BRAZIL: Utopian Pauper

Four centuries ago, subequatorial Salvador was the capital of all Brazil and the haughtiest, gaudiest citadel of Portuguese wealth and power in the New World. Since then Salvador's fortunes have ebbed away, until today the capital city (pop. 597,000) of the fabulous State of Bahia, on Brazil's coast just south of the bulge, has about it the aura of a sunset prettifying a corpse. Its baroque facade of gnarled towers, sleepy parks, blue-tiled courtyards and narrow streets hides poverty and decay.

The historic booms of rubber and coffee that enriched other Brazilian states bypassed Bahia. The federal government scandalously...

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