Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts About Brazil

As some of you might have figured, I spent my Christmas vacation in Brazil! As I'm now back in France, it's about time I started blogging again!
I thought I'd write about Brazil, a country that I have visited many times and that doesn't cease to surprise me.

First of all, many people see Brazil as a country with no middle-class where the rich commute by helicopter and where tourists are in constant danger of being abducted, killed or mugged. It is in no way my experience with this beautiful country. To me, Brazil is no more dangerous than France. In fact, I have never been in a situation there where I felt uncomfortable. It is just a matter of common sense: there are places where I wouldn't go in my hometown, so why would I venture myself in dangerous places abroad? It seems that many tourists overlook that simple fact and end up being mugged in the middle of a favela at midnight because they had the stupid idea to carry with them a few Rolex watches, brand new cell phones and camcorders. Isn't that asking to be mugged? Would they have gone to the Bronx with the same amount of electronics at the same time of the night if they lived in New York City? Certainly not! So why do that abroad?

Second thought: not all Brazilians live in a favela or own helicopters! There is a middle-class there. In fact, most people I know in Brazil lead the exact same life than my friends and I here in France or in the US. It used to be that their currency, the Real, was a bit weak so things were cheaper for me in Brazil than they were in France. Well, this isn't the case anymore! The Real is as strong as ever. The economy is booming. Real estate prices are catching up with prices in France. Don't forget that Lula, Brazil's former president, helped 20 million people out of poverty. With close to 200 million inhabitants, Brazil is a superpower in motion! I used to think that everything was cheaper there. This past vacation, I kept thinking that so many things were very expensive!

I used to half-jokingly say, ten years ago, that I wouldn't be able to afford retiring in Brazil when I reach retirement age. Well, only ten years later and still a long way from retirement, it is almost the truth!

So my advice to you if you're thinking about doing business in or with Brazil: IT IS TOO LATE! If you're not already there, you missed the train!

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