Numbers of the week: Oct. 19, 2019

Brazil by the Numbers oil bolsonaro energy

This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. Random numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: energy investments, income inequality, e-cigarettes, Brazil’s job market, and the “trial of the century.”

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BRL 11 billion in energy investments

On Friday, the Brazilian government held an

auction to hire energy for new ventures, to be operational by 2025. The bidding process raised BRL 11 billion in investments—and BRL 44 million in contracts that will last for 20 to 30 years. The government hired 91 new providers amounting to 3 gigawatts (and 1,702 megawatts of physical guarantees)—in both cases, the results were better than expected. As we anticipated in our <a href="">October 18 Daily Report</a>, gas-based energy projects were the highlight of the auction. As Brazil moves to deregulate its gas market, the country is set to attract major investments. Additionally, wind- and solar-based energy projects were deterred by new rules created by the government, increasing risks for these types of companies—applying the same rules to wind power producers as other segments.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>34 times higher</h2> <p>According to Brazil&#8217;s official statistics agency, the country&#8217;s top 1 percent earns a monthly salary that is 34 times higher than the poorest half of the Brazilian population. While the upper classes make, on average, BRL 27,744 each month (or USD 6,745), the bottom half made only BRL 820 (less than (USD 250). The 2014–2016 recession enhanced Brazil&#8217;s historically obscene levels of inequality. While the richest 10 percent control 43 percent of total income, the bottom 10 percent gets a slice of only 0.8 percent of that wealth. The Gini index, which measures inequality, has risen back to pre-recession levels.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>109 million voters</h2> <p>By this week, the Brazilian Electoral Justice system totaled 109 million voters who have registered their biometric data—74 percent of the total. The technology is expected to enhance security and reduce the risk of voter fraud. Next year, Brazilians head to the polls to elect new mayors and city councilors—and biometric identification will be mandatory in 4,578 municipalities (over 80 percent of the country). Curiously, three Southeastern states (the richest region in Brazil) present the lowest rates of compliance—Minas Gerais (41 percent), Espírito Santo (49 percent), Rio de Janeiro (53 percent). Biometric data began being introduced to Brazil&#8217;s voting system in 2008, with a pool of only 40,000 voters, an experience that passed with flying colors. Authorities expect the registration to be concluded in the entire country before the 2022 national elections.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>9,831 confiscated e-cigarettes</h2> <p>The sale and advertisement of e-cigarettes are forbidden in Brazil since 2009—which doesn&#8217;t mean that they are not easily found. According to sanitary authorities, there is no scientific evidence to support that e-cigs are less harmful than conventional cigarettes. However, such proof requires long-term studies, which has been difficult to obtain with such a new phenomenon. Meanwhile, the government is worried that the rate of smokers in Brazil (currently at 9.3 percent) could skyrocket as a direct result of vaping popularity. Between January and August, 9,831 e-cigarettes were confiscated in Brazil. &#8220;The [tobacco] industry says [the e-cigarette market] needs to be <a href="">regulated</a>. Actually, regulation already exists: e-cigarettes are <em>not</em> allowed. The norm gives producers the opportunity to prove that these products are less toxic and that they help people quit smoking. But the tobacco industry has never done it,&#8221; said Adriana Carvalho, a director at the Brazilian Sanitary Surveillance Agency, to <em><a href="">Poder360</a></em>.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>157,213 net formal jobs</h2> <p>The Brazilian economy has registered 157,213 net formal jobs in September. Since the beginning of the year, Brazil created 761,776 net formal jobs. It is certainly good news, but they highlight how slow-paced the country&#8217;s economic recovery is. Over 12 million people remain <a href="">out of the workforce</a>—and most new job openings are in the informal market. These positions pay less and offer few—if any—social benefits to employees, further increasing their economic vulnerability. To help jump-start the economy, the government approved a series of economic measures this week destined to have short-term results, such as approving a 13th monthly payment for the Bolsa Família cash transfer program.&nbsp;</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>4,895 convicted felons</h2> <p>The Supreme Court has begun its &#8220;trial of the year&#8221; this year. The 11 Justices will decide whether or not people who have a conviction confirmed by an appellate court can be arrested—or if their presumption of innocence is valid until all appeals are exhausted. The court is leaning towards revising its own understanding, saying that prison sentences cannot be executed while appeals remain possible. The number of defendants who would benefit from such a decision remains somewhat uncertain, varying according to the source. But, according to the National Justice Council, 4,895 convicted felons should have the right to liberty. Among them is former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is both Brazil&#8217;s most-loved and most-hated politician. For more detail on the case, read Euan Marshall&#8217;s guide on <a href="">what you need to know about the trial</a>.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.