Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Neuroscience Symposium in Natal

Natal will host, from 23rd to 25th February, the II Neuroscience International Symposium.
The event will have 25 lecturers and 600 attendants. Some of the greatest researchers in the field will come to Natal, like Miguel Nicolelis (Brazilian, chief organizer of the event), Michael Merzenich (UCSF) and Mriganka Sur (MIT).

Miguel Nicolelis is a Brazilian physician, one of the directors of Center for Neuroengineering in the University of Duke, North Carolina. In 2004, Science and Scientific American appointed Nicolelis as one of the most influential researchers in the world.

Nicolelis is mentor and main director of the Instituto Internacional de Neurociencias de Natal. The Institute, with main office in Macaiba and campi in Macaiba and Natal, will combine research, learning and social services.
Despite being probably the most famous and capable Brazilian scientist alive, and despite being IINN a private foundation, Mr. Nicolelis is facing a tough battle to conclude the Institute, which will be a major Brazilian research center. The infrastructure (access roads, water and sewage, etc) depend much on the Governments, but these don't seem much willing to help.

Visit the website of the International Institute of Neuroscience in Natal.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Carnival in Natal - 2007

Natal is still known for not having a big carnival. Actually, it looks like the big carnivals in Brazil (Rio, Salvador and Recife) gain more and more popularity (with tourists and media) every year; there is a rumour that the cities will try to push a carnival tour, by which a tourist can spend two days in each city.

Back to Natal: there was again a police strike during carnival (last year, it was the civil police; this year, the military). Coincidence or not, the headline of Tribuna do Norte on February 21st was: "Carnaval 2007 is the most violent in recent years - 36 violent deaths from Friday to Tuesday"; notice that this number (36 deaths) is remarkable in Natal, still a safe city, and would be ordinary in other more violent cities.
Old traditions were kept in 2007, like the samba schools parade and the drag queens parade.
The city government, like in 2006, created carnaval poles around the city, like this one, to make it more accessible to the population.
Other cities in the interior of Rio Grande do Norte, like Touros, Macau, Areia Branca, maintained the tradition of happy carnavals.

The hotels in Natal were busy during the carnaval. Natal is still an excellent place for those who want to take some rest during the carnival.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Salaries of the Police

Newspapers report that the Association of Soldiers and Sargents of the Military Police are in talks with the State Government to talk about raises of salaries. According to the Association, the Government would not be honouring promises made last year, during the elections campaigns.

I think it may be interesting for foreigns to know how much Brazilian Police is paid.

There are three main Polices in Brazil: Federal, Military and Civil Police (some of the bigger cities have also a Municipal Police, but not Natal).
Federals take care of federal crimes and surveil borders, among other jobs. The Military are incumbent of keeping law and order; they wear uniforms and drive cars with police signs. The civil police are incumbent of investigating crimes (robberies, assaults, etc).

Federal Police has the highest salaries, something around R$ 8,000 (US$ 4,000).

Military and Civil Police are both paid by the States.
Right now, the Military are asking to have the same salary as the Civil. If this happens, the salary of a soldier policeman will raise from R$ 1111 to R$ 1594; the salary of a Colonel would raise from R$ 4935 yo R$ 7310.

That means that, if the Military manage to get the raise they are asking for, a Police soldier or agent in Rio Grande do Norte will be paid around US$ 800 a month.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Education in Rio Grande do Norte: some statistics

Since a few years ago, Brazil has been attempting to do what other countries have been doing for decades: measure how much students actually learn.
Most researches are conducted by the Brazilian Ministry of Education (, which has an assistant Institute to help analyse the numbers: INEP - National Institute of Educational Studies and Researches.

INEP released their most recent results.

Case 1: SAEB (National System of Basic Education): students are submitted to tests of Math and Portuguese (reading and comprehension).
Students of the 4th Year of Elementary Level of Rio Grande do Norte ranked the worst in Brazil (Brazil has 27 States and one Federal District).
Students of the 8th Year of Elementary Level of Rio Grande do Norte ranked 22nd in Portuguese and 19th in Math.
Students of the 3rd Year of Intermediary Level ranked 23rd in Portuguese and 21st in Math.

Case 2: ENEM (National Test of Intermediary Level). Students are submitted to tests in all subjects. Some Universities may accept the results of ENEM to determine who is going to enroll.
Rio Grande do Norte dropped from 12th position in 2005 to 13th position in 2006.

SAEB is compulsory; ENEM is voluntary. In both surveys, the State of Brazil with best results was Rio Grande do Sul (in the southern extreme of Brazil).

Update: To check the results of ENEM for all schools in Brazil, click here, then click on "Faça sua Consulta", then select "Rio Grande do Norte" or other UF, then the city (TODAS means ALL).
The schools in Natal with the best performances were: Centro de Educação Integrada, (final grade 63.66); Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica, (63.39); Salesiano São José, (60.44); Colégio Marista de Natal, (59.58); Colégio Nossa Senhora das Neves, (58.54); Escola Doméstica de Natal, (59.11).

The average result for the city of Natal was 41.902; for the State of Rio Grande do Norte, 39.855; and for Brazil, 42.558.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tourism in Rio Grande do Norte: some statistics

IBGE, the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics, published yesterday a report with some figures about internal tourism; this is the first time that IBGE made such study.
IBGE used data of the year of 2003; the full report, in Portuguese, is here.

In 2003, the tourism sector contribution to the total value added to the Economy was only 2.2% (R$ 31 billion, or about US$ 15 billion); notice that 'value added' is something equivalent to 'profits'.
IBGE concluded also that Brazilian families spent only 1.7% of their budgets (about 17 billion) with tourism.
This only shows how tourism is still incipient in Brazil.

Regarding the State of Rio Grande do Norte:
  • In the list of States where Brazilians spent most money with tourism, Rio Grande do Norte takes the 15th position (Brazil has 27 States and one Federal District).
    To mention only the States of Northeast, which compete among themselves for tourists, Bahia was first (Brazilian tourists spent R$ 3 bn there), followed by Pernambuco (R$ 1.6 bn), Ceara (R$ 1.1 bn) and Rio Grande do Norte (R$ 492 million).

  • In 2003, there were 18,700 people employed in the tourism sector in RN; the total mass of salaries was R$ 112 million. This means that the mean annual salary was R$ 6,000, or R$ 500 per month, or, at current exchange rate, about US$ 250 per month.

    These figures are from 2003; even though inflation is at low levels in Brazil, there was a significant increase in minimum wage (it was R$ 200 in 2002, it will be R$ 380 from May 2007), which may have caused a proportional increase in the average salary of the tourism industry. However, by American and European standards, the salaries of people working in the tourism sector of RN are still very low.