[Silverback Kent Halliburton is our resident cryptocurrency guy, meaning he understands it better than the rest of us apes. He travelled recently to Brasil and these are some of his observations as published in his newsletter Kent’s Corner. Subscribe at email@example.com . PS- The academy has decided that the appropriate way to spell the word is ‘brasa’ – not ‘braza’ – so the appropriate way to spell the name of the country is thus ‘Brasil‘. In 1945 both Brazil and Portugal have agreed that this spelling is officially correct. That’s good enough for me SB SM]
Brasil. A strange new, yet oddly familiar, land for my little family of 3 to discover. We landed late Thursday evening in São Paulo. It only took us another five hours to pick up our rental car and make it into our hotel beds. We were even warned about the pace of life here by our Portuguese friends we were coming to visit — we’re no longer doubters of the Brasileiro pace of life.
Brasil, the country colonized by the Portuguese in 1500, is unique in the Americas. It’s the only Portuguese-speaking country, is just shy of the size of the US, has more people than any other South American country, and boasts the lion-share of the largely uninhabited Amazon, pushing the population’s center of gravity to the Atlantic seaboard. But its eye-popping element is how mixed the culture is.
The US and Brasil share similar histories, being settled at similar times. But, instead of having distinct ethnic cultures like the US, Brasil is much more mixed. An equal number of enslaved people were sold to both the US and Brasil landholders during their foundational years. As the most stable countries in the Americas at that time, many Europeans immigrated to both. But the US pulled away economically through sales of food and arms to Europe during WWII. The result was that despite both having open-armed immigration policies, Brasil attracted poorer immigrants. Besides the African and European heritage, a substantial number of Asians immigrated in the 60s as well, looking for more freedom as communism expanded in Asia.
What do I mean by mixed, though? Skin color is a spectrum here, and there’s no clear line between white and black. There are just as many people of every shade in the range. It’s lovely and fascinating to see the entire spectrum speaking the same Brasilian language, no separate dialects, and no qualms about interactions. I’m sure that racism exists here, as it does in Portugal. But like Portugal, there’s a sense of unity to the culture and ethnicities clumping together hasn’t occurred.
That doesn’t mean the place is safe, though. We’ve been warned not to spend time out-and-about at night. And we’ve heard that Rio de Janeiro is about as dangerous as it gets — people don’t stop at stoplights for fear of being car-jacked. The favelas likely have a lot to do with that. Made famous by the movie City of God, favelas are lawless villages built up the hill in Rio by squatters. We’ve got an opportunity to take a safe tour of the favelas by a trusted tour guide, but I’m not sure I’ve got the nerve for it. Especially having just read a headline about the police killing people with impunity in the favelas.
Besides the well-mixed culture, which I shouldn’t be surprised about since home in Portugal is much the same, it is by far the most developed of the South American nations I’ve been to. Quality construction, restaurants, highways, wifi, and clean water are all the amenities and infrastructure you’d expect from a developed nation. With the increasing gap between rich and poor in the US and the declining infrastructure, perhaps the two countries’ histories are coming back into sync with one another again. With incredible beaches, tropical fruit, quality surf, lively samba, and delicious açai, it’s easy to see why Brasil continues to be a tempting proposition for immigrants.