It’s important to note that by and large, Brazilians weren’t exactly
enthralled by their nation’s 500th birthday. To say Brazilians celebrated would be an
overstatementobserved pretty well describes what happened on April 22nd and the days
leading up to it.
By Brazzil Magazine
The latest Brazilian sex symbol is 92 years old. She is
Dercy Gonçalves who started her career as a vaudeville actress playing foul-mouthed
naughty girls and has been playing variations of this character on stage, big screen and
TV for some seven decades now. In June, the nonagenarian entertainer, who is considered by
some a cult figure, will be shown in magazine spreads across the country in Marilyn
Monro-esque poses modeling a red bodice for women’s underwear manufacturer Du Loren.
Always the provocateur, the actress asked photographersthe
picture session became a media showwhile photos were being taken: "Should I
make a whore-like face?" After seeing the result of her efforts, she commented:
"That was beautiful. I am convinced that I am still sexy."
The actress said that she accepted the invitation to pose for the
risqué pics because she wanted to show that older women are also full of life: "I
decided to expose myself not for the sake of showing off or for sex, but to make the
statement that life starts at 60. It is at this age that people feel free from any
criticism. I had this change at age 80 when I stopped dating."
And she added: "At my age I don’t care about showing my
underwear. The problem is showing my dentures, wig and artificial eyelashes. I had never
made a work like this. I only accepted to make these pictures because they were in good
taste, well produced."
Du Loren is investing $170,000 in this ad campaign. The company
has a mere 15 percent share of Brazil’s women’s underwear market. Compared to previous ads
from the firm this is very tame. In a previous ad campaign that became worldwide infamous,
the company at the end of 1995 showed First Lady Hilary revealing more than a little of
her yellow panties during a visit to Brazil. The two-page magazine ad came with a message
for Bill Clinton: "Mr. President of the United States of America: Your Excellency
can’t imagine what a Du Loren is capable of." At the bottom, in smaller letters,
there was this caption: "A Du Loren’s homage to one of this decade’s most important
In 1998, the Catholic Church became enraged and made a public
appeal for a boycott of the lingerie manufacturer when another publicity piece from the
company showed a young woman dressed in a lacy bra and panties being raped. The ad was
accompanied by this caption: "Legalize abortion fast. I don’t want to wait."
Du Loren’s owner himself, Roni Argalji, was the one who chose
Dercy as the new Du Loren’ girl. He met her when flying from São Paulo to Rio in
February. Denise Areal, Du Loren’s marketing director, has only praise for the actress:
"She is the true woman of the century. She always had pioneer attitudes without
forgetting the respect. She represents the woman that seduces and not the one that stays
awaiting to be seduced."
Dercy let it be known that she is ready to pose in the nude. She
is taking offers right now.
No Indians Allowed
It wasn’t a flattering scene for Brazil while celebrating its 500
years. Far from it. There it was on TV all over the world the military police violently
repressing with tear gas and rubber bullets a peaceful march by some 2000 Brazilian
Indians representing more than 200 different peoples and sympathizers with their cause, in
Porto Seguro, state of Bahia. That on April 22, the same day Brazil was celebrating the
arrival of the Portuguese to the land, 500 years ago and in the same area Pedro Álvares
Cabral’s ships are believed to have arrived.
In a dramatic picture published on the newspapers and on the
Internet, a bare-chested Indian, wearing only swimming shorts, is seen lying down on the
road trying to prevent the advance of the police that just walked over his body. The
police action left dozens slightly injured. Several people including a Xukuru Kariri
Indian, who had both legs burnt, had to be hospitalized.
A meeting between the President and the Indian leadership,
scheduled for Coroa Vermelha on April 22, never happened. President Fernando Henrique
Cardoso accused the Indians of "throwing the President’s invitation back in his
face". The Indians backed out after considering that a meeting with Cardoso, on that
symbolic date, could be misinterpreted. They did not want to be seen as supporting the
celebrations they are against. Instead the Indian movement chose to prepare a document
denouncing the government and the violence they were subjected to by the Bahia police.
The Indian march should have been a moment of affirmation of the
Indian culture and their rights. As Maninha Xucuru, a Xucuru-Kariri leader, declared
before the repressed demonstration, "We hope that, as a result of this process, the
indigenous movement in Brazil will be consolidated. The March and Conference will be
moments for reflection on these past 500 years, and they are useful to strengthen the
ideals and struggles of indigenous peoples. Together we will be building paths to the
future and writing the first chapter of a new history for our children and the generations
Here is the final document of the Conference of Indigenous People
and Organizations of Brazil:
We arrived in the Pataxó village of Coroa Vermelha, in the
municipality of Santa Cruz de Cabrália, state of Bahia, on April 17. On our way to the
village, we have fulfilled the commitment to march on the trail of the great invasion of
our territories, which has lasted 500 years.
We are more than 3,000 representatives of 140 indigenous peoples
from all regions of Brazil. We have crossed lands, rivers, mountains, valleys and plains
once inhabited by our ancestors. Filled with emotion, we saw the regions where indigenous
peoples were once the masters of their own future for 40,000 years. Filled with emotion,
we saw the regions were indigenous people were killed defending the land cut by bandeirantes
(members of early colonial expeditions called bandeiras), adventurers, miners and,
later on, by roads, farms, and businesspersons craving for lands, profit and power.
We marched through these lands in remembrance of our struggle and
pain to retake history in our own hands and once again point to a positive future for all
Here at this Conference, we have analyzed Brazilian society in
these 500 years during which it has thrived in our territories. More than ever, we have
confirmed that this society, whose progress was based on the invasion of our territories
and on the extermination of the people who once lived here, was built at the expense of
slavery and of the exploitation of black and low income groups. It’s an infamous and
The ones who have really shown dignity are those who have been
persecuted and exploited during these five centuries. Rebellions, insurrections, political
and social movements have also marked our history and have established a continuous line
For these reasons, we want to recover this remarkable past and
project it into the future by joining black and popular movements and building a larger
alliance: the Indigenous, Black and Popular Resistance.
Our main demands and proposals are the following:
The main demands and proposals pointed out by indigenous peoples
for the Brazilian State are the following:
1. Assurance of the indigenous rights provided for in the Federal
a. Demarcation and official confirmation of the bounds of all
indigenous lands by the year 2000;
b. Revocation of Decree n. 1,775/96;
c. Assurance and protection of all indigenous areas;
d. Return of all territories claimed by different indigenous
peoples throughout Brazil;
e. Expansion of the bounds of areas that are not large enough for
indigenous families to live and grow;
f. Removal of invaders from all demarcated areas, payment of
damages for and recovery of all degraded areas and rivers, such as, for example, the São
g. Recognition of peoples that made a resurgence and of their
h. Protection against encroachments upon the territories of
i. Dissolution of municipalities illegally established within
j. Respect for the right to exclusive enjoyment of the natural
resources contained in indigenous areas, paying special attention to biopiracy;
k. Interruption of the building of power plants, waterways,
railroads, highways, and gas pipelines under way and indemnification for damages caused by
projects that have been implemented already;
l. Allocation of funds to agricultural projects, among others,
for indigenous communities, so as to ensure their independent subsistence.
1. Immediate approval of Convention 169 of the International
Labor Organization (ILO);
2. Passage of the Statute of Indigenous Peoples being reviewed by
the National Congress, as approved by indigenous peoples and organizations (Bill
3. The end of discrimination, removal by force of indigenous
people from their lands, massacres, threats against indigenous leaders, violence and
impunity in any form. Immediate investigation of all crimes committed against indigenous
people in the last 20 years and punishment of the guilty ones. We demand respect for our
culture, traditions, languages, and for the religions of the different indigenous peoples
4. Punishment of the persons responsible for the criminal
sterilization of indigenous women at the discretion of the community;
5. Recognition of the true history of this country and its
inclusion in the curriculum of schools, taking into account the thousands of years during
which indigenous populations have lived in this land;
6. Restructuring and empowerment of the official indigenous
agency and measures to link it to the Office of the President of the Republic through a
Secretariat for Indigenous Affairs, whose secretaries would only be appointed after the
organizations concerned are heard;
7. Election of the president of Funai by indigenous peoples from
among names suggested by the different regions of Brazil;
8. Education has to be placed at the service of the indigenous
struggle and should be aimed at strengthening our culture;
9. Assured access of indigenous students to federal universities
without any competitive university entrance examination;
10. Reform, expansion and construction of indigenous schools and
provision of education at all levels to indigenous communities, with measures to ensure
the training of indigenous teachers and the provision of a professionalizing secondary
11. Inspection of the application of funds ear-marked for
indigenous schools by an Indigenous Council to be set up;
12. Indigenous education and health care should be placed under
the responsibility of the federal administration. We reject all attempts to promote
state-level administration of the school system or its municipalization;
13. Enforcement of the Arouca Law, which provides for the
establishment of a health care subsystem for indigenous people;
14. Empowerment and expansion of the participation of indigenous
communities and leaders in decision-making processes related to the definition of public
policies for indigenous people. In particular, the Special Indigenous Sanitary Districts
should have full autonomy in their deliberations;
15. The health care system should take into account and respect
the culture of indigenous people. Traditional approaches to health care should be prized
16. Specific quality training for teachers, health agents and
other indigenous professionals working in indigenous communities;
17. Formulation of a specific policy for each region of Brazil
with broad participation of indigenous people and of all segments of society, based on the
existing knowledge and projects;
18. Better means to prevent the military and civil police from
entering indigenous areas without the permission of indigenous leaders;
19. Annulment of judicial actions against the demarcation of
lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people;
We, indigenous people of Brazil, have gone a long way to rebuild
our territories and communities. By firmly taking this history into our own collective
hands, we are sure that we will break away from a sad past and will confidently move ahead
toward a brighter future.
Despite the weight of the old history written by the dominant
classes of this country though their culture, political and economic practices and State
institutions, we have launched our war cry and set the cornerstone for the beginning of a
new history, the great history of the "Other 500 years".
Our indigenous struggle is a tribute to the many heroes who have
died in war during these five centuries. Our struggle is for our children and
grandchildren, so that they can be free people in a free land.
Coroa Vermelha, Bahia, 21 April 2000.
Cheers to the Killed
BRAZIL 500th ANNIVERSARY
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!
This work is in honor of 500 Brazilians who were
assassinated or disappeared in the course of 500 years of Brazilian political history. The
list of names was created entirely based on sources from human rights movements and
organizations. All of those selected were activists, who, in one way or another, were
leaders in the struggle for a more just, humane, and equal Brazil. I did not judge these
individuals by their political beliefs, but rather by the causes that led to their
assassination or disappearance.
By means of this project I do not mean to judge or simply revisit
the history of Brazil, but to shed light on the memory of those who were killed for their
beliefs. As a human rights activist and a sociologist, I have always based my convictions
on concrete facts and alternative approaches for my own life. I was never one to spend
time philosophizing upon the capitalist spirit, but rather on those living spirits who are
crushed daily in urban jungles like Rio de Janeiro. And furthermore, as a critical
analyst, I do not think that it makes sense to celebrate 500 years of Brazilian history,
but instead we should account for those who paid, with their own lives, to build the
A still vivid example was the death of Galdino, an Indian, who
was burned alive in Brasília in 1997. His death confirms my belief that the Brazilian
elite destroyed, in this act, our last opportunity to create a nation for all. Just as he
died, over 4 million Indians also perished. Afro-Brazilians, who were once slaves, are
still slaves today. Even if they do represent half of the Brazilian population, they have
never been able to fully participate in the nation we call Brazil.
If it were not for my conviction that the Brazilian elite is one
of the most perverse and cynical in the contemporary world, it would give me tremendous
pleasure to congratulate Brazil. But, as a political exile who cannot return freely to my
own country, I ask myself, what are we really celebrating?
The only thing I want to do at this moment is to pay respect to
all of those who longed for a Brazil that belongs to the majority, that is, the excluded.
These Brazilian citizens should be remembered as the fortress of this country, which is
still so entirely void of ethics. I am certain that if they were living today, they would
be fighting against corruption, death squads, social and political apartheid, and
massacres like the one carried out by the Brazilian State Police in 1993 in my own
community, Vigário Geral.
And to finish, let me ask: who would allow me to return freely to
my country? The President? As I am not crazy and I have two precious daughters to care
for, I would rather be in the US alive than be dead in Brazil.
Brazil, in spite of your stupid elite, I LOVE YOU!!!
Human Rights Activist
Founder of the NGO House of Peace, Vigário Geral, Rio de Janeiro
Due to an increase in violent death victimizing youngsters and
children, men in Brazil, according to the latest data from the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro
de Geografia e EstatísticaBrazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) have
lost three years in their life expectancy. This information is revealed in the 1999 Social
Indicators Synthesis. While life expectancy is 68.1 years for the population in general,
women should expect to live 72.1 years compared to the 64.3 years for men.
The good news is that life expectancy has increased for six years
since 1980 when Brazilians were expected to live 62 years. But such results have also to
do with where Brazilians live. While southern Brazilians can expect to live up to 70.6
percent, those born in the Northeast shouldn’t expect more than 65.1. Even here there is
some good news when we know that the gap between North and South used to be larger in the
The IBGE study reveals that in 1998 around 70 percent of the
deaths of youngsters aged 15 to 19 were not natural. In the Midwest, 49.3 percent of the
kids who died between the ages of 5 and 9 had violent death. In the state of Roraima the
percentage of kids who suffered violent death was 54.5 percent, the highest rate in the
country for children 5 to 9 years old.
The rate of demographic increase has stabilized around 1.3
percent, the same it was in 1997, with projections that this rate will continually fall to
1.1 percent in 2010 and then 0.8 percent in 2020. The fecundity rate (there are now 2.4
children per woman nationwide) has declined dramatically from the 60s and 70s when every
Brazilian woman had an average of six kids. The numbers also show that the more educated
the woman the less children she has. The lowest fecundity rate was registered in Rio;
where there is in average 1.9 kids for every mother.
After decades dealing with the challenges of educating and
offering jobs to its youth, Brazil will more and more will face the problem of the growing
number of elderly. While there are 13.2 million people over the age of 60 today (7.8
percent of the population), this contingent should grow to 30 million by 2025, according
to IBGE’s projections.
Finding jobs will continue to be a challenge in 2025, instead of
104.5 million people looking for jobs, Brazil will have 138 million searching. Just
getting a job would not be enough for those who are trying to find a place to work today.
That is because 30 million who have a job are making less than the monthly minimum wage,
which is $84 today. The average income for the upper 10 percent of workers today (7.6
million Brazilians) is $1378. 40 percent workers on the bottom level make an average of
$70 a month.
The color factor is also more than evident in income
distribution. Twelve percent of families whose head of household is white survive with
half of the monthly minimum wage per capita. In families headed by blacks there are 30.4
percent of them that have to live on the same amount. The IBGE data also reveal that the
illiteracy rate for whites (8.8 percent) in Brazil is almost three times larger for blacks
According to Sérgio Besserman Vianna, IBGE’s president, "
The inequality is apparent in any aspect that we observe: income, region, sex, race.
Several social indicators improve but the inequality does not decrease. This is a constant
trait of the Brazilian society, which is not the result of the present circumstances but
of 500 years of an unjust history."
Among the positive data revealed by the new IBGE report is the
fact that 94.7 percent of children between the ages of 7 and 14 are in schools today. This
does not hide the fact that 30.5 percent of Brazilians who are 15 or older are
functionally illiterate, incapable of understanding simple forms or medicine information,
as an example.
Life in Brazil
Thanks in great part to globalization and the entrance of Brazil
into the freetraders club, tens of thousands of foreigners, most of them executives, have
descended into the country to work for companies back home. These are people who know the
stay in Brazil will only be a passage, a brief interlude before getting a promotion or
flying to the next country. Right now there are 30,000 Americans in this situation,
besides 35,000 Germans, 12,000 French, 3000 Canadians, 150,000 Spaniards plus thousands
more from all over the world. It’s believed that in the last two years at least 28,000 new
foreigners arrived to work for multinationals. The Labor Ministry informs that these
workers stay from one to three years in the country.
Weekly newsmagazine Veja (circulation 1,500,000) has
published a short piece on the subject recently interviewing some of these executives and
their wives, who seem to be ones who get more involved with peculiarities of Brazilian
life while their husbands mostly spend their time at the protected environment of their
jobs. Most of these people will never learn much about their host country. Only 10 percent
of them are able to communicate in the country’s language, the Portuguese.
Among the most visible new "colonies" is the American
one in the northern state of Bahia where Ford is building a new assembly plant. The large
influx of Spaniards to São Paulo has to do with the presence in the country of
Telefonica, a Spanish company with massive interests in telecommunications in Brazil. The
Renault factory on the other hand brought scores of Frenchmen and women to the southern
state of Paraná.
Veja talks about the phases these executives go through.
At the start they get excited about the weather and the distance a little dollar can go in
the country. For many women it is the first time they can afford what would be a luxury in
their home country: a maid.
In a second phase, starting in the second month, uneasiness or
even despair begins to creep in. They feel they would never be able to live and cannot
understand how people survive and thrive in what they see as unmistakable chaos amid
rampant corruption, ever present misery and violence, and unmanageable traffic.
To make life a little easier, these executives and their spouses
join one of the several clubs and associations that cater to them. Places like the Clube
Internacional das Mulheres de Executivos (International Club for Women of Executives) in
Curitiba, capital of Paraná state. For most foreigners it’s very hard to make Brazilian
friends and many first contacts go nowhere fast. As Celina Sampaio, the Brazilian who
leads the American Society, a club for American executives: "In the beginning
Brazilians invite foreigners to visit them, go out with them, but by and large this does
not last long."
Taken two youngsters in love who would you think would be the
more impulsive, ready to jump head first in a love relationship oblivious of the
consequences? The Brazilian or the Swiss? If you answered Brazilian, as most people with
some familiarity of both countries would probably do, you are dead wrong. That is, if the
conclusions of a new study are right. Brazilian and Swiss professors and psychologists
conducted the survey. The study was done among middle and upper-middle class college
students in Switzerland and Brazil. The researchers University of Lausanne’s
Jean-Claude Deschamps, Universidade Federal da Paraíba’s Leôncio Camino and Universidade
Estadual Paulista’s Celso Zonta say the results were a big surprise for them.
Almost 400 students were surveyed. This included one hundred and
forty two in Switzerland, and 240 in Brazil. While Brazilians are more interested in a
relationship as a step to marriage and social climbing, Swiss students are searching for
intense relationships that have little or nothing to do with professional success. Why the
pragmatism of the Brazilian upscale youth?
The researchers believe that this caution adopted in Brazil and
the desire to start a family early in life has to do with the economic instability
Brazilians have been enduring for generations. The search for lasting and solid
relationships serves as a counterbalance to the economic insecurity.
In an interview with Rio’s daily O Globo, Celso Zonta
raised the hypothesis that the Brazilian behavior can be explained by the role families
play in intimate relationships in Brazil: "Here, the social relationships are valued
above individual feelings."
For psychologist Suzanna Schreiber from Universidade Estadual do
Rio de Janeiro who was also heard by O Globo, "In Switzerland the youngsters
have a more isolated life and this can contribute to the immediacy in the relationship and
possessive love. In Brazil we have the opposite. Social conditions favor the encounter of
generations and contacts are easier to make, There are more opportunities for
The Catholic Church and its omnipresent influence might be
another important factor in this mix. In Switzerland, Protestantism is the main religious
force. And as some experts point out, Brazilians for the most part like to stress the
notion of romantic love, which ideally is also eternal.