I got to go to Porto Alegre to tell the Gauchos that we were going to reopen the consulate in Porto Alegre. Well, not really inform, confirm. Everybody who might care already knew. It had leaked in Washington and was becoming general knowledge. Nevertheless, confirmation was appreciated. I got to do print, radio and TV. They appreciated my enthusiasm and previous connections to Porto Alegre. Mariza being born there was a big hit.
I did the usual public affairs work besides this. The Federal university did its first CONX program. They gathered about a dozen students to talk about U.S. elections with an American expert. Universities in Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Pernambuco and Roraima also participated, presumably with similar gatherings.
I spoke with deans at the Federal University about connections with American universities. We agreed that so much is happening that it is hard to keep track. It is an embarrassment of riches. But we have to get a handle on it. It is great when professors set up cooperation or exchanges, but the key to happiness is sustainability. We need champions to get things rolling but we need institutional relationship to keep it moving.
My last stop was the law school. They are working on investment laws. I didn’t know, but they told me, that Brazil has no bilateral investment treaties. This obviously is not a crippling impediment to investment, since there is a lot of it here and American firms have been investing in Brazil for hundreds of years. But it does add to uncertainty and creates unnecessary risk. Until recently, the Brazilians were not very interested in the idea of investment agreements, but now that Brazilian firms are making big investments elsewhere, interest is growing. We (in this case the Consulate in São Paulo) will probably participate in a program on investment law in September.
In the evening I had churrasco with Elio Lee, a friend from my first time in Porto Alegre. We have both grown older, but after a little while we found that we had not changed all that much.
Porto Alegre has really improved. I was not bad before, but today it has become a truly pleasant town. The neighborhood where we once lived, moinhos de vento, was a nice place back then. Today it is positively great, with lots of nice little shops and restaurants within minutes of our old apartment. You can see our old street, Rua Santo Ignacio, and a nice beer restaurant in the pictures. We could have bought the condominium apartment for around $60,000 back then. Today it would cost millions. We missed that boat. Of course, back then we didn’t have money to invest anyway.