NPR

Amid Economic Crisis, Anxiety Grows In Struggling Southern Brazilian State

Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, is seeing strikes and protests amid rising crime and Brazil's worst recession. "We're asking God Almighty that this comes to an end," says a resident.
Porto Alegre, one of Brazil's most important commercial and industrial hubs, has declared itself in "financial calamity." Brazil is in the midst of its longest and deepest recession. Source: Philip Reeves

Carlos Roberto Gomes spends his days leaning on a stone wall with a big, brightly colored sign around his neck.

His sign advertises the services that he offers to passersby on the downtown street where he earns his living.

It says that Gomes buys gold. He can fix you up with a tattoo or some body piercing.

Read the sign closely, and you'll also see that he might be willing to lop off your hair and purchase it from you.

Top-quality human hair from Brazil fetches a good price in Europe's salons, where it's sold as extensions and wigs, explains Gomes.

If your locks are sufficiently lustrous and long (more than 14 inches), he says he could pay you up to $230 for it.

Gomes says some of his clients routinely grow their hair specifically to sell it for extra income.

Latin America's largest nation is enduring unusually tough

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