Two Brazilian Garbage Men File Suit Against TV Anchor Who Offended Them

Boris Casoy Prejudice has made headlines again in Brazil, and this time involving reputable Brazilian TV station, TV Bandeirantes, and respected journalist and anchorman Boris Casoy for Jornal da Band, a popular daily news show.

The episode occurred on December 31, 2009. Before the closing of the show, two street cleaners appeared on screen, expressing their votes for a Happy New Year with, peace, health, money, and work. Not being aware that his mike was open, anchorman Boris Casoy commented with his colleagues:

“What a piece of shit, two garbage men wishing Happy New Year from the top of their brooms, the lowest rank in the work ladder (laughter). Two garbage men (laughter).”

It didn’t take very long until the blooper was released on You Tube, and spread around on twitter and the blogosphere. Casoy is known for his strong political views and as fierce defender of moral values and transparency.

His famous catchphrase “What a shame,” an expression he often uses to castigate politicians and society’s misdeeds, is repeated throughout Brazil.

In an attempt to correct the mistake, the journalist apologized the next day by saying:

“Yesterday, during TV Bandeirantes commercial, the audio signal was open, and I made an unfortunate comment, which has offended garis (a politically correct way to call garbage workers). For this reason, I deeply apologize to garis and to all Jornal da Band’s audience”.

On January 4, Elmo Nicácio, from Siemaco (Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Empresas de Prestação de Serviços – Workers Union in Service Delivery Companies) sent a repudiation letter to Bandeirantes Television informing of their indignation. The letter read:

“We DO NOT accept the apologies from your host, which were merely formal, when he was caught expressing exactly what he truly thinks, and unfortunately reinforcing the prejudice still present in many sectors of our society against garbage collectors and street cleaners, those responsible for keeping our capital clean,” stated the letter.

“The efforts of our workers, despite the prejudiced attitudes they face, such as the ones expressed by Boris Casoy,” make us very proud, knowing that we are part of the public health of our beloved São Paulo City,” concluded the text.

In an interview published by Brasília’s daily newspaper, O Correio Braziliense, psychologist Cleide Sousa gave her take on the episode: “The theory of social invisibility holds that due to the fact that some professionals such as garbage men, waiters, maids, etc, are placed in a position of inferiority, they are seen as inferior people, despite the contribution they bring.”

According to Sousa, the stigma faced by street cleaners or garbage workers has a historical background: “Garbage has always been considered a big problem in many societies, entire cities during ancient times had often to relocate due to their excessive garbage. And who are responsible for handling the garbage? Prisoners, slaves, those who are labeled as vagrants.”

She believes the uncontrolled consumerism in today’s world can be associated with the invisibility conferred street cleaners. “To the extent that waste is the result of the disposal of what I do not want anymore, of what no longer is useful for me, I also belittle those who handle it. Not to mention that in general these employees are from the Northeast, Afro descendents,  with little schooling, or in other words, socially disadvantaged people,” she concluded.

Francisco Gabriel da Silva and José Domingos de Melo, the two garbage workers shown on Bandeirantes News have now filed a lawsuit against Bandeirantes TV and the anchorman.

Lawyer Francis Larocca, who represents the National Federation of Workers in Services, Cleanliness and Conservation, Urban and Environment Sanitation, and Green Areas (Fenascon) announced two other lawsuits against the TV station and the journalist. One of them should be criminal, based on prejudice shown by the anchor against two street sweepers.

“It is unfortunate that this occurs against a category that does an essential work for society, that does the cleaning, helping to prevent floods, and is very well liked by society,” said the lawyer. “It was a very great irresponsibility. There must be compensation.”

For José Carlos Machado, a garbage worker in Brazilian capital Brasilia, the remark is ridiculous. “I am very astounded that a person, who goes to college, and gets a college degree, can actually say something so stupid like that.”

According to the São Paulo’s Street Cleaners Union, 80% of these workers are male, 30 years old or older. Their average wage is 850 Brazilian reais (US$ 472) a month. Many of them say they have faced some type of prejudice in the past.

135.000 tons of garbage are collected each day in Brazil from home and public sites. In Brasília alone 4005 workers are responsible for collecting garbage.

The videos showing Boris Casoy offending the garbage workers and then apologizing can be seen at:

Edison Bernardo DeSouza is a journalist, having graduated in Social Communication Studies at Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, Brazil. He lived in the US and Canada for close to 12 years and participated in volunteering activities in social works agencies. DeSouza currently lives in São Paulo where he teaches English as a Second Language for both private English Language Institute and Private High-School. He is currently participating as an actor in two English Musicals in Sao Paulo – Brazil and is pursuing further advancements in his career. He is particularly interested in economics, history, politics and human rights articles.


  • Show Comments (8)

  • Fergie

    Garbage workers
    The garbage workers that clean the streets in the cities around the world are performing a very important job. If the garbage is not pick up for one week most cities will become unsafe to live in. This news man is totaled out of order and I would like to see him do a story on garbage pick up in SP. I would go further and say that he is a ignorant man.

  • Jake McCrann

    Charles Scott; Re:
    I just think it proves my point that you miss deeply cynical sarcasm. If there are people out there so automatic, so “Osama did 9/11” what fucking hope do we have?

    Well here I live now in a country with so much potential its just overwhelming to imagine what Brasilierdos, the romantic language speakers could do without this constant lunacy….we could talk for 100 days about it, and I tell you out of it we will write a Constitution even more perfect than what the Americans came up with 400 years ago.

    But if we can’t remove the criminals with all our money first, then nothing can go forward. they enjoy wealth like a mafia. they are a mafia. Not like a mafia they ARE a mafia. We have this one window right now – the internet. they want to shut it down. In my country Australia they are now censoring the internet like China did – they are using exactly the same technology and company as China did – their name is Google China.

    I am here. Where are you?

  • João da Silva

    [quote]But has it ever occurred to you that those street sweepers are part of a cocaine mafia? [/quote]

    Not all of them, Jake. Apart from it, who gave the right to Casoy and Beting to judge those two? For that matter, who gave you the right to classify them as members of the “Cocaine Mafia”?

  • João da Silva

    Charles Scott
    [quote]As for the a*****e journalist, he should be fired immediately, he is worse than scum.[/quote]

    Though I empathize with your comments, Charlie, the chances of this scum and his colleague(another scumbag) of being fired are remote. Because they are “Opinion Makers”. Scroll up and read the first comment.

    I think McCrann was sarcastic when he made his comment. I watch TV Band and I heard it live. I was vivid with rage and ever since that day, I made it a point to boycott that Network. The work of “Garis” is thankless and ill paid. Why insult them?

  • Jake McCrann

    Charles Scott; Re:
    I agree with you. But has it ever occurred to you that those street sweepers are part of a cocaine mafia?

  • Charles Scott

    Response to Jake McCrann
    Who the fuck do you think you are speaking about the garbagemen in that tone. At least they are trying to make an honest, decent living, which every person has a right to. As for the asshole journalist, he should be fired immediately, he is worse than scum. As human beings, we should always emphathise with each other. The more of us that do that, the better the world becomes.

  • Jake McCrann

    Commending the filthy garbos on this law suit
    Obviously the money you filthy scum garbos will get for ‘damages’ will be hard to prove given that your life is one of collecting the damaged goods of all else. And who should respect you for that and what audacity or where from did you get it that anyone cares what you stupid men on the streets sweeping garbage and racketeering big coacine deals across the country through your garbage-bins cares for you low-life scum hugging under the radar, dodging the bullets, handing out pamphlets, sacrificing nothing for the armies of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    Boris Casoy – what a fraud, what a wanker – now you know. So can I ask you dumb ass-hole being fucked up the ass by Rabbi Moshe? Where you put your money?

  • ..

    Boris Casoy and Joelmir Betting are two anchormen who made their careers bashing the Military government. The writer is right, Boris is a self appointed “fierce defender of moral values and transparency”. Betting is a self appointed “Economic expert”.

    For Boris to come out with nasty comments on the “Garis” who merely wanted to wish a Happy New Year, it shows what sort of low life he is off the Camera. A Hypocrite to boot. Shame on him.

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