Monthly Archives: January 2013

Santa Maria victims funeral, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.

Santa Maria buries victims of the Kiss nightclub blaze, photo by Wilson Dias/ABr.

A fire that claimed the lives of 235 people in a nightclub in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul state in Southern Brazil, has sparked an investigation into whether fire prevention regulations under Brazil’s health and safety laws are fit for purpose, and whether local authorities are complying with existing legislation.

Marco Maia, President of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies (PT), has said he will order a review of all existing safety legislation for venues, including nightclubs, and although he acknowledged that the issue was a matter for municipal authorities, he hinted federal legislation could be established.

“My aim is to look at all existing legislation and suggest that there be Brazil-wide legislation with minimal safety requirements that should be adhered to by all the states and municipalities,” Agência Brasil reported Maia as saying.

Operating licences, issued by local fire departments, are obligatory for a range of venues, including theatres, cinemas, clubs, bars, restaurants, gyms and religious buildings. In the aftermath of the incident in Santa Maria, it was revealed that the club’s operating licence had expired in August 2012, although the owner has since told police that he had already started applying for a new one.

Many questions have yet to be answered, but the repercussions are already being felt nationwide: a number of cities have ordered that all nightclubs be urgently re-inspected, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Brasília. Fire authorities in Rio de Janeiro have said they will step up checks and hunt down those without licences.

Wengrover Carlos Rosa, coordinator of the Brazilian Committee on Fire Prevention and Safety, told G1 News that nightclubs must have clearly signed emergency exits, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting, and have their license on display.

“Smoke extraction systems and fire alarms are already mandatory in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and could have contributed to the safety of the [Kiss] nightclub.”

The blaze, which started after a flare set light to sound-proofing material on the club’s ceiling, was the second deadliest in Brazil’s history. Some 503 people died in a fire at the Great North American Circus in Niterói in 1961.

Read my full article on The Rio Times website.

Olympic Rio. Photo by Logopedia

The Organising Committee for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games has revealed its plans for “ambitious hiring goals” in the coming year, with at least 224 positions for professionals to be advertised in 2013.

By 2016, it is expected the committee will directly employ 4,000 people.

The new openings for 2013 will include posts in a range of areas, from engineers and medical staff to journalists and various technicians, administrative staff and transportation specialists, with “another 90 posts” to become available once the committee’s headquarters are moved to the city centre.

“The vast majority of the Organising Committee’s functions will end in 2016, and the length of contracts will depend on each role, although some will extend into 2017 for administrative reasons,” says Rio 2016 Human Resources Director Henrique Gonzalez in an interview with The Rio Times.

Gonzalez confirms that all positions are open to non-Brazilian professionals, although the announcements given only in Portuguese require a candidate with fluent Portuguese. The Rio 2016 positions available can be seen here.

Positions not requiring Portuguese are available on the English version of the Rio 2016 site, and those with previous Olympics experience will be prioritised. The organisation also confirmed with The Rio Times that Rio 2016 will assist successful foreign candidates in obtaining work visas.

Mr. Gonzalez says that along with a wealth of experience that Rio 2016 workers will gain throughout the event, the Games will leave a legacy for Brazil. According to the Committee, those hired will both gain a raft of new skills, including leadership, planning and management, and be more attractive to the jobs markets as a result of working for Rio 2016.

Read the full article on The Rio Times.

Six of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s overseas trips in 2013 have already been announced and appear to show greater attention to Africa and the BRICS group of emerging nations.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Photo by Wilson Dias/ABr. As with the fifteen countries she visited in 2012, there will be a clear focus on economics with potential import-export deals invariably topping her 2013 agenda.

Nearly half of President Rousseff’s trips were made to Latin American countries in 2012. She oversaw the Mercosur economic bloc as it gained two members – Venezuela and Bolivia – and also suspended Paraguay.

Yet Rousseff made almost as many trips to Europe – most notably to Spain to thrash out a raft of business deals, as well as a December trip to Russia in the face a ban on imports of meat, the main Brazilian export to Russia.

President Rousseff also travelled to the United Kingdom for the Olympics – the finale of which saw Brazil handed the baton as 2016 Olympic host nation.

The visits cement Brazil’s position as chief bridge nation between Latin America and Europe and, as if to underline this, the president’s first trip of 2013 will be to the Chilean capital, Santiago, for a joint summit of the Latin American and Caribbean States Community (CELAC) and the European Union, aiming to facilitate trade between the two regions.

The president will also travel to the United States to continue the established tradition of the Brazilian leader giving the opening speech at the UN General Assembly.

Despite Brazil’s affiliation with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group of emerging economies, the president made just one journey to Asia and none to Africa.

However, both regions are slated to feature more prominently in 2013: the president is set to travel to Africa in February to take part in the Africa-South America Summit in Equatorial Guinea.

Read the full article on The Rio Times.