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Brazil's Boom; Chile's Miners

We go south to look at Brazil on the rise, and the miners trapped in Chile.

Left: People celebrate in downtown Sao Paulo (AP); Right: Relatives of trapped miners wave Chilean flags, Aug. 24, 2010. (AP)

For the longest time, Brazil meant big, beautiful backwater. Coffee, cane, bikinis, Amazon. Dictators. Third World. 

But that is so over. Brazil now has boomed up the global economic ladder. Oil power. Alternative energy power. Industrial power. Plus, all that farmland. And bikinis. And the Olympics in 2016. 

In some ways, it’s challenging the U.S. We look at its rise and challenges. Plus, we check in on the miners locked deep underground in Chile. 

-Tom Ashbrook


Larry Rohter, former South American bureau chief for the New York Times.  His new book is “Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed.”

Matt Craze, reporter for Bloomberg news. He’s in Santiago covering the ordeal of the trapped miners.

Tony Oppegard, mining safety lawyer and former Mine Safety and Health Administration official.

Mary Roach, author of “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.”

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  • Zeno

    I personally cannot think of a harder way to make a living…prisoners have a easier life. The idea of four months of being buried alive is unimaginable, and I hope they survive and are compensated for their experience.

    I think it is time to give these men a computer job on the surface driving a robotic mining machine. Some mines have no men in them at all.

  • Anna Da Fonseca

    As a Brazilian living in the United States I am excited at the prospect of the Brazil growing and stabilizing itself but am always discouraged by the violence and poverty in my country. Brazil can only rise so far while great disparities in income levels exist from the favelas to the high rises in major cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo, that coexist side by side. Our country has wonderful things to offer to the rest of the world and I would not choose to be from anywhere else, but I wonder how far Brazil can actually go outside of its borders and ‘rise’ if it can not fix what happens within it.

  • Tatiana

    I just returned to Brazil after living in the US for almost 10 years. While some aspects of life in America still appeal strongly to me, I decided to return due to the poor economy and the lack of jobs, especially for a non-citizen. There are more job opportunities for a recent graduate around here with the booming economy, and I don’t feel hated by the hard right simply for trying to live in “their” country.

    I now live in the city of Santos in São Paulo state, and I’m hoping to get a great career going. Crime, poverty, inequality, poor customer service and other problems still make me miss Massachusetts a lot, but I am confident this big move was the best decision I could make. Lots of other Brazilians have returned too, and I think this signals a new era for my country, when people no longer feel they have to leave for Europe and the US.

  • http://onpointradio.org Gleisson Araujo

    Brazil is not objectionist as it should be when it comes to the Amazon. Most of the exploitation of the rainforest has been done to supply the demand for timber or grains in the US and other countries.

  • BHA

    How much Amazon rain forest was cleared to grow the sugar cane used to produce the ethanol they use?

  • john

    Brazil folks are some of the most friendly and dynamic people have ever met…

    However, they have displaced many Americans workers espc. in the Boston area ..
    much of the money earned here is repatriated back to Brazil..

    as long as the U.S dollar is so strong against the Brazilian currency, the American worker cannot compete…

    It was interesting to hear your guest speak of Brazils history of slavery and discrimmination.. sadly we were familiar with the crime and corruption.

    such a warm friendly people deserve a better society in general .

  • http://www.simforus.com Lily Huang

    Thanks for reporting on the miners. I can’t imagine myself in their position! Matt, if I organize my 100 friends or so and they organize theirs to write letters to the miners, can you send them to the miners and the miners’ families? Just ‘thinking of you’ notes? Thanks!

  • michael

    great show on brazil and my wishes go out to the miners.

  • http://www.modernstills.com Pablo

    As a geologist familiar with mining both here in the US and Chile, I am truly amazed by the fact that the rescue teams were able to contact the miners through a 700m (2,200′) borehole. This went unmentioned in your show, and while it would not be obvious to anyone not familiar with mining, it is a HUGE success given the situation and speaks volumes about the quality of the Chilean professionals working on this rescue. Since the accident the mine owners have rightfully been under a lot of heat for lax safety measures as well as poorly mapped out mine workings (an all to common situation even here in the US). Hopefully these 33 miners, their family, and all of Chile will have reason to celebrate soon.

  • Cheryl

    Re Chilean miners: on some of the early reports emanating from Chile. it was my understanding that the miners traversed the various tunnels available to them in complete darkness. Now that that small hole is available for supplies, I suspect batteries for the miner lamps were one of the first things given to them. These miners are an amazing group. I salute their leadership!!!

  • Pati D’Amico

    I am writing in regard to the strife of the miners who are hoping to be saved. Their wait an extremely long and dangerous one.
    I was thinking-what would be one of the best ways to help the miners psychologically.
    Music would be a great help to the esteem and psychological make up to the miners. Music can be a very psotive and soothing form of relaxation,comradery and to ease strife and worry of the situation they’re in. I am a survivor of hurricane Katrina-a lucky evacuee who came home to a house NOT Flooded.
    Although lucky I was still in a state of stress and sadness. Music helped to ease my sorrows.
    I had a battery operated cd player(our electricity was off and on constantly) To get my mind off the physical ruin,to drown out the sounds of military helicoptors while I worked to make life feel normal…I played my favorite music…It really took me out of the space I was in and gave me hope and peace.
    I hope they ask the miners what kind of music they like and pipe in something really goood for them.
    In addition to this -have the miners do breathing and basic relaxation exercises to help keep the men calm and rested. I hope they will get through this.

    Pati D’Amico

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