Op-Ed

Explore Florida’s special relationship with Brazil

Giant blue-and-white tile on the headquarters of the National YoungArts Foundation was designed by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand.
Giant blue-and-white tile on the headquarters of the National YoungArts Foundation was designed by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Florida is a melting pot with a vibrant mix of cultures showcasing their influence in the arts and gastronomy. The fact that so many foreigners feel at home here is a testament to Floridians’ warm embrace of diversity — and Floridians and Brazilians have a special bilateral relationship.

Brazil’s contributions to this state have only grown in the past decade. Brazilian culture is already a hallmark of many institutions and art galleries. Our cuisine is served in many restaurants. Indeed, Brazilians participate in every segment of Florida society, including education, health, finances and technology.

When walking down Lincoln Road in Miami Beach or shopping at Bayside Marketplace, it is not uncommon to hear a different rhythmic set of words being spoken — that of the Brazilian Portuguese language. On Ocean Drive, you can order “caipirinhas,” the most popular Brazilian drink. In Wynwood, you can see the amazing work of renowned Brazilian artists, such as Os Gêmeos, Nina Pandolfo, Eduardo Kobra, and Pamela Castro. Along Biscayne Boulevard, you can stroll along sidewalks designed by Roberto Burle Marx, a celebrated landscape architect or appreciate Francisco Brennand’s giant blue-and-white tile on the headquarters of the National YoungArts Foundation.

Most of all, you can find the happiness of the Brazilian people reflected in the art pieces of Romero Britto, recognized worldwide as the face of Miami.

According to our estimates, 300,000 Brazilians live in Florida — the largest Brazilian community in any state of the country, according to the U.S. Census. In addition, more than 1 million Brazilian tourists visit Florida every year. In 2016, Brazilians tourists spent $11.6 billion nationwide. Miami and Orlando welcome the most Brazilian tourists in the whole United States.

The Brazilian impact in the local economy is huge. Brazil is a key trading partner of the United States. Florida is its main partner and also an important gateway for Brazilian companies and products into the North American market. Bilateral trade between Brazil and Florida reached $18.2 billion in 2016 and represented almost one-third of the total trade flow between Brazil and the United States.

Brazilian foreign direct investment in the United States reached about $24 billion, and a large percentage of those funds were invested in Florida, in sectors as diverse as real estate, aviation, finance, construction, restaurant franchises, and manufacturing of processed foods and building materials.

To reciprocate, my country is open to Florida’s businesses and tourists. Brazil faces some challenges at the moment, however, its institutions are strong, democracy is solid, and the fight against corruption is an example to the world. The economy is growing again and foreign investments reached the highest levels ever: $76 billion in 2016.

It is time for Brazilians and Floridians to take their relationship to the next level. There is great potential to improve our mutual bonds in trade and investment, as well as in cultural and educational affairs.

To launch this process, we will celebrate Brazil’s presence in Florida with a series of events during September. A Journey Through Brazilian Experiences, presented by the Consulate General of Brazil in Miami, will be a great opportunity for the public to gain a new perspective and enjoy Brazilian culture. Events will include bossa nova, samba and popular music shows, Brazilian cuisine, presentations by talent Brazilians who are part of the Miami City Ballet, renowned fashion designers, movies and plays, art and photography exhibits, street parties in Boca Raton and Orlando, soccer and discussions about tourism. For more information, go to brazilianexperiences.com.

Brazil will engage all your senses.

Adalnio Senna Ganem is Brazil’s consul general in Miami.

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