Did you know that the name of the brazzil magazine and site is an insult
to Brazil and that your correspondent delights in running down everything
about this country? Neither did I.
However, in the eyes of
someone called Mauro Chaves, who writes a regular column in O Estado de
S. Paulo newspaper, we at brazzil are spreading disinformation
around the world behind Brazilians' backs. In fact we are: "a group which
appears to specialize in destroying Brazil's image abroad."
Remember this the next
time you see an article in brazzil by someone like former education
minister, Cristovam Buarque, Alberto Dines, Carlos Chagas or even President
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
We contributors devote
our time to researching and writing articles on Brazilian culture, politics,
the economy, music, sport, entertainment, food and drink because we hate Brazil.
Chaves sounds like a man
of many talents since he describes himself as a journalist, lawyer, company
administrator, writer, cultural producer and painter. We should be flattered
that he turned his attention to our site but, in fact, he knew nothing of
brazzil until we started a correspondence a few weeks back when I sent
him an e-mail disagreeing with an article in which he claimed that non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) were getting out of control.
He singled out foreign
NGOs and made some claims which were difficult to accept. One was that the
foreign influence in the Amazon region was so strong that there were now Indians
who spoke English and French and did not know Portuguese.
He also claimed that there
were parts of the Amazon region where American and English flags flew. (I
assume he meant British flags but he probably does not know the difference
between England and the UK.)
I questioned his journalistic
ability in publishing information which was unfounded and asked where these
Indians were. In reply I received a long, aggressive message in which Chaves
demanded to know who I was and why I wanted this information. He also alleged
that I was an "adventurer" who knew nothing about Brazil.
I directed him to brazzil
and another site for which I write called Infobrazil in the hope that
he might accept my credentials, stop prevaricating and answer the question.
Instead he claimed that an article I had written about Ayrton Senna was libelous.
For someone who claims
to be a lawyer he does not seem to know the difference between fair comment
and libel. He then launched an attack in his latest column on May 29 making
the absurd claims mentioned above.
I wrote a letter of reply
but O Estado refused to publish in full and printed an edited version
on June 2.
that readers did not get the full background to this affair.
However, it gave me particular satisfaction to point out that
the publisher of brazzil, Rodney Mello, was one of
O Estado's American correspondents in the 80s and 90s,
and the name was in no way an insult to the country.
Blame the Americans
Chaves represents those
Brazilians who are hostile to foreigners and foreign influence in Brazil.
Although Brazilians are generally extremely welcoming and hospitable there
is, unfortunately, a very small minority which is nationalistic and fiercely anti-American.
The British are regarded
as the Americans' running dogs. It was typical of Chaves to assume, among
his many false conclusions, that I was an American. These people are jealous
of the power which the United States has.
They know that Brazil
has the human and natural resources to be the South American equivalent of
the US but is nowhere near catching up. These xenophobes direct their ire
not at the domestic culprits but use the "gringos" as an excuse
for Brazil's backwardness.
unites the left and right, the young and old, although it does not stop them
eating in McDonalds, drinking Coke, renting a video at Blockbuster, dancing
to Britney Spears' newest CD or queuing up in droves to watch the latest Brad
What kind of person do
you think said this: "
the American government is imperialist: it
went to war against Spain, seized Cuba, seized Puerto Rico, made Panama independent
in order to construct the Canal, seized the Philippines, seized the other
islands in the Pacific, grabbed most of Mexico. The whole of California was
Mexican! Texas! What did it do with Texas? When it discovered that Texas had
oil, the American government promoted a movement within Texas to make it independent
and, a short time later the people "accepted" its annexation by
the United States."
Some lefty rabble-rouser
outraged at the American attack on Iraq? No. It was Brazilian president General
Ernesto Geisel criticizing a US State Department report on the human rights
situation in Brazil in 1977. Even though the Americans had supported the dictatorship,
the generals in charge were still biting the hand that fed them. If right-wing,
nationalistic generals felt like that you wonder why they did not join forces
with the leftists.
Amazon Land Grab
A look at
the brazzil forum (www.brazzil.com/forum)
will show the hostility which many younger Brazilians have towards
the US. Almost any criticism of Brazil leads to a counter-attack
in which the Americans get the blame.
If a foreigner were to
write an article on Brazil's dreadful prisons, where murders and massacres
are routine, a Brazilian reader would point to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq
by American troops. To these people George Bush is more of a war criminal
and terrorist than Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden.
Many of these younger
people have fallen for the myth of the "internationalization" of
the Amazon and columnists like Chaves encourage it. Their "evidence"
is a map from an American atlas which appeared on an Internet site some years
ago and showed the Amazon marked as an "international zone".
Anybody with a modicum
of sense knew this was absurd and the whole affair turned out to be a hoax.
However, there are many here who believe that the US is hatching a plot to
grab the Amazon region and exploit its resources.
According to this theory,
American military advisers in Colombia are not there to help the government
fight leftist rebels and drug traffickers but to put this plan into action.
Anti-Americanism is so
endemic that it pops up in the oddest areas. How about this comment from a
recent issue of a magazine called Gula which is devoted to food and
wine, an area you would think would be refreshingly free of political claptrap.
In an article on a survey
of wines, the editor wrote: "Neither of them (the winning wines) was
created to win the approval of the Anglo-Americans, the dictators of world
taste, who influence the market with the same omnipotence of George W. Bush's
soldiers in Iraq."
What does a good wine
have to do with US troops in Iraq and have the French been toppled from their
pinnacle as the world's wine experts? Ironically, on the page opposite there
is an advert from an importer highlighting the fact that one of its wines
appeared on the 100 best wine list of the Wine Spectator, which is
an American publication. Cheers! Oops sorry, Saúde!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.