Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’


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A new ball game for Brazil’s Ronaldo

FT.com / Management
By Vincent Bevins
Published: May 5 2011 23:12 | Last updated: May 5 2011 23:12
Ronaldo
Off the bench: Ronaldo tackles business

On his way to a game between Brazil and Scotland at the Emirates Stadium in north London, Brazilian football legend Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is not wearing the national jersey that made him famous. Nor is he on the team bus. He is wearing a dark suit, seated in the private car of his new business partner, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group.
Since retiring from the sport at the age of 34 this year, Ronaldo has been hoping his experiences and connections as an athlete will help him succeed with his new São Paulo-based sports marketing company, 9ine, which manages athletes’ images and develops sports advertising strategies for brands.
“I wasn’t just going to stop working, and I never wanted to be a coach or a manager,” he says. “But I wanted to take advantage of my connection with football . . . After all these years I have very good relationships with many of the biggest companies and lots of athletes.”
With Brazil’s plans to host the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, while experiencing a boom in consumption, it is a good time for Ronaldo to use those connections. The market for advertising in the country is growing faster than gross domestic product.
It is this timing and Ronaldo’s unique position that earned 9ine, named after his jersey number, the vote of confidence from Sir Martin’s WPP Group, which holds a 45 per cent stake in the company – Ronaldo also owns 45 per cent. “Economic growth [in Brazil] has been colossal, and there is a young population, strong new media and good internet penetration. Brazil is under-advertised and under-branded,” Sir Martin says. “We’re looking for new ways to connect with consumers in a tangible and emotional way, and working with Ronaldo is a really interesting opportunity for us.”
Brazilian sports stars have a mixed history entering the world of business. Carlos Arthur Nuzman, a former Olympic volleyball player, became a successful lawyer before heading the Brazilian Olympic Committee and bringing the games to Rio. Football legend Pelé headed a campaign for Viagra and now for the BM&FBovespa, the country’s multi-asset exchange, to convince Brazilians to invest.
It is difficult to overestimate Ronaldo’s status in his own country – boosted by the fact that he has a reputation for managing his fame with good humour, despite some famous personal scandals. But his touch will not necessarily turn 9ine into gold. “I generally think if a celebrity has a decent idea, they tend to believe that idea or business can become a great idea just because their name is behind it,” says Matt Delzell, account director at The Marketing Arm, an agency with significant sports operations based in the US. “Having celebrity stature helps in many cases, but the product or service ultimately has to be good for the business to flourish.”
In its first months, 9ine signed contracts to manage the images of up and coming Brazilian footballer Neymar, indoor-football celebrity Falcão, and world mixed martial arts champion Anderson Silva. On the corporate side, its first contract is with GlaxoSmithKline, for which 9ine will develop sports marketing strategies for consumer products.
Ronaldo’s own brand power is at work in establishing such connections, but he is also assisted by his friend, the São Paulo entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Buaiz, 9ine’s executive director, who holds the remaining 10 per cent of the company.

Ronaldo says he recognises that there is no easy transition for him between the two worlds, no matter how well he may be placed to connect with the right people. “My biggest difficulty so far is with strategic planning, which is what marketing and advertising really consist of. It’s for that reason that I’ve been studying so much – not so much in classes, but with my team here,” he says. “I suppose I will have the day-to-day life of a normal executive,” he adds, before pausing and smiling: “But maybe I won’t start so early in the morning. I’ll want to do some exercise first.”


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Google plans to tap Brazil’s fertile market

FT.com / Technology – By Samantha Pearson in São Paulo
Published: April 22 2011 23:02 | Last updated: April 22 2011 23:02

Google expects revenue from its Brazilian operations to surge 80 per cent this year as the government pours huge amounts of investment into the sector, making the country one of the company’s most promising growth markets.
Giving Brazil’s poor more access to the internet and improving connection speeds is a priority of the country’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, who sees the web as the best way to accelerate social and economic development.

Latin America accounted for 2-3 per cent of Google’s $29.3bn revenue last year, with analysts estimating that Brazil brought in as much as $500m.
As more Brazilians move into the middle classes and buy their first computer, internet usage has soared.
But even as the economy slows this year, private and public investment under the country’s National Broadband Plan should keep up the momentum of growth in the sector.
“Brazil has a very low broadband penetration and out of 200m or more mobile phones, only about 12m to 14m are smart phones. Most are pre-paid,” Mr Coelho said. “There is a big eco-system to be developed here.”
This week, Paulo Bernardo, the communications minister, said Brazil’s government could spend up to R$1bn (US$640m) a year until 2014 to improve internet services, making the country an attractive destination for Google at a time when it is struggling with censorship issues in other emerging markets such as China and Russia.
Google Brazil plans to increase its workforce by 50 per cent this year from the current 350, said Mr Coelho, who joined the company last month after almost a decade at AT&T and stints at Citi and Gillette.
As well as growth in advertising via YouTube and the rising popularity of the Android mobile phone platform, Mr Coelho is optimistic about Orkut, Google’s social networking site and one of Facebook’s big competitors. Facebook overtook Orkut in India last year and has fast been gaining popularity among young Brazilians, but Orkut still has about four times as many users in Brazil.
Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

FT.com / Technology – Google plans to tap Brazil’s fertile market

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>The Curious Journey Of Curious George
Intelligent Life
curiousgeorge.jpg

curiousgeorge.jpg
The little storybook monkey had many big adventures, but none so dramatic as what his German Jewish creators experienced, writes Erica Grieder …

Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE
The little monkey had a happy life in Africa—eating bananas, swinging on vines. When he was captured, by a man in a yellow hat, his distress was written on his face. He gaped at his body, clearly shocked to find it trapped in a brown sack, winched at the neck. But the little monkey quickly recovered his equanimity. By the time he boarded the rowboat, he was sad to be leaving Africa, but a little curious, too.

Thus began the adventures of Curious George, one of the most popular and enduring children’s characters of all time. During the course of seven original stories by H.A. and Margret Rey, he moved to America, joined the circus, and became an astronaut. Those are big adventures for a little monkey. But none was quite as dramatic as what had happened to his creators in real life. “Curious George Saves the Day”, an exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco through March 13th, makes that much clear.

Hans Augusto Reyersbach and Margarete Waldstein were German Jews from Hamburg. Hans, born in 1898, lived near the zoo and taught himself to draw there (also, how to bark like a seal). After the first world war he tried to scrape together a living drawing posters for the circus, but soon packed up and moved to Rio de Janeiro. He was there, selling bathtubs, when Margarete arrived. She was working as a photographer, and knew Hans as a family friend.

Hans and Margarete married in 1935, and shortened their name to make it easier in Portuguese. The next year, they packed up their pet marmosets for a honeymoon in Paris. Louise Borden, in her short biography of the couple, mentions that the marmosets died during the cold and rainy crossing, even though Margarete knitted them a pair of sweaters.

They planned to stay for two weeks. That turned into four years. The Reys, working together, were becoming established as the authors of children’s books. He drew the pictures, and she wrote the text (and occasionally modelled the animal poses). The monkey who would become world-famous made his first appearance as Fifi, in stories about a giraffe called Raffy who made friends with nine little monkeys. There was a brave one, a strong one, a good one; all were without tails, the Reys explained, because the illustrations were already cluttered with the monkeys and the gangly giraffe. Fifi was the curious and clever one. The Reys decided he should have his own book.

As the decade drew to a close, no Jews in Europe felt safe. The Reys were working, but in letters to his publisher H.A. made it clear that progress had slowed. In September 1939 the couple left Paris for the Chateau Feuga, tucked away in the Dordogne region. ‘It feels ridiculous to be thinking about children’s books,’ wrote H.A. Rey. At one point French police turned up at the castle—they were suspicious about what the strangers were up to—but finding the illustrations scattered around, left them in peace.

The Reys returned to Paris several months later to find that the situation had grown more ominous. Refugees were streaming into Paris, and streaming out for safer destinations farther south. Ms Borden describes the preparations the Reys made for their escape: they tried to buy bicycles, but the only one they could find was a broken tandem. Hans bought spare parts, and spent an anxious few days fixing up a couple of single bikes. On June 12th 1940, the couple left Paris. The Nazis arrived less than two days later.

The Reys made their way to the south of France, and spent several weeks in a makeshift refugee camp in a high-school gymnasium before proceeding to Lisbon. From there they arranged passage to Brazil, and months later to New York. They carried with them the first drawings for the Curious George books, and showed them to police as proof of their occupation. The first book, ‘Curious George’, was published in 1941. The little monkey arrives in New York and strolls off of the ship with a smile, holding his papers in one hand and a little red valise in the other. A policeman salutes in welcome.

Curious George has his share of troubles in America. For example, he had to go to the hospital after swallowing a puzzle piece. The emotional clarity of Hans’ illustrations is brilliant in these scenes of setback. Sitting alone in his hospital bed, with a single fat tear rolling down his cheek, the little monkey is the picture of distress. And he is occasionally naughty. The exhibition displays a hand-written list, from Hans, of Curious George’s infractions: obstructing traffic by sitting on a light, escaping from jail, monkeying with the police.

But these were just bumps in the road. George’s intentions are never malign, and order is quickly restored from chaos—sometimes with an assist from the man in the yellow hat, sometimes with reassurance from other understanding adults. Over time, George becomes fully integrated. He goes to Hollywood. In 1957 he travels to outer space, just weeks before Laika became the first animal to actually do so. He visits the circus, an interesting venue. Janet Davis, a sociologist, has explored the circus as a place where 20th-century Americans worked out some of their feelings about social and cultural change. George’s adventures there bring out his status as both outsider and insider. He’s a monkey, sure, but he’s also a hero, and a highly relatable character.

The Curious George stories were an international hit, allowing for a few cultural variations. In Britain his name is given as Zozo; the publishers thought it would be disrespectful to have a mischievous monkey named after the sitting king. Whatever the case, children around the world were taken with George’s unwitting mischief, and charmed by the cheerful, brightly coloured illustrations. But his story of travel, migration and cultural collision has a paradigmatically American dimension.

Against the backdrop of the Reys’ own dramatic travels, these children’s stories assume a poignant cast. The Reys became American citizens in 1946, and stayed in New York the rest of their lives. They never talked much about their narrow escape, and even today the story is not widely known. This is perhaps because, despite the direct biographical parallels, the Curious George stories give so little indication of their dark historical backdrop. The outlook is resolutely cheerful. George explores his new world fearlessly, and his confidence is justified. Strangers are kind to him. Authority figures are corrective, not punitive. The inevitable misunderstandings are quickly sorted out and forgiven. He is just a fictional monkey. But those would be good standards to help any newcomer feel at home.

‘Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey’ was organised by the Jewish Museum in New York. It is on view at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco until March 13th

Erica Grieder is the South-West America correspondent for The Economist. Picture credit: Curious George, and related characters, created by Margret and H. A. Rey, are copyrighted and trademarked by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. © 2010 by HMH.

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In this 1970 photo released by the Public Archive of Sao Paulo State, Dilma Rousseff is seen in a police photo. Rousseff, who is running for president in Brazil’s Oct. 3, 2010 elections, was a key player in an armed militant group that resisted Brazil’s 1964-85 military dictatorship, and was imprisoned and tortured for it. She is a cancer survivor and a former minister of energy and chief of staff to the current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP Photo/Public Archive of Sao Paulo State)




World economy: The China cycle

By Geoff Dyer – FT.com
Published: September 12 2010 20:03 | Last updated: September 12 2010 20:03

China-brazil trade
Allied by alloys: a steel market in the Chinese privince of Hubei. As well as investing in fellow emerging nations’ commodities, such as Brazilian iron ore, Beijing is increasingly investing in their infrastructure

Deep in the Amazon jungle, huge chunks of red earth are torn out of the ground at Carajás, the biggest iron ore mine in the world, to be transported halfway round the globe to the steel mills on China’s eastern seaboard. There they are turned into the backbone for millions of tower blocks in hundreds of booming Chinese cities.

Last year, China overtook the US to become Brazil’s biggest trading partner. The two large developing countries may be on opposite sides of the planet but their growing economic ties over the past decade have become among the enduring symbols of shifts in the global economy.

The duo could also be forging a path for one of the potential biggest realignments in the global economy over the next decade. With little fanfare, China is likely to emerge as the biggest direct investor in Brazil this year, following a string of deals announced in mining, steel, construction equipment and electricity transmission.

Such investments are part of a slow-burning but hugely important trend. Newly crowned the second-largest economy, eclipsing Japan, China is becoming the anchor for a new cycle of self-sustaining economic development between Asia and the rest of the developing world – one that is bypassing the economies of Europe and the US.

China is not only sucking in raw materials from other developing economies, just as it has during the past decade. It has also begun making investments in infrastructure and industry in those countries, some of which are made possible by its cut-price and increasingly sophisticated manufacturing companies or by the attractive financing terms it can offer. Beijing has for some years been investing in this way in parts of Africa: now such deals are being rolled out around the world. For many developing countries, the impact of the China boom is coming full circle.

“It is the start of a new cycle,” says Ben Simpfendorfer, an economist at RBS and author of The New Silk Road, a book on the surging economic ties between China and the Middle East, central Asia and south Asia. “China has companies that are willing to invest, they have products that are good enough, and they are backed by abundant liquidity in the country’s financial system.”

BEIJING MEETS BRAZIL
Direct investment overseas by Chinese companies has increased from just $5.5bn in 2004 to $56.5bn last year. Chinese officials predicted last week that it would reach $100bn by 2013.

About 70 per cent of the money invested last year went to other parts of Asia. Latin America came in second place with 15 per cent.

Chinese companies have so far invested only very modestly in Brazil but Brazilian officials estimate that investment will exceed $10bn this year.

Chinese banks have lent $10bn to Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company, and $1.23bn to Vale, the iron ore miner.

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia consultancy and author of the recent book, The End of The Free Market, says there is no accident to this China-led process of decoupling from the west. It is, he says, a strategy to reduce economic – and to some extent political – dependence on the US.

“It is a very conscious policy, on the top of the agenda for the entire Chinese leadership,” he says. “They are looking for a hedging strategy because they feel uncertain about the long-term economic prospects of the developed world.”

Promoting innovation and stimulating domestic consumption are also part of that strategy, he argues, but pushing stronger economic integration with the rest of the developing world is the “one strategy that can be done quite quickly”.

Nowhere is the impact of this process being felt more keenly than in Brazil.
As trade has boomed with China during the past decade, Brazilians have sometimes complained of being relegated once again to their 20th-century role of providing commodities to the industrial powers. In the past year, however, the long-awaited wave of Chinese investment in the country appears finally to have reached Brazil’s shores. While it reached only $92m in 2009, the country’s officials estimate that it will exceed $10bn this year.

Wuhan Iron and Steel, for instance, paid $400m for a stake in a mining company owned by Brazilian industrialist Eike Batista, and is planning to build a huge steel mill beside the port near Rio de Janeiro that another of Mr Batista’s companies is constructing. Lifan, one of China’s biggest manufacturers of motorcycles and cars, already exports heavily to Brazil. Now the company’s founder, Yin Mingshan, says it is considering opening a plant to build cars in the country. “Brazil is a very promising market, with a vast territory and a big domestic market,” he says. “Some Chinese businessmen are foolish enough to ignore doing business in Brazil but I am not that stupid.”

If investment in Brazil is one symbol of this new stage of economic Chinese engagement with the developing world, another is the flurry of new rail networks taking shape globally. Chinese railway construction companies are some of the most efficient anywhere, and have for several years been operating in neighbouring countries in central and south-east Asia. But in the past year they have also signed contracts in such diverse places as Ukraine, Turkey and Argentina.

China exports
Chinese companies in the sector have not restricted their activities to the manual task of laying rail lines. They are hoping to start signing overseas deals to sell high-speed rail equipment, including locomotives and signalling systems. The first customer could be the planned high-speed line between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

There are two factors that have made these new links possible. The first is that China has produced a generation of companies making capital goods that are now internationally competitive. They can offer developing countries new trains, power stations, mining machinery and telecommunications equipment of sufficient quality at prices that are often well below those of their multinational competitors.

GLOBAL RENMINBI USE
‘It’s like a Formula One starting race, everyone jostling for position’
Although China is both the second- largest economy and the biggest exporter in the world, the renminbi is virtually unseen outside the country. For global transactions, China depends on foreign currencies – in particular the US dollar.
The perils of this arrangement became clear during the financial crisis, when China’s mighty export machine was hit by a freeze in dollar-denominated trade credit. So in recent months Beijing has unveiled measures to facilitate the use of the renminbi and reshape the global monetary system. “We’re at the beginning of something huge,” says Dariusz Kowalczyk, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Crédit Agricole. “Intermediation through the dollar will be gradually eliminated.”
In June, Beijing expanded the scope of a year-old pilot scheme for settling cross-border trades in renminbi, opening it up to the world. Global banks such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup have since been encouraging companies from London to Tokyo to use the Chinese currency rather than the dollar. Some even offer discounted transaction fees as an incentive. “It’s like a Formula One starting race – everyone’s jostling for position,” says Philippe Jaccard of Citigroup.
The financial infrastructure is now in place to allow an Argentinian grain producer, for example, to sell goods for renminbi then use the proceeds to buy farm machinery from China. Cross-border trade in renminbi totalled Rmb70.6bn ($10bn) in the first half of the year. But that figure remains tiny compared with the $2,800bn worth of goods and services traded across China’s borders last year, most of which was settled in dollars or euros.
One of the obstacles to greater global use of the renminbi is a lack of ways for foreign companies to invest their renminbi or hedge their exposure to the currency. Strict capital controls place China’s financial markets almost entirely off limits. But that is changing. Last month, China opened its domestic interbank bond market to foreign central banks and commercial banks that have accumulated renminbi through cross-border trade settlement. Curbs on the free flow of renminbi in Hong Kong have also been lifted. Since July, financial groups in the special administrative region have been able to create a range of renminbi-denominated investment products and hedging tools – all open to global companies and investors.
McDonald’s, the US fast-food chain, last month became the first foreign multinational to issue a renminbi-denominated bond in Hong Kong. It plans to use the proceeds to fund its operations on the Chinese mainland. Robert Cookson

The second element is the financial backing from a banking system that has been mobilised to follow behind these businesses. Yi Huiman, a senior executive at Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, told a conference recently that the institution was working with the government to provide “railroads plus finance” around the world. Vale, the Brazilian company that operates the giant iron ore mine in the Amazon, announced on Friday that it had signed a $1.23bn credit with two Chinese banks to finance the purchase of 12 huge cargo ships from a Chinese shipyard, which will transport iron ore between the two countries.

The scale of these transactions is clearly much smaller than Beijing’s holdings of US securities, estimated to be in the order of $1,500bn, but the underlying dynamic is the same: the Chinese financial system is starting to recycle some of its holdings of foreign currency into the economies of its developing country trading partners, in order to stimulate demand for its own goods.

The impact is already apparent in China’s trade statistics, with the biggest increases in exports in the past year coming from developing countries. Trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations increased by 54.7 per cent in the first half of the year, and by 60.3 per cent with Brazil.

If Chinese investment does indeed help to kick off a growth cycle in other parts of the developing world, it will be a tonic for a global economy in which the outlook for many leading economies remains subdued, with some even facing the risk of a double-dip recession. The combination of Chinese demand and booming investment is one reason for Brazil’s ability to record China-style growth rates of 8.9 per cent in the first half of the year.

Yet for western economies there are also plenty or risks involved. The investment push is likely to herald an era of intense competition between developed-world multinationals and state-owned Chinese companies. The strong financial backing that such groups receive is also likely to fuel accusations that they are not playing on a level field. It is perhaps no surprise that some of the multinationals that in recent months have publicly voiced criticisms of Beijing’s industrial policies – GE and Siemens – operate in sectors in which China is becoming a fierce competitor, such as power equipment and railways.

China’s new clout is also raising questions about the future of the dollar. Chinese officials have talked about a long-term goal of replacing it as the global reserve currency with a basket of others, potentially including the renminbi.

As trade with the developing world balloons, Beijing has also been taking important steps to expand the international use of the renminbi, including allowing overseas holdings of the currency to be invested in the onshore bond market. Some economists believe it could become the reference currency for Asian trade over the course of the next decade.
Yet the irony is that, while there is strong economic momentum behind the Chinese currency taking on a much larger international role, Beijing is reluctant to let this happen. “China is still very hesitant about whether it really wants the currency to be international,” says Yu Yongding, an influential economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences think-tank.
To become an important trading currency is one thing: but to become a global reserve currency with the power to threaten the role of the dollar, the government would need to lower capital controls and open up its domestic bond market. This would mean giving up its tight control of exchange and interest rates.
Furthermore, if economic integration with other developing countries is really to take off, it will require careful management by Beijing. There is a very real risk that the new-found interest in emerging markets will provoke a backlash, especially if China’s exports of manufactured goods keep up such a rapid pace of growth.
There are already plenty of warning signs. India, for instance, has tried this year to reduce supplies of Chinese power equipment in favour of goods made by local producers. For several months, New Delhi blocked Huawei, the Chinese maker of telecoms equipment, from the Indian market.
In Brazil, there are fears that companies such as carmaker Lifan want to use the country to assemble kits of nearly-completed cars made in China rather than promote a domestic industry. There is also concern about fresh competition for access to markets elsewhere in Latin America. Kevin Gallagher of Boston University calculates that 91 per cent of Brazilian exports of manufactured goods to the region are under threat from lower-priced Chinese products. If that market wilts away, industry is likely to become much more critical of the new China ties.
China’s growing links with the rest of the developing world could provide a huge boost both to the country itself and to the global economy during the course of the next decade. But a wave of protectionism could yet halt the process. Beijing will need to work hard to ensure its new partners in the developing world do not feel steamrollered by the Chinese juggernaut.


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Brand Brazil is good to go

By Tyler Brûlé
Published: August 20 2010 22:16 | Last updated: August 20 2010 22:16
It’s time for a little Fast Lane pre back-to-school, back-to-work quiz to sharpen your faculties for the last third of the year.
1. If you were going to buy a holiday home, would you choose:
a) a spacious beach apartment in Sochi, Russia
b) a Thai-inspired villa on the resort island of Hainan, China
c) a thatched bungalow on a beach in Goa
d) a Marcio Kogan designed bungalow in Trancoso, Brazil?
2. Where would you like to spend your retirement years:
a) Russia?
b) China?
c) India?
d) Brazil?
3.) If you were organising an end of summer cocktail party on your terrace, would you choose:
a) Dacha-style discotheque with a vodka bar?
b) Sweaty Shanghai swing with a dumpling buffet?
c) Kerala trance party with buckets of beer?
d) Breezy bossa nova with a caipirinha bar staffed by Brazilian waiters?
While there’s no scientifically correct answer to any of the questions above, they do form part of my ever-evolving list of metrics for my Bric nation liveability, lifestyle and soft-power index. No matter how I shuffle the deck, Brazil always leads the pack.
After a brief stop in Abu Dhabi and Dubai followed by a 16-hour flight on Emirates I happily touched down in São Paulo last week for a 72-hour visit. The drill in São Paulo is always the same: an early evening arrival at the somewhat tired but perfectly compact Guarulhos airport, a blacked-out (sometimes bullet-proof) Kia sedan into town and a warm welcome at the Fasano Hotel.
I have many favourite hotels around the world, but the Fasano is the one brand that I’d like to see more of while I travel.
On Tuesday evening I pulled up in the driveway and was greeted by a doorman in an elegant suit. While his colleagues attended to my bags I walked into the dimly lit, clubby lobby. In the main lounge area a couple of men in business attire were having a meeting, a lone photographer was sipping a glass of red, a chic young couple (she Italian and he perhaps Swiss) were flipping through the São Paulo dailies and the fireplace was filling the whole space with that wonderful fragrance that can never be captured in a scented candle or room spray.
The cosy-modernist theme is carried through to the Fasano’s guestrooms and I’m often tempted by the low-lighting, warm woods and elegant reading chair to abandon my evening plans and settle in for an early night. The hotel’s rooms are neither too big nor too small and have a purposeful sense of scale that allows you to get on with work for a couple of hours, but never make you feel like you’re trapped.
Much of this has to do with the meticulous planning executed by the hotel’s founder Rogerio Fasano and his architect sparring partner Isay Weinfeld. The former is the man behind one of Brazil’s most respected hospitality powerhouses, and Weinfeld is the man who virtually every Brazilian billionaire wants to commission to build their beach houses and city compounds.
Later this year the Fasano brand will venture beyond Brazil’s borders for the first time when the company opens a resort property outside of Punta del Este in Uruguay. This will signal Brazil launching an international luxury brand to take on the likes of the Four Seasons and Hyatt, and exporting its own style of inn-keeping and design that’s a welcome relief from all of the tired and tested Asian formulas mimicked by many of the big global brands.
The following morning, while enduring the tedious stop-start, stop-start traffic of São Paulo I started doing a mental brand audit of shop fronts. Most of the names around the Fasano are the usual international luxury suspects, and I wondered whether this was a new metric worth adding to my Bric index. How many home-grown, designed and owned brands do I consume in daily life from those four economies? By the time I pulled up at the Cidade Jardim shopping mall a few kilometres away it seemed that Brazil was out in front again. I came up with: Made in Brazil Havaianas flip-flops that are found in my luggage on trips to hot climates, Made in Brazil Embraer aircraft to shuttle me around on short haul journeys, elegant Made in Brazil chairs from Sergio Rodrigues under my bum, and Written, Recorded and Pressed in Brazil tunes by Bebel Gilberto and Barbara Mendes stored on my laptop. I tried very hard to think of Indian, Russian and Chinese brands that I owned or used and I couldn’t think of any – no Russian design brands in my house, no reservations at any Indian hotels and no Lenovo laptop in my bag.
Brazil’s energy companies might be the engine for the country’s economy but it’s the softer elements (music, fashion, hospitality, design) that are going to make brand Brazil that little bit more seductive and sexier than Russia, India and China.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle
More columns at www.ft.com/brule

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High in the Andes, Keeping an Incan Mystery Alive

August 16, 2010

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE RAPAZ, Peru — The route to this village 13,000 feet above sea level runs from the desert coast up hairpin bends, delivering the mix of exhilaration and terror that Andean roads often provide. Condors soar above mist-shrouded crags. Quechua-speaking herders squint at strangers who arrive gasping in the thin air.
Rapaz’s isolation has allowed it to guard an enduring archaeological mystery: a collection of khipus, the cryptic woven knots that may explain how the Incas — in contrast to contemporaries in the Ottoman Empire and China’s Ming dynasty — ruled a vast, administratively complex empire without a written language.
Archaeologists say the Incas, brought down by the Spanish conquest, used khipus — strands of woolen cords made from the hair of animals like llamas or alpacas — as an alternative to writing. The practice may have allowed them to share information from what is now southern Colombia to northern Chile.
Few of the world’s so-called lost writings have proved as daunting to decipher as khipus, scholars say, with chroniclers from the outset of colonial rule bewildered by their inability to crack the code. Researchers at Harvard have been using databases and mathematical models in recent efforts to understand the khipu (pronounced KEE-poo), which means knot in Quechua, the Inca language still spoken by millions in the Andes.
Only about 600 khipus are thought to survive. Collectors spirited many away from Peru decades ago, including a mother lode of about 300 held atBerlin’s Ethnological Museum. Most were thought to have been destroyed after Spanish officials decreed them to be idolatrous in 1583.
But Rapaz, home to about 500 people who subsist by herding llamas and cattle and farming crops like rye, offers a rare glimpse into the role of khipus during the Inca Empire and long afterward. The village houses one of the last known khipu collections still in ritual use.
“I feel my ancestors talking to me when I look at our khipu,” said Marcelina Gallardo, 48, a herder who lives with her children here in the puna, the Andean region above the tree line where temperatures drop below freezing at night and carnivores like the puma prey on herds.
Outside her stone hut one recent morning, Ms. Gallardo nodded toward the stomach lining and skull of a newly butchered llama drying in the sun. She shared a shred of llama charqui, or jerky. “The khipu is a jewel of our life in this place,” she said.
Even here, no one claims to understand the knowledge encoded in the village’s khipus, which are guarded in a ceremonial house called a Kaha Wayi. The khipus’ intricate braids are decorated with knots and tiny figurines, some of which hold even tinier bags filled with coca leaves.
The ability of Rapacinos, as the villagers are called, to decipher their khipus seems to have faded with elders who died long ago, though scholars say the village’s use of khipus may have continued into the 19th century. Testing tends to show dates for Rapaz’s khipus that are well beyond the vanquishing of the Incas, and experts say they differ greatly from Inca-designed khipus.
Even now, Rapacinos conduct rituals in the Kaha Wayi beside their khipus, as described by Frank Salomon, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin who led a recent project to help Rapaz protect its khipus in an earthquake-resistant casing.
One tradition requires the villagers to murmur invocations during the bone-chilling night to the deified mountains surrounding Rapaz, asking for the clouds to let forth rain. Then they peer into burning llama fat and read how its sparks fly, before sacrificing a guinea pig and nestling it in a hole with flowers and coca.
The survival of such rituals, and of Rapaz’s khipus, testifies to the village’s resilience after centuries of hardship. Fading murals on the walls of Rapaz’s colonial church depict devils pulling Indians into the flames of hell for their sins. Feudal landholding families forced the ancestors of many here into coerced labor.
Rapacinos have also faced more recent challenges. A government of leftist military officers in the 1970s created economic havoc with nationalization, sowing chaos exploited by the Maoist guerrillas of the Shining Path who terrorized Rapaz into the 1990s, effectively shutting it off from significant contact with the rest of Peru.
But throughout it all, perhaps because of the village’s high level of cohesion and communal ownership of land and herds, Rapacinos somehow preserved their khipus in their Kaha Wayi.
“They feel that they must protect the khipu collection for the same reason we feel that we have to defend the physical original of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” Professor Salomon said. “I’ve heard people say, ‘It’s our Constitution, it’s our Magna Carta.’ ”
Despite Rapaz’s forbidding geography, changes in the rhythm of village life here are emerging that may alter the way Rapacinos relate to their khipus.
About a year ago, villagers say, a loudspeaker replaced the town crier. And a new cellphone tower enables Rapacinos to communicate more easily with the outside world. Those changes are largely welcome. More menacing are the rustlers in pickup trucks who steal llamas, cattle and vicuñas — Andean members of the camel family prized for their wool.
The most immediate threat to the khipus may be from Rapaz’s tilt toward Protestantism, a trend witnessed in communities large and small throughout Latin America. About 20 percent of Rapacino families already belong to new Protestant congregations, which view rituals near the khipus as pagan sacrilege.
Far from Rapaz, the pursuit to decipher khipus faces its own challenges, even as new discoveries suggest that they were used in Andean societies long before the Inca Empire emerged as a power in the 15th century.
Scholars say they lack the equivalent for khipus of a Rosetta Stone, the granite slab whose engravings in Greek were used to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Jesuit manuscripts discovered in Naples, Italy, had seemed to achieve something similar for khipus, but are now thought to be forgeries.
In Rapaz, villagers still guard their khipus the way descendants of those in the West might someday protect shreds of the Bible or other documents if today’s civilizations were to crumble.
“They must remain here, because they belong to our people,” said Fidencio Alejo Falcón, 42. “We will never surrender them.”

Andrea Zárate contributed reporting from Lima, Peru.


San Crist�bal De Rapaz Journal – High in the Andes, Guardians of an Inca Mystery – NYTimes.com

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