Belo Monte | World's Third Largest Dam Construction Threatens Kayapó

Semana Dos Povos Indiangenas, Photo by Governopara

Semana Dos Povos Indiangenas, Photo by Governopara

PARÁ, Brazil -- Despite environmental and humanitarian protests, the Brazillian government plans to build five hydroelectric dams on the Tapajos River. The river is an important tributary to the Amazon and if built, the dams will flood the area displacing both people and animals and destroying land considered sacred.

"The first Indian Park in Brazil was created in the river basin by the Brazilian government in the early 1960s. This park marks the first indigenous territory recognized by the Brazilian government and it was the world's largest indigenous reserve on the date of its creation.

Currently, fourteen tribes live on the reserve surviving with natural resources and extracting from the river most of what they need for food and water." (Source: Wikipedia)

Over the past few months, 13,000 people from the Munduruko tribe have protested the project which would threaten their land, livelihood and culture.

Their fight involves battling through new laws and ordinances saying indigenous people don't have a right to control what happens on their own land. It is disturbingly reminiscent to what happened to American Indians in the 1800s.

The government's claim is that the Amazon has enormous untapped hydroelectric potential which would provide needed clean energy for the country. To this end, the government is trying to circumvent the constitutional clause protecting native people and their land.

In terms of cost, hydro-power is Brazil's top alternative energy solution. Other viable options include wind, solar and fuel made from sugarcane.

Disputes over the Amazon are nothing new. Since the 1890s, loggers, ranchers, miners and more have been trying for a share of the Amazon's resources. In the past, warriors fought back with organized and sometimes violent protests, including forcible eviction from the territory.

Official governmental red tape is hard to handle, but this isn't the first time an Amazon tribe has fought the dam fight.  In 1989, with international support and the help of conservationist groups, the neighboring Kayapo tribe successfully prevented the building of the Kararao dam, which would have flooded the Xingu River.

They weren't as successful with the Belo Monte reservoir, also chosen to be built on the Xingu River, and slated to be finished by year 2015.

While some predict Belo Monte will lead to needed jobs and ease the nation's energy burden, others foretell the drying of the forest caused by the diverted water, the displacement of thousands of people whose homes are now underwater and the pollution and inevitable destructive influence roads and workers will have on the previously undisturbed forest.

Chiefs from over 60 villages have submitted a letter demanding the government consult and receive permission from native people before constructing the new dams. However, it is still unclear whether the campaign will be successful or if the Tapajos dams will become the next Belo Monte.

World Cup Gridlocked in São Paulo


SÃO PAOLO, Brazil -- The demonstration that shutdown subway networks in São Paulo, Brazil has halted, if only momentarily, after having plagued the biggest city in Brazil since last Thursday, 5 June 2014 .

Organizers of the transit union walkout suspended the five-day protest this morning, 10 June, in response to escalating traffic congestion that have turned the streets of São Paulo into one giant gridlock. International soccer enthusiasts have turned to taxi services in order to travel to Arena Corinthians, a major stadium located outside of São Paulo city limits.

Both sides in the ongoing saga are looking to compromise, although the leaders of the São Paulo transit union and Governor Geraldo Alckmin are currently stuck in stalemate. 60 employees have been fired after chaos erupted during union demonstrations yesterday, 9 June 2014.

During the protest on Monday, riot police removed the demonstrators by any means necessary, scattering hundreds of union members and sympathizers with stun grenades, tear gas and pepper spray. But the hostility between police and protestors has only further divided the opposing camps.

The São Paulo transportation union is now warning that subway employees will not return to work on Thursday, 12 June, unless the 60 employees are rehired and a 12.2% wage increase is met by authorities. On Thursday, Brazil welcomes the world to São Paulo during the opening World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia.

In the months leading up to the biggest sporting event in the world, Brazil has spent billions on infrastructure and planning. The effort to accommodate masses of international spectators has angered many Brazilians, especially those living in poverty. Those most affected include the residents evicted from select slums throughout Rio de Janeiro in preparation for World Cup fervor.

Governor Alckmin will honor a 8.7% increase in worker's salary, but has firmly rejected the 12.2% demand. Also, he has notified union officials that the fired men and women will not recover their lost jobs. Unless Alckmin or the union authorities rethink their position, continued disorder is guaranteed throughout Sao Paulo in the coming days.

The subway stoppage is only one of many concerns in an ongoing saga of protests against the Brazilian government. Notably, the eviction of blacks to make way for parking lots in Rio have been called racially-biased and unjust. Prices have increased for products across the board, surpassing even high-end predictions. And the investment of billions of dollars into the tournament has upset even more throughout the country.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Brazillians widely disapprove of the direction of their country. An April poll affirmed that 72% of nationals are discontented with their government.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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FIFA Fans & Sex Tourism


Jessamy Nichols, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 17:40 p.m. DST, 09 June 2014

Brazilian Sexy Fan Girl, Photo by Fotowolf70

Eyes all over the globe are turning to Brazil, where the 2014 World Cup begins on June 12th. Hundreds of thousands of people will travel to the South American country in hopes of watching exhilarating games, tense overtime moments and emotional victories for their team of choice. For many, the tournament serves as a bonding thread that brings people of all races and nationalities together over the love of the sport and its history.

However, off the soccer field, there are illegal and horrifying trends that follow such global tournaments such as these. Sports events like World Cups and Olympics bring in an influx of tourists, construction workers, event staffers, and others, which creates a disorderly balance that host cities are commonly unprepared for.

In recent weeks, there has been international concern over men coming to Brazil to engage in sex with underage children, which is especially alarming because Brazil has long been seen as a prime getaway for men who want to engage in carefree sexual exploits.

In an article published May 24th, The Independent stated that girls as young as 11 are being targeted by human traffickers in advance of the World Cup to work as prostitutes and bring in money for pimps and gangs. To make matters worse, there is currently a "culture of silence" around the issue, where families and even law enforcement keep quiet on the growing issue.

Many human rights groups around the globe have been trying to bring awareness to this compounding issue by speaking out and producing documentaries. However, it seems like this widespread and deeply engrained problem in Brazil requires much more action and vocality before there would even be a possibility of it being resolved.

To keep these innocent children out of harm's way, there will need to be a full-fledged effort from local and international law enforcement, human rights groups, internet monitoring groups to monitor the deep parts of the web where these transactions can take place, and an aware audience. At the end of the day, is a soccer match worth sacrificing any child's innocence and sense of safety?

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @JessamyNichols

Brazilian Night Club Fire Kills Celebrants


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 14:08 p.m. EDT, 29 January 2013

Night Club Dancer, Photo by Bryan GoslineSANTA MARIA, Brazil - There should be no surprise that with only one exit, non-functioning fire extinguishers, flammable material covering the ceilings, no sprinklers, and a club 1,000 people over a capacity, and a bands pyrotechnics, this night at the club would not end well.

At the Kiss nightclub in Brazil, a fire broke out early morning hours of Sunday 27 January 2013, resulting in the deaths of more than 230 people.

Given the magnitude of this tragedy, one would surmise that the club would have prior citations for numerous violations. However, according to reports, this surprisingly was not the case, which has raised many questions regarding safety regulations governing buildings and other commercial and residential buildings.

This tragedy has raised grave concerns for citizens and visitors alike as the country is slated to host both the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the Associated Press, documents have been obtained which included building and fire plan permits. Although the building was technically with compliance, Sunday's fire highlighted the fact that Brazilian codes are not on par with other developed or developing nations which is both a hazard for its citizenry and nearly 5.5 million visits annually according to the ministry of tourism.

In a document obtained by the Associated Press, the club was already at a “medium” risk for having a fire. The club owner was then informed that the nightclub would need to be inspected annually in order to stay open.

Records show that the last inspection was conducted in August of 2011. Fire extinguishers were among the items scheduled to be checked during the next inspection. After the fire it was determined that the extinguishers in the club were non-functioning. Survivors stated that they tried to use the extinguisher when the fire initially erupted but quickly discovered to their horror that they did not work.

Police investigator, Marcelo Arigony, stated in a press release on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 that it was known that the fire extinguishers were not inspected and further, that the models that were used were of inferior quality and in his opinion should not have been used in the club or any other facility.

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Published: 30 January 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

On Sunday morning, around 2:30 a.m., country music band, Gurizada Fandangueira performed at the club. The band is known for using pyrotechnics during their performances; however, the nightclub owners either did not take this into account or decided to take a risk because of the anticipated revenue.

The band’s guitarist told media that the club was packed with an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people, which matched police observations. This figure greatly exceeds the club’s authorized capacity which was under 700 people.

Also at fault is the band because the pyrotechnics which they use are approved for outdoor use only. Once again, it appears that the use of incompatible flares was driven by economic considerations. The band utilized flares which cost $1.25, whereas the pyrotechnics intended for indoor use were priced at $35.

In Brazil, an exit is only required for every 131 feet. The farthest point from the door in the club was only 105 feet, thus making it acceptable to have only one exit, no sprinklers nor alarms. According to Jaime Moncada, a US-based fire-safety consultant with experience in Latin America, stated “In the US, the club would have failed an inspection at least three ways”. He adds, “…three separate exits would be required; the foam on the ceiling would have to be treated, and it would need sprinklers.

It is clear that Brazil is behind when it comes to fire-safety and prevention; however, after the world’s deadliest night club fire in a decade, changes seem to be coming. The mayor in Santa Maria has ordered all night clubs to be closed for 30-days while inspections were completed and lawmakers consider what legal measures can be instituted to prevent a repeat of this type of tragedy.

Since the fire at the night club, over 60 phone calls have been made to a complaint hotline announcing dangerous conditions at other night clubs, theaters, supermarkets, hospitals, and shopping malls.

Citizens are in outrage and are demanding change is Santa Maria. About 500 protestors stood outside City Hall, chanting, “We want justice!”. Eighteen year old, Elise Parode was amongst the protestors. She expressed, “We want the government held accountable, just like the owners of the bar!”.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
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The Price of Virginity | Catarina Migliorini


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:00 p.m. EDT, 21 November 2012

Catarina Migliorini, Photo Courtesy of El Mundo y Economia Negocios

Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. For centuries, women and men have primarily engaged in prostitution either as a means of last resort or because they were forced into it, as in the case of victims of sex trafficking.

Women living in progressive societies are acutely aware of the hard won gains that have propelled them from the bedroom to the boardroom, but they exist with the knowledge that for every advance made, there are those who would like to turn back the clock. Although afforded the legal expectation of equal treatment and pay in comparison to men, sexism remains a constant fact that is complicated by the media's dominant portrayal of women in general.

The power of the media further erodes the gains made because the entertainment industry seems predicated upon the idea of pushing the envelope when it comes to sexuality and nudity, particularly with regard to women who are often scantily clad next to appropriately clothed men. This is the mildest and subtlest form of sexual objectification, but because of the pervasiveness it barely registers as unacceptable despite its' obvious intent.

Western media routinely utilizes sexualized images of women to promote their products, though this is seen as less egregious or damaging than the objectification that exists in societies in which girls and women (and in some instances boys such as the Bacha Bazi), are treated as chattel and are routinely sold, bartered, or killed depending upon their perceived sexual value.

It is under this rubric that the idea of a contest to auction off the virginity of young women not only found serious consideration, but also purchase. Thomas Williams Productions, an Australian film company scripted a documentary titled, ‘Virgins Wanted.’ The director, Justin Sisely, sent out a casting call and finally settled on Catarina Migliorini, a 20-year old Brazilian college student to be the subject of the movie.

The premise of the documentary was fairly straight-forward, anonymous men would bid for the right to be the first person to ‘deflower’ Migliorini. According to the New York Daily News, Migliorini agreed to participate in this project to raise money to build homes for poverty-stricken families in her hometown.

When all was said and done, her virginity was valued at $790,000. According to the same article, a Japanese man named Natsu outbid on eBay, other contenders, including American bidders Jack Miller and Jack Right as well as a high-roller from India, Rudra Chatterjee for the right to have sex with Migliorini. Natsu was tested for any sexually transmitted diseases and required to use a condom. Migliorini was given $20,000 and 90% of the final auction price.

That her virginity would fetch such a noteworthy price is a stark reminder of how much work remains to secure women's rights, even in progressive societies. It is also an indictment of our values which implicitly accepts that if one pays enough money, and if it is for a good cause, then it isn't prostitution.

However, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a rose by any other name is still a rose, and prostitution is still the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Faces of Brazil | Gabriel Wickbold


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:50 PM EDT, 27 December 2009

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Gabriel Wickbold is a young Brazilian Photographer whose images are intriguing and captivating. This post features his 'Faces of Brasileiros' series.


Gabriel Wickbold | Brazilian Photographer


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefUpdated: 12:36 PM EDT, 22 November 2012

Gabriel Wickbold PhotosSAO PAULO, Brazil - By now readers are familiar with tone and focus of this blog, and how art, music and photography are used to augment the posts.

As a writer and painter, it is my belief that we are charged not only with translating the ethereal, insubstantial, and unconscious into a form that individuals who are not similarly wired can receive; but we must also help them to re-engage with that energy source from which all creativity flows.

The ability to render through imagery and language, products that evoke visceral reactions that inspire viewers to engage, if only momentarily, with the unconscious world from which all reality flows, is the primary responsibility of our griots and shaman. An an example of this, is Surrealism, which holds an attraction for most individuals, even those who are not art connoisseurs.

Gabriel Wickbold is a young Brazilian Photographer whose images are intriguing and captivating. There are many links to photographers and other artists on this blog, and when possible their works are featured with a direct link to their websites.

It is the responsibility of all artists and writers to promote the work of other talented individuals. Please feel free to submit up and coming artists and their work. Of particular interests are the works of Africans on the Continent and in the Diaspora, South Americans, Europeans and other cultures. If the proposed artist's work is deemed appropriate, it will be featured on this blog.

If you are an artist or photographer who would like to submit your work, please provide at least three photos and a link to your website for consideration.


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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

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