Is it safe for foreign techies to work in Brazil?

The current protests taking place all over Brazil should not make foreign IT professionals put their intentions of working here on ice.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

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.

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