7th of September Blues

For those of you who don´t know, today is the Brazilian Independence Day. I don´t know much about politics and presume there is not much to celebrate, but you have to be blind not to see that something tense is going on. Something is shifting.

After some massive protesting, Brazilians are slowly learning one thing: the government should fear public opinion more than the press. This may sound a little obvious to countries like the US or European countries, but Brazilians haven´t fully understood the power they have. They limit their participation to voting and complaining, but little is really done toward forcing the government to listen to their woes. No one has been able to explain this to me, 11953267_1032919433414338_6114491051835807124_nespecially Brazilians, but I suspect it is just how Brazilian society works. Get on with your life, look after your own and pretend the rest is not there. That just isn´t working anymore.

Too much neglect has led to this point. Pointing the finger to the government they chose is not going to work. They have to actually get up off their asses and do something. Not many have fully realized this, but it´s changing. The two inflatable dummies created to shout public opinion in the face of the government seems to be a good step. Seriously. It might sound far-fetched, but those dummies represent more than outsiders could comprehend. They are the smack in the face the government needed, the F-you protected under tight guard.

On the government side, they are as deaf as usual although visibly more irritated, scurrying to find more idiotic ways to take money from Brazilians to pay for their inefficiency and bad decisions. Who was it that said people need a common enemy to come together? Well, that is what is happening in Brazil. It´s them against us now.

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On the innocent bystander side, things are also changing. The economic hole the country is in is forcing people to treat customers better, create more innovative ways to attract our attention, offer discounts (whaaatttt?), show more respect, more “comradeship”… before all hell broke loose, you would not get much respect or attention from a shop attendant or waiter. Now they are falling all over each other to convince you to buy or taste something.

The other day, someone told me cars made in Brazil are cheaper in Mexico because Brazilians pay for the higher price. Simple as that. Service providers and manufactures in Brazil (and I presume people here in general) have this annoying habit of lowering quality, raising prices and treating each other badly for no reason. As if wanting to see just how far they can go. Now real-estate is going down, although they still haven´t gotten the knack of attracting customers in creative ways (free TV if you buy a 100,000 BRL 35m2 flat is not creative, sorry) instead of actually putting the price down to, say, what it´s worth. Oh, and car sales are hitting rock bottom. Clothes are actually almost the same price as they are in the rest of the world, although there is still a long way to go. People are now considering fixing things instead of throwing them away (buying = status, even if your fridge is empty) and of buying good quality used cars instead of bad quality new ones just to impress the Joneses.

Yes, things are changing. And as a firm believer that bad things always have a sunny side, I am just watching the social shift and eager to see the outcome.

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Rolezinhos Explained – A reflection of inequality in Brazil

A fascinating new phenomenon that has recently emerged in Brazil is the “rolezinho”, which is the literal translation of “walk around”(e.g. vou dar um role) like when we decide to walk around the shopping centre or streets. The fascinating thing about this new trend is that it is a direct reflection of the extreme inequality there is in Brazil.

A group of people, usually from a same community, such as a favela or “sem teto” (homeless people) notify the press and organize a trip or rolezinho to a shopping centre. The interesting thing is the reaction of the shop owners, attendants and other regular customers, usually of middle and upper classes. They immediately grab their cell phones to call the police and clutch their bags from fear of being robbed. The presence of the press usually strips the police of any reasons for violent action because these people, like all of us, have the human right to be there and simply want to visit a shopping centre. This action forces middle and upper class Brazilian to face their own bias and prejudice without any excuses or justifications. They have no where to run.

The entire action is obviously organized to convey a message and protest against the discrimination these communities endure day after day by people of a different and often foreign social class.  The result is absolutely fascinating, especially when they decide to eat at the food court or use the restrooms. The panic they cause is a punch in the face of Brazilian society in general and a clear message delivered by a specific segment of society simply by being there.

It took me a while to understand what all the commotion was about and I initially thought people were actually protesting in shopping centres, but then, after watching the video, I realized it is all about people simply wanting to visit a shopping centre that has been invisibly “off limits” to certain segments of the population for so long.

I think this is all amazingly positive trend and hope it does not attract wrongdoers and people with bad intentions. If the rolezinhos manage to maintain the peaceful approach and very powerful but silent message they are trying to deliver, I think this will be one of the most successful revolutions of Brazilian society, and proves my assumption that Brazil is not a racist nation, it is a classist nation.

Here, the 19 minute video “So quero conhecer o shopping” (I only want to visit the shopping centre). Enjoy.

The Favela Dance (Dança/Passinho da Favela)

Just wanted to post these videos to show the new dance the kids in the favelas have invented that I find fascinating. You rarely see new dances here that do not have heavy sexual undertones, so this one is a pleasant surprise. Of course, someone had to ruin it and call it “dança foda” but that´s another story.