Brazillionaires: The Godfathers of Modern Brazil by Alex Cuadros

By Alex Cuadros

In 2012, Brazilian rich person Eike Batista used to be the 8th richest guy on the earth, his $30bn fortune equipped on Brazil's extraordinary traditional assets. through the center of 2013 he had misplaced all of it, engulfed in scandal.

Brazillionaires is a fast moving account of Batista's upward push and fall: a narrative of helicopter flights, beach-front penthouses and high-speed motor vehicle crashes. alongside the best way, it tells the parallel tale of Brazil itself, a rustic stuck within the cycle of growth and bust, renewed desire and dashed promise; a rustic the place the hyper-rich are on the center of the economic system - and the place their wealth should purchase enormous political power.

Stefan Zweig stated in 1941 that Brazil was once the rustic of the long run; Brazilians shaggy dog story that it usually may be. this day, rampant corruption and endemic inequality threaten to derail the recent Brazilian Dream. The brazillionaires are the most important to realizing that dream; via them Brazillionaires tells the tale in their country's earlier, current and destiny.

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I visited Abilio’s mansion once, and it had high walls and an imposing metal door manned by armed guards. Some São Paulo execs move their families to Alphaville, a gated suburban compound with a private security force where from multiple helipads they can essentially teleport to work. You can’t spend your whole life at home, though, which is why malls exist. Brazilians call them shoppings. Measured in square feet, São Paulo has more shoppings than parks. They’ve been called the praia dos paulistanos, São Paulo’s beach—an air-conditioned fluorescent-lit beach, where guards monitor the entrance for suspicious characters, where you have luxury stores and fancy restaurants to take dates to, a bubble of Belgium inside São Paulo.

They cranked sertanejo— Brazilian country music—to full blast. They turned it down only to ask him a question: How much do you think you’re worth? The gang set his ransom at thirty-two million dollars, but police found the safe house after six days. Abilio’s captors let him out of his box to shout to the officers outside that he was alive. In the standoff, he would act as the gang’s human shield. They carried assault rifles and shotguns. Former leftist guerrillas, mostly Chileans and Salvadorans, they told him they’d rather die than go to prison.

The Pinheiros River dwindled to a dark stripe, tiny cars filling up six lanes of freeway on either side. We left behind the Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge, a concrete X intersected by yellow cables supporting two crescents of road. We passed over office towers of gleaming dark blue glass, luxury condos of imitation granite, new buildings copying many architectural styles at once. I took photos on my BlackBerry, craning to see a city whose chaos seemed from this height to reorder itself in neat rows.

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