William K. Wolfrum's picture

    A Brazilian Whitewash


    As this is being written, thousands of Brazilians have risen up in a sort of “Brazilian Autumn.” What started as a protest over a small raise to public transit fares has now blossomed into a full-on wail of dissatisfaction with the government. And rightly so. While all the world hasspoken ofBrazil’s nascent economic power, the average Brazilian still sees a government that taxes them at ridiculously high ile offering very little in return.

    The beginning of he Confederations Cup has taken the feeling from dissatisfaction to anger, as Brazilians see new soccer stadiums – all much less accomodating to the poor – and an effort to push as much dirt under the rug as possible. And all this bowing to FIFA – including suspending parts of its constitution during the World Cup – has opened people’s eyes to a nation that still lags behind on basic infrastructure. “It’s like a war zone here,” said my brother-in-law Marcelo after visiting a poor northern state in Brazil.

    Aside from the myriad changes and problems the World Cup brings, here’s another – the soul of Brazil is already being sold. Take this recent advertisement from Nivea:


    As a friend told me, “I wonder how much it cost to get all the Black people off the beach?”

    There are some areas in the south of Brazil where the people come from a Scandanavian decent (Imagine Gisele Bündchen), but those are the exception. Brazil is defined by its diversity and even more so by its Black population and the legacy of slavery. Unlike in the U.S., there was rampant relations between the different sects – Portuguese, African slaves & Native Brazilians – from early on. It makes for a diverse populace.

    But, you know, there are still Black people here. Especially being it seems the ad was shot in Rio, which has a teeming Black population. Who go to the beach.

    You view Brazil as a growing economic power and as a land of beautiful people who love samba and soccer. I live here and see a country of ordinary, hard-working people who have grown tired of the status quo and are now protesting a corrupt and out-of-touch government.

    And I support them.


    Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles



    I saw photos of a couple protestors saying much what she is saying. I think that a really effective government would manage and help promote something like the World Cup and then help distribute the funds from the event to help better the larger society.

    Of course that's really idealistic. Heh.

    Depends on how one defines "effective". I'd guess the government leaders think they're being very effective. Obviously, I'd wish for the same type of government that you're wishing for.

    Yeah I agree. I just think it may be the wrong approach to be against the whole thing altogether - you're talking about a bunch of foreigners with money to spend coming in to your country. That can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on many factors.

    At this point, now that (I'm guessing) most of the money has already been spent, you might be right. Of course, it seems that the cost to the citizens (including, but not limited to, taxes) has been far higher than the benefits. This type of thinking is not just limited to Brazil, of course. We see it all the time here in the US, where tax money is used to pay for new stadiums for various teams, with the justification that it will later bring in revenue that will offset these costs. I'm extremely skeptical that the money paid by the average citizen benefits those citizens more than the money they paid out. It should also be pointed out that, as the video points out, there are more costs than just the taxes.

    Yeah and there is certainly a game being played that doesn't really have to do with the communities that pay for all of this. Here in Seattle, there is a largely empty Key Arena in an otherwise renovated Seattle Center. They host concerts there and other big events but the basketball team that always showcased the stadium and that it was largely built for is long gone - in Oklahoma now, of all places. There is a lot of disrespect going on - the Oklahoma team has apparently started playing Macklemore during games.

    Both sides make sense - these big commercial projects obviously do help build up communities but not without a sense of community loyalty from the people involved.

    What the heck kind of Constitution is it that bans Buds at soccer games and FIFA? Wazup Brazil? Hey, we're not talkin' Colt 45's.....just good ole Buds.

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