Friday, 20 May 2011

Brazil´s north-east: mainstreaming conflict transformation

I am currently living in the north-east of Brazil. And I work with social development promoting Conflict Transformation Mainstreaming within the struggle of Land Reforms Social Movements which face social conflicts related to massive macroeconomic investments that cause strains and have been taking place in the region. That’s how I go, with highs and lows, but with pride.

The country’s poorest region is narrowing the gap with the prosperous south

North-east has become Brazil’s star economic performer. In the past decade the region’s GDP rose by 4.2% a year, compared with 3.6% for the country as a whole. Last year Pernambuco state’s economy grew by a China-like 9.3%.

IN 1983 Jornal do Brasil, a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, sent a reporter to Brazil’s north-east to cover a drought. He found starving residents eating rats and lizards. Since then, the country has made strides. Yet the north-east remains Brazil’s poorest region: it has 28% of the country’s people but just 14% of its GDP. A fifth of the area’s adults are illiterate, twice the national rate. And it holds more than half the 16m Brazilians who live on less than 70 reais ($43) a month. For decades it has exported workers to the kitchens and construction sites of the rich cities in the south-east.

“Right now, the north-east is one big building site,” says Fernando Bezerra Coelho, the federal integration minister. The government is investing heavily in public works, including widening the Atlantic coastal highway. But the main source of growth is the port and industrial complex of Suape, which is being expanded to handle bigger ships. A petrochemical plant, the southern hemisphere’s biggest shipyard and a refinery owned by Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company, are under construction. Over 100 firms have moved in, lured by tax incentives and what should be excellent transport links. Fiat is spending 3 billion reais on a car factory nearby.

READ FULL "the economist" ARTICLE HERE

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