Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Elections in Brazil

On Sunday, October 1st 2006, there will be general elections in Brazil. Voters are called to vote for President of the Republic, Senators, Federal Deputies, Governor of State and State Deputies (elections for Mayor and City Councils happened in 2004, and will happen again in 2008).
In case none of the candidates of President or Governor receives the absolute majority of votes (half of total votes plus one), there will be a second round on October 15th.
The event will cause some changes very noticeable in the routine of Natal.

All Brazilian channels which broadcast open signals (i.e., which are not exclusive to cable TVs) are obliged to display political propaganda. This started around mid-August and will last until the Friday before the elections; if there is a need for a second round, so there will be a second round of propaganda. Candidates will appear at prime time, from 1 pm to 1:45 pm and from 8:30 pm to 9:15 pm.
The total time will be shared among all candidates, in proportion to the representativity of their parties. Candidates do not pay for the television time (TVs can deduct the costs from their income taxes). This is intended to be a means to give equal chances to all candidates.
It is common talk in Natal and Brazil to downplay this political propaganda (much because it appears at all channels, and postpones the display of the "novelas" - soapboxes -, most important program of Brazilian families). However, it is an excellent chance to get to know the people who will command the State and the country.

Besides using the TV presence, candidates try to employ other means to gain visibility.
Candidates seem to have reasons to believe that the following actions improve their chances of being elected: distributing small folders with photos to drivers stopped in traffic lights; paying people to hold banners with photos along busy streets; promoting "carreatas" (convoys of cars) which drive along the main streets, slowing transit down; hiring sound cars with loudy speakers to shout their names around.

All these actions seem to somehow disturb people. None of these acts try to widespread the ideas or principles of candidates.

However, candidates seem to believe (and they probably have reasons to do it) that they increase their chances of being elected by acting so.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Marina of Natal to be completed in 2008

The Mayor of Natal met yesterday with representatives of Spanish group BCM Ingenieros S.L.
BCM presented the project of the Marina of Natal, which will be analysed by the Secretaries of Infrastructure and Tourism of Natal.
If the project is approved, the marina should be ready to open in July of 2008. This marina will take an area of 50 hectares, being 25 hectares of wet space and 25 hectares of dry space. The marina will have a capacity of 500 boats; in the dry area, there will be apartments for the staff, a park, a museum and a nautical school.

According to the Mayor, the marina should increase the number of visitors to Natal; currently, the nearest marina is located in located in Salvador, Bahia.
The marina of Natal will be built around the Iate Clube de Natal, about 500 meters into the Potengi river, about 500 meters distant from the Fort of Wise Kings.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Social debts with black communities

The State of Rio Grande do Norte is not amongst the Brazilian States with big presence of black culture. The black slaves were brought to Brazil mostly to work on the sugar canes farms and in the gold mines; Rio Grande do Norte was only partially taken by the sugar cane, and has no traces of gold (see History of Rio Grande do Norte).

However, a few black communities were formed in the States. Mostly, these communities were formed by slaves who escaped from farms, and created clandestine clusters called Quilombos; the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the State of Alagoas, was the biggest and most famous. Smaller quilombos were called quilombolas, and some of these still remain until today. Thanks to the isolation, the quilombolas preserved the culture of the ancient blacks, but their members didn't benefit of social progress.

The quilombolas in Rio Grande do Norte are now being officially recognized.
The Fundação Cultural Palmares, body of the Ministry of Culture, recognized the community Negros do Riacho (Blacks of the Creek), in the municipality of Currais Novos, as descendants of the quilombolas; as such, the community will be legally entitled to a number of social benefits, like: regularization of their land (this is a serious problem; in the South of the State, near Pipa, a quilombola community was destroyed by judicial order, because a Judge considered that living in the place for hundreds of years didn't give the community any rights; read more here), building of brick houses, construction of schools.

According to official studies, there are 72 quilombolas in the State of Rio Grande do Norte; only 33 of them requested to be officially recognized, and 5 of them were already recognized.