Ours was the first People to People Ambassador Program law delegation to travel to Brazil. We went with great anticipation. We were excited about the prospects of fostering one-on-one dialogues with Brazilian lawyers. We knew that this delegation was important not only because of the possibility for future collaboration between the two legal communities, but also because of the personal importance it had for each of us. We wanted to experience the diverse Brazilian culture as well as gain an understanding of Brazilian law. In the end, the delegates individually and collectively accomplished these goals.
In many ways, what we learned in Brazil was a breath of fresh air. There flowers bloom year round and the beaches belong to the people. Brazil is a country of sambas and happiness. In fact, the country was discussing a national amendment, which would make “happiness” a national right. Ours was a wonderful adventure, some of which is captured in the journal, which follows. But the reader should not get the impression that Brazil is simply a country of music and fun. Rather, it is a country that has strong leadership, a sound democracy, and is a player in the world stage. It is a key economic and political leader, not only in Latin America but also the world. Brazil is one of the largest and fastest growing emerging markets in the world. Brazil’s position in the world can be seen by the fact that in 2014 it will host the World Cup and in 2016 the Summer Olympics.
Brazil is a very large country and can be divided into five regions, each with its uniqueness and culture. Our delegations’ time was concentrated in the Southeast in two of the country’s largest cities. In Sau Paulo we met with the Brazil Bar Association, toured the Supreme Federal Court of the 3rd Region and met with the representatives of the prestigious Pinheiro Neto law firm who explained common litigation issues in Brazil as well as the Brazilian Legal System and the Court System. In Sau Paulo the delegation enjoyed Rio’s famous sunset on Sugar Loaf Mountain, viewed the iconic Cristo Redentor, experienced the samba and toured the Carnival grounds. And then there are the beaches in Rio. We will never forget our hotel on a Rio beach or the Brazilian people. It was quite an adventure.
Our Delegation totaled 29 people. Most were lawyers, some were guests. During our nine-day adventure in Brazil we were always positive. We worked and played together. Perhaps the positive tone was set the first night after the briefing when our national guide, Marcella Granatiere, arranged a demonstration on how to make the Brazilian national drink which the delegates participated in. We learned many things while in Brazil. We learned that Brazilian Law comes from Portuguese civil law and is based on statutes, although stare decisis is now coming into play. We learned that the Brazilian culture is a culture that is very diverse. We learned that the religion of most Brazilians is Catholocism and that Brazil has the largest Catholic population in the world. We learned that Brazilians love their music and that they have many holidays. We learned that they, like other countries, have their problems and challenges. Some are unique to Brazil; others are similar to other countries. We learned that two million people gather on a beach in Rio on New Year’s Eve. We learned that Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, with its elaborate parades and samba schools, which participate, is alive and well. We learned that we want to go back.
By: Richard Pena