Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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Figure 1: Layout of Brazil’s 26 states and Federal District

Business Plan for investment of US$1 billion into Brazil


We propose the full investment be put towards the buy-out and expansion of the railway system in Brazil.  Currently, Brazil’s total land mass is approximately 8,511,965 sq km, which is about 3,300,171 sq miles, or slightly smaller than the entire Untied States.  The railroad system currently spans around 30,129 km, with varying gauges of rail line so different products and companies are transported using different lines.  Most of the investments in these rail systems, since the mid-1980s, have been mainly for transport from mining areas to ports of which several are privately owned by the mining companies.

Figure 2: Overall population distribution in South America


Some plans have been made to extend the rail lines.  In 1987 the Brazilian government planned to build a north-south line, approximately 1,600 km long, from Açailândia, in north-east state of Maranhão, to Brasília.  Later, the Federal Railroad System, Inc. (RFFSA) was created and is now responsible for suburban networks throughout Brazil.  By 1994 plans were approved to privatize RFFSA.  Lastly, a private railroad company, Ferronorte, is trying to build a new line going west from Santos, going through agricultural areas, and then north towards the south-west of the Amazon.  Ferronorte’s main task is the transportation soy crops.      


Our plan would be to buy out the privatized company of Ferronorte and Ferroban (former E.

Figure 3: Population distribution in Brazil with each dot being 1 million people
F. Araraquara), buy out all government lines, and turn the entire rail system into a privatized system that we could have a monopoly on. Brazil is divided into five regions: the South, Southeast, North, Midwest, and Northeast.  The South and Southeast are currently the wealthiest areas, whereas the North and Northeast are the poorest.  Most of the population is along the eastern coast, and this is where the vast majority of the limited, current rail system is located.  We propose increasing the number of lines in the eastern region, greatly expanding the lines into the inner areas of the country, connecting four of the regions (except for the North) for quick access anywhere, and even creating a line that runs to the free trade area of Manaus in the Amazons (North).  All of these lines would have a direct route to the nearest sea port or line to a sea port, but in the end all lines will be able to easily access all port cities of Brazil as well as industrial cities found in the interior.
Figure 4: Current and proposed rail systems in Brazil


There are many benefits of the investment into the railroad system of Brazil.  First, though investors may not receive an extremely quick return on their investment, it will definitely be a large return in the long run.  Although the immediate costs of laying rails and building rail stations will be quite steep, after this development is completed, there will be relatively low maintenance costs.  Profit will be made through a system, that we control, that every user or company of the rail system must be registered in. For each trip a client wants to make, the weight of the cargo and travel distance can be quickly input into this system, and a cost can be allotted for those two variables.  This creates an environment where there is vary little waiting of cargo.  It is important to note that even the heaviest and furthest distance of travel would be less expensive than road or air transportation to the ports. 


We also suggest in order to save money and to have more involvement with the Brazilian economy that all planning for the rail lines and creation of software needed for the operation of the new lines be created and planned out while in TECPAR.  This way very little money is spent on investment during the planning stages, and any assistance can be obtained for creating the new Brazilian private railway company.  We also suggest belonging to FIEP, as well as any other national counterparts.  FIEP is the Federation of Industries of the State of Paraná, and looks at the economic and social development of the state.  There are also four other organizations within FIEP to assist in its goals:  the Center of Industries of the State of Paraná (CIEP), Industrial Social Service (SESI), National Industrial Learning Service (SENAI) and Euvaldo Lodi Institute (IEL).  FIEP invests in the improvement of the labor force’s capacity to promote a competitive industrial sector.  This is done by looking at technological innovation, sustainable development, and social responsibility to promote the quality of the working environment.  They also provide business opportunities and strategic information for entrepreneurs which would aid us greatly as Americans getting started in the Brazilian business market.


Another benefit of the investment for the country of Brazil is the assistance given to the poor people of the country and the possibility of supplying them with a higher quality of life.  An example of one group of people who stand to benefit greatly from our proposal is the MST.  Currently they pay approximately R$1300 per month for a truck to transport their “free” food rations of R$120 of food per family from a single distribution center 400 km away to their settlements.  Rail systems will run near these camps so that there is a smaller price for road transportation, and our rail line will not charge for transportation of these food rations in order to help in the economic progress of a poorer portion of Brazil. 


Another set of people who would benefit from an improved rail system is the poorer people in the favellas and those people in the cities and impoverished areas in the north and north-east regions.  By joining the four most easterly regions of Brazil through many routes, this provides quick and inexpensive transportation of products and people from one region to the other.  This would therefore increase the quality of life in the poor areas.  Also, many of the people in the poor regions can be helped by supplying them with formal jobs created with the introduction of these rail systems.  These poorer people will migrate out of the cities towards the building areas of the rail systems in search of these newly created jobs and a chance for a better life.  Along these rail systems, towns can be created where people will have a greater chance of a higher quality of life than in the favellas or impoverished areas.  We predict a drop or even a possible reversal of the urbanization trend present in Brazil today. An improved railroad will draw many people away from the huge industrial centers such as Sao Paulo or Rio and could possibly cause a mass migration along the rail lines to form a more suburban Brazil.  The rails will spread the population so that more people are given the chance to sustain life inside the country.  This spreads the currently localized population of Brazil so that the impoverished have a greater chance of decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor in an area that is not already drained of all economic possibilities for the impoverished.  As a result of this spread of the population around the country, the shortening of the gap between the wealthy and the poor, and a faster means of transportation, a more stable economy could be created with lower interest rates, inflation, and taxes.


Besides the new rail system benefiting the poorer people of the country and current companies or entities that use road or air transport, it also benefits the overall economy of the country.  The rail systems will provide quicker export and import of all products.  This is especially beneficial for transport of natural or organic products that are perishable, such as soy, wheat, coffee, etc.  The speed of the transportation will also motivate new foreign investors to look at the entire country of Brazil, and not just south-eastern cities, as areas of opportunities.  The cost of moving into the country, and not continuing to stretch the limits of current south-eastern cities, will be in the foreign investor’s advantage.  The increased investment from foreign powers will also provide formal jobs for the poor that moved to the areas along the new rail lines to help build them once the formal rail way jobs of maintenance and operation are filled after the expansion is complete. 


There is a possibility of corruption in this venture. Though this possibility is compounded by the probability we will have a monopoly on the rail system at least in the short run and by the political environment in Brazil, we believe there are ways to prevent corruption. One method to prevent this is to give a large amount of the power to the workers. Since we are starting an entirely new enterprise, we have to power to establish its structure any way we please. We would set up a very democratic method of running this business where employees from all levels have a say in the decisions of the company. We also have an advantage of being outside investors. We can establish the company, get it running, then slowly turn it over to Brazilians that we have worked with and come to know. By working closely with these Brazilians, we would be able to form a moral estimate on each one’s character and hopefully be able to predict how they will run the company once we have turned it over to them.


An added possible benefit to an improved rail system is the mixing and expansion of national culture. For instance, each favelea has its own Samba school. Since our railways would draw a large number of poor away from these areas, the people would carry with them their own style of Samba, as well as their traditions, foods, etc.


As further thoughts, we want to look at improvements in the ports and sea transportation, and possibly using Volvo to create the rail cars.  This would increase the production of industrial products and would result in the growth, stabilization, and sustainability of the Brazilian internal market and economy.

This plan was later presented to other students of the study abroad.
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This is the closing of my personal blogs, so I am going to try to talk about the last three places in Brazil I visited. Those three places are Sao Paulo, Paraty, and Rio de Janeiro. First of all, Sao Paulo is the place, out of the entire trip, where I was the most intimidated. There were many areas that you couldn’t go. It was even considered not safe to walk outside of the apartment after 10 pm, and we live in eh Beverly Hills of Sao Paulo. I learned to never separate from the group and always have a man with you. Even tough, I had an excellent time. The two most exciting site visits were the MST camp and the favella. The MST camp is something that I can’t even describe. It is the largest movement in Latin America, and is also known as the landless movement. When the Itapu dam was built between Paraguay and Brazil it flooded much of the surrounding land and displaced those people on that land. These people had no place to go and weren’t compensated by the government. However, the government has a law where if a large land owner has a plot over a certain size and has space of it not being used, or they are not paying their taxes or fees, then that land can be given to people of the landless movement. Of course the government doesn’t follow this policy, so the MST is helping enforce it. The research possible areas, and once they have found one they get a group of people together to occupy it. These people are responsible for their own transportation there and food for the time that they need to occupy the area before they are recognized by the government as the rightful occupants. This is a very strenuous process, but the MST is the most successful movement of its kind in Latin America. These people live in make shift homes, and work to the best of their ability to live off the land. For the rest of the food that they cannot supply themselves they get from the government. Before I visited this camp I didn’t have a positive outlook on it, but now I find it to be very reasonable. Spending time with the people of the camp makes me understand their cause more. I had very mixed emotions about the favella, specifically Heliopolis. I need to first say that a favella is an area that people have occupied and built their homes, and they don’t have titles to the land that the homes are on. Now I guess I should say why I had mixed feelings. I was so happy to see all of the programs, schooling, etc. that has been created for the people in the favella. I want them to have the best opportunities available for a better life. I was also extremely sad to see the situation so many people were living in. It was especially hard for me to see the children. These people live in situations that nobody in the United States could imagine if they haven’t visited it. Only pictures can describe the worst parts of the favella, but you still won’t experience the smell. I feel almost helpless when I visited it, because there are so many people that need so much help. Most of these people’s lives will never be any different for themselves or their kids. I can’t even think of any change in Brazilian economy and politics that would be beneficial to the people of the favellas. I think I liked Paraty more than I liked Floripa. Paraty has the feel of a Colonia, Uruguay mixed with a Floripa, Brazil. I always felt safe. The boat trip we went on to see some of the many islands of Paraty was incredible. However, I think I learned the most on a 1-day kayaking trip I went on (I think the entire point of the trip was for vacation though). I had a blast on this trip; I went sea kayaking from island to island from 10 am until 7 pm. How often can you say you kayaked home at night by the light of the moon? I learned how the main church of the town was made for the elite women of the city. I also learned that a long time ago the city was a main passage and mining area for gold. There are many islands with forts on them to protect the wealth of the city, however no pirates ever tried to rob the city. Ironically, the city still was robbed, but indirectly. A pirate held Rio (I think it is this city) under siege, and Paraty paid the ransom for the pirates to leave. Oh, I also got to see a puppet show that people from around the world come to see. What and experience; I never have seen anything like this before. Before the play started I walked around the theatre and noticed from newspaper and magazine clippings how they have been recognized as such a success all around the world. I wish I were able to spend more time in Paraty doing site visits and activities while learning about its history. Finally Rio. I think I liked this the best out of all of the cities (Paraty was the best of the beach cities). I wish we were able to do more class activities here. The best times of the trip are when I learn about history or literature while visiting important sites of the city. The beaches are still great, and the overall attitude of the place makes you feel very welcome. I did not feel as insecure in Rio as I did in Sao Paulo. I enjoyed the touristy site visits to the Cristo on Corcavado and also going up to Sugar Loaf and watching the sunset. I wish I had more time and abilities to learn about the history behind this city more. I am finally becoming sad to leave Brazil and will have things that I miss.
I just want to initially say that I had an incredible time on this trip and learned so much. I would recommend this trip to anyone. Of course there was the gossip and the occasional problems that is expected with throwing that many people together for such a long time, but overall I think everything worked out very well. I would still love to see EVERYONE outside of the program when we get back to the States. Stuff in general: -I cannot say what to do about the blogs, but I can tell you how I felt. I think all of the group blogs were very reasonable. I did have more troubles in Brazil completing the blogs because of not having a computer and the internet being so expensive, but I guess I managed. I had a great time writing 4 personal blogs in Argentina, but had more difficulties coming up with them in Brazil. I am not sure why that is, but I think that was a general consensus of the entire group. -I appreciated the fact that we could opt out of the three finals, and I thought it was a smart idea to not tell us until two days before the finals so that everyone continued to read the packets and was able to better participate in the activities. -I wished that there could have been a little more organization in terms of syllabus and what the plans were for most of the days. I think that is just my engineering side coming out. It would have been easier for me had I know what books were for which class. I still want to say though that the professors and everyone who helped them did an excellent job making everything work out very well in the end. It took a lot of work to make it all happen, and I was very impressed with all of the effort that was made to make sure we had the best time and learning experiences possible. Props to Bowman! -Another thing that I might recommend is trying to be able to supply the students with the list of books at the very first meeting of the group at Tech. This way they can purchase them long ahead of time, have no excuses for not being able to get them (for the people that didn’t have them on this trip), and that way we can try to get ahead of the reading. I am also saying this because I am a very slow reader and need as much time as possible to complete them. -I think the extra 3 credit hour literature class was a good idea eventhouh it didn’t work out so well on this trip. What I might change is fully letting the students know your expectations when they sign up for it and trying to supply them with the list of books very early so that they can start reading them. I would also let the students know that they might want to outline or jot down notes about the book as they go to refresh their memory later when it is covered. Buenos Aires, Argentina: -I love this place. I feel like it is my second home, and I can’t wait to go back. I think the 4 weeks we spent here (5 for me) was perfect. There is so much to do in this city, you just have to get out there and do it though. I was lucky enough to have great local BA friends , so I think I got a more full experience than most of the people in the group. Most of the students aren’t that ambitious about figuring things out for themselves and doing it that early in the trip. Some need more ideas and possibilities thrown into their lap. I would recommend more classes at different sites around the city to be a le to learn about it a bit more. I felt like this happened more often later in the trip, and I wished it would have occurred more in BA too. The only other thing I have to add is I wish there would have been a class or long visit out to the country areas. I was lucky enough to be able to do this, but almost nobody else in the group did. I believe there is a lot of history out there, and you get to see a completely different side of the country than you normally would. I would recommend talking to Douglas Williams and seeing if you can go to his grandmother’s estancia. Colonia, Uruguay: -This was a great weekend trip and I would definitely keep it in the program. I think the amount of time we spent here was excellent. However, it was interesting to see that most of the shops in the main area were closed on the weekends. The small fair was great though. Florianopolis, Brazil: -I think it is important to go to Floripa, but I would recommend spending a couple fewer days here and being able to use that time in another city. I also do recommend maybe having a few more morning classes so that it si not so overwhelming in Curitiba. I had an excellent time here doing the language classes, the beaches, and the sand surfing. Iguazu Falls, Brazil: -Breath taking! Awesome tour around d the falls and boat ride. Thanks for floating the driver some extra money for a more exciting ride. Never remove this from the trip. It truly is one of the wonders of the world. The only thing I wish we could have done that we weren’t able to is visit and do a tour of the damn (engineer coming out again). Paraguay: -Great experience. I just wished I had had a couple more hours to walk around it. Definitely a site to see if there is the opportunity available. Curitiba, Brazil: -Interesting city. Again, I was lucky to be able to know a local, so I got a really good tour around the city. If at all possible I would recommend more time to be mde for the students to have an opportunity, and possibly one made for them, to travel/walk around the city and get to know it better. I think because I was one of the few that opted out of the finals I got to enjoy and appreciate the city more than most people. Sao Paulo, Brazil: -It was pretty nice, but I felt like I had to always watch my back. Always remind the students about the stone place. I enjoyed the MST camp and the favella. Excellent site visits! I felt like I was ready to leave when we did though. Paraty, Brazil: -Excellent! I wish I got to spend at least one or two more days here to go horse back riding and walking around the town. I loved the kayaking trip I went on, and I learned so much history about the place. I also enjoyed having everyone together on the cruise at the beginning. It was a great introduction to the city. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: - Much better that Sao Paulo in my opinion. I felt much more safe. I wish we had the opportunity to do more stuff as a class here, and learn more about the city, but that is our own fault. I would recommend spending a couple more days here if at all possible. I finally want to say thank you Dr. Bowman, and everyone else, for all your hard work in making this trip so great.
Figure 1:  Layout of Brazil’s 26…
Figure 1: Layout of Brazil’s 2…
Figure 2:  Overall population dist…
Figure 2: Overall population dis…
Figure 3:  Population distribution…
Figure 3: Population distributio…
Figure 4:  Current and proposed ra…
Figure 4: Current and proposed r…
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photo by: joesu