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Brazil[]

History[]

Paulo Coelho, Brazil's greatest novelist, wrote of the history of his people, "They were seeking out the treasure of their destiny, without actually wanting to live out their destiny." Among former colonies, Brazil is unique in the Americas because, beyond gaining its independence through a relatively peaceful path, and even after dozens of failed separatist movements, it did not fragment into separate countries as did British and Spanish possessions. Brazil was a Portuguese colony from the time of the arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed it for his sovereign in 1500 AD, until the royal family in exile from their occupied homeland elevated it to the status of kingdom in 1815. Full independence was achieved in 1822 when the Empire of Brazil was created with a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary government. With the overthrow of Pedro II, the second and last emperor, in 1889 AD it became a republic. Although the republic would suffer through dictatorships and military juntas over the next century, democracy returned in the 1980s when the first elected civilian government assumed power after a negotiated transition. Under a succession of able leaders, Brazil achieved political and economic stability, became a vital and influential member of the international community, and has at last achieved "the treasure of [its] destiny."

Climate and Terrain[]

Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, encompassing half of South America's landmass; it is one of 17 nations considered to have a "mega-diverse ecology," home to manifold flora and fauna, habitats, natural resources and terrain. Brazil contains most of the Amazon River basin, the world's largest river system as well as the world's largest virgin rainforest. Thus, the country has a wide range of tropical and subtropical landscapes, including wetlands, savannahs, jungle-covered plateaus, and low mountains. Along Brazil's 7500 km (4600 mile) coastline lie a number of archipelagos. The main upland area of Brazil occupies most of the southern half of the country, rising to a mass of low mountain ranges such as the Mantiqueira and Espinhaço, whose tallest peaks reach about 1200 m (3900 ft) high. Lying on the equator, most of the nation has a tropical climate, divided into five subtypes: equatorial, tropical, highland tropical, temperate and subtropical. Temperatures across Brazil average 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). Vegetation ranges from rainforests in the north to tropical savannahs in the center to coniferous forests in the south. As might be expected with such varied terrain and climate, Brazil's biodiversity is one of the richest in the world, with jaguar, ocelot, tapir, anteater, sloth, armadillo, deer, piranha, caiman, parrot, monkey and thousands of other species sharing the land and waters.

Portuguese Colonization[]

The origins of the native inhabitants (called indios by the Portuguese) of Brazil are unknown; the earliest human fossils date back 10,000 years to the highlands of Minas Gerais. When Portuguese explorers arrived on the coast, some 2000 native tribes existed; semi-nomadic, they subsisted on hunting, fishing, migrant agricultural, tribal warfare and cannibalism. The land was claimed by Pedro Cabral in April 1500 when the fleet he was leading around the Cape of Good Hope was borne so far westward that he made landfall in South America. The Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 AD had divided the New World between Spain (west) and Portugal (east) along the longitude of 46 degrees. As the discovery fell well within the Portuguese zone, and spurred by reports of its riches, in 1532 the first Portuguese settlement was founded.

The discovery of brazilwood - a dense, orange-red hardwood highly prized in dye-making and in the making of musical instruments and furniture - incited the crown's interest; in 1534 AD King Dom Joao III encouraged private colonial ventures. In 1549 the king appointed a governor-general and Brazil officially became a Portuguese colony. In wars with the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their holdings to the north and south, taking Rio de Janeiro in 1567 and Sao Luis in 1615. In 1680 AD they claimed the lands around the Rio de la Plata, which became their southernmost territory. In the meantime, British and Dutch strongholds in the Amazon were overrun; the native tribes were either assimilated, enslaved or exterminated.

By the end of the 17th Century, Brazil was the largest and most important of Portugal's scattered colonies. Besides brazilwood, sugar, dyes and spices were major exports. The Portuguese began their import of slaves from Africa to meet the growing international demand for these commodities; eventually Portugal would become one of the major slave-trading nations and slaves in Brazil would number in the hundreds of thousands. Concurrently, prospectors had sought in vain for gold in the jungles and hills of Brazil until extensive deposits were discovered in Minas Gerais. The subsequent gold rush brought such vast sums that the colonial capital was transferred from Salvador south to Rio de Janeiro in 1763 AD in order to better administer the new wealth. The treaties of Madrid (1750), Pardo (1761) and Ildefonso (1777) recognized Brazil's borders, while colonial reforms insured that it remained a placid, prosperous and profitable colony for Portugal.

Independence[]

In March 1808 AD, the Portuguese royal family and ministers arrived in Rio de Janeiro to take refuge in Brazil as Napoleon's forces overran their homeland. The prince regent João, ruling in the stead of his mother Maria I, who was incapacitated due to mental illness, re-established his capital in Rio and ruled the empire from there. While in residence, he put in place all the ministries of a sovereign capital, as well as founding a royal library, a military academy, a royal mint, a printing office, and medical and law schools. In 1815, João declared Brazil a kingdom, co-equal with Portugal in the empire. Following the defeat of France, he preferred to remain in Brazil until called back to Portugal to deal with radical revolts. In April 1821, João appointed his son Pedro to the regency. Pedro's ministers, many Brazilian born, urged independence. The young regent issued a declaration of independence for Brazil in September 1822 and was crowned as Emperor Pedro I within three months. In 1825 the Portuguese government officially recognized Brazil's sovereignty, and within the year most of the European nations followed suit.

Empire[]

Pedro I and his ministers sought to ensure that Brazil did not suffer the discord and revolutions that were plaguing Brazil's South American neighbors. To that end, he was the primary architect of a new constitution, one quite liberal and advanced for its time. But Pedro was increasingly involved in affairs in Portugal, and in 1831 AD abdicated in favor of his five-year-old son so he could return to Europe to reclaim the Portuguese crown for his daughter. To settle the political unrest and discord the abrupt departure left, Pedro's son was officially declared of age at 14 and crowned Emperor Pedro II within the year. The new emperor's five-decade reign was enlightened and progressive, and Brazil enjoyed a "golden age" in every realm - politically, economically, industrially, socially, culturally. Under Pedro II, Brazil won three wars, expanded its international reputation, modernized, reformed its legal and monetary systems, boosted its agricultural diversity, and abolished slavery. But the latter had eroded support among the landed gentry; moreover, as he aged Pedro II increasingly lost touch with the new urban middle class and liberal student movements his ideals and policies had fostered. Although still respected and beloved by his people, in November 1889 a bloodless military coup deposed Pedro in favor of a republic. Ever a patriot, when he departed into exile in Europe, Pedro II expressed his "ardent wishes for the greatness and prosperity of Brazil."

Dictatorship[]

Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca, who had led the coup, became the provisional president of an increasingly military-dominated government. Supported primarily by the military and the increasingly prosperous coffee planters, he established the republic, separated church and state, and promulgated a new constitution. However, under its provisions, he was declared unable to hold office; when he attempted to dissolve the new legislature and rule by decree, he was forced to resign in the face of public outcry. He was replaced by his vice-president, also a general, who spent his time fending off several military and monarchist revolts but took on increasingly dictatorial powers.

In 1894 AD, amid general peace, General Peixoto reluctantly surrendered the presidency to the first civilian to hold the post, Prudente de Morais. He had been governor of the coffee-rich state of São Paulo, and has been deemed the first of the "coffee presidents." These presidents, primarily wealthy politicians and landowners from São Paulo and Minas Gerais, helped reform the economy, modernize the nation's infrastructure, keep the peace, and guide the nation through troubled international times through a policy of near isolationism. However, in doing so they offered little real democracy because only the landowning minority was allowed to vote, fraudulent elections were common, and regional political bosses operated with virtual impunity so long as they supported the president in power.

Two developments finally ended the period of the "coffee presidents." First, coffee prices fell precipitously during the world-wide depression of the 1930s. Second, a movement composed of junior officers (the tenentes) grew in influence. Espousing populism, the tenentes championed not democracy but reform and progress; they fervently believed that only the military could propel the nation into the modern age. To do so, the young officers planned to oust civilian politicians, expand the reach of the federal government, modernize the military, and eradicate regionalism through a strong, centralized government.

The depression and the general unrest led to Getúlio Vargas, a defeated presidential candidate, to seize control with support of the tenentes. Vargas was supposed to assume power temporarily for the duration of the economic crisis; instead he closed the Congress, dismissed the constitution, and replaced the Brazilian states' governors with his supporters, mostly military officers. Following a failed Communist coup in 1935 and a failed Fascist one in 1938, Vargas' regime evolved into a full dictatorship, noted for its brutality and censorship of the press. Brazil joined the Allies in 1942 as an active participant, committing both significant ground in Italy and naval forces in the Atlantic. Despite being a dictatorship, Vargas insisted that in recognition of its service in World War II , Brazil be one of the founding members of the United Nations.

But the economic boom brought by the war and international pressure had made Vargas' position untenable; in 1945 AD he was ousted by another military coup. Democracy was "reinstated" by the same cabal that had suspended it 15 years before. Ironically, Vargas would be elected president in 1950, but committed suicide in 1954 at the Catete Palace in the midst of a political crisis. Several brief governments followed Vargas' death, marked by various levels of accomplishment as well as corruption. In 1964, yet another military coup toppled the civilian government; in 1968, the military junta became a full dictatorship with the powers vested in it by the Fifth Institutional Act. Although its methods were harsh, the junta was less brutal than those in other parts of the continent. Moreover, it promoted capitalism, modernization, and international accords. Thus, the junta was highly popular with the lower and middle classes even during the years of repression.

Modern Brazil[]

General Ernesto Geisel assumed the presidency in 1974, and immediately launched into a "slow, gradual and safe" policy of returning rule to a democratic government. Over several years he ended the torture of political prisoners, censorship of the press, and finally the junta itself when he repealed the Fifth Institutional Act. His successor continued the process, and in 1985 the first free elections made Jose Sarney president. With a stable government and thriving economy, Brazil has since taken a leading role in regional affairs, being a founding member of organizations such as the Latin Union, Organization of American States, Mercosul, and Union of South American Nations. At the beginning of a new millennium, Brazil is poised to assume an equally influential role on the world stage.

Brazilian Trivia[]

Construction of Brasília, one of the few purposely-built capitals in the world, began in 1956 AD when President Juscelino Kubitschek activated an article in Brazil's first republican constitution dating back to 1891 stating that the country's capital should be centrally located; built in 41 months, the government was relocated to Brasília in April 1960.

Celebrated in cities across the country, the Carnival of Brazil accounts for 70% of the nation's annual tourist trade; punctuated by samba and axé music, the 4-day celebration preceding Lent is marked by parades, costume balls, street festivals, dances and the occasional religious ceremony.

From the 1500s through the 1700s, the bandeirantes - private expeditions led by Portuguese and Brazilian adventurers - explored and mapped much of the Amazon in their search for slaves, gold, gems and rare plants and, in the process, established bases deep in the rainforest, steadily pushing Brazil's western boundaries outward.

Lula[]

History[]

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known simply as Lula, is a Brazilian former politician and union leader. He served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2011. He was a founding member of the Workers' Party (PT) and ran unsuccessfully for president three times before achieving victory in the 2002 election. He was re-elected in the 2006 election. The introduction of social programs, such as Bolsa Família and Fome Zero were hallmarks of his time in office. As president, Lula played a prominent role in international matters, including activities related to the nuclear program of Iran and global warming, and was described as "a man with audacious ambitions to alter the balance of power among nations." Succeeded by his former Chief of Staff, Dilma Rousseff, he left an enduring mark on Brazilian politics in the form of Lulism.

Lula has been called one of the most popular politicians in the history of Brazil and while in office was one of the most popular in the world. He was featured in Time's 2010 The 100 Most Influential People in the World, and Perry Anderson called him "the most successful politician of his time." In October 2011, Lula—who was a smoker for 40 years—was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent chemotherapy, leading to a successful recovery.

In early 2016, Lula was appointed Chief of Staff under Rousseff, but Justice Gilmar Mendes of the Supreme Federal Court blocked the appointment due to ongoing federal investigations. On 12 July 2017, he was convicted of money laundering and passive corruption, defined in Brazilian criminal law as the receipt of a bribe by a civil servant or government official. He was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison by judge Sérgio Moro but remained free pending an appeal of the sentence. On 24 January 2018 the Regional Federal Court of the 4th Region, which is a panel of three judges, unanimously upheld Moro's ruling against Lula. On 5 April 2018, the Supreme Federal Court ruled to reject Lula's habeas corpus plea; on the same day a warrant was issued for his arrest. He turned himself in and began serving his sentence on 7 April 2018. Lula has announced his candidacy for the 2018 presidential election, but he is widely expected to be disqualified under Brazil's "Clean Slate" law, which bars second-instance convicts from running for public office.

Unique Components[]

Super Tucano[]

The Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano, also named ALX or A-29, is a turboprop light attack aircraft designed for counter-insurgency, close air support, and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments, as well as providing pilot training. Designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain, the Super Tucano is highly maneuverable, has a low heat signature, and incorporates fourth-generation avionics and weapons systems to deliver precision-guided munitions.

Contractor[]

The contractor is a manager, and possibly a tradesman, employed by the client on the advice of the architect, engineer or the client him/herself if acting as the manager. A contractor is responsible for the overall coordination of a project. A contractor must first assess the project-specific documents (referred to as bid, proposal or tender documents). In the case of renovations, a site visit is required to get a better understanding of the project. Depending on the project delivery method, the contractor will submit a fixed price proposal or bid, cost plus price or an estimate. The contractor considers the cost of home office overhead, general conditions, materials, and equipment as well as the cost of labor to provide the owner with a price for the project.

Contract documents include drawings, project manual (including general, supplementary or special conditions and specifications), addendum or modifications issued prior to proposal/ bidding ad prepared by a design professional such as an architect. The contractor may be the construction manager or construction manager at high risk.

In Brazil, contractors had a major role in the country's development and politics. They were chosen to lead several infrastructure projects which were then overpriced, allowing them and the involved politicians to collect their sum of public money. This money also served as bribe, and in retribution, those contractors would donate to the politician's campaign. Elaborate corruption schemes were in place, and the largest one, Odebrecht, even had an entire department dedicated to accounting and laundering illegal money.

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