According to my diary, today is Indian Day and the Brazilian Army Day. However,
the way things are going in the Amazon state of Rondônia, the Indians
who live there and the soldiers based there are unlikely to have much time
for celebrating. Clashes between the Cinta-Larga Indians and diamond miners
have left around 30 miners dead. The Indians have accused the miners, called
garimpeiros, of illegally occupying and mining in Indian lands.
The agency which is supposed
to look after Brazil's Indian communities, Funai, has backed the Indians'
version. Whether the miners were acting illegally or not it is hard to justify
massacring them and leaving their bodies in the jungle to be eaten by wild
animals, which is what the Indians did.
The international human
rights groups and similar bodies, which spend so much time condemning Brazilian
society for its treatment of the Indians have predictably remained silent.
It seems that it is OK for Indians to kill miners but not OK for miners to
dig for diamonds in Indian lands. Two wrongs obviously make one right. Let's
hope there is an official Miners Day coming up to cheer up this hated minority.
Has Brazil Brought
the US Porn Industry to a Halt?
There is an interesting
article in today's New York Times (April 19) entitled "H.I.V. Cases Shut
Down Pornography Film Industry". The report says that America's multi-billion-dollar
pornographic film industry has virtually shut down after two actors were infected
with the virus that causes AIDS. Considering the size of the industry, it
is surprising that something like this has not happened before. The report
goes on to suggest that one of the actors contracted the virus during a visit
to Brazil in March and learned he was infected on April 12.
Another porn actor was
quoted as saying he had been offered a chance to make an adult film in Brazil
earlier this year but had turned it down after the Brazilian agent had been
unable to guarantee that medical tests on actors would be genuine.
If even professional porn
actors can contract the AIDS virus then no-one is safe. I have seen nothing
in the Brazilian press about this but if it is true, it should be a warning
to sex tourists. Brazil has made great progress in tackling AIDs over the
last decade, but the danger is ever present.
Marisa Makes Herself
Brazilian President Luiz
Inácio Lula da Silva's wife, Marisa, is certainly making herself at
home in the official presidential residence, according to the Brazilian media.
She is reported to have asked for some flower beds to be laid in the shape
of the red star of the Workers Party (PT).
The work has been done
and those flying overhead now have a fine view of this symbol of socialism.
The only problem is that "dona" Marisa does not seem to have
considered that this property belongs to the nation and not to the political
party her husband founded it. The PT denied that dona Marisa had come
up with the idea and said the gardeners themselves had thought of it.
Amidst all the righteous
indignation and harrumphing from Lula's many bourgeois enemies it was nice
to see a bit of humor from one newspaper correspondent who suggested that
the next symbol to be planted there would probably be that of Corinthians,
Lula's favorite football team.
Survival of the Fittest
Most people don't associate
Charles Darwin with Brazil. They normally think of him reaching his theories
on evolution when he was in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador.
However, Darwin spent several months in Brazil in 1832 when he was on his
voyage of discovery. Since he was not a crew member of the "Beagle",
he had great freedom and often left the ship for weeks at a time to travel
around Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru.
He devotes the second
chapter of The Voyage of the Beagle to his stay in Brazil and his trips
in the Rio de Janeiro area. He not only describes the flora and fauna but
also comments on slavery and the lives of the Brazilians in a way that makes
one wish he had spent more time here and less in other places.
How about this description
of a phenomenon which is still with uscriminals. "We were accompanied
by the son of a neighbouring farmera good specimen of wild Brazilian
youth. He was dressed in a tattered old shirt and trousers and had his head
uncovered: he carried an old-fashioned gun and a large knife. The habit of
carrying the knife is universal: and on traversing a thick wood it is almost
necessary, on account of the creeping plants.
"The frequent occurrence
of murder may be partly attributed to this habit. The Brazilians are so dexterous
with the knife that they can throw it some distance with precision and with
sufficient force to cause a fatal wound. I have seen a small number of little
boys practicing this art and from their skill in hitting an upright stick,
they promised well for more earnest attempts."
I hope readers will let
me indulge in one of my favorite hobby horsesthe inflated opinion O
Estado de S. Paulo newspaper has of itself. As one of Brazil's more serious
papers it has much to offer and is a must read.
However, it is owned by
a family called Mesquita, which blatantly uses the paper as a vehicle to boost
the Mesquita name and history in a way which resembles North Korea's cult
of Kim Il Sung and Kim Il Jong.
The editor-in-chief, Ruy
Mesquita, recently appeared on television to receive a prize. Ever since,
the readers' letters section has been given over to ingratiating messages
on how marvelous and wonderful he was. The paper has even published lists
Over the years, I have
dearly wanted to send a fawning spoof letter praising the Mesquitas to see
if it would be published but that would be a bit unprofessional. Fortunately
it looks as though someone else has done so or, perhaps, a disgruntled journalist
thinks that things have gone far enough. Here is a free translation of a correction,
which appeared in the April 18 edition.
"By mistake, among
the messages of congratulations sent to the journalist Ruy Mesquita for winning
the Communication Personality Prize for 2004, the name of the publisher of
the Folha de S. Paulo, Octavio Frias de Oliveira, was published in
error yesterday." Since the Folha is the Estado's main
rival it looks as though the Mesquita family mouthpiece has been the victim
of a practical joker.
John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited Brazil in 1987
and has lived in São Paulo since 1995. He writes on politics and
finance and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicações - www.celt.com.br
- which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian
and foreign clients. You can reach him at email@example.com.
© John Fitzpatrick
2004. All rights reserved.