[US to Brazil ’17] Tim Shaw: “Brazil is a critical country”

US to Brazil delegation with Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. From left to right: Rey Saldaña, Nick D’Andrea, Colby Coash, Chelsea Martin, Kristy Milligan, and Gracielle Palma.

We had a terrific experience visiting Brazil! I learned if you took the 10 largest countries by population, the 10 largest countries by land area, and the 10 largest economies in the world there would only be 3 countries on all 3 lists: The United States, China, and Brazil. Some may not realize that the most spoken language in South America is Portuguese, as there are more Portuguese speaking people in Brazil than all the Spanish-speaking people in all the other South American countries combined. So Brazil is a critical country.

Brazil’s constitution was written in 1988, so they are a young democracy, but have built strong government institutions. Our visit to Brazil occurred less than 1 year after the impeachment of their president, Dilma Rousseff, and the arrest of many other leading politicians on allegations of corruption. While the entire scandal was clearly a source of embarrassment, I sensed there was at least some satisfaction in that the impeachment process occurred peacefully. Ironically, our ACYPL delegation had a meeting with Senator Fernando Collor de Mello. He is currently in their Senate, but he had been President of Brazil in the early 90s until he was impeached and removed from office at the end of 1992.

There were obvious differences and similarities between the U.S. and Brazil system of government. For example, approximately 30 political parties are represented in their Congress, making the parties virtually indistinguishable to the average voter. I was fascinated to learn the city governments run the education system, which was a marked difference than our system. And yet the issues they are facing sounded very familiar to us: tax reform, pension (social security) reform, and campaign finance reform are issues both countries are facing.

 Mayor Pro-Tem Tim Shaw of the City of La Habra, CA with junior high students in Rio de Janeiro.

Mayor Pro-Tem Tim Shaw of the City of La Habra, CA with junior high students in Rio de Janeiro.

I believe a highlight for everyone in our delegation was a visit to a junior high school in Rio de Janeiro. Dozens of students and teachers stayed after school to ask us questions about U.S. politics and government, and I was amazed at their level of understanding of our politics. I couldn’t help but notice American musicians and American movie stars were all quite popular there. From what I saw, their students were overwhelmingly studying English as well.

We did have time for some sight-seeing, with a trip up to Christ the Redeemer statue being a highlight. I enjoyed the food, even while admitting I am not typically very adventurous with foreign cuisine. We had the misfortune of becoming separated from our luggage on our way down to Brazil, and of course the general exhaustion that accompanies jet-lag and very long flights, but despite the fatigue I believe we all enjoyed the experience.

Tim Shaw is the Mayor Pro-Tem of the City of La Habra, CA. He was first elected to the City Council in 2008, and served as Mayor in 2012. In November of 2016 Tim was overwhelmingly re-elected to a 3rd term on the City Council.

In addition to his duties on the City Council, Councilman Shaw serves in various regional capacities. He is on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) where he serves in various leadership roles. He is on the Executive Committee, he is the Chairman of the Transit Committee, a member of the Legislative and Communications Committee, and a member of the State Route 91 Advisory Committee. Director Shaw is one of 2 Orange County representatives on the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN) board of directors.

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