Hot Times at the World Cup

Mar 3, 2014 · 3 min read

Ingles Spoken Here

As observers of Brazil’s dysfunctional system of government, we have gone on record as predicting the nation will fall short in its plans to host the 2014 soccer World Cup, and the 2016 Olympic Games.

The World Bank’s “Doing Business” report ranks Brazil 126th out of 183 nations for ease of doing business — a six-point decline from 2011-2012. It takes on average 119 days to launch a new business in Brazil, compared to 28 days in China, and only 9 in Mexico, and 469 days to get a construction permit issued.

Brazil’s foreign trade is severely hampered by the hundreds of forms that must be completed every time a ship loads or offloads cargo. Once the cargo makes it to the docks, Brazil’s overburdened rail system and near-nonexistent network of highways make it all but impossible to deliver the goods to sales outlets. Well-traveled passenger highways are so overtaxed that hundred-mile traffic jams are not uncommon during Sao Paulo’s morning rush hour — Sao Paulo, the nation’s business capital, has the largest number of private commuter helicopters of any city in the world for just that reason.

FIFA, the global soccer authority, has repeatedly expressed its frustration with Brazil’s inability to complete stadium and lodging projects on schedule, and the government’s public/private programs to expand its air, highway and mass transit capacity keep hitting snags.

There is one sector, though, that is gearing up and will be ready to greet the hundreds of thousands of visitors these global events promise to bring.

A new free instruction program is being offered in a language school in the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais, some 500 KM from Sao Paulo. The target clientele for this accelerated instruction are the members of the Minas Gerais State Prostitutes’ Association, a professional group whose objective is to provide a safe working environment and fair pay for its members. Over 300 working women signed up on the spot when the classes were announced, and requests keep coming in.

Cida Vieira, president of the association, says the goal is to help Brazilian sex workers communicate with foreign visitors. The focus is on international languages that will provide maximum flexibility. A group of volunteers offer instruction in English and Spanish , as well as remedial Portuguese classes for foreigners who ply their trade in Brazil’s cities. Vieira says linguistic ability is critical for workers’ dignity: the women need to be able to communicate clearly in order to protect themselves, as well as to negotiate fair prices. More inquiries are coming in, says Vieira, including women willing to travel from Sao Paulo to receive instruction, and she expects she will have to expand the program.

The stadiums may not be ready, the airports may not be open, the roads may be clogged, but there’s one group of professionals ready to ensure visitors have a good time… if they ever get there.

from: Slouching Towards Wall Street… Notes for the Week Ending Friday, 11 January 2013 — Copyright (C) 2013 by Hedgeye Risk Management


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