Sunday afternoon in a dusty road of a residential area of a city in the interior of Brazil. A car stops suddenly. From the car a 15-year old kid gets out together with his father. The very loud speakers scream: “Puta que o pariu (The whore who gave birth to you)”.
My little daughter asks me: “What does the song say?” My answer is to get all of the family out of front room into the back of our house. There the nasty song cannot be heard because we shut the windows despite the hot weather and turn on the TV.
A few minutes earlier, another car with loud speakers was running in the street with another song: “Vote for this guy number X.”
I know nothing of local politics, but I know all the names of the candidates to council members. Why? Because with a noise comparable to the one which hammers the people detained in the US base of Guantanamo, every hour of the day and night cars with loud speakers go down the streets playing stupid songs about the candidates.
Does anybody on earth vote based on a silly song heard in the streets? I do not know, but that is what people do here in the interior of Brazil.
Welcome to the real Brazil. Not fancy Rio de Janeiro or fashionable São Paulo, but the tough Brazil where most Brazilians live. Lawless cities where you get used to anything.
There’s no respect for civil rights. You have to just get used to whatever happens. Here you’re always wrong and you cannot complain. This is the way it is they keep telling me. If you do not like it leave it.
It is amazing how Brazil is developing nowadays. Even with the marked slowdown in the economy, Brazil is much better off compared to 10, 15 years ago. Cities are growing at fast rate.
The interior of Brazil, however, seems to live another reality. Here the time has stopped. Here you have to get used to what happens and not to complain if you don’t want trouble.
The most popular TV show right now is the novela (soap opera) Avenida Brasil on Globo TV. Everybody is amazed by that. It is all too well to turn on the TV and be admiring the “true” Brazil, the real people. Then you turn off the TV and go to sleep in your pleasant apartment in Copacabana or Ipanema.
But if you live in the real Brazil the story is different. Your kids want to sleep but the car with loud speakers stops again in front of your place singing “puta que o pariu” at night. You cannot sleep.
Meanwhile on the backyard of your house a churrasco of what they call here “cat meat” invades your house with a terrible smell at night. Drunk women and men start singing loudly. And you start wondering what the hell you are doing here.
Do you like real Brazil right? Go there, stay there, live there. Then you are going change your mind. The beauty of the place and of nature goes together with people’s wildness.
Brainwashing is so deep that even in the kindergarten children sing “Ai, ai assim você mata o papai” (Wow, wow, this way you’ll kill daddy). The song has undoubtedly double meaning with heavy sexual content, but children don’t get it.
If I weren’t a foreigner would I vote based on the songs heard in the streets? Maybe not. But what I can say for sure is that it’s not easy to adapt to this reality. And an old song comes to my mind: “Should I stay or should I go?”
Max Bono is an investigative journalist traveling in Brazil. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.