Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Windsurfing from Fernando de Noronha to Natal

Two Brazilian windsurfers, Diogo Guerreiro and Flavio Jardim, windsurfed all the way from the island of Fernando de Noronha to Natal, a distance of 370 km (about 230 miles). The journey started on September 26th and finished on the 27th; the surfers were not accompanied by any boat.
Diogo and Flavio applied for an entry to the Guiness Book.

The event had the support of the Tourism Secretary of Natal, and showed that Natal is one of the best places in the world for practices of windsurf and its more radical version, kitesurf.

Actually, at present, the beach in the State of Rio Grande do Norte where these sports are more popular is São Miguel do Gostoso, about 120 km North of Natal.
In the neighbour State of Ceará, a beach called Cumbuco has been known for a few years already as being one of the main places in the world for practice of kitesurf.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Population revolted against new condo in Ponta Negra

There is a project under progress to build three vertical condos very near the Morro do Careca, in Ponta Negra beach, main landmark of Natal. The project was approved by the Secretaries of Urbanization and of Environment.

Tribuna do Norte reports today that the population of Ponta Negra is fiercily against the construction of the buildings. A group led by journalist Yuno Silva is making a call for lawyers, engineers, architects and authorities to better discuss the problem.
The dwellers of Ponta Negra say that the three buildings will cover the view of Morro do Careca, one of the most beautiful and famous views in Natal. Besides, the aglomeration of another 200 families in a small space will create further problems to the area, such as increase in transit of vehicles and difficulties with sewage infrastructure. Many people recall also that, very recently, the Secretary of Environment obtained a judicial order to stop the building of a hotel in Via Costeira (read here), and wouldn't have taken the necessary precautions to issue a license now.

The full article by Tribuna do Norte is here.
It is interesting to read the comments posted by readers. There is a nearly unanymous feeling that the city government should be more concerned with the excessive growth of Ponta Negra; that beach was the favorite of natalenses just a few years ago, and today every square meter of it is being taken by foreigners.

Update: today, 29th, the Mayor of Natal said that the licenses would be revised. Mr. Carlos Eduardo Alves said that, even though the Secretary of Environment had issued the licenses, he would ask the Juridical Advising sector of the government to have a second, more thorough, looking at the whole process.
By the tone of his speech, it looks like the Mayor want the licenses to be revoked. This is clearly a response to the action of the population. The voice of the people was heard.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spanish newspaper writes about sex tourism in Natal

Important Spanish newspaper Elmundo published on September 17th 2006 an article describing the troubles that some Spanish tourists faced in Natal when they engaged in paid sexual encounters.
The article was mentioned by newspapers in Natal and had repercussion among authorities and population in the city; the full original text in Spanish is here.

The article tells how three Spanish citizens arranged to have a sexual encounter with five prostitutes they picket in Ponta Negra beach; it turned out that three of the prostitutes were shemales, and some of them were underage. The clientes were blackmailed (they suspect that the taxi drivers and hotel owners may have been part of the scheme) and had to pay a hefty amount to avoid facing the Police. Elmundo goes on to say that Natal is the most selected euro-bordel in Brazil.

The report sounds a bit biased. Below, some facts of interest.
  • The legislation: prostitution is not illegal in Brazil; it is not fully regulated, as it is in Holland or Germany, but it is not illegal. Prostitutes are not criminals, so they don't have to hide from the police, nor do they need pimps (pimping is a crime; running a place for prostitution purposes is a crime; incitement to prostitution is a crime; profiting from prostitution is a crime).
  • Because there is much poverty in Natal, and because many people are willing to pay for sex, many women resort to prostitution. Tourism grew quickly in Natal, and attracted many sex workers, including many from other States. Public prostitution in Natal concentrates in a short stretch of Ponta Negra beach, which gives high visibility to the prostitutes.
  • Despite prostitution not being a crime, there is in Brazil an specific Statute for Children and Adolescents; according to this Statute, acts like offering alcohol to minors, bringing them to places not appropriate for minors (sex hotels), enticing them into some activities, etc are considered crimes, and are very severely watched and punished (the age of consenting sex in Brazil is 14 y.o.; having an affair with people under 18 y.o. is not, per se, a crime; crime is configured only when there is some enticement to prostitution)
  • The city of Natal does not endorse sexual tourism. Natal was the first city in Brazil to formally create a committee to combat this kind of visitors. The reach of this committee, though, is limited, because prostitution is not illegal. A few months ago, city and State conducted raids aiming to specifically shut down places favoring prostitution.

    Many foreign visitors come to Natal and, besides enjoying the city, have sexual encounters with professionals. Just like it happens, with much higher frequency, in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Hamburg, to name a few European sex hubs.
    The absolute majority of these encounters are just an agreement between two consenting adults acting within the boundaries of law.

    A few foreigns, probably relying on the proverbial leniency of Brazilian laws, Police and Justice, take the risk to get involved in acts which are clearly known to be illegal. That's the case, for instance, of people looking for sex with minors, or people looking to buy illegal drugs.
    In these cases, there is a much higher probability of having to deal with dishonest people. Cases of blackmailing or robbering are much more common. The bandits and victims know that everyone are acting in an out of the law manner, and are less prone to look for Police help.

    It looks like this was the case with the three Spanish tourists interviewed by Elmundo. The Spaniards knew what they were doing. Spotting an underage is not difficult, and spotting an transsexual is even less. In case of doubts about age, everyone is alerted to ask for IDs, that every Brazilian must carry.
    Instead of asking for Police help, the Spanish resorted to Elmundo. And it looks like Elmundo wrote their article without checking all facts thoroughly.

  • Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Secretary of Tourism to help the Natal Convention Center

    The Secretary of Tourism of Rio Grande do Norte announced a financial assistance of R$ 60 thousand (about US$ 30,000) to the Natal Convention Center. The intention is to help the NCC attract new events, by visiting potential candidates and by bringing them to visit Natal.
    The Secretary of Tourism has also helped the NCC (a private institution) in other ways. For example, the Secretary paid for a promotional folder, is preparing a show case, has been paying managers to visit other similar Centers and helped attract events.

    For more information, visit the website: Natal Convention Center