Category Archives: Belo Horizonte

Local Brazilian Funk DJ shot to death outside his home last night

(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)

A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.

Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?

The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.

The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.

DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.

Below is a video of him doing a Funk mix at Conexão Rio. The crime-scene image for DJ Paulinho is here – don’t click the link if you don’t want to see a dead body or blood.

Rest in peace – descanse em paz.




Car drives through wall of multi-storey car park and lands flipped upside down in road

Today a car in Belo Horizonte drove through the concrete wall of a first-storey car-park, flipped over and slammed upside-down on the pavement.

And the driver managed to crawl out with minimal injuries. Nice!Car landed flipped upside down after smashing through multi-storey car-park wall.

He said the accelerator slipped under his foot...
He said the accelerator slipped under his foot…

World Cup partying in Brazil ends with a whimper, with few Brazilians caring much about the score

Savassi , an area of Belo Horizonte that has been the centre of street-drinking for tens of thousands of locals and tourists during this World Cup, was almost completely empty of fans just a few hours after Germany lifted the trophy. The party is definitely over here in Brazil.

It did not look like this last night, as it had done every other night during the 2014 World Cup:

Savassi in Belo Horizonte was the scene for huge parties when Brazil was winning, but empty once they dropped out of the World Cup.
Savassi in Belo Horizonte was the scene for huge parties when Brazil was winning, but the place they emptied once they dropped out of the World Cup.

Street vendors desperate to rid themselves of ice-boxes full of Brahma and Stella Artois were off-loading beers at three for 15 reais, then three for 12 reais, and finally three for 10. On what was a chilly night in Belo Horizonte the few fans left still partying in the street were huddled together, a few German and Argentinian flags scattered around, singing that Pele scored a 1,000 goals whilst Maradona only ever sniffed coke. Around them the big-screens that had shown all of the Brazilian games were being disassembled and trucked away.

With Brazil out in the semi-final so shamefully, and then losing again so pathetically in the third-place play-off, Brazilians had lost all enthusiasm for the World Cup they had held so brilliantly in their own back-yard. The bars weren’t packed for the third-place play-off like they were when Brazil was still in the Cup, and drinkers only half-heartedly kept an eye on the Cup final to make sure Argentina didn’t win.

And so, for a few more generations, there’ll be no more World Cup in Brazil. No more afternoons off, no more street-parties (until Carnaval, at least), and no more sea of yellow shirts.

Well done, Brazil, for hosting a brilliant World Cup. Now back to the real world.

“Brazilians really like football.” Protests down by half since the World Cup started in Brazil

Across Brazil’s 10 biggest cities there were 71 major protests in the 12 days before the World Cup started. In the 12 days since the opening game there have been 43.

Sao Paulo’s Folha gathered data from police, transport bodies, trade unions and social movements to collect the data, which is probably still too vague to draw anything but broad generalisations about popular protests in Brazil. One sociologist said in the report: “Brazilians really like football.”

Folha reckons underlying motives for the protests are changing, too. Before the World Cup started protests were being held in support of pay-rises and improved work conditions. Trade unions knew that heightened pressure would be thrown onto the government to act in the unions’ favour quickly, as the government wouldn’t want tourists witnessing protests in the street.

At least for the teachers here in Belo Horizonte, it didn’t work. A 15 per cent pay-rise (after three years of 6-8 per cent inflation had seen their real wages eroded) was rejected, and the teachers went back to work days before the World Cup started.

Now the protests are more generally Anti-World Cup.

One of the problems with protests this year is that last year’s Confederation’s Cup protesters saw how their anti-corruption, pro-Brazil protests were “hijacked” by organised, extreme-right elements that wanted Dilma out and their people in.

Consequently a lot of citizens don’t want to protest for fear they’ll be portrayed as extreme-right antagonists. Such is the problem with popular protest; with so many problems in Brazil, it’s hard to be clear about what you’re protesting about.

Step-by-step guide on how to get your 90-day Brazil tourist visa renewed in Belo Horizonte (featuring Van Persie, free oranges and stamps)

You came for the World Cup, and now you want to stay in Brazil and live there forever. Your 90-day tourist visa runs out so you need to renew it, and fast. Your only option is to head to a Policia Federal.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how British, American Nationals and most other countries can get their 90-day tourist visa renewed in Belo Horizonte.

1) Fill in this online form. You want the “PEDIDO DE PRORROGACAO DE PRAZO DE ESTADA” option.

Print it off. This is an invoice you have to pay at a bank before they will process your visa at the Policia Federal. It costs 67 reais to renew your tourist visa.

If you don’t have a printer go to a “Lan House” or walk around your area until you see a shop with a “Xerox” sign. I brought my computer to the shop and emailed the document to the manager who printed it off for me. For this he charged me the princely sum of 1.50 reais, about 40p or 60 cents.

2) Take this document and 67 reais to any bank – Itau, Bradesco, Banco do Brasil, Santander… Go early in the morning because banks have a take-a-ticket system and they get incredibly busy (a friend and I once went to a bank which had a two-hour wait to see a cashier). Don’t do any of this at lunch-time, either, or you will wait an extra hour.

3) Pay the cashier 67 reais. She will stamp your document and tear off the slip you need to show to the official at the Policia Federal.

4) Go to the Policia Federal with your paid invoice, your passport and the entry document you got when you arrived in Brazil.

The address is Rua Francisco Deslandes, 900. Shopping Anchieta Plaza. Bairro Anchieta, Belo Horizonte. It’s in a nice shopping mall and the bank is opposite. It was already full of people when I arrived, most of whom were Brazilians getting their passports renewed.

There is a  separate line for gringos/estrangeiros. Ask the attendant “Onde está a fila para os estrangeiros?” or look out for a sign. I did not do this, and I subsequently waited in the wrong queue for 40 minutes, only to reach the counter and be told the tourist visa line was actually a row of seats around the outskirts of the room.

I waited in this queue for 40 minutes only to find out it wasn't the line for the gringos renewing their tourist visas.
I waited in this queue for 40 minutes only to find out it wasn’t the line for gringos renewing their tourist visas.

5) Sit in the row of seats, shuffling over to the next seat as it’s vacated by the foreigner ahead of you. Wait maybe an hour. Bring a book or watch Brazilian daytime TV. Talk to your fellow gringo.

6) You’ll be called in to the room when it’s your turn. Here is my interaction with the official as I remember it:

Official: “Did you fill in the document?”

Me: “No.”

He hands me a piece of paper and I fill in the top-half. Name, age, marriage status, address and contact in Brazil.

Official: “Are you sad England played badly in the World Cup?”

Me: “Yes.”

We get to talking about Brazil’s chances, how good the Netherlands team is, Manchester United, Van Persie. During this five minutes the visa application isn’t progressed in any way. It’s all very relaxed.

Another official comes by with a huge box of fruit. He asks if I want something. I take an orange and he tells me an estrangeiro brought it in. I’m presuming handing tourists oranges isn’t normal protocol at the Policia Federal but it’s a nice gesture.

7) He fills in the lower half of the form. He ticks that I have a return ticket and I have sufficient funds, although he doesn’t ask me to prove any of this. He taps at the computer and uses no less than seven stamps to certify my passport and entry paper.

8) We shake hands and I leave. I wish Brazil well in its future sporting endeavors.

A few points:

1) Get your tourist visa renewed as close to the end of your 90 days as possible, because the new 90-day allowance starts when your application is processed (so if you renew your visa at 80 days you can only stay a total of 170 days).

2) Most nationalities, and definitely the case for Americans and British, can only renew the visa once in a one-year period (so you can stay as a tourist here for 180 days out of 365 days).

3) Have a contingency plan if you’re rejected, although I reckon it unlikely you will be unless you’re doing something particularly nefarious here.

Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.

If you’re coming to see England in Belo Horizonte, make sure you visit the nearby Inhotim Art Gallery

If you only do one thing during your visit to the 2014 Brazil World Cup in Belo Horizonte, visit Inhotim Art Gallery.

Fruit of the Palmeira-barriguda tree.
Fruit of the Palmeira-barriguda tree.

It’s about a two-hour drive out of the city (it’s only 70km away but traffic takes care of the rest) but it’s definitely worth it. The art gallery/botanical gardens is built within the huge grounds of the former English mining magnate Senor Tim (pronounced “In-yo-cheem” in old Brazilian, hence the name).

The surrounding mountains around Inhotim.
The surrounding mountains around Inhotim.

Dotted around Inhotim are modern art installations of glass, mirror, water, brick and sound buried deep in lush Brazilian forest. It’s a really beautiful place to walk around on a sunny day.

Multi-coloured walls in Inhotim by Helio Oiticica

This huge tree-hugger truck sits forever tipping over in a glass dome structure in the middle of the jungle.

Brazilian tree-hugger truck  tipping over inside a glass dome at Inhotim, Minas Gerais

Paths lead through thousands of different types of flowers and trees as you look for each of the hidden installations.

A tree held up by four others.
A tree held up by four others.

The art installations are really, really cool. Photography inside the galleries is banned but I managed to snap the Cildo Meireles installation below.

Looks like the moon's surface.
Looks like the moon’s surface.

Another installation has you walking across broken glass (you’re wearing shoes).

The Dr. Seuss-style Paxiuba tree, which looks as if it's dancing on its roots.
The Dr. Seuss-style Paxiuba tree, which looks as if it’s dancing on its roots.

A spectacular sound installation called The Murder of Crows has you sat facing fifty different speakers in a dark warehouse as a girl recounts a dream beginning in the warehouse and moving through jungle to a beach.

There are 5,000 types of flowers at Inhotim, including this blue tiger-print flower.
There are 5,000 types of flowers at Inhotim, including this one with blue tiger-print petals.

Another has you in a pitch-black room as a strobe-light illuminates a fountain, making the water look like molten glass.  In another you enter a room with a mirror, but you can’t see your reflection. You can literally step through the mirror, as crazy as that sounds.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s a really cool place.

A few tips: wear a good pair of walking shoes, tickets are 30 reais to enter and the best place to eat is the Oiticica self-service restaurant (where they weigh your plate; it’ll cost about 40 reais for a really nice meal and a drink).