Visit to Brazil a break from the turmoil in Europe

Published 6/3 at 09:40

For four weeks starting at the end of January and including almost all of February, I had the privilege of staying in Brazil. I have visited the country many times since 1985. What struck me this time was that my visit was a break from the unrest in Europe and the war in Ukraine.

I felt far removed from everyday life in Europe. I am aware that our brothers and sisters in Ukraine cannot treat themselves to the privilege of pausing for a few weeks from the misery they are experiencing, but instead are forced to face the horrors of war every day.

Brazil is an amazing country in many ways. But since my first trip to the country in 1985, Brazil hasn't really changed as much as you might think. The majority of the population are still poor, although there is no famine like in other countries at the same stage of development. A few percent of the population own most of the assets, but despite this, the middle classes have fared significantly better in the last two decades.

At the end of 2022, Brazil had an election. The fight was between the incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro and Ignasio Lula da Silva, which Lula won by a few percentage points. There has been a lot of controversy regarding Bolsonaro during the four years he has been in power and he managed to do some ‘piano stomping’ during his mandate. He had the attitude that the Covid pandemic was just flu and nothing to worry about, and he more or less looked away when landowners ravaged the Amazon forests.

In the state of Pará, so-called ‘garimpeiros’ or gold diggers, have destroyed the fishing waters of several Indian tribes, including the Yanomami. This has led to an acute shortage of food and the waters becoming polluted leading to outbreaks of cholera, among other things. A large amount of aid has been sent in order to alleviate the suffering of the Indian tribes and provide them with care. Bolsonaro has now been strongly criticised for supporting the mining companies that destroyed the land instead of helping the Indian tribes that were affected.

On the other hand, even Bolsonaro's opponents admit that during his term of office he succeeded in boosting the domestic economy. Above all, this was noticeable in investment within the infrastructure and many new ventures in terms of the construction of homes and commercial property. For example, I had the privilege of visiting a project where a new bridge is being built between Brazil and Paraguay over the Iguaçu River in the city of Foz do Iguaçu. It is the hydropower conglomerate Iguaçu, located on the Brazilian side that has financed the project. The bridge is expected to be ready later this year. We hope to publish a separate article about the project in the spring.

The optimism felt due to the many ongoing construction projects, a strengthened Brazilian Real and more, means that the market for those who work with demolition, concrete hole punching and grinding and polishing of concrete floors in Brazil is highly favourable right now after several years of uncertainty. 2015 PDi Magazine planned to organise the Latin American Concrete Cutting & Demolition Forum in Rio de Janeiro after several years of growth in the Brazilian market as the situation was favourable. Unfortunately, the economy took a sharp downward turn in 2014, meaning that the conditions for such an event died out in just a few weeks. But now the situation looks different, and perhaps there are conditions for looking again at the idea.

This issue of PDi magazine is the trade show issue for the American trade show ConExpo-Con/Agg in Las Vegas in mid-March. Hopefully you will find lots of interesting reading in this issue, so stay tuned.

Jan Hermansson

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