São Paulo is a city of contrasts: In one half, you see the height of luxury: five star hotels, skyscrapers and swimming pools, with company bosses earning more than they would in London. In the other, you see the depths of poverty: families living on the banks of open sewers, and millions struggling to pay the rent working as cleaners and electricians. And the biggest contrast of all: millions being spent on a shiny new football stadium for next year's World Cup, while the poorest communities are told there is no money for housing, health centres or schools.
My wife is from Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) which has around 11 million passionate football fans who are mad about either Grêmio or Internacional. In case you do not know, Grêmio is where Ronaldinho got his initial break. While I was living there in the state's capital (Porto Alegre), I got a ticket to the "Grenal" which is the name given to the fiercely contested derby match...
São Paulo is a place where creativity and originality are celebrated, and it can be experienced through music, design, fashion and gastronomy. Though the pace of the city is similar to other financial capitals, like New York or London, it has a particular dynamic that is unmistakably Brazilian and is a result of the diversity that makes up the city.
The pope has some solace for those unable to make the trip to Brazil for World Youth Day next week - an occasion that by attending helps the soul in purgatory. By making use of social media and the internet to watch these events, and read speeches made there the user with a genuine spiritual heart (there is the catch) may obtain an indulgence.
The announcement of the World cup and Olympic games in 2014 and 2016 respectively turned the dynamics of the way favelas were neglected by the State. The governor of Rio and mayor shortly announced afterwards that they would be deploying a new tactic called "pacification" to combat crime and liberate the favelas from the control of drug gangs.