By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It is time again to look back over the year and review some of the most noteworthy stories of foreigners – aka ‘gringos’ – doing interesting things in Rio. Last year, in 2012, David Cameron and Prince Harry split the honors at the top spot for making appearances in the Cidade Maravilhosa, and for 2011 U.S. President Barak Obama made a big showing on his visit.
In 2010 and 2009, at the top position we had Paula Walsh, UK Consul General to Rio, and young Sean Goldman, in the middle of a custody battle that caught international attention. This year we have stayed away from politicians, mainly because so many interesting things have been happening we had too many others to choose from.
1) Pope Francis
The Catholic Church made history by appointing its first Latin American pope this year, and the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina, over São Paulo’s Cardinal Odilo Scherer, surprised many Brazilians. Even Argentinians are considered gringos in Brazil, and Pope Francis, along with World Youth Day (WYD), brought millions of young Catholic worshipers to Rio.
2) Glenn Greenwald
American journalist Glenn Greenwald is the man responsible for disclosing former U.S. subcontractor Edward Snowden’s NSA spying allegations, bringing the surveillance scandle to global attention. The ripple effects led to President Rousseff cancelling an official visit to Washington D.C., and denouncing the NSA program at the United Nations.
3) Emmanual Gillian
On March 5th American musician based in Rio, Emmanuel Gilligan, was shot and seriously injured in a bungled armed robbery in Recreio. Gilligan was singer and lead guitarist for local band ArizonA, who had played around Rio for years. Now he is back in the U.S. facing a long hard recovery, with many friends in Rio sending well-wishes.
4) Clarence Seedorf
There are few more successful veterans playing club football (soccer) in Brazil than 38-year-old former Holland international Clarence Seedorf, part of the Botafogo midfield for more than a year now. While Botafogo, lead by Seedorf, did not win the national tournament this year, they were Rio’s best hope and stayed in contention for most of the season.
With her remake of Dione Warwick’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” playing almost nightly in the Globo novela (prime-time soap opera) “Salve Jorge” and a slot at Rock in Rio 2013 last September, it has been quite a year for singer and British expatriate Jesuton who began her musical career in Rio by singing on the streets.
6) Julia Michaels
Rio expatriate community’s own Julia Michaels and the success of her recent book release, “Solteira no Rio de Janeiro” (“Single in Rio de Janeiro”) is an inspiration for all writers everywhere. Michaels has had a great year of publicity supporting the release, including an appearance on Brazil’s late night talk show (where she holds her own in Portuguese for a national audience).
7) Mark Lassise
Leading up to the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, American Mark Lassise traveled to each of the six host cities exploring their preparations for the mega-event and documenting his journeys for his production company’s show “Olhar Estrangeiro” (“A Foreigner’s Perspective”) – which airing nationally as part of SporTV’s Tá na Área. They’ve been picked up for a new 2014 season as well, in the lead up to the World Cup and plan to hit all twelve cities before June.
8) Ian Knight
After spending eighteen months in Rio, Ian Knight, along with old high school friend Eric Porter, found the business opportunity they were searching for, and purchased The Clover Irish Pub on the beachfront Avenida Atlântica in Copacabana last June. From Detroit originally, Knight has made showing American sports a priority and boasts the ability to watch up to three simultaneous NFL games at once.
9) Liam Lawlor
Irishman Liam Lawlor has opened the Dubliner Guesthouse this year, a 450 square-meter villa on Rua Alice in Laranjeiras. The space offers fourteen beds, and is a lively, less expensive option for those looking to explore a neighborhood a little further off the beaten path of Copacabana and Ipanema.
10) Carioca Cricket Club
In 2011 the Carioca Cricket Club debuted at Brazil’s National Championships, and the team were runners up. The trophy followed at the next attempt and the club’s profile has been growing since, including a coaching session in Complexo Alemão with Prince Harry last year. In 2013 for first time in history of Brazilian cricket, Rio was crowned national champion for whole year.