governor of  Sao Paulo, José Serra, finally said in an television interview that he will formally announce his presidential  candidacy at the beginning of April. He belongs to the same party as the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the oposition PSDB, Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy.  The 68 years old politician, ex- Health Secretary, will have as main rival Dilma Rousseff, current Chief of Staff of president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who hand picked her especially to be the Workers Party candidate. The Brazilian presidential elections will be held next October.


South America’s largest country, Brazil is an amalgam of peoples, cultures, and flavors.  Brazilians are mostly descendants of colonial and post-colonial Portuguese settlers and immigrants, African slaves and Brazil’s indigenous peoples, along with several other groups of immigrants who arrived in Brazil mostly from the 1820s until the 1970s. Most of the immigrants were Italians and Portuguese, but also significant numbers of Germans, Spaniards, Japanese, and Lebanese and Syrians.


Unknown to many outside Brazil, the cultural significance of cachaça, a distilled liquor, ranks among soccer, carnival, and samba. Although non-Brazilian’s compare cachaça to rum, their only similarity is that they both originate from sugarcane. Cachaça first gained popularity among slaves and peasants during Brazil’s colonial period but the spirit has recently become a favorite domestically and internationally regardless of the drinker’s class. Also, Brazilian cachaça exports to Europe and the United States have been aided by the trendy drink caipirinha. The cocktail’s global success has inspired other Caribbean and South American states to produce their own cachaça-like alcohols. Consequently, the Brazilian government has initiated protectionist measures at home and abroad to preserve cachaça’s foreign markets. These developments bring together cachaça’s trade, cultural, and environmental aspects.