Shelby: Brazil has burst into the international spotlight thanks to fast economic growth and some major sporting events. So, Maggie Rulli traveled there to get a closer look at this South American powerhouse making headlines.
Maggie: Brazil hosted more than 3 million Catholics from all over the world for World Youth Day this summer. Pope Francis made his first visit to South America for the annual gathering of young Catholics which took place this year on Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Copacabana Beach.
We are here at Copacabana Fort and, as you can see, there are literally thousands of media outlets from all over the world here in anticipation of the pope’s arrival. The pope’s visit is just the first of many events that will put Brazil on the global stage. The 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics – the two biggest and most talked about sporting events in the world – will both be held in Brazil. The two events have never taken place in the same country back-to-back. It is a big deal!
Rio de Janeiro is expected to get the bulk of the tourists for both events. Rio’s mayor says it is the country’s moment to shine.
Mayor Eduardo Paes: It’s a time for us to show what we’re doing and how we’ve improved. I mean, Brazil has still got a long way to go – long, long way to go – but things are much better than they were in the past.
Maggie: Brazil is not a surprising choice for these events. It is the largest country in South America, has the continent’s biggest population, and is the seventh largest economy in the world. It is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture and fun-loving people. And in the last decade, Brazil’s economy has gained game-changing momentum, which experts have noted, making it a part of a special group of newly advanced, economically developing countries that include Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Shopping malls like this one could be anywhere in America, but now they are popping up all over Brazil.
The number of malls in Rio de Janeiro can barely keep up with the increasing number of Brazilians who can now shop for things they couldn’t afford in the past. This middle class has grown by more than 40%, and now it is bigger than that of any other Latin American country. But Brazil’s middle class looks different these days. It is made up of mostly young people who often have a public education and usually live in cities.
Eighteen-year-old Valderson de Souza is part of this group. He lives in Rocinha, the largest favela, or slum, in South America. Favelas are usually built into hills, so the higher up you live, the poorer you are. Valderson took us up many makeshift stairwells to show us his family home, a single room that he shared with his mom, dad and brother. Valderson was only 13 when he took his first job to help his family make ends meet. Today, he is about to finish high school, is thinking about college, and some of his life probably seems similar to yours.
Valderson de Souza: Hamburgers, french fries, I prefer things like that.
Maggie: Valderson may have grown up very poor, but the last five years have been good for him and his family. Even though life is better, he says his government still needs to do more for people like him.
Valderson: They don’t put enough value to schools and hospitals and things like that. They don’t value us.
Maggie: Valderson isn’t the only Brazilian who wants to see some things about his country improve. Professor Jose Domingues says Valderson is one of a growing generation of Brazilians who feel unsettled about society.
Professor Jose Domingues: As the country has grown economically, people have achieved a lot of the things they wanted in terms of material wellbeing, in terms of social mobility. They demand more now.
Maggie: And it is how this generation is voicing those demands that is now making headlines. They are taking their complaints straight to the street. Tomorrow, we will tell you what they want.
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Shelby: Maggie will have more for us from Brazil tomorrow, but until then, you can check out our Passport Brazil page over at Channelone.com. And be sure to catch Maggie’s attempt at walking a tightrope. Attempt is the key word!