Go Back

Brazzil - Nationalism - June 2004

Brazzil Hates Brazil!

Brazil has a very small minority which is fiercely anti-American.
These people are jealous of the power of the United States. 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. They use the gringos as an excuse for Brazil's backwardness.

John Fitzpatrick


Picture 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.

This means 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.

This anti-Americanism 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 Pitt movie.

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.

Wine Whine

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 jf@celt.com.br.
© John Fitzpatrick 2004

Discuss it in our Forum

Send your comments to Brazzil

Anything to say about Brazil or Brazilians? Brazzil
wishes to publish your material. See what to do.