Northeast Brazil: Introduction of Alagoas by Governor Teotonio Brandão Vilela Filho

Teotonio Brandão Vilela Filho, Governor of Alagoas
The Governor of Alagoas, Teotonio Brandão Vilela Filho, introduces the Northeastern Brazilian State, mentioning its history, economy, potentials, challenges, areas of development and investment opportunities.

Interview with Teotonio Brandão Vilela Filho, Governor of Alagoas

Teotonio Brandão Vilela Filho

Firstly, I would like to ask what are the strengths of the Brazilian State of Alagoas? What does Alagoas have to offer?

The development of the State can only be achieved with the help of small and micro businesses and above all from foreign investors. They are invited to set up their site here in Alagoas.

Alagoas is a small but very interesting State within the Federation of Brazil. We have deep roots in the history of Brazil, ever since the colonial process and Zumbi dos Palmares. Our roots come from this history and from such black leaders as Zumbi, Martin Luther King and Mandela who made history in favour of freedom and the fight against oppression. The place where Zumbi dos Palmares made history was here in Alagoas.

Alagoas played a very important role in the creation of the Republic of Brazil; declared by Deodoro da Fonseca; the first President of Brazil who was from Alagoas. Then the 2nd president Floriano Peixoto consolidated the Republic. We played a very important role during the Dutch invasion, helped by Calabar to fight the opposition which created a great controversy at the time.

As you can see Alagoas has had a rich background with many writers and poets. It’s a small State but it has given a great deal to the culture and history of Brazil. Graciliano Ramos, who wrote Vidas Secas, was from Alagoas as well as other writers such as Aurelio Buarque de Holanda who wrote the famous Aurelio dictionary. In the field of law it was Pontes de Miranda who was a reference for Brazil and for Latin America and he was from this State.

We also have many other virtues; we have 250km of coastline. And I can say without any bias being the Governor, that we have some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil. We have Foz do Rio Sao Francisco which is just magnificent, the sea is turquoise blue, the open sea is beautiful and clean, with a coral reef. Every type of beach we have is divinely beautiful and these beaches are matched with the gastronomy that is wonderful and crafts that are unequalled, particularly the sculptures in clay, wood and iron. Our folklore is happy, funny, colourful, very beautiful and exciting. People from Alagoas have their own way of living life, interacting with each other and creating a relationship which makes the whole State one of most desirable tourist destinations. Our tourism industry is one of the industries with the highest growth in all of the Northeast. In the last 5 years, 27 new hotels were built in Alagoas, large hotels; we now have the most modern park in terms of hotels in Brazil, all because Alagoas is growing and advancing. The number of beds is increasing and we have the new and very beautiful airport. It’s a small airport but it is pretty, clean and welcoming.

Tourism Alagoas

What are the areas of development of the State of Alagoas?

Tourism is one of the areas of development of the State.

We are also developing via our chemical and plastic industry. Alagoas has large natural deposits of rock salt, which have enabled Brazil to install a PVC plant with a production rate of 250,000 tons which was increased this year in the presence of President Dilma, who inaugurated a new plant with another 250,000 tons of production capability. The State of Alagoas is now the largest producer of PVC in Latin America. The production of PVC is the raw material for all production of plastic. Alagoas is today at the centre of the most diverse plastics industry, products such as PVC tubes for clean water, civil construction on a general scale, water houses and plastic in its diverse uses. There are more than 20 industries that have been set up and others that are hoping to set up here in Alagoas. We offer a very promising future for chemical and plastic industries here.

Another area of development is the sucrose energy sector. Alagoas is the 5th producer of sugar cane in Brazil. We are optimising the industry all the time. We produce ethanol and sugar and we make electricity from the dry pulp residue of the sugar cane. It will make people want to care for the future; it is a clean, renewable energy. Alagoas is at the height of technology for the generation of electricity from sugar cane, not only for the traditional system to optimise boilers but also for bio-energy which is being implemented by GraalBio which will be the first factory in Brazil to produce electricity from the fermentation of biomass, which is called bio-energy. It is modern, in the whole world it is at the height of technology.

We also have another area of development which is the canal in the interior of Alagoas. Half of the geographical area of Alagoas is semi-arid. We are building a canal from the San Francisco River that goes into the interior to the semi-arid region, bringing water for livestock, human consumption, agriculture, fish farms and all areas that need water to develop this region that is suffering and poor. It is suffering a drought. So the canal will bring water that will go to many uses and will promote projects and irrigation plants that will generate lots of jobs in the region which really needs them, as it is still a poor and marginalised area of the state.

Port Maceio

Another area of development which is in the advanced stages of planning and negotiations is the creation of a port and shipyard in the region of Coruripe. The construction of the shipyard requires an investment of $1 billion and we are implementing measures for the construction of a port and possibly other shipyards. There are many activities going on that show there is a promising future for Alagoas. This State has a very good logistical location, it is in the centre of the Northeast, the distance between Maceió and Salvador in the south is the same as Maceió to Fortaleza in the north. These are the two cities after Recife that are the most important in the Northeast. Another greast aspect is the expansion of the BR 101 and the prospect of a new railway that President Dilma has launched last month: a new railway with a new gauge that leaves from Salvador to Aracaju and Maceió. Recife will be linked to all the Northeast. We are well on the road to facilitating and optimising the logistics that we have here, which are in fact quite favourable already. The State of Alagoas is prepared for the transition into the 21st century.

We also have mining which is being implemented in the interior in the municipality of Arapiraca, an investment of $1 billion that will generate jobs and foreign exchange for the Northeast.

What does Alagoas still need in terms of investment?

Firstly, we need resources. Money, we don’t have the economy, our economy is very small, the State of Alagoas has a population that is still very poor, and half of our population has a very low HDI. These people depend on the State for everything and aren’t able to contribute satisfactorily for this development. The State needs resources for investment. We are advancing a lot; this scenario of the arrival of the hotel business wouldn’t have happened 30 years ago. It took us 30 years to get a new hotel here. Now dozens of hotels are setting up here, because the State has credibility and has undergone fiscal adjustment. Today, we are dealing with the World Bank, IDB and BNDES, all these banks are partners of this development. At the moment we are receiving transactions of 611 million reals from the BNDES, $250 million from the IDB and $150 million from the World Bank.

This is all because today there is trust in our projects and proposals and above all in our transparency. The State is a great example of communication between the community, the federal government and the municipalities. However, we need more resources to remove the gap which has built up. Alagoas is inspiring, those who set up industry in Alagoas are able expand their business, businessmen can set up shopping centres here; we have opened a 4th large shopping centre and they are always growing. Alagoas inspires trust. Hotels are arriving. The first 6 star hotel in Brazil is being built here in Alagoas, 20km from Maceió. And many other hotels will come because we have beautiful beaches practically deserted and untouched, with vegetation just as Pedro Alvares Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil, found here 500 years ago. These beaches are just 30km from the airport which is a great attraction for the hotels.


What would be your final message? What is your dream for Alagoas?

I have many dreams, because I dearly love this State. I was born here, my parents and grandparents were from here, and my children are here. One day I will die and I will be buried here forever. I am deeply linked to Alagoas. So I have many dreams and hopes for it. I want to develop the State, generate jobs and improve the quality of life for the people here.

I wish to invest a lot in education to prepare the youth so that they can be productive and not exposed on the streets to drugs and crime, which is a large problem here. Through Plan Brazil, I was present at the cabinet meeting today commemorating the reduction in the number of homicides and also advancement in many other areas such as security, impunity and confronting crime in a safe way. This is already happening in Alagoas. In Maceió, the capital, this year compared to last year we have had a 25% reduction in homicide. Maceió is the city with the largest reduction in homicide rate in the whole of Brazil. The State itself has had a 14% reduction and this process advances all the time. UNICEF, which is an internationally respected institution, will publish and launch this month a book about the reduction in infant mortality here in Alagoas. The State had the largest infant mortality rate and now it is amongst the lowest in Brazil. This is a dream that excites me; to save children’s lives, young people’s lives and to invest a lot in education.

Health comes next and it is an area we have worked on, strengthening the basic health treatment for people who live on the periphery and interior. We have tried to strengthen small initiatives be it in the city or the countryside so that country people can live on their land with dignity and citizenship. We are promoting advancements for farmers; technical assistance, equipment, encouraging cooperatives. So they can progress and bring in more personal income.

We are encouraging small businesses, especially here in Maceió. To give you an idea, during our government’s time in power, 100,000 micro and small businesses have been created. This is double the number that has ever existed in the State until we came into government. The development of the State can only be achieved with the help of small and micro businesses and above all from foreign investors. You are invited to set up your site here in Alagoas. You will have a great foundation and support from the State that believes in your development and will welcome you with open arms.

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