By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For the third year running The Rio Times looks back on twelve months of news in and about the foreign community in Rio de Janeiro. While Rio has a long history, and a bright future, the year of 2011 certainly feels like a turning point. From the international energy stage to the pacified favelas, and Rock in Rio in between, the Cidade Maravilhosa had a big year.
Following are some of the most interesting foreigners to make an impact on Rio and the community here. As with 2009 and 2010, it is by no means a exhaustive evaluation or scientific search, but we hope to hit the high-points.
1. U.S. President Barak Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama visited Rio on Sunday, March 20th, part of a two-day visit to Brazil during a five-day South American trip. His time in Rio consisted of a morning look at the favela Cidade de Deus (City of God) in Zona Oeste (West Zone), a speech at the Theatro Municipal to the Brazilian public, followed by a visit to Christ the Redeemer.
2. UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
On the night of June 22nd, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and the Ministerial and business delegation attended her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s Birthday Celebration held in Rio. The event marked the conclusion of Mr. Clegg’s trip to Brazil which saw the party visiting various major cities giving talks on the coming Olympic Games.
3. U.S. Consul General Dennis Hearne
After making our list in 2009 upon arriving, Mr. Hearne has been a visible and vocal public servant most recently helping the U.S. Consulate in Rio increase the Brazilian visa capacity by doubling the size of the team and adding additional hours to the office. It is Mr. Hearne’s fourth diplomatic assignment in Brazil, most recently he was Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia from 2003 to 2007.
4. UK Consul General Paula Walsh
Arriving in 2010, Ms. Walsh is at an intersection of Olympic activity building a bridge between the 2012 Olympics in London, and Rio’s 2016 event, with a special focus on sustainability. Walsh previously worked at British Gas before joining the Foreign Office in 1998, since when her posts have included that of Commercial Officer in Argentina.
5. Canadian Consul General Mr. Sanjeev Chowdhury
Canada invested over R$17 billion in Brazil in 2010, making it the eleventh largest recipient of Canadian foreign direct investment for the year. Mr. Chowdhury’s arrival in late 2011 marks a new phase of strengthening ties between the two resource-rich countries.
6. Bruce Henri
The organizer of Rock Street for the epic 2011 Rock in Rio makes our list for bringing so many talented local expatriate musicians together. Bruce Henri, an expatriate himself from New York State and Producer of Rock Street, also contributing to the entertainment directly with his jazz flavored group, Bruce Henri Quarteto.
7. Gordon Lewis
The real estate developer behind LondonRio, Quinta Rosa and the recently opened Quinta Azul is betting big on Santa Teresa and the growing need for first world turn-key office space in Rio. Lewis is bringing his international experience and sensibilities to the Cidade Maravilhosa.
8. Alison McGowan
Whenever someone follows their passion and finds success it is interesting, and Alison McGowan did just that with the creation of Hidden Pousadas Brazil, a travel review and listing service for Brazil’s private pousadas. Soon to expand to a Portuguese language service as well, McGowan is poised to bring her English-style recommendations to Brazilian travelers as well as foreigners.
9. Richard Nelson and Jason Galeria
Back on list from 2009, this team of restauranteurs have done it again with a new Blue Agave opened in Copacabana. Both hailing from the U.S., they have cracked the formula for serving up good food and great times in Rio.
10. Mary Byker
Mr. Byker (yes Mary is a man) is not only the owner of successful Mekong restaurant in Leblon, he is also a rock star. Recently returning from a London tour, Mekong is back to their Wednesday night happy hour featuring Mary and other guests as DJs.