Sleeping Giant


Happy 196th Birthday, Brazil.
Tired of Breaking Hearts Yet?

It’s Independency Day for Latin America’s biggest country. So let’s blow some candles and sing sad songs of disappointment. Just like an unruly teenager, so young and yet so troubled already. The so-called growing pains are here to stay, it seems, but little of growing up.
Few are feeling that independent lately. Or big for that matter. Brazil acts as if it’s all new, and keeps repeating itself over and over. Fatigue and heartbreak is how most Brazilians have been living for so long. We swim and swim and still risk drowning by the shore.
The heart of this country is a centrifuge; try to embrace it and hold on to it, and it’ll toss you like a soccer ball. And yet, we come back for more. Our memory burns to the ground in neglected museums and roach-ridden historical districts. And yet, we keep on rising.
Our idealized future rots in jail, our dreams are ineligible to be elected. We’re bound to pick the wrong thief to run us. But it’s September 7, and but for a special favor of a Portuguese prince, we’ve been given an autonomy that we still don’t know what to do with it.
From north to south, the National Anthem will be sung about us, people who never ‘run away from a fight,’ but live on a land ‘eternally lying on splendid cradle.’ A napping giant, that is. Where up is actually down, that is, the bottom rules the top.

Like most things Brazilian, contradiction is our middle name. We’re big but can’t speak the language of the majority that surrounds us. Our race is mixed, tainted, blackish, but no one identifies as such. White is ‘beautiful,’ rich; black is just poor.
Oh, Brazil, you treat us like orphans, children from a broken home, thrown into the world to fend for ourselves. Meanwhile, a cast of stealers rides the wild mount of our rare soul, without success or grace. They will too be tossed, crash and burn. And we will laugh.
Here’s to you, República Federativa do Brasil. Have some cake and get drunk. We’ll cry a little for that spoiled vision of a glorious future that never comes. Don’t worry, we’re not quitting you, but boy, haven’t you have better things to do than to bust our balls?

Rousseff Is Ousted


In the end, it was all just a matter of time. After a few pro forma procedures, which paralyzed the country for most of the year, the Brazilian Congress voted today to oust President Dilma Rousseff.
For a 61 to 20 count, 81 Senators ignored calls inside and abroad against the measure, and impeached a leader who, less than two years ago, had been re-elected with over 54 million votes.
It was the end of a serendipitous and embarrassing process, which produced no recognized proof to justify such radical step, and wound up exposing the shameful underbelly of Brazil’s politics.
Accused on a technicality by a group of legislators with a particularly long rap sheet of law-breaking and misconduct, Rousseff goes down along a political project led by her Workers’ Party, that momentarily placed Brazil among the world’s most progressive nations.
Before being itself completely overwhelmed by its own misconduct and abuse of power, the party, known as PT, managed what many thought was impossible, and now more than ever, is unlikely to be repeated: lift an estimated 30 million out of extreme poverty.

BACK TO THE PAST, PART TWO
As that was happening, though, it’s now obvious that an influential segment of the upper classes was not about to give up what it had consistently lost in the polls: government access. All it took was to channel popular dissatisfaction with PT to get it all neatly done.
It was, by all accounts, a coup, orchestrated by a coalition of parties that share one trait: none have convinced the electoral majority that they should be entrusted the reins of Brazil, (more)
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The Crying Games

Five Rings Above Misery (Telegraph/Getty)

A Bruised Rio Hosts Its
Low-Expectations Olympics

What a difference 10 years make. A decade ago, when Rio begun its cavalcade to host the Summer Olympics, Brazil was swimming in optimism. Unprecedented economic growth and a hard-earned period of political and social stability suddenly gave Brazilians much-sought global respect and the drive to dream that yes, they could.
In a country suffused with body culture, nothing would’ve marked that spirit as winning the bid for both the games and also the 2014 World Cup. From that point in history, only those two mega-sport events could represent a fitting coronation to what turned out to be an exceptional but miserably elusive moment.
The Olympics and Paralympics competitions that start officially Friday, however, are taking place in a radically different country. Long gone are the joy and effusiveness that fueled the celebrations for being chosen, in October 2009, by the International Olympic Committee, in Copenhagen.
It seems as if Brazil run out of the luck it never really had. Or that was too disappointingly brief. In one moment, it was a model of sustainable growth and the text book for social promotion policies, only to become, in the next, a continental-size pool of resentment and regret.
Not unlike voters for Brexit, Brazilians woke up suddenly and realized they may have thrown away the baby along the dirty bathwater. Two whole years of street protests against corruption, and all they got was a group of lousy politicians with police records who now occupies the government.
Competitors Will Jump in the Guanabara Bay, no Matter What. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)
WAIT, WE MAY STILL WIN THIS
Deeply divided, Brazil is already suffering another global-scale public humiliation, just as it did two years ago, when the then celebrated national soccer team got thrashed by Germany in the World Cup. A look at global headlines about these games has been source of even deeper embarrassment.
Every media outlet, including the country’s own, has reported a corollary of staggering woes brought to light by the magnifying glare of the games. From raw sewage in Guanabara Bay, site of most water competitions, to fears of disease-carrier mosquitoes, it all looks pretty bleak now.
We will return to foes that everyone is hoping against hope won’t tarnish the innate Olympics beauty, but first, as if almost duty-driven, the focus must be on a few good, or fine, or at least, interesting and even inspiration things about the games, even before they start.

SOME SHINING POINTS OF LIGHT
Ok, so we found three, but worth mentioning all the same. Like the 10-people Refugee Olympic Athletes team. Plucked from millions around the world, they will compete in several categories as independents. Since there should be many more, and there aren’t, they will be our own good-for-gold team.
Speaking of athletes, youth bodies, downtime, and a party city like Rio, it all may mean one thing: they’ll get laid. A lot. That’s why nine million ‘Rainforest friendly’ condoms will come in er handy. They’re sustainably-produced, made in Xapuri, the late Chico Mendes‘ hometown, in the Amazon state of Acre, and they’re free. Help yourself.
Finally, like many top world competitors, the third point of light is a cheat. Guilty as charged. But no less meaningful: it’s the (more)
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52 From the Coup

A Day for Brazil to Count

Its Democratic Blessings

The Ominous Use of Brazil's National Colors (A Tarde, 2015)There are two wrenching, overlapping moments hitting Brazil right now: one punctual, threatening to postpone the future for another 40 years. The other is a permanent state been of self-doubt, of insular auto-sabotage that betrays a profound fear of realizing the dreams that it has been dreaming for so long.
Thus, if Brazil were a person, March 31th would feel like having a screwdriver making turns while deeply encased in the gut. Any other year, it’d be a day to be quickly forgotten, as it’s been for over half a century. But this year, the pain’s different and the bleeding, worse.
When the tanks took the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, and other Brazilian capitals, on that March of 1964, they were not just aborting democratically elected President João Goulart. They were strangling a nation trying to come on to its own.
For the 1950s had been Brazil’s rebirth, and the promise of a time unlike anything that had come before. It was the decade the nation discovered its blackness, its youth exploding with possibilities, and most people started moving to live in modern cities, with an emerging industry to boot.
Suddenly, Brazilian popular culture, music, cinema, fine arts, architecture, even its passion for football, acquired an exuberance, a gusto for living that surpassed that of all ethnicities that had been thrown in the mix since the founding of the nation in 1500.

WHEN BOOTS HIT THE GROUND
That’s what the truculent military coup hoped to squashed like tropical cockroaches. The country’s powerful oligarchy, and the always unsecured middle class, readily embraced the muscular support from the U.S., who couldn’t bear seeing Brazil fall into the Soviet Union lure.
The military showed a unified front, swiftly consolidating power, even as they were at each other’s throats behind the scenes. Their single-file determination drove great Brazilian minds to exile, or to an early grave, but also had a tenacious resistance to fight from day one.
While tirany indebted the nation, and mercilessly punished dissent and free expression, Brazil grew around and despite it. It took 21 years to restore democracy. It may take many more (more)
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EconoView

Brazil & Mexico,
a Bipolar Outlook

Brazil and Mexico, Latin America’s largest economies, tend to polarize investors’ perception about the region. Economic growth has alternated between the two countries in the past decades. After a period of prosperity in Brazil, the pendulum now seems to swing towards Mexico.
The Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce brought together a panel of economists to discuss commonalities and distinctions between the two regional powerhouses. Thomsom Reuters co-sponsored the event.
Speakers included Nomura’s Latin American strategist Benito Berber, NWI Management’s Hari Hariharan, Mauro Leos, Moody’s Credit Officer for Latin America, and Tony Volpon, Nomura’s head of Emerging Markets Research. Tandem Global Partners’ Paulo Vieira da Cunha moderated the panel.
Geographically and culturally, Brazil and Mexico couldn’t stand farther apart, a condition that may date as far back as their past as colonies of Portugal and Spain, which also determined the fundamental distinction between the two countries: their different languages, Portuguese and Spanish.
But even long before the influence of Portugal and Spain over them had faded, both nations remained identified with each other. If at first, such Continue reading