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Deals on Wheels | The Railway Pipeline

estacao-luz-antiga

Source: Portal ClippingMP.
Authorship: Guilherme Soares Dias | Valor Economico

I have recently received an incentive to closely and constantly keep an on the Brazilian transportation sector as a whole — not just what the ALLs and LLXs are up to.

Intercity passenger trains are being readied to circulate again in at least nine Brazilian states with plans under active study. In most of these cases, the intention is to reuse existing freight lines for medium-velocity passenger service. The plans provide for management by private sector concessionaires and ticket prices competitive with intercity buses, in a attempt to take some of the strain off crowded highways.

Brazilian roadways — constantly subject to apocalyptic weather conditions, let it be said — are a nerve-wracking way to get around, although mirabile dictu the rodoviários — bus stations — hum industriously all year long, and especially around Christman, when Northeastern families make the trek to be temporarily reunited.

In all, 1,900 km of so-called “regional trains” will get off the drawing board sometime this year. The federal ministry of transport has detailed plans for six stretches of railway, while SUDECO — the Superintendency of  Center-West Development examines two rail lines in the Brasília region. The state of Minas Gerais is studying three new lines and São Paulo is planning another five.

After a study by BNDES, the national development bank, issued a list of  64 railway lines that could be used to move passengers, the transport ministry chose 14  priority project for evaluation in 2011. Two years later, six of these are underway under the auspices of BNDES and one another, under construction by the state of Minas Gerais, should be ready by the the end 2Q13.

After the studies are conducted, the proposals will be opened up to public discusion, after which the transport ministry intends to assess tender offers for projects starting in 2014. Bids closest to completion so far include the Londrina-Maringá connection, in  Paraná, and the Bento Gonçalves-Caxias do Sul connection, in Rio Grande do Sul, where feasibility studies have been conducted and public audiences will begin next month in which residents and local governments will have their say.

According to Euler Costa Sampaio, coordinator of studies on regional and passenger rail in the transportation ministry, the rail lines will likely operate on the basis of a Public-Private Partnership or a concession model. “We want to take advantage of the new rules for the railway sector, which instituted right of way [for passenger trains] on freight train lines,” he said..

Along certain stretches, such as the connection  Londrina-Maringá, the plan is to create a double-track road, given the heavy cargo loads resulting from the line’s proximity to the Porto of Paranaguá. Studies will show that demand will be sufficient for an all-passenger service, says Sampaio. Estimated demands runs around 36,000 passengers a day and 13 million passengers a year.

Another challenge for the regional lines will be entering urban zones, in places where they might cross paths with municipal transport. “We will have to provide quality and accessibility in order to compete with the interstate bus lines. Fairs will have to be in line with what it costs to travel by bus”, a Transportes official said.

In some cases, such as the Salvador-Alagoinhas connection in Bahia, whose study will be filed in June, indications are that the rail line can be extended another 40 km to Feira de Santana. With its  568,000 inhabitants, the city is the second most populous of Bahia state and is connected to Salvador by Highway BR-324, which sufferes from intense passenger and cargo traffic.

Another stretch of track featured in the  Sampaio reporte is the São Luís-Itapecuru-Mirim triangle, in the northern state of Maranhão, where the largest petrochemical center in the Northeast is under construction.

In addition to the six rail linkages already under study, the transport ministry expects to contract studies for another six: São Cristóvão—Laranjeiras (SE), Recife—Caruaru (PE), Campos—Macaé (RJ), Itajaí— Rio do Sul (SC), Campinas—Araraquara (SP), Santa Cruz—Mangaratiba (RJ), and Bocaiúva—Janaúva (MG).

Os projetos preveem que os trens atinjam de 80 a 140 quilômetros por hora para encurtar, em alguns casos, o tempo de percurso atual. É o caso do trecho entre Brasília e Goiânia que teria viagens de 50 minutos, enquanto as de carro e ônibus duram de duas a três horas. O trecho é estudado pela Sudeco. A linha seria de uso misto, sendo aproveitada para transporte de cargas, com ligação da Ferrovia Norte-Sul em Anápolis (GO), onde está prevista uma parada.

O diretor-superintendente da Sudeco, Marcelo Dourado, ressalta que 6 milhões de pessoas moram no entorno da futura linha e devem ser beneficiadas pelo novo modal de transporte. Ele destaca ainda que haverá melhora no escoamento de produção do agronegócio. A região concentra o segundo Produto Interno Bruto (PIB) meso-regional só perdendo para Rio-São Paulo.

“Essa ligação mais rápida vai incentivar a industrialização e a conurbação da região”, acredita Dourado. Os estudos estão sendo concluídos e a intenção do órgão é que a licitação ocorra até o fim do ano, as obras comecem em 2014 e sejam concluídas em até sete anos. O custo estimado é de R$ 1 bilhão. A Sudeco estuda ainda a ligação entre Brasília-Luiziânia (GO), onde já existe linha férrea e seria necessária adaptação para o trem de passageiros. “Essa seria uma intervenção mais rápida e barata. Seriam necessários dez meses e R$ 90 milhões de desembolsos para viabilizar a linha”, afirma Dourado. O trecho seria atendido por um Veículo Leve sobre Trilho (VLT). De acordo com o superintendente da Sudeco, os dois projetos têm chegada prevista na rodoferroviária da capital federal e devem desafogar as rodovias do Distrito Federal.

O governo federal prevê ainda estudos de um trem ligando as cidades do Triângulo Mineiro e outro mais ousado, da Superintendência do Desenvolvimento do Nordeste (Sudene), que planeja o “Trem da Costa Dourada”, linha de 2 mil quilômetros ligando Salvador ao Delta do Parnaíba (PI) pelo litoral, passando pela maioria das capitais do Nordeste. Apesar do apelo turístico do projeto até mesmo os estudos encontram dificuldade para sair do papel. “O Ministério do Turismo tinha se comprometido a bancar, mas ainda não conseguimos a liberação da verba. Agora estamos negociando com o governo espanhol para financiar os estudos”, diz o superintendente da Sudene, Luiz Gonzaga Paes Landim. Ele garante que o trem é viável e afirma que o projeto poderia ser “fatiado”, com início nos trechos de maior apelo turístico como Salvador -Praia do Forte (BA), Recife-Porto de Galinhas (PE), Natal-Praia da Pipa (RN) e Fortaleza-Canoa Quebrada (CE).

Para o coordenador de transporte de passageiros do Laboratório de Transportes e Logística (LabTrans/UFSC), Rodolfo Philippi, os projetos atuais estudados pelo Ministério dos Transportes terão viabilidade reforçada pelo transporte urbano, uma vez que o aproveitamento de linhas já existentes vai possibilitar estações no centro das cidades. “Em locais maiores como Londrina, Maringá e Caxias do Sul poderá haver mais de uma estação incentivando o locomoção das pessoas dentro das cidades”, diz.

Já o presidente da Associação Brasileira da Indústria Ferroviária (Abifer), Vicente Abate, recorda que nas décadas de 60 e 70 os trens de passageiros chegaram a transportar 100 milhões de passageiros por ano. “Com o desinvestimento do governo na rede, os trens de passageiros foram perdendo competitividade e começaram a ser desativados e foram substituídos pelo transporte de rodovias. Agora devemos ter novo momento de retomada do setor”, considera.

Hoje, apenas duas linhas férreas recebem transporte de passageiros no país: a Estrada de Ferro Carajás, entre São Luís-Carajás (PA), e a Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas entre Vitória e Belo Horizonte. Ambas são mantidas em projetos sociais da Vale e movimentam juntas 1,5 milhão de passageiros por ano.

Good fodder for a private Wiki on the subject.

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«Nada de Boa» | Death Squad Raided in João Pessoa

G1 reports

A police operation today arrested 42 suspected members of a criminal organization thought to be responsible for 60% of the homicides this year in the João Pessoa metropolitan area, in Paraiba. At first, police reported the arrest of 44 persons, but the number was corrected after an 11 a.m; press conference.

Among those detained in the joint action by the state military and judicial police and the federal highway patrol was a state military police sergeant and candidate for the city council of Bayeux.

Police official Cristiano Jacques said that Arnóbio Gomes Fernandes, a candidate for the PSL — Social Liberal — provided protection to a criminal enterprise that markets drugs, promotes prison riots, commits execution-style murders and burns municipal buses.

Of the 42 warrants executed, 17 named persons currently in jail, who command the criminal scheme from their cells. Jacques said these prisoners would be transferred to federal prisons.

The investigations discovered that violent executions are the group’s calling card. Police say that rival drug traffickers who invade the group’s territory are executed.  Some of these execution were witnessed by gang members using their cell phones.

Nextel handsets with accounts registered in Florida are said to be a common tool of the well-equipped militia and/or criminal organization — the trend is deftly dramatized in the sequel to the film Elite Squad (2007) …

The suspects arrested this morning were taken to police headquarters in João Pessoa.  … Police official Anne Karoline said investigations … are ongoing in  João Pessoa, Bayeux e Santa Rita.

Dubbed Operation Skeleton, the action will serve 50 temporary arrest warrants issued by the municipal court of Santa Rita.

Karoline says the investigations began five months ago and were initially conducted by the special operations group of the state judicial police.  “At first we thought we were looking at unrelated crimes, but we discovered that they were related and that they were carried out by a criminal conspiracy,”she said. Some 340 police agents took part in the action..

… Police said the group was structured like a successful business enterprise, with command and control and a well defined division of labor. There were leaders, distributors, soldiers and retail vendors …

João Pessoa suffers a Medellín-like homicide rate of 59.4 murders annually per 100,000 population. It ranks 29th on the scale of the 50 most violent cities in the world and third in the ranking of Brazilian state capitals.  Source: ExpressoPB.

Cebela’s violence map has detailed statistics on the murder rates among youth and women. If the city, with a population of 700,000 in 2010, reports 581 murders that year, then this new item suggests that this criminal organization was responsible for something like 350 murders.

Can that be correct?

Salve Salvador, Or, The Empire Strikes Again?

Striking Bahian cops brandish service weapons on picket lines
Soteropolitan cops brandish service weapons on picket line, 5 February

Item: Emergency Messages | United States Diplomatic Mission to Brazil.

A matter of minor interest in this, the sole leading story out of Brazil in recent days in international press coverage, might be whether U.S. diplomacy was not somewhat alarmist when it issued an emergency notice, as it explains

… to update U.S. citizens about security concerns in Salvador, Bahia and surrounding areas stemming from a state-wide work stoppage by the Military Police in the State of Bahia.

The photo shown above, in which striking police in mufti brandish their service weapons outside the legislative assembly, captures certain chronic, quase-universal and for that reason quase-mythical, concerns about police violence and corruption, but in fact has been a gesture observed during a number of labor actions by police all over Brazil.

What strikes me most is the proportion of attention paid by U.S. diplomats to this, almost purely symbolic, demonstration and a clash between state civilian and military police last year in São Paulo, in which cops actually wound up shooting cops on a much larger scale. Did the Consul issue an emergency for that clash of the titans as well?

In any event, there is a wealth of photography on the current episode from the front lines today, including a couple of human-damage shots showing isolated cases of rubber bulleted strikers, but what is also shown that the vanguard of strikers seems to be a very small group of provocateurs.

I would say that it therefore be recalled that the current work stoppage was carried out by a minority of PMs in the state, apparently spearheaded by police unions in the state capital but not by others. Police unions are a fragmented bunch often (dis)organized around blogging officers and enlisted men, as above — some of them organized under aegis of Anonymous, even.

The salary demands of striking personnel have been resisted by the state government based on the fact that their current salaries are currently twice those of their comrades in other states. Even the Jornal Nacional showed an infographic placing these demands in their national context, to the detriment of this plea for public sympathy.

The state government is prone to dismissing the movement as the politically opportunist media-fuelded opposite of a Potemkin village, designed to undermine the ruling Workers Party ahead of state and municipal elections later this year.

Furthermore, the fear of violence breaking out between federal forces — both military and civilian — and strikers is belied this morning with a photo widely circulated, showing the commander of Army forces embracing a strike leader on their — shared in common, I think — birthdays.

According to the Foggy Bottom Boys & Girls,

The siege of the legislative building creates a risk of violence.  U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid the area around the legislative assembly building, which is located in the “Paralela” area between the airport and downtown Salvador.

Tourist zones such as the Pelourinho and the Mercado Modelo are apparently well-patrolled, reflecting the priority the local economy affords to tourism in this — I speak as a gringo tourist myself, welcomed lovingly even in popular neighborhoods by the likes of carnaval society Ilé Aiyê — most fascinating of historic colonial cities.

A more up to date photo series from Globo shows the marvelous Barra beach and Farol neighborhoods calm and thronged with bathers.

The general account by diplomatic correspondents otherwise seems fair enough, more or less simple taken directly from local media accounts, even if they do not cite their sources.

Brazilian national security forces were deployed into Salvador on the morning of Friday, February 3.  Nevertheless, the homicide rate in Salvador reportedly has risen significantly during the past week.  In addition, there have been reports of significant increases in the rates of property crimes, including lootings and car thefts.  All private schools in Salvador were closed on Monday, February 6.  Public schools remained open, but report very low attendance.As of Monday morning, February 6, Brazilian national security forces had surrounded the state legislative building in Salvador with orders to arrest leaders of the striking Military Police.

In all, the following mission statement by the Embassy seems a little overconfident as the up-to-date coverage:

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Brazil are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.

The political undercurrents of this action and the role of civil society groups might, it occurs to me, make a good subject for a Gephi diagram of their social networks, using the now new and improved Gephi or the good old CmapTools.

Below, the web of relationships in Les Miserables, as a demo of former.

Summit of the Syndicates | Labor-Management in Talks On Labor Peace

[youtube http://youtu.be/mlsVqLcvQ6c]

When you live in a Third World country like the U.S.A., you often find that trade unionists have been hunted to extinction, as still occurs in Colombia. The result is that there is no one left to sit around a table, smoke cigarettes, and hash out what all sides can agree on. The result is a new 19th century.

Idaho militias, Oklahoma Cities and Haymarket Massacres.

For that reason it is fascinating to read the headline on page 4 of Valor today that “Fiesp and labor councils to negotiate pro-industrial pact.”

It was not that long ago that the Força Sindicial led the state judicial police on a strike that was put down by rubber bullets to the head at point blank range by the policia militar — above.  No one has ever taught the PM that rubber bullets are supposed to be bounced into peoples’ shins. Every thing you see them out there blasting away, they are aiming for the brain.

The cops don’t need you
and man they expect the same …

With an economy tilted 60-40 toward agribusiness and a historical schism between CUT and Força Sindical on the trade unionist side, there is apprehension that Brazil might not yet escape its traditional role as a commodity exporter and finished goods importer. Ethanol, as a finished good manufactured right in the canavial, has provided an attractive solution, but not all militants for land reform are wild about it.

The Brazilian plan to role out their own first microchip soon, for example — it will be used as a tracker ear-tag for Nelore cattle. And it makes very nice executive and mid-range passenger jets, by Embraer.

Mainly, however, in a year of tight budget restraints, federal resources are tending to go toward alleviating some of the more anachronistic troubles of the campo, agreste and sertão — from claim-jumping and land expropriation by the latifúndio to “working conditions analogous to slavery” and generalized death squad activity.

The Brazilian Northeast has been privileged to receive the lion’s share of social spending under Lula I and Lula II.

According to Valor, Paulo Skaf of Fiesp — a socialist candidate for governor of S. Paulo who recently signed on with the centro-centrist PMDB — will sit down with Arthur Henrique of CUT in talks moderated by Paulinho da Força of the Força Sindical to put together a set of joint recommendations to slow “deindustrialization.”

The project will be known as “the Management-Labor Accord for the Future of Production and Employment.”

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Prison for Punning | Blogger Jailed for Satire

The Coluna de Herzog is the aesthetically clueless, rhetorically pyrotechnic political ravings of Carlos Santos of Mossoró

One of the most interesting books I have read lately was a dry, scholarly study of the “festive” press of São Paulo around the turn of the XIXth century.

Between shilling for railroad shares, slandering poltical opponents for hire, and committing some very witty atrocities against proper Portuguese, the papers of the time could be well be the papers of today — as could be the “honor laws,” a local version of our SLAPP suit allowing a private citizen to redeem his honor by bringing criminal libel charges against his adversary.

Comunique-se | O portal da comunicação, reports.

Journalist Carlos Santos, from Mossoró, in Rio Grande del Norte, was sentenced to four months in jail for text published on his blog and considered offensive by the mayor, Fátima Rosado of the DEM-PFL.

Curious, given that the DEM-PFL purports to represent some sort ofanarcolibertarian ultraright and has made press freedom one of the issues it yells loudest about.

The sentence was, hoevver, reduced to R$7,020 in donations to charity.

Pay it to the BCLU. Not that there seems to be one.

Carlos Santos is the defendant in  27 cases brought by the mayor, seven of which have already been tried. Santos was convicted in three, found innocent in another three, and the seventh was dismissed.  In all the articles in question, the journalist questioned the mayor’s managerial and administrative competence and criticized relatives of hers. In his defense, he says that Fátima is only a placeholder for the person who really runs the city, here brother and chief of staff, Gustavo Rosado of the Green Party.

Amazing, how the Green Party became a party of the Right in so many countries in the last decade. There is a certain affinity between its call for strong measures and the authoritarian bias of the parties that embrace its ideology, I would guess.

In the last elections, the Greens mounted a semi-successful bid to paly the divide et imperans gambit during the first round of the elections.. Its vice-presidential candidate was the CEO of Natura, a Brazilian version of the Body Shop.

“If we lived in a civilized nation; this sleazeball would rot in jail, if we were fundamentalists, he would have his hands amputated. In a fascist regime, he would be made an example of in front of a firing squad,” said one article, published in 2009.

The journalist was convicted over several articles, the first titled “zonked out on Valium and living in virtual reclusion”, the second “Our ‘real mayor” pays the price for her lack of education,” “and “the holy pontiff of the  Songamongaist Sect of the Sky Blue Realm reforms church ritual”. Aantos was sentenced to about six weeks in jail for each before the sentence was reduced to R$ 2.040,00 in donations for each, according to Congresso em Foco.

The The Hill of Brazil editorialized against the political persecution of the blogger.

About ten days ago, Carlos Santos appealed the sentence and applied to the Supreme Court for an urgent ruling..

Judge Welma Maria Ferreira de Menezes of the  Mossoró Criminal Tribunal, the texts published offended the honor of the mayor. Among other things, the blogger criticized the fact that the town had been governed for 63 years by the same family, the Rosados.

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The Brazilian Brahma | A Beat Built

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Dawn breaks over a bucolic landscape. The Web site is folksy, almost amateurish, and poses as a news service broken down by different sorts of rural production.

All references to CNA.org.br, the Web site of Brazil’s most important agrobusiness lobby in Brazil, are redirected to the news service, called O Canal do Produtor.

Under all the folksiness, however, purrs the Rolls Royce jet engine of the best propaganda machine money can buy.  It is a fascinating apparent contradiction — until you notice, for example, that two-thirds of subsidies for heavy-duty wheeled vehicles this year have been set aside for tractors and other agricultural machinery.

Brazil is still an economy in which the freeholdings of the father — sometimes of dubious title — pay the Harvard B-School tuition of the son. For everyone in the middle, social mobility means simply crossing the road to get to the other side, which is the same as this one.

It is no accident that many of the deals attracting the attention of outsider investors are Big Beef or Big Sugar deals, much as the RR today dishes on a meeting between the Marfrig slaughterhouse company and the federal development bank.

When JBS Friboi bought Swift & Co., I think everyone woke up to the fact that tomorrow’s hamburgers are more likely to com from bos taurus indicus — the Nelore variety preferred here and in Argentina — than from the old reliable bos taurus taurus.

The central element in the graph of networked institutions has as its central element the BM&F — the Sambodian NYBOT, recently merged with the Bovespa stock exchange with the participation of those fascinating folk at the Chicago Merantile Exchange.

Almost as central, statistically, is ABAG, the Brazilian Agribusiness Association, and the principal Web site for dairy farmers, Terraviva — “the enlightened latifúndio of today is the responsible steward of tomorrow.”

Knowtec is a premier business intelligence consultancy whose principal client is SEBRAE, the federal assistance program for small and microbusinesses — including family farmers settled through the process of agrarian reform, a matter that arouses some ugly political passions here.

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The Return of the Great Turnoff

A huge rolling blackout hit the Northwest last week, prompting memories of the great Northeastern — U.S. — blackout of 2003, when I managed to use Neuza’s Lenny Kravitz love-oil lamp to incinerate the feather pillows.

ZH Dinheiro reports from the land of the cuia and bombachas.

The lamp was a brinde — gift to journalists — as the Nooz had recently gotten backstage passes to a show. The permissible value of brindes among we palefaces, as I like to remind friends, is $0. At one of Neuza’s former employers, it was recently lowered with great fanfare to R$100. BFD.

The quality of electric energy services to consumers has deteriorated in the last three years.

Or, since Dilma Rousseff left Mines and Energy to become chief of staff. The really bad blackouts of 2000-1 — laid to the account of Cardoso and his privatizations — explain a great deal about the success of the major adversary of his chosen successor.

The number of blackouts worsened once again after the deprivatization of the sector again in 2008, not meeting ANEEL’s goal for 2009.

Last year, the situation worsened further. In three years, the index of outages in Braxzil rose from 16 hours to nearly 20 [–per what amount of time? –Ed.]. In the Northeast, the indicator rose from 18 to 27 hours.

A pior situação foi verificada em Sergipe, onde o volume de apagões dobrou, de 22 para 44 horas. A Bahia também teve uma piora significativa: subiu de 14 para 20 horas.

Alguns Estados apresentaram melhora, como o caso do Maranhão e Piauí. Mas lá os indicadores ainda continuam altos, entre 22 e 44 horas.

Na opinião de especialistas do setor, a explicação está na falta de investimento adequado nas redes existentes de distribuição e transmissão.

.I recall the Enron-related blackouts of 2000 myself — heard from Gray Davis lately — while apparently Arizona residents are mad at the electric company, too.

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. will experience a spike in outages due to heavy weather this year as well.

I would really like the answer to my editorial query before closing. How many hours is power down during what index period? Is it months? “power outages” +statistics ought to do it in Google, but it is such a hot button issue that no page conveniently called “All You Have Ever Wanted To Know About the Electrical Grid” pops up.

Something called the National Enyclopedia shows Brazil as a light yellow zone in a hastily cooked-up Google Map.

Will the Energy Information Administration help me? It has a reporting form, but of course power companies do not like to report.

All I get is a spreadsheet telling me when the incident began and when it ended. The modest formula that would calculate duration the could not even prrogram in? It leads with a Louisiana blackout that lasted three days.

I would like to know where Zero Hora — cribbed from the AE wire — got its numbers and if it would send me a spreadsheeet that I could compare against other hard numbers. “Is worsening” is a subjective description whereas as “is missing generation quotas by an average of X per month” actually tells you something.