The Blog From Brazil – The Brazilian Spring

by • September 3, 2013 • Blog from brazilComments (4)1201

No – I’m not talking about a bevvy of ladies recently out of a hair removal salon and their Rio1encounter with a trampoline.  I am, in fact, talking about something that is deeply important and could actually be a historic moment in Brazil’s political history.

 

Unfortunately, I am a bit political so every time I have tried to write this it’s ended up reading like an essay on the modern political/socio-economic problems of a developing southern hemisphere superpower.  Then I remembered I’m writing for a gobshite footy fanzine and noy the bloody Sunday Times.

 

So, cutting a really long story really short – Brazil is a geet-mint-as-owt country, and Rio de Janeiro is a properly cushdy manor.  It really is.  But sometimes the country (and city) is like your old school pal who you love to bits, flaws and all, who you defend to the hilt to anyone who doesn’t know him like you do; you know he’s a bit of a scoundrel, but he’s a great drinking buddy.

 

You only need to see the favelas here in Rio to see that something’s not right.  Some of the Rio2biggest slums in Latin America sit side by side with the city’s wealthiest residents, and while everyone is pointing fingers at each other and blaming the other for the problems in their country (“The problem with Brazilians is…” is one of the most common sentence starters you hear here) the status quo continues unchecked.

 

Until recently, that is.

 

The only social class which earns enough to pay substantial amounts of taxes, yet not enough to hide it away from the taxman has been getting rather vexed for a while now.  No-one objects to paying taxes, but they’re hard to swallow when you see (literally) no return for the one third of your salary that goes straight to the taxman: the roads are a shocker, the public healthcare is nigh-on non-existent and the public schools are a joke, just to get started.

 

Then we got the World Cup.  Yay?  Not quite. Rio5

 

At first, the government promised no public funds would be used to build the stadiums, it would all be private investment.  However, things didn’t move forward so the government had to act.  And when I say ‘act’, I mean, ‘pour money into it.’

 

The final straw was, quite absurdly, a bus fare ‘hike’ of 20 centavos.  The people went ballistic and took to the streets.  The protests were a mess, they were badly organised and no-one knew what they were protesting about: “HEALTH!”, “CORRUPTION!”, “SECURITY!”, “EDUCATION!”, “FREE TRAVEL!”…

 

It was perfect timing for the protestors that the Confederations Cup came along when it rio4did – it gave them a global spotlight into which they could shed their grievances.  Throughout the tournament (and at the England friendly) we saw lots of placards asking, ‘where have our taxes gone?’ and that ‘this is a protest against corruption – not o seleção (the national team)’.

 

And they still haven’t gone away yet.  Protests are taking place regularly here in Rio and all over Brazil.  The neighbourhood in which the Governor of Rio lives is battened down on an almost weekly basis due to protests on his doorstep.

 

After 24 years of democracy (the 1st free vote after dictatorship having taken place in 1989) the people have finally realised that democracy means that you have a voice, and if you use it correctly you CAN make a change.  Long may it continue, and here’s hoping that the political classes (on either side of the Atlantic) take note, for the winds, here in Brazil at least, they are a changing.

 

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Corinthians are a massive club with a fervent, almost zealous, support.  They have 3 or 4 well organised supporters groups, the biggest of which is the notorious Gaviões da Fiel (Faithful Hawks), with over 97,000 members they’re the biggest supporters club in Brazil.   http://www.gavioes.com.br/.

 

 

To say they’re a tad excitable would be an understatement.  They have been known to rio6hijack the Corinthians team coach to berate the players for disgracing the shirt.  I had a lot of time for them until they started publicly criticising Ronaldo (the real one) for their team’s inability to qualify for the group stage of the Taça Libertadores in 2011, their centennial year.

 

They aren’t averse to a bit of bother in the stands either.

 

Back in February 12 ‘Fiel’ (‘Faithful’) were arrested in Bolivia after a 14 year old boy was killed following crowd trouble in a Taça Libertadores match between Velez and the Brazilian giants.  After an investigation in which no evidence could be found the 12 fans were released.

 

Last week, a league match between Corinthians and Vasco da Gama took place in the World Cup stadium Estadio Mané Garrincha in the capital, Brasilia, during which, fierce fighting took place between the two sets of supporters.  When it emerged that one of the ringleaders in the Fiel’s ranks was one of the 12 released from jail in Bolivia the head of the Ministério Público (the Brazilian prosecution service), has decided that he now wishes to officially disband the supporters club.

 

They’ll not be happy with that, will they?

 

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Well, I have managed to watch the last two league matches which is nice.  I had to record them which meant I could zip through the tripe that Pardew and Fat Sham contrived to ‘serve up’ for The Best League In The World’s™ worldwide audience.  That match was pretty much watched entirely in fast forward.

 

Then we managed to continue our phenomenal success in the League Cup.  I didn’t see any of the Morecambe game and doubt I ever will.  As sad as it sounds, I really don’t think I’ve missed owt there.

 

And then last Saturday we managed a win over (an admittedly lacklustre) Fulham side.  As they say, you can only beat what’s in front of you and we did that.  Just.  Thanks to Hatem.  We deserved the win and I thought we were much improved from last week, even before Cabaye and Remy came on.  Although Shola generated his usual criticisms, Marveaux had an absolute shocker.  He was the epitome of wastefulness in my humble.  Shocking decision making, no penetration, loose passes (if you could call some of them a pass), losing possession all day long…  I’ve been watching this club for long enough to have been disappointed by plenty of players who looked like they had great potential, and I’m afraid that it looks like young Silvain is heading down the same road.

 

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In the week before the Liverpool v Man Utd ‘derby’  Fox Sports Brasil went all out in their advertising of their big match, billing it as a battle between the two most successful clubs in English football!  “Liverpool, with 18 championships, take on Manchester United, with a record 20 championships…”  Funnily enough, not once did they mention the YEAR of Liverpool’s last title success.

 

JOHN MILTON  

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4 Responses to The Blog From Brazil – The Brazilian Spring

  1. steve McGill says:

    aye but what do they do with all that shaved off f***y hair? – stuff matresses? make cushions?

    there must be lods of barbers about as well. do you have to serve an apprenticeship? – can you set up on your own?

    you’ve glossed over all of the important questions i’m afraid (LOL)

    • John Milton says:

      Steve – cheers for the feedback, much appreciated!

      Yeah, I know I have glossed over the main points, but if I was to get into them the piece would have ended up 5000 words long instead of my allotted 1000!!! There are many, many problems here, but I wanted to let people know that the riots aren’t about a 20c bus fare raise (as a friend of mine asked not so long ago) and that there is quite a bit of anger towards the World Cup (the cost of it in particular).

      The lack of a decent welfare system is (in my opinion) one of the biggest problems, but even Lula’s ‘Bolsa Familia’ (a payment made to families with children) has been greeted with suspicion, and even outrage, from the middle and upper classes. People, literally, die in hospital waiting rooms. Education is a two tier system – to gain any form of decent employment here you MUST have a degree, but the state schools are nowhere near good enough to prepare their students for their A-Levels. Private school = a future, state school = a life of poverty. Pretty much.

      And that’s before we get to the bureaucracy and corruption. Brazilians will tell you that ‘they make it hard so they can sell the solutions’ which pretty much means that you have to jump through a million hoops to get anything done, and it will take a LONG time, BUT by paying your friendly corrupt bureaucrat his asking price it’ll be done instantly and pain free!

      I really wanted to go into all of these things in detail – every day you open the papers to read a scandal that would have a UK politician chased out of office, and in some cases into jail, but here they are protected by law! They are now trying to pass a law which will mean the politicians will NOT be protected from prosecution, unfortunately we need the politicians to pass the law and they don’t seem keen to vote in favour of it. Of course, Brazilian politicians’ votes are kept secret so you can’t even discover if your MP is saying one thing and then voting the other way! That’s a law that could be changed…

      It’s really interesting (and infuriating if you live here) but I aim to try to keep the peace light so I thought that even a half detailed explanation of the current political landscape would be little too FT for TF (see what I did there?)

      John!

  2. steve McGill says:

    John – nothing that you say is going to make me feel sorry for you mate!

    i live in Northampton FFS

    i hope you continue living the dream

  3. John Milton says:

    2 days later and I got your joke! See how desperate I am to gan aal political???

    Aye, Northampton’s got to take it out of you… To be fair, whenever I start getting frustrated with some of the crack that goes on here I just give my heed a shake and scream “YOU LIVE IN RIO, MAN!” internally. Does the trick, like.