Brazilians are back on the streets protesting, denouncing water shortages, budget cuts, and price rises – but in a more politically divided nation, the mood this time round is very different.
By James Young
Brazil may never have talked as much about protests as it has over the last two years. First, there were the huge street demonstrations that spread like wildfire in June 2013. Everyone knows the story by now – a brutish response from the military police poured petrol onto anti-bus fare hike demonstrations in São Paulo, and soon it felt like the whole country (or at least the young and the middle-class portions of it) was on the streets, with thousands marching in the direction of Confederations Cup matches at the Mineirão or the Maracanã. They were complaining about, well, everything – a vague amalgam of political corruption, FIFA and the World Cup, Marco Feliciano, terrible bus services, terrible hospitals, and terrible schools. Meanwhile the world’s TV cameras, here for the football, gaped – would there be a World Cup? Was Brazil falling apart?
You have probably heard that we are living through a difficult water crisis in São Paulo. Longtime From Brazil contributor Claire Rigby wrote an excellent story about it in the Guardian. Then, for reasons which we do not entirely understand but certainly cannot take issue with, Will Butler from the Arcade Fire wrote a song inspired by Claire’s story.
Follow this link to the Guardian to see what he said about São Paulo.
For Brazilians that voted for President Dilma, hoping that her campaign messages of social progress and left-wing struggle would translate to reality, the rise of Eduardo Cunha (pictured above, center) is a nightmare.
The new President of Brazil’s lower legislative house is a dedicated homophobe as well as a classic Brasília dealmaker – with all the messiness that involves – facing numerous corruption charges.
By Anna Jean Kaiser
Eduardo Cunha’s election was a huge shock to President Dilma, and a huge disappointment for anyone on the side of LGBTQ rights in Brazil. But even though he represents Evangelical Christians and is to the right of the ruling Workers’ Party, he is not the kind of figure that is celebrated by Brazilian conservatives, either.
What if they put on Carnaval, and nobody came? A short work of fiction
By James Young
It was a glorious Saturday morning in Recife. A statue in the form of a multicolored rooster, the Galo da Madrugada, towered over the Duarte Coelho Bridge, streamers hung from the lampposts and on every street corner someone was selling beer, snacks or carnaval paraphernalia – rainbow-colored frevo parasols, wigs or whistles.
The VIP boxes that overlooked Avenida Guararapes were packed with local politicians and minor celebrities. In a box sponsored by one of Brazil’s giant beer companies, the mayor of Recife was talking to a young woman dressed in a halter top and a pair of very tight shorts.
“Being on Big Brother Brasil was just the beginning for me,” the young woman was saying. “Really I’m an actress. It’s my dream to be in a novela.”
Not long ago, Dilma Rousseff and Maria das Graças Foster were widely praised as the new faces of Latin America. Now, the billion-dollar corruption scandal has finally brought down Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster (above). She had to go. But with President Dilma Rousseff also against the wall, 2015 is shaping up to be very difficult for the region’s few female leaders.
By Nathan Walters
After months of speculation and some high-profile back-and-forth, Maria das Gracas Foster, Petrobras chief executive since 2012, resigned on Tuesday along with five other directors. The news sent Petrobras stock prices soaring; the rebound made up for losses that came last week after the company released unaudited and incomplete statements.
Investors are right to want new leadership at the company, which is facing serious problems on all fronts. Dilma Rousseff, who is close to Foster, likely did all she could to stave off the CEO’s departure.
By Mauricio Savarese
If you want a sense of how difficult the beginning of President Dilma’s fourth term will be – both for her, and for Brazil – you only need to compare her inauguration to the three previous times her Workers’ Party assumed power.
In better days, Lula and Dilma managed to oversee the rise of tens of millions out of poverty. But Brazil’s workers are now facing a new phase of austerity, and after twelve years of PT power sometimes marked by corruption scandals and painful concessions to the right wing, the party’s core supporters were less thrilled than usual when Dilma took over this January.
In 2014, while Brazil’s players struggled on the field, owners were just as often removing their feet from their mouths. The rich men who run Brazilian football tend to be outright disasters, offending everyone and running their clubs like private fiefdoms. In the video above, Confederation President Jose Maria Marin pockets and steals a medal from a player.
By James Young
2014 was not a good year for Brazilian football. First the country’s World Cup dreams went up in smoke in spectacular style against Germany, and then the Brasileirão national championship, won at a canter by Cruzeiro for the second year in a row, failed to provide much excitement.
But hope is finally at hand for disillusioned fans. After planning and organisation that would put the country’s lethargic football association, the CBF, to shame, the “From Brazil” blog is proud to present Brazil’s newest football tournament: the Futebol Morality League.
Brazil 2014 – Photos
Brazil is large and complicated, and 2014 was big and complicated too. So instead of trying to summarize it, we asked From Brazil friends and contributors to submit photos – any photos – that they thought caught a slice of life in Brazil in 2014.
The captions are in the gallery, and they are also below with links to the photographers and journalists.
Political and social engagement has been a dominant theme at this year’s São Paulo Bienal. Claire Rigby on participating British artist John Barker, who was a member of an armed urban guerrilla group in the UK in the 1970s.
By Claire Rigby
As the São Paulo Bienal draws to a close this Sunday, and visitors hurry for a last-chance look at the sprawling exhibition, a series of images comes to mind again and again, foreshadowing some of the artworks that will be most vividly remembered, perhaps, when the 31st Bienal is far away in the distant past.
It’s hard to imagine Éder Oliveira’s immense, haunting portraits being easily forgotten; or the sight of Yael Bartana’s Templo de Salomão, crumbling to dust as São Paulo stands, impassive, around it.
[Esta matéria foi publicada hoje na Folha. Para ler em Português, clique aqui]
Profoundly memorable too, with its surreally powerful images and simmering radical chic, a collection of posters by the Austrian/British duo Ines Doujak and John Barker, part of the installation ‘Loomshuttles/Warpaths’, has lingered in the mind of many a visitor, crystallising, with their insolence and visual impact, many of the 31st Bienal’s most pressing concerns – colonialism and imperialism, rebellion and resistance.
Nathan Walters asks why so few foreigners recently have chosen to capture Brazil in letters, and takes us through the rare exceptions that open up the country to international readers. Above, the cover of a recently published book by From Brazil contributor James Young.
So much of Brazil’s literary treasures remain locked in the Portuguese language, which is a shame for the world. Though some of the country’s iconic authors, like Clarice Lispector, Machado de Assis, Paulo Coelho and Jorge Armado, have been competently translated, so much remains reserved for those at or nearing fluency.
No translation can compare with work in the original language, and that’s most definitely the case with Brazilian Portuguese. Brazilians love wordplay, and their language is full of idiomatic expressions that are largely untranslatable. Brazilian novels that rely heavily on slang might be pure poetry in the native tongue, but tend to fall flat when translated to another (Paulo Lins’ City of God is one example). The situation can be frustrating for foreigners who want to learn more about Brazilian culture.