THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA . . . GOT CARJACKED!
Brazil. What comes to mind is Rio, Copacabana, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Hill, Carnaval. What comes to mind is a vibrant population that seems to revel in the joy of life. Then, I talk to people who have been to Brazil. The country is booming, but massive social problems still prevail. Residents of Rio worry more about being kidnapped or carjacked then they do about the economic miracle. That is the reality on the ground.
The largest country both in terms of land area and population in South America, it has become the economic miracle of this century. Rich in natural resources, the country has been a favorite of emerging markets investors for the past two decades. But the sailing has been far from smooth in this economy prone to massive booms, busts, and hyperinflation. But, the country seems to have turned a corner, and done so under a socialist president, something few thought would happen. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Brazil saw rates in excess of 300 percent annual inflation.
When Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took power in the 2002 election, people around the world were stunned. He had run twice before, unsuccessfully. He was seen by many as ultra-left politically, someone who clawed his way through factory jobs, someone with little formal education, and someone who made his name organizing labor unions. He was once jailed for a month, charged with organizing labor rallies in the 1970s, a time ...