Is it safe for foreign techies to work in Brazil?

Is it safe for foreign techies to work in Brazil?

Summary: The current protests taking place all over Brazil should not make foreign IT professionals put their intentions of working here on ice.

TOPICS: CXO, Outsourcing

Since I wrote about how the IT sector in Brazil has created more degree-level jobs than any other over the past three years and how IT companies are hiring tech experts as fast as they can, my inbox has been groaning under the weight of people writing to ask how they can move to Brazil.

But many people have also expressed reservations. They have seen the recent violence on the streets of many cities in Brazil and questioned how safe it might be to live here. I have even had some emails alluding to me being irresponsible for promoting Brazil when it’s such a "dangerous" place to be right now - how on Earth could I be the cheerleader of the technology industry of such a basket case?

I think that using the term "dangerous" is overstating the present situation. And I don’t think that it is irresponsible to talk about the opportunities available in the Brazilian technology sector. The opportunities are real and the people who are on the streets protesting are trying to create an even better, more transparent Brazil.

Brazil is a country that respects democracy and the right to protest. The people want answers from the politicians because major events like the World Cup and Olympic games are coming to the country soon, but our education and health service both need investment before sport. And almost a third of the elected politicians who make all these spending decisions are also waiting to stand trial on various criminal charges – can you imagine that in your own country?

But the rule of law is important in Brazil. There is no anarchy or chaos despite what the news cameras may imply. Life goes on in all the major cities even as people protest. The Pope is visiting Rio this week and millions of young people have travelled to attend the events around the World Youth Day. The buses are still running. My postman is still delivering letters and the bars are still full every evening.

For all the talk in the height of the protests that the people on the street would force the president from office there has been no serious challenge to her position. Most people in Brazil want to see fairer more transparent politics, but the majority do not want that forced on society by people on the streets smashing up banks - the same banks that lend to small businesses and create new jobs.

The reality is that this is not an Arab Spring or an Egyptian uprising – we already live in democratic society - but the citizens of a nation joining together and exercising their right to protest. It started off because people were unhappy about an increase in the bus prices in São Paulo and escalated because the police reacted violently to that protest. The people really do have a voice in Brazil and foreign observers should be celebrating this.

But would people in the international technology industry be scared of coming to work in Brazil or investing here just because the Brazilian people are prepared to go out and complain about the government? This demand for transparency and information about government decision-making is demonstrating that IT can lead the way in improving society – as well as underpinning most corporate enterprises today.

Ask yourself a few questions about the kind of place that you want to live, if you think that the Brazilian people complaining about how the government spends their cash is unsettling. The next World Cup is in Russia and the one after that is in Qatar. I don’t expect you will hear about many street protests related to the government spending on the World Cup in these countries.

Business is still booming in Brazil. The IT opportunity is soaring, businesses such as Twitter and LinkedIn are all placing their bets on their operations here and that's not just because of the World Cup and Olympics. There is growth and IT innovation in Brazil even as the European market stagnates.

Brazil remains a safe place to do business and to work, with a myriad of opportunities for technologists and innovators - companies are actually crying out for people with those skills here. The rule of law is important to all Brazilians including those who are protesting about crooked politicians. We want justice, not anarchy, and a more open government will come soon, because Brazil is a free and open society where the people are allowed a voice – and that’s the kind of place I want to work. Come and join me.

Topics: CXO, Outsourcing

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  • Very well said, Angélica, but...

    I think people are also worried about crime levels in Brazil. As for that, yes, there is a lot of crime, but people keep working and living their lives anyway. Although there is no 100% safe place in any large Brazilian city, the truth is that most of the crime statistics happen in poor peripheral districts and slums where you're not likely to go. In the end, for an urban educated professional, it's not really different from living and working in, say, St. Louis or Philadelphia, and probably better than Detroit. Hey, a friend of mine was mugged by a drugged thug in a bus in Lausanne, Switzerland, a place where you wouldn't expect such a thing to happen - yet it still can.

    Above anything, be aware that Brazil is NOT a place where you should be cocooned and sheltered in a closed group of expatriates. Contrary to what happens in many other places, Brazilians EXPECT you to blend with them, will be offended if you don't, and are very much aware that they have a lot both to learn and to teach to people from other cultures, and that's what cultural exchange experiences are all about. Government policies may still make the country more closed than it should be, but the people are a different story - we place enormous value and gratitude for the contributions we historically had from many groups of immigrants, and still welcome them with open arms.

    So, try to learn Portuguese as much and as fast you can - people will be incredibly patient and will even use mimics as a last resort - and dive head on into the experience. It would be a waste to let anything spoil that experience - including the fear of violence.
    • Hi goyta, many thanks for your comment. I totally agree with your points - the "Brazil experience" is only worth it if you are a part of the society. If not, you might as well just stay where you are and not bother moving to a different country at all.
      Angelica Mari
  • Good job

    Thanks for posting the article and for quelling uneducated opinions from people who have probably never ventured south of Tijuana, let alone set foot in Brazli.
    Darko Gavrilovic
    • Thanks Darko - just contributing my two cents to the debate!
      Angelica Mari