I have been trying to get to know Rio better by talking to people around here. There are lots of good contacts here and lots to do. In Brasília, we talk mostly to government officials and work to leverage big projects. I am very proud of our work in this area. We are doing great things. Our operations in Rio and São Paulo are different. They do more programming, i.e. speakers outreach etc. I have to balance the needs of the leverage with those of the outreach. The choices are not easy, which is why we get the big bucks, I suppose.
Today I went over to see the Rio port project, again, called Operação urbana Porto Maravilha. It is a really big deal, which will include lots of housing, shops and hotels, including docks for cruise ships and a new Trump Tower. They have a really interesting exhibit showing how this will work. We are involved in this with our international visitor program. We sent one of the leaders of the project to the U.S. to meet and exchange ideas with Americans who were involved in similar big projects. This came from a visit a couple years ago. The picture below is an old slave market. They found it when they were digging for the project and made a monument.
You can see the video of what the project will – is supposed to do at this link.
On the video, you see that they plan to demolish an elevated freeway, as they did in Boston and other places. The irony is that these highways were thought to be the sign of progress, the solution of the past. You can see the old highway in the top picture. There was a lot of dust in the air from the construction. It gives the picture a kind of old fashioned looking patina.
We are working with Brazilian partners on this project, but it is hard to measure success in public affairs. The guy we sent on the visit to the U.S. says that he has made dozens of sustainable contacts with Americans. This has already led to exchanges of ideas and may lead to exchange of goods and services. We hope American firms and individuals will benefit. We can put some numbers to the analysis, but I don’t know exactly how to interpret them. The port project webpage went from ten visitors the month before the tour to 9,500 visitors the next month. This is a big change, certainly unlikely to be the result of random chance. But I have been unable to find a good way to measure the practical value of internet connections.
Anyway, look at the pictures and use your imagination to picture the future. The picture above shows the digging a tunnel that will replace the elevated highway. This actual hole on top of the tunnel will be an underground parking garage.