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Wealthy Argentines Eye Miami Real Estate, And Culture

With Argentina's economy in crisis, Miami real estate has become a nice refuge for well-off Argentines to protect their money from devaluation. But it's not just about the beaches

The future landscape of Miami: new condos, but also a new museum
The future landscape of Miami: new condos, but also a new museum
Annabella Quiroga

BUENOS AIRES — With Argentine markets paralyzed by restrictions on dollar trading and local property transactions plummeting, Miami real estate developers have their sights set on private Argentine investors looking for a foreign refuge for their assets.

As President Cristina Kirchner reported last year, Argentines spent more than $2 billion on U.S. property investments in 2012 and 2013. Buenos Aires even hosted several real estate fairs in August and September to highlight some of the projects on offer.

Mayi de la Vega attended one representing ONE SIR, an affiliate firm of Sotheby's International Realty. "Miami is flourishing," she says. "It is the eighth most visited city in the world. Infrastructure development is taking off in the city, as are businesses related to culture."

Beyond its famed beaches and palm trees, Miami is now proud to show of the city's new cultural assets. "An arts district has emerged, inviting European, Venezuelan, Brazilian, Mexican, Argentine and Russian investors," de la Vega says.

Four projects recently presented in Buenos Aires include the Brickelle City Center, a mixed development in the financial and business district, and One Thousand Museum luxury condos and a museum designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, to be built in downtown Miami.

"Despite the recession, Argentina remains an important market for us," says de la Vega.

Property prices collapsed in Miami after the 2008 financial crisis. "The entire pre-crisis stock was absorbed at 50% of its price," she says. "Prices have recovered since, especially in the premium market."

According to Reporte Inmobiliario, Argentines are seventh in a ranking of real estate investors in the U.S., with Miami and Orlando their preferred destinations.

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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