I had the pleasure of meeting the Consul General of Brazil to Boston, Frederico Cezar de Araujo. In my conversation with the Consul General he pointed with pride the progress his country has made in the last twenty years.
Usually when we think about Brazil it is about coffee, the beaches of Ipanema, the Carnival celebration, and the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks Rio de Janeiro.
But Brazil has changed as it is now the 6th largest economy in the world, a commodities and natural resource powerhouse, and except for the United States, the most influential nation in the western hemisphere. The new status of Brazil is validated by its hosting of the World Cup Soccer extravaganza in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
But what many people do not know about Brazil is its strong connection to Massachusetts. Currently, some 350,000 Brazilians live and work in Massachusetts. In fact Massachusetts has the largest concentration of Brazilians in the United States
There is also an economic connection as our state does about $400 million in trade with Brazil every year with most of the trade in our exports. Governor Patrick led a trade delegation to Brazil a few years ago as proof that there is money to be made by starting a business in this giant of a country.
The Consul General did make mention of problems in his country as income is unfairly distributed and terrible slums are found in most cities. But Brazil is a country determined to succeed and the government is spending billions on major projects and on educating its populace.
Yet poverty and inequality will continue prompting a regular flow of Brazilian workers to the US and our state. If, however, Brazil can spread its development beyond the high profile events like the World Cup and the Olympics, and make life better for its people and for Massachusetts businesses, then the connection between our state this major Latin American country won’t be just immigrants coming here to find work but business start-ups going there to make a buck. Quite simply, there is money to be made in both directions.