The myth of the Brazilian as Homo eroticus has been put again to the test and the results were at once sobering and comforting for those intent on maintaining Brazilian superiority in the field of sexual endeavors. Conducted by Datafolhaa polling institute belonging to Folha de São Paulo, Brazil's largest daily, with a circulation of 800,000 on Sundaysthe Folha Report on Brazilian Sexuality heard from 2054 people varying in age from 18 to 60 years old from 94 municipalities all over the country.
The wide-ranging study showed that 55% of Brazilians had their first sexual experience before they were 18 years old. For 10%, sex happened before age 14. While 43% of the population defends the idea that a woman should be a virgin at marriage, only 18% think the same about male virginity. While 38% of women are against female virginity before marriage, 65% of them oppose the concept when talking about men. In practice, 78% of Brazilian men and 57% of women had sex before marriage.
Most Brazilians (63%) think masturbation is a healthy habit, but 56% of women say that they never masturbated or stopped doing it, while 29% of men say the same thing. Twenty five percent of the population though condemns the solitary practice as an immoral act. The majority of Brazilians also denied having sexual fantasies or desire to engage in more daring sexual acts. An exception is oral sex, which is practiced by 53% of the population, although only 14% admit that they do it frequently. Anal sex is less popular with 39% practicing it and six percent making a habit of it. Thirty five percent of Brazilians have fantasized about having sex in a closed public place (13% acted upon it) and 48% of men dreamed about having sex with two or more women (13% did it). It is however negligible the number of those confessing to using vibrators (4%), going to sex shops (4%), or dreaming about sadomasochist practices (4%).
Contrary to the image of a country of libertines, only 21% believe that they are totally liberated on sexual matters. Another 39% though consider themselves relatively liberated. The stereotype of Brazilians as sexual pentathletes also suffers a blow with the revelation that while 18% have sex every day, a more expressive 47% engage in sexual intercourse less than once a week and six percent are not getting any sex at all. Those who are having their share though are happy and generous with their partners. Sixty eight percent classify as very good or good their current sex life and 34% give a 10 (the maximum score) to their partner's behavior in bed. Another 30% grade their sexual accomplices with a seven at the least.
Brazilians take their time in bed though. A sexual act lasts on average 36 minutes and for 7% of the population it goes on for more than one hour. The sexual act always comes together with an orgasm for 46%, even though there is an imbalance in favor of men with 61% of them always reaching their climax while this percentage falls to 31 among women. Infidelity is relatively mild. Twenty percent of men admit to having extra-conjugal sexual encounters while five percent of women confess doing the same. Among married couples 11% of them say they cheat on their partners. Twenty three percent of men but only one percent of women said they used a prostitute. Prostitution is legal in Brazil. While 64% of the population condemn prostitution as immoral and think it should be made illegal, 29% see it as a job as any other. Fifty nine percent (64% of women) believe also that prostitutes do what they do because they like it.
When asked how they classify their interest for sex, only 2% of men and 14% of women said they had no interest. On the other hand, 25% of men and 8% of women admitted to having a very big interest in sex. Another 18% of women said they had a big interest compared to 34% of men. Most women (49%) showed an average interest in sex compared to 37% of men. But respondents seem to agree that other Brazilians are more interested in sex than themselves. Seventy three percent of them believe that Brazilians' interest for sex is very big (43%) or big (30%).
Are Brazilians living overseas becoming stingier or less concerned with relatives they left back home, or maybe it is becoming more difficult to survive in exile? The amount of money sent by them to Brazil fell by 27% in the first nine months of 1997 when compared to the same period in the previous year. While $2.2 billion were sent to Brazil from those living overseas from January to September 1996, only $1.6 billion made the same trip during the same period in 1997. This continues a trend, since $3.9 billion were transferred for the whole year of 1995 having fallen to $2.9 billion the following year.
Not-very-scientific data from Itamaraty, the Foreign Ministry, reveal that most of the 1.5 million Braziliansthis represents less than 1% of a population of 161 million, who emigrated overseas mostly during the '80s, are
concentrated in the United States (600,000), Paraguay (350,000) and Japan (200,000). The immense majority doesn't seem too connected to their country. In the latest presidential elections a mere 27,831 voted, even though voting is compulsory in Brazil. Here are the 12 foreign cities with the largest concentration of Brazilians: New York (200.013), Paraguay's Ciudad del Este (180.100), Boston (150,000), Miami (140,000), Japan's Nagoya (120,500), Paraguay's Asuncion (107.035), Tokyo (80,639), Paraguay's Salto del Guaíra (60,000), Washington (48,000), Italy's Milan (30,100), Portugal's Lisbon (22,052), and London (19.510).
There has never been such a peculiar and powerful politician like him in Brazil even though coronel (literally colonel, a bigshot) Chico Heráclio never ran for any elective post. At Pernambuco state's Zona da Mata (Jungle Zone) he was a kingmaker from 1925 till 1974 when he died at age 89. Acting as a Mafia boss he, with the help of 400 hit men, took seriously his commitment to guard his protégés, spreading terror and death among those who would cross his way.
The coronel has again become the talk of Brazil's capital, Brasília, since the recent publication of Chico HeráclioA Herança Política (Chico HeráclioThe Political Heirloom). The book was written by House representative Ricardo Herácliogreat-grandson of the folkloric characterwith some help from his uncle Reginaldo Chico Heráclio.
Every morning, the old Heráclio had breakfast with some 100 people and then heard the complaints and requests of everyone of them individually. His 12 large farms were considered sanctuaries and it was enough for anyone to touch the fence of these properties to guarantee protection against the police or any other foe. The coronel even distributed cards with his own picture and the message: "The bearer of this document cannot be jailed, harassed and much less demoralized since he is the godson of colonel Francisco Heráclio."
One never knows where the facts end and the myth starts. It is said that every time an employee of his died he used to send the family of the deceased a casket full of food, enough to last a whole month. Brazil's highest authorities, including presidents Getúlio Vargas and Juscelino Kubitschek, seem to have respected and taken the colonel's advice into account. TV comedian Chico Anísio made him into a popular national character as the likable and funny Coronel Limoeiro.
Among the stories surrounding the coronel there is one involving a reporter who asked Heráclio: "Is it true that your private secretary Zé Vigia has the courage to kill people?" "Courage he doesn't have," replied the colonel. "What he does have is the habit." Another episode deals with a voter who arrived at the polling place, got his ballot already filled and sealed for him and only had to drop the paper in the box. The man could not contain his curiosity though and approached the strongman: "Colonel, I have done everything you asked me to. Could you tell me now for whom have I just voted?" "You scoundrel," replied Heráclio, "don't you know that the vote is secret?"
Known only as M., a girl from Sapucaia (18,000 residents) in the state of Rio de Janeiro, who works in the fields since she was seven years old, got her first doll a few days after celebrating her eleventh birthday. The doll was a gift from neighbors who wanted to show compassion after learning that M., in her fourth month of pregnancy was soon going to have her own baby. The story has shocked Brazil and rallied the anti and pro-abortion forces in the country.
M. was assured the right of an abortionlegal only in case of rape and life endangerment for the motherby judge Luís Olímpio Mangabeira, but at the end Evangelical obstetrician Altamiro Sathler and the local priest Fraga Magalhães were able to convince M's parents, Walter Oliveira, 38, and Maria da Penha, 41, that abortion was not a good solution. For that they even used the American video Silent Death, which shows a fetus in a silent scream while having his head smashed by a spatula.
M. was allegedly raped by peasant Roberto Celeste, 37, who disappeared and was being sought by police. Some have condemned those who made M.'s parents change their minds. São Paulo pediatrician Leonardo Posternak, for example, commented: "In order not to kill the fetus that is inside the uterus, they opted for sacrificing the child who has the uterus."
Even the most optimistic economists wouldn't have predicted at the beginning of the year that Brazilian inflation would be so low in 1997. Some risked 7%, but the numbers are out and the official inflation rate for the year (drum roll) is a mere 4.41%, according to IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e EstatísticaBrazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics). And a miracle that some thought neither they nor their children would ever witness: prices went down. Electronic equipment, for example, fell 6.56% in 1997 and the price of fruits dropped a record 19.63%.
Since the introduction of the Real Plan on July 1994, housing was the item that increased the most (332.11%) followed by communications (278%). During the same period, TV sets and sound equipment had their prices boosted by 3,06%, the smallest increase of all. The biggest inflation rate (6.37%) occurred in Rio while Belém in the state of Pará had the smallest one (0.35%).
The IBGE numbers were based on the INPC-E (Índice Nacional de Preços ao Consumidor EspecialNational Index of Consumer Prices Special), which like the traditional INPC is based on the expenses of an average family earning from one to eight minimum wages. The numbers are collected in 11 metropolitan regions. The difference is that the special index uses data going from the 15 of the month to the15th of the next.
Since 1979 when the IBGE started to measure prices, this was the smallest increase ever. And it would be even smaller if it weren't for some heavy price increases most of them in public services, like telephone, which rose 98%, bus (12.94%), water (12.59%), and power (10,13%). Fuel (22.37%) and gas (15.64%) also increased well above the average. The IBGE is now betting that inflation in 1998 will be around 2%.
Burdened by a $7.5 billion debt, São Paulo, the richest Brazilian city, is making life miserable for its 10 million citizens, leaving trash uncollected, a myriad of potholes unfilled, and not taking care of vital sectors like education and health. Its mayor, Celso Pitta, an unknown before being handpicked by previous mayor Paulo Salim Maluf, had a very short honeymoon with voters. The city's bad shape has been attributed to the way Malufan eternal presidential candidateliberally spent at the end of his administration, leaving the bills for his successor to pay.
Cláudio Fonseca, the president of the Sindicato dos Professores do Ensino Municipal (Municipal School Teachers Union), accuses Pitta of trying to divert $500 million marked for education. According to the law, 30% of all municipal budgets in Brazil must be spent on education. São Paulo has a deficit of 50,000 slots in first grade, says Fonseca. Trying to cope with the situation, children below seveneven when ready to start schoolare not being admitted to first grade. Another 207,000 kids should be in pre-school, according to the union leader.
Critics also accuse the mayor of spending $20 million with publicity in 1997 while public hospitals and clinics don't get enough money. Maluf had made PAS (Plano de Atendimento à Saúde), the city's health service, a model program assisting as many as five million Paulistanos. More than $600 million were spent with PAS in 1997. This year, the budget for health has been cut to $500 million.
Who do Brazilian military students admire the most? A poll by Porto Alegre's Colégio Militar Hyloea magazine revealed Adolf Hitler to be the favorite among those who graduated from that military academy in 1995. Eighty four students, among them four girlssince 1989 the school accepts female studentswere asked to name their favorite personality. No list of names was presented. Forty nine personalities were chosen, with Hitler coming in first with eight votes. Close behind the German dictator, with six votes each, came Tiradentes (Brazil's independence martyr), French heroine Joan of Arc, and the late car racer Ayrton Senna. Other historical characters like Jesus Christ, Napoleon and Einstein got three votes each. American President Abraham Lincoln ranked even lower, with two votes.
Why Hitler? Rafael Brum Astrana, 20, one of the students who chose the German leader, told Rio's daily newspaper Jornal do Brasil: "For his intelligence and power." "Due to his gift for oratory before the crowds," justified Ricássio Fernando de Oliveira Paludo, 22.
Created 145years ago, the Colégio Militar is known as "the academy of the presidents." It is the most respected among the country's 12 military schools. All the military rulers of Brazil between 1964 and 1985 studied there: Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco, Arthur da Costa e Silva, Ernesto Geisel, Emílio Garrastazu Médici, and João Baptista Figueiredo. Among other important leaders who graduated from the elite school we have former minister and senator Jarbas Passarinho, former Vice-President general Adalberto Pereira dos Santos and general Amauri Kruel.
The Army in an official note qualified the Hitler choice as "a result of youth's irreverence". Just in case, academy administrators have decided to review any future issue of Hyloea so to avoid another embarrassing episode.
Between March 20 and 24, 1998, Paris will become a little island of Brazilian culture and literature. Brazil has been chosen as the honorary guest for the 18th Paris Book Fair at the Paris Expo in Porte de Versailles. The fair's logo is a toucan holding a book on his beak. Some Brazilians were afraid that the French would try to sell an image of a tropical and exotic Brazil. But that seems to have been avoided with the participation of Brazilian experts in the designing of the stands.
On some days the expo will not be open to the public, but only to professionals in some way connected to books, including educators, librarians, writers, and editors. Thirty thousand of them came to the event last year. Starting two weeks before the book fair, Paris bookstores are expected to decorate their windows using the theme In Search of Brazil's Discovery. The Paris Fair is a heavyweight. In its last version in 1997, it drew literary agents from more than 20 countries including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
Twenty of the 34 Brazilian authors invited to participate in the event were chosen by Paris bookstore owners together with book editors. They are Antônio Torres, Autran Dourado, Bernardo Carvalho, Chico Buarque de Holanda, Fernando Gabeira, Francisco Alvin, Frei Betto, Gerardo Mello Mourão, Carlos Heitor Cony, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, Jorge Amado, José Sarney, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Márcio Souza, Marilene Felinto, Milton Hatoum, Moacyr Scliar, Nélida Piñon, Patrícia Mello, and Raduan Nassar.
Brazil's Fundação Biblioteca Nacional made its own list to complement the first and added 14 other names: Adriano Spinola, Antônio Olinto, Barbara Freitag, Carlos Guilherme Motta, Carlos Nejar, Celso Furtado, Dias Gomes, Moniz Sodré, Plínio Marcos, Rachel de Queiroz, Roberto Cardoso de Oliveira, Roberto Schwarz, Silviano Santiago, and Zuenir Ventura. All 34 authors should be in Paris for the book fair.
Brazilians' growing thirst for soft drinks seems to be unquenchable. Ten billion liters of the sweet potion were gulped down in 1997 creating a $7-billion business. The four big boys of the sectorCoca-Cola, Pepsi, Antarctica, and Brahmahave been losing ground though while unknown and cheaper brands increase their market share.
The newcomers have names like Bacana, Baré, Brasil, Del Rey, Frevo, Gini, Golé, and Maracanã. Their participation in the beverage sector has increased from 9% in 1991 to 21% and it should grow to 25% by year's end. Credit this to price. While a 2-liter coke bottle goes for $1.50, lesser known brands charge half this price. People are not complaining that the cheaper product has too much sugar or too little gas. It beats drinking water or so they gather.
Brazil has been promoted from the 8th to the 7th largest world economyleaving China, which was number 7, to swallow its dusteven though the country's economy has increased a mere 3.4% during the past year. Another economic miracle? More a like a magician's sleight of hand. The upgrade came as a result of a different way of calculating the riches and not due to real growth.
After years using its own methodology to measure the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Brazil has finally adopted the way the rest of the world makes such calculations. Thanks to the numbers' trick, Brazil's GDP went in a flash from $774 billion to $806 billion, a 4.1% jump. This also means that Brazil's $33.8 deficit has been reduced from 4.5% to 4.2% of the GDP.
The new mathematics also made every Brazilianat least on papera little richer overnight. The country's per-capita GDP has hopped to $5,020. According to the World Bank, this puts Brazil in the company of countries with high-average income. Without any new math trick on hand, growth from now on will depend on sweat and brains, and will be much more painful. Analysts are forecasting a 2% to 3% economic boost in 1998, a number smaller than the population increase and just one third of the Chinese growth.
DuLoren, the Brazilian lingerie manufacturer, which emulates Italian apparel maker Benetton's talent to provoke and scandalize via controversial ads, this time might have strayed a little too far for its own good. Its latest advertising piece drew a concerted flood of ire from the Catholic Church, the government, the feminists, and even from some ad people themselves.
Why all the furor? The latest in-your-face DuLoren's provocation shows a young woman seductively dressed in a lacy bra and panties being subjugated by two men with the obvious intent of raping her. A caption on the ad created by Rio's ad agency Doctor makes the rape-victim scream: "Legalize abortion fast. I don't want to wait."
"I denounce DuLoren as a corrupter of consciences and the public morality," thundered Brazil's Catholic primate, Cardinal Lucas Moreira Alves, president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, suggesting a boycott. "The biggest response to this indignity should come from the consumer who will show his repulse by not buying clothes from this brand," Dom Lucas added. Secretary for Human Rights, José Gregori, sent a letter to Conar (Conselho Nacional de Auto-Regulamentação PublicitáriaNational Council of Publicity Self-Regulation) classifying the ad as a "disrespect to the rights of women." Even before receiving the message Conar had prohibited the ad from being aired.
DuLoren has had several other shocker ads with a man kissing a man, a woman kissing a woman, a nun in panties, a woman judge in lingerie tempting a prisoner, and a grotesque naked Santa Claus being whipped by the ever present semi-naked gorgeous model, among many others. The daring way of doing business seems to be working. DuLoren's sales have jumped from $80 million in 1993 to $140 million last year.
Roni Argalji, DuLoren's owner, who has two daughters, seems incensed with what he calls censorship. "You cannot say the truth in this country. If one of my daughters were raped I would be the first one to defend abortion and I would still publish the ad." Down but not out DuLoren has come back with another make-them-talk campaign. The new piece has transvestite Rogéria between two beauties under Che Guevara's most cited phrase: "Hay que endurecerse, pero sin perder la ternura jamás" (You need to get tough without ever losing your tenderness.)
Leaders from around the world have tried their hand without any luck. Recently, Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, met with Fidel Castro, asked for more freedom in the Caribbean island and condemned the U.S. embargo against Havana. But the U.S. and Cuba don't seem any closer to normalization of diplomatic relations. This is an impossible task. This is a job for soccer legend, Athlete of the Century, Pelé.
The former player, who is Brazil's Sports Minister and is also known as Édson Arantes do Nascimento, has accepted the invitation of a group of Brazilian leftist congressmen, led by Eduardo Suplicy from the Workers Party, to try an approximation between Castro and Clinton. Pelé's spokesman, José Natal do Nascimento, said that the minister would be honored with such a mission. The trip should happen before the start of the World Cup in France in June. Said Suplicy: "The pope has placed the ball on the penalty line. All Pelé has to do is to kick it into the goal."
Brazil is a land of racers inside and outside the racing circuit, having produced champions like the late Ayrton Senna, who was a three-time world champion in Formula One and Emerson Fittipaldi, who won twice the F-1 and once the Indy 500. Brazil has also the deplorable record as having the world's most deadly roads, with around 50,000 dying from car accidents every year (compare this to the U.S., which has an annual death toll of 41,000 with a fleet 10 times as big as Brazil's 20 million cars).
The countryafter decades of lenient laws against traffic-rules transgressorshas now also one of the toughest traffic codes on earth. The problem is few people believe the new rules will be enforced in a land where disrespect for the law seems to be innate. Brazil spends $4 billion a year in traffic-expenses with the bulk of it going to pay for medical costs of road victims.
The day the "Transit Code" started to take effect the press was out in force to find out who wasn't obeying it. The discoveries were sobering. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's limousine took the wrong way upon arriving at Palácio do Planalto at 9:45 AM. The serious infraction carries a $180 fine. Cristovam Buarque, governor of the Distrito Federal was caught jaywalking, which is punishable with a $24 ticket. The reporters also found out that the presidents of both houses of congress, Senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães and representative Michel Temer were not using their seatbelts when they arrived to work. The penalty for their infractions: $80.
Drunk drivers will suffer the steepest of fines: $772, besides the loss of their license and up to three years in jail. There are penalties for those who coast downhill and even for those who run out of gas. This in a country where some authorities advise drivers to run red lights at night to avoid being a crime victim. The new code has also instituted a system of points that go from three to seven, depending of the gravity of the offense. According to the law, drivers who accumulate 20 points in one year lose their license and must take a training course.
A reporter of Rio's daily Jornal do Brasil put the code to the test taking a bus. In a little more than one hour the bus driverhe was fired as soon as his bosses read about his adventures had collected enough points to get his license away, speeding, going through red lights, and not respecting pedestrians.
Government officials have been a little confused, not knowing what authority is going to enforce the new law. While a few cities like Sao Paulo are already enforcing the code, others decided to wait. The Denatran (Departamento Nacional de TrânsitoNational Department of Traffic) has suggested that the lawbreaker be only warned before May 1. Irritated with the action of some cities in which fines are already being meted, Denatran's director, José Roberto de Souza Dias, used obscenity to show his displeasure: "We need to make a fucking campaign to explain to the bloody country this shitty code." Orlando Miranda Ferreira, director of the São Paulo Detran replied with more restraint: "I cannot execute only half a law."
Just a few months before the World Cup, Brazil has won in Europe several accolades attesting to the excellence of soccer practiced in Brazilian lands. First the country won the prize as the world's best soccer team in 1997. Then, 21-year-old striker Ronaldinho for the second year in a row was chosen as FIFA's (International Federation of Football Association) world's best soccer player. Ronaldinho got 86 first-place votes out of a possible 121 from a panel of soccer coaches and personalities. He came 400 points ahead of second place, which by the way is Roberto Carlos, another Brazilian ace. In a separate award, Brazil's national team coach, Mário Jorge Lobo Zagallo, was chosen as the world's best coach in 1997 by Düsseldorf, Germany, IFFHS (International Federation of Football History and Statistics).
Ronaldinho also made news by appearing in the buff on American TV during the Super Bowl. He was one of several athletes who shed their clothes to star in an ad for Nike. In the gloomy commercial the Brazilian player is shown naked under the rain at the side of American star athletes David Robinson, Lisa Leslie, Michael Johnson, and Susie Hamilton. Ronaldinho gets $ 1.5 million a year to endorse Nike products.
The same behavior that got Bill Clinton in hot water in the U.S. has given him top honors in Brazil. The American President for all his real or purported sexual adventures has been chosen as "The Macho of the Year", the first time the tongue-in-cheek prize goes to a foreigner. Explaining the bestowing of the trophy on Clinton, Luiz Mário Ladeira, president of the Minas Gerais state Macho Movement, which confers the prize, said: "Over the past year, no other public figure has honored the traditions of machismo as much as Bill Clinton."
The Macho Movement, created 15 years ago as a good-humored response to feminism, has 5,000 members around the country. The Yankee leader is in good company. Past award winners include Brazilian former president Itamar Franco, who was photographed during Carnaval dallying with a pantyless model who wore only a skimpy T-shirt letting photographers snap her most intimate anatomy.
In a counter-offensive to fight the stereotypical image of Brazilland of Carnaval, lax morals, violence, impunity, and povertybeing presented to foreigners, the Brazilian government has published a slick and thick book showing some other facets of the country. Published in five languages with 20,000 copies printed at a cost of $1.2 millionthe São Paulo Industries Federation (FIESP) and others picked up the tabthe work is not for general consumption, but for opinion makers.
Work of Itamaraty, the Brazilian foreign ministry, Brasil Território, Povo, Trabalho e Cultura (BrazilTerritory, People, Work and Culture) comes with a foreword by president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, texts by Brazilian intellectuals and pictures from 90 of the best national photographers, and has the express purpose of giving a balanced view of the land.
"The government is not hiding the national problems with this book as the President is the first to admit that this is a unjust country," said ambassador Sebastião do Rego Barros Neto, the Foreign Ministry's general secretary. Favelas (shantytowns), however, and other Brazilian eyesores are only shown at a comfortable distance in pictures and practically brushed aside in the text.
"There is a law in the United States that forbids the granting of a visa to people who have engaged in terrorist acts. It's that simple," said somewhat patronizingly Melvin Levitsky, the American ambassador in Brasília as if rules were never broken in the U.S.. Levitsky was talking about his country's decision to deny a visa to Brazilian representative Fernando Gabeira from the Green Party so he could enter the United States.
In 1969 Gabeira had a minor role in the kidnapping of then American ambassador Charles Elbrick. Later he wrote the book O Que É Isso, Companheiro (What's the Matter, Pal) which became a film just released in the U.S. as Four Days in September. The former guerrilla has been invited to participate in the movie's promotion by Miramax, which is marketing Four Daysthe Brazilian choice for the Oscarin American theaters.
The president of the Senate, Antônio Carlos Magalhães, sent Levitsky a petition signed by 26 senators in which they asked for the visa, recalling that Gabeira in 1979 received amnesty from the Brazilian government and that, today, as a congressman he has a diplomatic passport. The letter also noted that the former terrorist is a friend of Elbrick's daughter, Valery.
After meeting Magalhães, Levitsky declared: "I have explained to the senator how the law of my country works." He didn't explain however how they were able to bend a little in order to admit people like Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro.
Angered by the American snub, Dora Kramer wrote in her column in Rio's daily Jornal do Brasil:
"An eye for an eye in cases like that is not the best solution. If it were, we might reason by an absurd hypothesis that nothing would prevent president Fernando Henrique Cardoso from refusing to receive president Bill Clinton because he is the leader of a nation that, one day, backed a coup, which resulted in a dictatorship that banned him from academics forcing him into exile."
Gabeira, who had two other requests for visas denied by the U.S. promised to continue trying. "They always alleged that mine was a special case. This is the first time that I heard about this law." At end of January, after diplomatic efforts seemed exhausted, the Brazilian congress, in a gesture of defiance to Yankee intransigence, decided to designate Gabeira as an observer to the United Nations. The U.S. naturally might now defend its territorial integrity and national security by limiting the congressman's steps to the narrow U.N. territory in New York City.
At the invitation of OAS's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Brazilian attorney Cristina Leonardo should be in Washington by now getting ready to act as a prosecutor against Brazil, which is accused of several massacres committed by the country's police, in particular the mass killing in 1990 in Acari, and in 1993 in Vigário Geral and Candelária, all of them in Rio.
Leonardo knows very well the subject, having been responsible for taking overseas 11 of the survivors of those and other massacres, who feared for their lives. She is prepared to accuse the Brazilian government of not protecting the poorest and the children in particular and not reigning in he death squads. In January an OAS report denounced Brazil for its lack of advancement on guaranteeing human rights and fighting racism.
Another blow against Brazil's image in the human rights arena was dispensed by the just-released U.S. State Department report, which accuses the country of abuses against Indians and children as well as allowing slave work, child prostitution, police death squads and all kinds of discrimination. The report states that murder is the main cause of death in Brazil among 15 to 17-year-old youngsters. Commenting on the work of Secretaria Nacional dos Direitos Humanos (National Secretariat on Human Rights) created in 1996 by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the document concludes that the increasing commitment of the federal government still didn't have any significant impact on the national situation. (See complete report at http://www.brazzil.com/report98.htm)
Responding to one more slap from the U.S., a visibly angry José Gregori, the national secretary for human rights, counter attacked: "This way of organizations acting through reports is something old-fashioned and all it does is to irritate, not helping with anything and generating doubts and misunderstandings." Gregori called the State Department document "prejudiced and elitist" and accused the authors of these reports of always hiding their identities while "rubbing their fingers in the eyes of a certain country." He mocked the routine of these documents: "Year after year it is the same old story. Only now, instead of Remington typewriters they use laptops." Gregori also made an invitation to the report writers: "I would like to invite them to come to the trenches."
Even more irritated was President Fernando Henrique Cardoso when news of the report reached him in Switzerland. He accused the U. S. of meddling in Brazilian internal affairs: "I do not spend my time talking about what happens in the United States," he said, adding with a zest of irony a comment about the criticism that the minimum wage is too low in the country: "Maybe they can help pay for the deficit in our Social Security. The problem with the minimum wage is not one of wishing but of being able to."
In Rio, Milton Corrêa da Costa, spokesman for the Public Security Department, stung by accusations of violence of its police counterattacked: "The United States is the one infringing on human rights rules. It produces the AR-15 rifles, which end up in the hands of Rio's drug traffickers."
One of the most ingrained national beliefs, that female buttocks are Brazilians' favorite anatomical part, has suffered a rude awakening this summer. Ad professionals and plastic surgeons have already declared this the season of the bosom. "The '70s were the apotheosis of the bun. During the '80s, thanks to liposculpture, the waif-thin waist was all the rage. The sex symbol of the `90s, however, is the cleavage," declared Carioca (from Rio) plastic surgeon Arthur Silva Netto to weekly newsmagazine Isto É. Silva Netto should know. Monaco's princess Stephanie and Polish model Eva Herzigova among other have trusted their precious boobies to his cutting skills.
Despite the new trend, plastic surgeries for breast reduction continue to be the most common, even though surgeries for breast enhancement have doubled in the last two years. These operations cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. Leading bra manufacturer Valisère revealed that 35 from its 45 1997 bra models had a wire or a filler to enhance breasts' volume.
As it happened with Ebonics in 1996 when Oakland (California) school officials decided to consider the American-Black dialect as a distinct language, the decision to teach caipirês (hick talk) in the interior of Minas Gerais state is causing plenty of controversy. Opposing the orientation of the state's Department of Education, Ângelo Leite Pereira, mayor of Carmo do Rio Claro, decided that schools in his municipality should teach caipirês, a way of talking usually used in the students homes. "With this method the children don't go home and start ridiculing their parents," explained Rosilene Moreira in an interview with the daily O Estado de S. Paulo. "They might compare both languages and think that the informal one is funny, but they respect both."
Writer Cecílio Elias Neto, author of the Dicionário do Dialeto Caipiracicabano (Information in Piracicaba, São Paulo, at tel.: 55-19-422-6608) is against the idea of including the informal language in the curriculum, even though he believes that it is important to preserve the way people from the area known as Tietê-Piracicabaencompassing the Minas and São Paulo hinterlandtalk. He seems happy, however, to find out that "suddenly caipira is beautiful".
Micro glossary of caipirês
amigá(to become friends) to live together
apitô(he whistled) he died
coisáto thing (it replaces any verb we cannot think of)
cuvitera (for alcoviteira)gossipmonger
cramar (instead of reclamar)to complain
desdá(to ungive) to want something back
intortá o pote(to bend the pot) to get drunk
já que tá que fiquewhat can we do
matá o bicho(to kill the beast) to drink alcohol
morfiosothe best, but also the worst
subi co pé pra cima(to go up with the foot up) to die
torná vortá otra veiz de novo(to come back again once more anew) to return
Pelourinho, in the historical center of Salvador, capital of Bahia state, is a centuries-old baroque jewel that has been recently restored to its old glory. The place has been used as stage for plays, concerts and pop music, being also the showcase for world renowned Olodum band. It is understandable then that there was an uproar when it was announced that É o Tchan band dancer Carla Perez, famous for her lascivious gait and generous buttocks, was going to be shot naked in the venerable square.
Those opposed to Perez's nudity didn't care that the shooting was being made for Globo TV prime time news show Jornal Nacional and its traditional Sunday variety program Fantástico. The filming was almost canceled, but, having friends in high places, La Perez was able to have Bahia's former governor and current federal senate president Antônio Carlos Magalhães, come to her rescue guaranteeing the cultural strip tease.
Salvador placed 120 men to guarantee the dancer's security at Pelourinho and dissuade those more daring from coming too close. The public strip show was so distracting that a close-by school didn't have any other alternative but to dispense their students allowing them a field lesson on human anatomy. After having been the main propeller for É o Tchan band, which sold 1.5 million CDs in 1997, Carla is studying singing and intends to start a solo singing career very soon. That should be as easy as 1, 2, 3, let it drop.