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Good Question | Is Brazil A Lost Cause

Just wanted to share these two articles (with links for full story) from  an American woman who has been living in Rio for more than 30 years.

They were written in light of the recent negative media Brazil has received from the reports of an American woman being raped in Rio and a bus that ran over the overpass recently.

She makes very valid points and believes that Brazil is changing for the better overall.

Below is a summary with the two links:

Van rapes reveal social division

[UPDATE: minutes after this post was completed, Rio suffered yet another tragedy: a bus fell off an overpass on Avenida Brasil, killing at least seven and severely injuring fifteen passengers. According to a passenger who got off the bus before it fell, the driver was arguing with a man who had jumped the turnstile.]

March 23, a Brazilian woman reported to the police that she’d been raped in Copacabana after getting into a mini-van. Not much came of it– until the same happened to an American student, late Saturday night. As a result of the earlier negligence, two police administrators have been removed from their positions.

Who rides in vans? Not the upper classes. And in Brazil, there are a lot of things the upper classes don’t do.


Is Rio a lost cause?

After the devastating events of the last few weeks in Rio de Janeiro, many Cariocas and foreign observers have fallen into a perfidious mind-trap: the city’s transformation is either real, or false. And, if you believe it’s real, you’re either a sucker or an exploiter.

This interview in the O Estado de São Paulo newspaper, widely circulated, expresses the thoughts of a growing number of cynics. “There’s a generalized feeling that everything being done in Brazil today is just a facade. It’s very discouraging,” says André Martins Vilar de Carvalho, a psychologist and philosopher living in  Rio.

Much of what Vilar de Carvalho says goes beyond his initial observation, is true, and needs to be said– over and over again:
  • Brazilian developmental capitalism is savage, ultimately has no interest in spending on social needs and is solely interested in profit at any cost.
  • What needs to be questioned is the “pacifying dream”, the local policy of transforming a successful initiative into a huge ad campaign of a pacified Rio de Janeiro …the thing is presented as if Rio had no more problems, it’s now an organized city, with more value… then we run the risk of a stadium built five years ago falling on our heads. We find that it was poorly constructed, obviously due to some kind of over-invoicing.
  • We have no social pact, no one is talking about truly building a country for everyone. What we do have, sadly, and quite widely accepted, are individual or narrow small-group interests, but no chance to think about the greater good. The idea of “everyone looking out for himself” is socially legitimated in Brazil.
  • The legacy of slavery is particularly perverse, creating a sense of unquestioned social inequality in Brazil. There is also perversity in relation to power, the idea that an elite must inevitably exist, that this abyss of income distribution is just how things are. This is a very bad feeling, very harmful for the collective approach that we need.

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