Getting a US Work Visa – Good, Bad & Ugly

According to documents leaked via Wikileaks, the US consulate in Brazil apparently thinks there are three kinds of Brazilians that ask for US (work) visas. The ‘good’ are those of middle-class, with good schooling and in search of improving their English. The ‘bad’ are those who have relatives or friends who are illegally staying in the US while the ‘ugly’ are those that are unqualified, poor and desperate, having paid US$3,000 for false work permission instead of paying US$10,000 for a coyote in Mexico. – Folha

I’m not sure about other pockets of Brazilians living in the US, but here in the Bay Area, I’ve probably spent time with over 100 Brazilians (a very rough guess) and those that were here illegally make up about 5-10%. Of course, some might say that this is evidence of a successful policy by the US consulates. On the flip side, there are those that slip through and those that should have been let through. One of my friends in Brazil has repeatedly traveled through and lived in Europe, all done legally, yet she keeps getting denied a visa to vacation in the US. For Brazilians’ sake, the exodus will start to reverse.

IPEA study says 40% of Brazilians don’t use banks

“A study published this Tuesday, the 11th, by the IPEA (Institute for Applied Economic Research) shows that 39.5% of Brazilians don’t have a bank account. The ‘Banks: Exclusion and Services’ study reveals that 52.6% of those interviewed in the Northeast and 50% in the North don’t use banks while in the Midwest, 31.2% don’t have accounts. In contrast, the South and Southeast presented percentages of 65.9% and 70% of those interviewed who saved their money in financial institutions.

According to the IPEA, it’s necessary to create products and services for those 39.5% that don’t have a bank account, so that they can be incorporated into the banking system and socialize access to public services operated by concession.” – Baguete

My Take

This study makes me laugh. Why is it necessary to include a third-party (banks) in an A /B transaction? This was the biggest con of them all when ‘we decided’ (it was decided for us) to use a heavily-controlled monetary system for transactions between a buyer and a seller. Anyone who doesn’t fall in line must be a ‘terrorist’ or something. Can’t trust people that…what’s that called?…oh, yeah, think!

Perhaps the IPEA will learn something from the 5-part video series called ‘Corrupt Banking System’

Brazilians in bed…with Google

Brazilian Internet users spent close to one-third of their time online on Google’s sites in July, according to a study by comScore last Monday. The search giant’s sites, which include email, videos, social networks and maps, control 29.8% of the average Brazilian Internet user’s time.

The study focused on the presence of Google in Brazil and in India. The Brazilian percentage is three times larger than the average. India came in second place, registering an index of 28.9%. Ireland came in third, with 15.9%.

“Google became a dominant Internet brand in these markets and its sucess seems to range from searches to other areas of the web such as social networks,” affirmed comScore in a press release.

According to the study, Google sites captured 89.5% of the search market in Brazil. Orkut took 96% of Internet users social networking time in the country and Youtube came in with 91.6%. Meanwhile, the company’s mapping service took 70.9%.

ComScore additionally stated that the photo-sharing site Picasa, also from Google, came in second place in Brazil in terms of unique visitors and with a mere 8.9% of the amount of time consumed in this category. Google’s email service remained in second place as well in June, with 9.7% of time spent on email services.Source (in PT)

My Take

Among those who follow such trends, even as an armchair enthusiast, it is well-known that the younger generation of Brazilians are quite addicted to the Internet (although the same could be said of ‘the youger generation’ the world over). While I make it my ‘business’ to be online, if I didn’t have these sites, my time spent online would diminish by a good 85%. All in all, I can just say as a word to the wise, be mindful. I never knew moderation to be a bad thing (…except for that one time, ah, I digress).

Obama and the Brazilians who’ll serve him

“Barack Obama will soon follow in the footsteps of US Presidents Bill Clinton and John F Kennedy by holidaying on Martha’s Vineyard. But behind the scenes of the exclusive island getaway, BBC Brasil’s Bruno Garcez finds an army of immigrant Brazilian workers tending lawns and waiting on tables.

“During his visit to Martha’s Vineyard, Barack Obama will play golf in a course set up by Brazilians, eat meals prepared by Brazilian cooks and swim in a pool which was cleaned by workers from Brazil.” So predicts Mauricio Brandao, a 28-year-old Brazilian who has spent the past 12 years in Martha’s Vineyard, a sophisticated resort and a traditional summer destination for Hollywood stars and politicians.

Ironically, a Brazilian who paved the way for many more of his countrymen to come to Martha’s Vineyard was named after an American president. Forty-six-year-old Lyndon Johnson Pereira, from the small Brazilian town of Goiabeira, arrived in Martha’s Vineyard in 1986. “I was the first Brazilian there,” he said proudly. – BBC (more here)

Brazil Making Waves & Using Rays

You got to love this coverage by BBC of internet users in Brazil…especially with its errors. 

Error number one

“People mainly check their emails and sometimes work stuff, like CVs,” said Gus Neto, a regular Lan house user and a listener of the Digital Planet programme.

“They also come here to do a bit of networking, some are using MSN, that’s what they come here to do.”

In fact, the majority who go to LAN houses are screaming teenagers who only go to play interactive shoot ’em up games online. There was only one I went to where people were generally quite and checking email, etc. 

Error number two

“The internet has a reputation for harbouring some dark areas and for that reason, a rigorous check is done before anyone can use a computer in a Lan house.

“At one point the government of Brazil was worried that a lot of people would come to Lan houses and do dodgy business, especially with paedophilia,” said Mr Neto.

“If people want to use one of these Lan terminals, they have to show their ID, so that they can be traceable,” he added.”

There are no checks done in my experience, all you have to do is give a name and tell them how long you want to use it, if even that much.


In other news…

“While many net users in developed nations can get online pretty much anywhere thanks to reliable electricity and telecoms networks, the same is not true in developing nations where power sockets and fixed line links can be few and far between.

A project at the University of Sao Paulo aims to overcome one of these hurdles by using the sun to power a self-contained wi-fi access point.”

More at BBC

Socialness among Brazilians

In some accordance with the post on Why Books are Expensive in Brazil, I thought it would be interesting to ponder the reason Brazilians are very much a social people. Conversation is an art there and connections can make or break you, even in Portuguese, there are endless ways (phrases/expressions) to talk about talking. Things that take away from the chance to connect with someone are not highly-regarded in Brazil. Not reading as many books on average as other nations doesn’t make them less intelligent or anything of the sort but rather their scales of value balance out differently than ours (USA, for example).

I’ve heard different answers from Brazilians as to where they are more sociable but not why. My first thought was that it has something to do with their 3rd world status, being that there aren’t always jobs available so they’ve found something else to do…but I fear this doesn’t do due justice to my initial question. Another idea could be that they are a country of immigrants and these groups tend to stick together so perhaps for a few generations, they did until the generation arrived that was more Brazilian than anything else.

One theory I heard about a possible cause for corruption in Brazil could also shed a little light on this. In the beginning of Brazil (post-discovery), it took 4 months to sail from Portugal to Brazil and the land owners of Brazil had a lot of time to not follow the rules if they so pleased. If a new law appeared on the books, they could for the most part, choose to ignore it. This concept, if real, proposes that the landowners had the final say in what goes on around them, therefore a system of favors was favored and connections became more important than laws.

Social solidarity is also an important factor when attempting to bond with others. As far as the online world, the socialness of Brazilians is evident when looking at the Brazilian invasion that overtook Orkut, Fotolog, MSN, etc. Sports are highly-valued by Brazilians, especially soccer, where individuals claim team support for life and will even fight over an insult to their team. Beaches and sports clubs allow for yet another outlet to see and be seen.

Soap operas may also play a part, but as a symptom. Brazilians love their soaps and variety shows and the next day you can hear people talking about what happened on them the day before. Recently I watched a film with some Brazilians and before I knew it (within the first 10 minutes), they had figured out the main twist in the movie based on seeing one social interaction between two main characters.

All in all, there seem to be many symptoms and outlets for socialness in Brazil but I’m still searching for an enlightened answer as to why Brazilians are great socializers.

Orkut & The Brazilian Invasion

(Questo articolo in “Italiano”)

Orkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten (don’t ask). The service, which started in 2004, states that it was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. Orkut is similar to other social networking sites, except that it is the most visited website in Brazil. The initial target market for Orkut was the United States, but the majority of its users are in Brazil. In fact, as of May 2008, 43.9% of the traffic comes from Brazil, followed by India with 38.8%.

The reason behind the high numbers of Brazilians on Orkut? The Brazilian Internet Phenomenon. It’s a term used to describe the massive adoption by Brazilians of an Internet service exceeding the number of members of the original nationality of the service. A possible reason for this is shown on a recently an IBOPE/NetRatings study that revealed that they overtook the U.S. in terms of time surfing on the internet and, today, are the people who spend the most time on the internet.

Other services which reflect this phenomenon also?
MSN Messenger

And its being seen with IRC, Blogger, Gmail & Skype too…so if you are looking for Brazilians online, now you know where to find them.

Tupi-Guarani – Tribes & Tongues

The Sound of Conquerers

There’s a book in Portuguese called “Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma” by Lima Barreto in which the main character (Policarpo Quaresma) is a nationalist who revolts against the Portuguese language, dismissing it as the language of the colonizers. His answer is for all Brazilians to return to their native linguistic roots, in this case, Tupi-Guarani.

A possible flaw in Policarpo’s reasoning can be found in the fact that the Portuguese, the Tupis and the Guaranis were all conquerers of “lesser” peoples and tribes. For all intesive purposes, Tupi-Guarani wasn’t the only native language of Brazil, but due to both the Tupi and the Guarani violent way of life, it was the dominant language of the time.

With the release of Barreto’s novel in 1911, there have been pushes by select groups of nationalists and linguists alike over the years to bring Tupi-Guarani back as the official language of Brazil. The issue has however only been taken as far as the educational system, where attempts have been made to get it accepted into the school systems as an elective class. The general marginalization of the tribes have taken their tongues with them making Tupi-Guarani virtually non-spoken among modern Brazilians.

The meaning of Tupi is “the great father” or “leader” and likewise, Guarani means “warrior”. Their language still can be seen in an extremely large number of geographic locations throughout Brazil. A few of these names were mentioned in the post on State Etymologies on this site. Tupi-Guarani is actually a sub-group of the Tupi langauges, which encompasses 53 langauges in 11 groups, of which Tupi and Guarani are the most widely used.

A Little History

When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, they found that wherever they went along the vast coast of this newly discovered land, most natives spoke similar languages. Jesuit missionaries took advantage of these similarities, systematizing common standards then named línguas gerais (general languages), which were spoken in that region until the 19th century. The best known and most widely spoken of these languages was Old Tupi, a modern descendent of which is still used today by Indians around the Rio Negro region, where it is known as Nheengatu, or the “fine language”.

In the neighbouring Spanish colonies, Guarani, another Tupian language closely related to Old Tupi, had a similar history, but managed to resist the spread of Spanish more successfully than Tupi resisted Portuguese. Today, Guarani has 7 million speakers, and is one of the official languages of Paraguay and Bolivia.

The Tupis, Guaranis and other tribes had many advantages over the Portuguese and could have put up quite a fight if they so desired, instead they aided in the founding and building of São Paulo (Portuguese for Saint Paul), or as it was known by the Indians, Piritininga (Tupi-Guarani for Dried Fish).

Some Tupi-Guarani Words

English speakers know…

– Jaguar

– Tapioca

Other examples include…

Capoeira – Old Forest

Carioca – White Man’s Hut

Tijuca – Mud

Guanabara – Bottom of the Sea

Ipanema – Bad Waters

Brazil’s ’02 World Cup from a cafe in L.A.

I tried to kick the alarm clock with my feet, but I missed. It was 3:30 am. I had to go to Café Brasil. At that hour, the reason eluded me. I threw on some warm clothes and went outside. I stood in the middle of the street for a minute, not quite sure what I was doing.

To any stranger walking by, it might have looked like I just lit a cigarette and exhaled, but it was just the cold air showing itself. After two tries and a few curses, my car started. I put it in gear and headed straight down Barrington Avenue towards Culver City.

I drove up to the small café off Venice Blvd and oddly enough it was bustling with Brazilians. They were all crowded around small television sets on both sides of the café. I pulled my car around back and parked in the gravel parking lot while my feet followed the foreign sounds to their source.

On any given day, the small café would have about 10 people in it, but on that day, it was overflowing. Their accents were sweet like a sugar-filled cup of coffee. I couldn’t run my mouth off in Portuguese like they did, so I decided to just take baby steps.

It was still in the twilight hours and I was still a bit dazed from waking up so early. As I got closer, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I remembered why I was there. It was the last game of the World Cup.

I was a little late, but it was a forgivable offense considering I was an American who grew up outside of a soccer crazed culture. Brazil was in the lead, 1-0, just as I expected.

On the bottom of the small television, a caption read, “Germany against Brazil,” but there, from where I stood, it was “Brazil against Germany.”

That morning, I observed an energy that lost itself in translation. My mind failed in its attempts to comprehend the madness. I was the only foreigner among them so I tried my best to even the playing field by ordering a large coffee.

Maybe they noticed the Brazilian flip flops I was wearing (a common item in any Brazilian’s closet), or they heard me order my coffee in broken Portuguese. I don’t know which, but they accepted me.

Two hours went by and I saw the sky turn a shade lighter. The work day was about to start, but nobody seemed to notice. I turned back to the television screen and watched as the ball went back and forth between the two teams.

In the midst of all the commotion, someone yelled “pentacampeão,” which means five-time champion. “We just scored the winning goal.” The crowd, already loud, became ecstatic.

Everyone was going crazy, and while cheering seemed to be an American thing, singing and dancing, hooting and hollering, all to the beat of a drum, was purely Brazilian.

The police, who had been patrolling the area all night, noticed the increase in excitement and tried their best to control the crowd. The flow of people walking back and forth spilled over into the streets.

Every car horn in proximity was honking to the sound of victory. It had been a great morning, but when Brazilians are involved, you can bet it will get better.

I followed everyone a few blocks down, to Zabumba, another Brazilian eatery. Once there, my eyes quickly took notice of three delicious young women who seemed to have a knack for making the crowd go crazy.

When they climbed on top of a truck, the crowd gave their “blessing”, “Woo-wee, woo-wee, we want to see some p**sy.” With each beat, the drums seemed to entice the young women to reveal more and more of their cappuccino colored skin.

These girls loved the attention, and began to tease the crowd with a little shake of their hips. Just as they started to samba, three bouncers hired for the activities, were ordered by the police to pull the women down.

The drummers dispersed with the crowd, which wandered down the next block, in search of more excitement. I thought about joining them, but it was a school day and I had to get going.

As I made my way back to my car and away from all the commotion, I thought about what it would be like to live in another country. I wondered if the scene I was leaving was a slice of Brazilian life or just a glorified way to say `I miss you,’ to the country they left behind.

If I did decide to move, would I miss the US in the same way? Just then, a car drove by with people hanging out the window holding Brazilian flags and honking their horn like madmen, and I realized the answer was `no.’