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Literature - Fifty years ago, a book was published that would surprise critic and public: "Grande Sertão: Veredas". Using the innovative language that would distinguish him from all other writers, novelist João Guimarães Rosa created the masterpiece which to date is considered a literary paradigm. Criticized at first on the grounds that it was unreadable and unintelligible, little by little the book overcame the initial barriers and won the well-deserved admiration of all readers braving its pages.

Technology - Just like so many other countries, Brazil has been making significant investments with the aim of developing the areas of nanotechnology and nanoscience. For that, cooperation networks involving hundreds of researchers from many institutions, both public and private, were set up and are now starting to yield practical results.

Social responsibility - The participation of private capital in social inclusion projects has been steadily growing in Brazil since 2003. To big business, projecting a socially responsible image has become a need before consumers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees. As a result, a considerable share of the needy population was benefited by programs in the areas of education, health, sports, and job opportunities.

Immigration - At the beginning of 1866, less than a year after the end of the Secession War in the United States, won by the northern states, a group composed of 2.7 thousand confederates - inhabiting southern states - immigrated to Brazil, in what was the largest migration outflow in North-American history. Till today the community that settled in the Brazilian territory keeps its traditions, with festivals and events that honor the glory days.

Memory - Somewhat tardily, so-called "industrial archeology", whose aim is to restore and preserve old historically relevant industrial facilities, is beginning to gain momentum in Brazil. The constructions could be used as museums, recording the evolution of the country’s industrialization.

Grassroots’ culture - Cordel literature, whose origin lies in the singing of repentista poets, is still a highly popular artistic manifestation in Brazil, especially in the Northeast. It is through this medium that countless facts of the Brazilian history come to the knowledge of marginalized populations.

Lawmaking - Over the last two decades, funding of cultural projects in Brazil has been shouldered by enterprises, which, through incentives legislation, deduct the amounts invested in sponsorship from their taxes. Critics of this practice argue that marketing has held culture hostage in that companies only invest in projects that will boost their image.

Extractivism - To "coconut crackers" - women picking the babaçu palm coconut to extract the kernel -, it’s ever more difficult to have an income and a decent life. The few reservations demarcated for the activity still await regularization of the land, and the Free Babaçu act, authorizing access to private property for harvesting purposes, in force in a few municipalities around the country, has been systematically disrespected.

Exchange - A shortage of skilled labor in Angola, an African country under reconstruction after decades of war, has proved to be an excellent opportunity for Brazilians, whom, apart from being greatly admired by the local population, share their language. This situation, however, has been the source of much criticism by Angolan intellectuals, who complain about the lack of reciprocity in the relation.

Interview - Renato Janine, one of Brazil’s most renowned philosophers, condemns the carelessness of Brazilian society toward education and knowledge, signaling that its most damaging effect is the quasi-illiteracy of a greater part of the country’s youth. With regard to politics, he contends that today the population is dominated by the easy moralism preached by the media and the opposition.

Thematic panel
• In Brazil, all is permitted, even that which is prohibited. According to political scientist Gaudêncio Torquato, such is the reflection of the national ethos and therein lie the roots of the social and political crisis the country is going through. Torquato presented the subject to the members of the Federação do Comércio do Estado de São Paulo’s Council of Economy, Sociology and Politics, and discussed with them what he deems are the causes for all the social, political, and economic woes of Brazil. Among other reasons, patrimonialism, personalism, cronyism, and feeble institutions.
• At the forefront of Brazilian studies, scientist Aziz Ab’Sáber talked on global planning before the same council. In his view, bills passed in Brazil are ad hoc, rather than seeking to address all the needs - both economic and social - of the population. This is the essence of his criticism against the diversion of the São Francisco River. In his opinion, the bill has many flaws, and the whole country requires an overall rerouting, not merely a regional one.

Letters to the editor