Migrant Lives

Brazilians In The U.S., A Quiet Latin American Diaspora

The number of Brazilians living and working in the United States is growing fast, yet neither government has taken the steps necessary to mobilize this community.

A professional samba dancer at a New York subway stop.
A professional samba dancer at a New York subway stop.
Matias Spektor

-OpEd-


SAO PAULO â€" The number of Brazilians emigrating to the United States has been growing significantly in recent years. Estimates put the number of Brazilian citizens living in the U.S. at more than one million, a figure that doesn't include the children born there. But this community's size isn't all that's growing. So is its influence in American politics.

The average income of Brazilian expats in the United States tops that of whites, African-Americans and other Latinos, placing it second only to that of the Asian community. And more than a third of them are statistically rich, earning more than $100,000 per year. They also boast the lowest unemployment rate of any ethnic or racial group.

They are generally people with long years of study behind them. Among adults, 30% of men and 35% of women hold university degrees. Only 10% of them haven't finished high school, and 80% say they speak English fluently.

As it expands, the U.S. Brazilian community is becoming more organized. The list of Brazilian associations established in America, dedicated to professional, religious, sports and philanthropic activities, numbers in the dozens. Many Brazilians have recently become eligible to vote and will take part in the democratic process for the first time during the next election. This means that in the years to come, this community will find its own voice and will influence a number of important electoral districts, especially in Boston, New York and Miami, where most of these expats are established.

But unlike what other countries have been doing, neither the Brazilian nor the U.S. government has made any effort to know more about this population â€" for example, by updating or expanding the data mentioned in this piece. And yet, having an understanding of the Brazilian community in the U.S. is critical if the government ever wants to mobilize it.

Besides, because of their concentration, expanding this knowledge wouldn't be too costly. Almost all of the Brazilians living in the United States come from the southeastern states: Goias, Minas Gerais, Parana, Santa Catarina and Sao Paulo. And almost all of them settle in California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York.

Dilma Rousseff and Barack Obama should seize the opportunity offered by the Brazilian president's June 30 visit to Washington to commission such a detailed study. This sort of initiative would allow both administrations to establish policies directly aimed at this group, improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

Other nations in different parts of the world have already adopted such a strategy regarding their citizens living in the United States. The American embassies of China, Colombia, India, Ireland, Israel, Turkey and Ukraine have demonstrated a determination to turn their own communities into the sort of political blocs that nobody in Washington can afford to ignore.

From the Brazilian government's point of view, the goal wouldn't be to solve diplomatic issues or to revolutionize the nature of the relationship with the United States. First and foremost, it would be about establishing a reserve of American goodwill towards Brazil, something that's nonexistent at the moment.

That way at least, when the next diplomatic crisis arises between Washington and Brasilia, over spying or anything else, there will be a framework to control the damage.

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat


CAUCHARI
— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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