Many in Brazil felt impunity had taken a major hit back in 1992,
when President Fernando Collor de Mello was forced out of office.
Unfortunately, since Collor, far too many cases
have managed to escape unpunished.
By Brazzil Magazine
Gisele and the President
Despite repeated statements by the supermodel herself about how ephemeral her career
would be, Brazilian Gisele Caroline Bündchen, 20, continues to shine in the rarefied
firmament of super stardom. After gracing hundreds of magazine covers and appearing in
fashion shows and ads, the model, who leapt to international fame in 1999, was chosen as
the entrée for the 2001 Pirelli calendar, a free, limited edition publication (40,000
copies) that is sought after the world over. Giselle was chosen for the month of January.
Having started as a staple of greasy auto shops, the Pirelli calendar today is a luxury
item, an object of desire that few people ever acquire.
Gisele needs no introduction. She is the world’s most famous übermodel today. The
beauty, who won Vogue’s Model of the Year Award last year, was discovered at the
age of 14. She was born July 20, 1980, in the little town of Nova Horizontina (pop.
17,000), in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the south of Brazil. She told French
magazine Paris Match: "I was called Olive Toothpick, after Popeye’s wife, or
even The Skeleton. I looked like a little mosquito. My legs were the same size as my arms.
And I was never allowed into the group of girls who tarted themselves up to go dancing and
entice the boys."
Gisele has been the talk of the world: dozens of websites with her pictures
have sprouted and magazines write about her romance with Titanic’s Leonardo Di
Caprio. One of her latest assignments was to model in provocative poses for lingerie maker
Victoria’s Secret. The Brazilian president received her at the end of November and Globo
TV wants her in the cast of Porto dos Milagres (Miracles Port), a new novela
(soap opera) on the dominant network TV in Brazil, which is rumored to be the most
expensive serial Globo has ever produced. Each half-hour episode is expected to cost
$100,000 compared to today’s per episode cost of $75,000.
Four months ago the model went through a screen test for the leading role of Jacobina,
a movie by director Fábio Barreto, whose O Quatrilho (1995) was nominated for an
Oscar as Best Foreign Movie. Gisele never thought she would become famous for her beauty.
Now British tabloids say that the Brazilian model is the first name on Revlon’s list to
replace Cindy Crawford, 34, who was fired after being the symbol for the cosmetics company
for 11 years.
Gisele was the target of criticism recently for having posed for the British men’s
magazine Arena. Controversial American photographer David LaChapelle took the
pictures that some people called "depraved." While the model is not shown
totally undressed in the 25-page photo essay, her poses have provoked furor. In one of the
pictures Gisele is shown lying on a kitchen table with her right leg raised as she holds a
rolling pin in her left hand touching her black panties. On the table there are an empty
egg carton, a pan with flour on it and a just baked phallic-shaped cookie. Standing on a
chair facing Gisele is a child with closed eyes and raised arms.
In another picture she holds a nightstick while wearing a police cap, black bra and
panties. Another page shows her holding a green snake while gardening on all fours. On the
cover of Arena, in which the model appears for the third time since 1998, she is
washing a red car. Once again the image recalls sexual fantasies with the Brazilian belle
clutching a water hose with one hand while holding a sponge full of soap in the other.
Brazil’s bevy of beauties doesn’t stop with La Bündchen. The Pirelli
calendar itself has three other belles in its pages, all of them (including Gisele) shot
by Peruvian photographer Mario Testino in Naples, Italy. They are Ana Cláudia Michels,
Fernanda Tavares and Mariana Weickert. Four nods from Pirelli to Brazilian charm and good
looks. While only 40,000 privileged individuals throughout the world will get the calendar
everybody is able to see the four Brazilian beauties at http://www.pirelli.com.
They are all there together with beauties of other countries: January: Gisele
Bündchen; February: Aurelle Claudel; March: Karen Elson; April: Rhea Durham; May: Mariana
Weickert; June: Fernanda Tavares; July: Angela Lindvall; August: Ana
Cláudia Michels; September: Liisa Winkler; October: Noemie Lenoir; November: Frankie
Rayder; December: Carmen Kass.
Fernanda, 20, also started early as a fashion model. She was still 13 when she starred
in her first TV commercial. Born in Natal, capital of Rio Grande do Norte, the model moved
to São Paulo with her family when she was 14. She got her big break three years ago when
she went to work for the Marilyn Agency, which invited her to live in Paris. Within a few
weeks her career took off. Soon she was modeling for Chanel and Chloé and appearing in
Europe’s main fashion magazines.
Ana Cláudia, 19, is from Blumenau, state of Santa Catarina. Her face and body should
be recognized everywhere since she is starring in the new Calvin Klein’s jeans campaign.
She’s being called the new Twiggy by fashion writers for the way she looks at you. She
became well known in Brazil after appearing on billboards for M. Officer, a clothes
Mariana, 20, has been called Barbra Streisand due to her likeness to the American
actress and singer. She is what can be called an exotic beauty with freckles and a not
very appealing nose. In a recent ad campaign for Ellus she appeared as one Charlie’s
Angels—or Ellus Angels as they are called in the promotion of the Brazilian clothes
manufacturer. Mariana has been living in New York City for the past three years.
Cold Empire of Law
João Herbert, 22, has been in Brazil since November 16. Although he doesn’t speak any
Portuguese and has lived 15 years in the United States as the adopted son of an American
couple, Jim Herbert and Nancy Saunders, being deported to his native Brazil was the only
way he found to get out of jail. Despite being legally adopted, Herbert was considered a
foreigner because his parents never applied for his naturalization. Herbert, who lived in
a Brazilian orphanage his adoption, was imprisoned after falling into a police sting while
trying to sell 200 grams of marijuana to a plain-clothes policeman from Ohio.
The youngster’s case became a cause célèbre because the Brazilian government, on
humanitarian grounds, argued that he shouldn’t be returned to Brazil as he was not a
Brazilian anymore, didn’t speak the language and had no family to go home to. Brazil—together with his adoptive parents—also claimed Herbert didn’t come to the U.S. of his
own volition and that adoption is an irrevocable act. Useless arguments. The Yankee
intransigence won and again, on humanitarian grounds, the Brazilian government granted him
a Brazilian passport. The only alternative left was for Herbert to spend the rest of his
life in American prisons.
The return of Herbert moved Brazilians and after staying a few days in a São Paulo
shelter for the poor he accepted an invitation from a pastor to live with him and his
family in the interior of São Paulo. On his first day in the streets of São Paulo,
Herbert said that he was feeling like a foreigner. "I feel moved and confused,"
he told reporters: "I studied about Brazil in school. Everything seems very different
from the time I left. But I think this is a beautiful and kind country. As for my
situation, many other people in the United States are suffering the same thing I did and
unfairly as it happened to me." His priority now, he said, is to learn Portuguese. He
is already saying some words like muito obrigado (thanks a lot).
The youngster also confided that he wants to study law and become an attorney
specializing in International Law. His intention, he says, is to be able one day to show
Americans the need to change their immigration laws and the way they treat immigrants in
the United States: "There are some laws that are being changed, but this is not
enough. The way they do things there hurts not only the immigrant, but also the whole
While not as dramatically as Herbert, Brazilians are increasingly being rejected and
deported all around the world. According to a story published at the end of November by
daily O Estado de S. Paulo, there was a dramatic 667% increase in deportation of
Brazilians this year compared to 1999. Numbers from the Federal Police show that from
January to October 1,359 Brazilians were barred from entering other countries and were
returned home from the foreign airport. By comparison, for the whole year of 1999 there
were 177 cases of deportation of Brazilians.
In a single day in November there were 20 instances of banishment. There is an average
of six such occurrences a day. Most times the customs people suspect that the person with
a tourist visa wishes to remain in the country. Most of the deported come from the states
of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. The United States leads the countries that
send more Brazilians back, followed by England, Portugal, and more recently, Mexico.
Not every one that is sent back was thinking about living illegally in the foreign
country, but the deportation experience is always humiliating and many times cruel. Some
are kept incommunicado for hours or days in the airport and are taken in handcuffs to the
plane. Their passport is confiscated by the police and given to the plane crew who gives
it then to the Brazilian federal police.
Better than Thou
Like the rest of the world, Brazilians had a raucous and a mirthful time following the
post-election fiasco conducted by its northern neighbors in the United States of America.
Besides repeating jokes told around the world Brazilians had a chance to deal with their
own inferiority complex and for a change felt superior to the Americans.
TSE’s (Tribunal Superior EleitoralElectoral Supreme Tribunal) Information
Secretary, Paulo César Camarão, called the American model for voting archaic. "The
U.S. electronic ballot box is the size of a refrigerator," he said, amused. "Our
system, besides being uniform across the country, is also inviolable, fraud proof, and we
are able to announce the results faster." We can almost see him laughing while saying
this. After all, Brazil has just had national elections in which every votearound
110 million of themwas cast electronically in a computer terminal a little bigger
than a shoebox, which showed the pictures of the candidates so voters could confirm he or
she was the correct person before casting their votes. In less than six hours (5 hours and
42 minutes to be precise) after the end of the elections the TSE already had the official
results from 325,000 ballot boxes throughout the nation. For the president of TSE,
minister Néri da Silveira, it’s amazing that the U.S. doesn’t have a national roster of
voters and its system has no antifraud security.
Forums on the Internet opened their pages so people could talk about the U.S. election.
Hundreds of messages were posted at the Globo portal. "Do you see what happens when
you are outdated technologically?," asked Celso Poletto
"Not only in elections but also in their banking system Americans are behind compared
to Brazilians. Contrary to what happens in the U.S., the Finance Ministry, for example,
accepts tax returns via the Internet." Lúcia Maria de Lima
wrote that Brazilians could teach something to Americans regarding voting: "When the
subject is elections the U.S. is a Third World country. It’s unacceptable that a country
that exercises its power over the world, that goes to space, that keeps secrets, bungles
it so terribly when it’s time to elect the planet’s ‘most powerful’ man."
Some people were mad to see their fellow Brazilians so worried with what was happening
up north. "I think this discussion is a total waste of time," wrote Eric Souza
dos Santos (email@example.com). "I’d like to know if these two American citizens
are going to be elected president of the world or of a single country? I can’t understand
why Brazilians are so worried with an election in which whoever wins will not change at
all the imperialistic relation of the U.S. towards the rest of the underdeveloped world.
Do you think they discuss the fights between our Rio Governor Garotinho with mayor César
Maia? Or the fights between senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães and President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso? They don’t even know what the capital of Brazil is. Stop this buffoonery
and come back to reality. Beware Uncle Sam."
Elói Teixeira (firstname.lastname@example.org) says that Brazilians should pity the American
people for having such an outdated way of voting and invites Brazilians to be solidarity:
"Besides the huge fiasco of showing the rest of the world an election in which the
results came so late and which was subject to mistakes and fraud, there is something even
worse: the indirect election, which can elevate to the presidency a candidate who the
majority has not elected. In face of all of this, we Brazilians, who recently got rid of a
regime of oppression, have to offer our solidarity to the American people. Let’s lend them
our slogans: "The people united, will never be defeated! Democracy in the USA! Direct
For Christiana Bueno
(email@example.com) the American embarrassment and
humiliation is a good lesson for the country: "They are finally tasting what it is to
be underdeveloped with their primitive system of elections. We should send a committee of
observers and share with them our technology in electronic ballot boxes, which is perfect
for the exercise of a true and fair popular election by direct vote." And Ismenia
Albuquerque (firstname.lastname@example.org) went a little further: "The mask has
fallen. The U.S. has shown what in fact it is: a fraud." "The problem is that
Americans are too dumb," concluded Ronaldo Fontoura
Echoing the feeling of other quarters, Mauro Simões
(email@example.com) made fun of
the U.S.: "Due do our interests in that country, I think Brazil should send observers
to follow the ballot counting. Is this a new idea or have I heard it before in a reversed
way?" To which Wilmor Henrique (firstname.lastname@example.org) added: "The U.S. is
having the election it deserves. This way Americans will learn they are not superior to
anything or anyone. They are always interfering in questions of other countries but are
unable to hold an election with openness and competence. Don’t you think there ought to be
an international intervention in the American elections? Didn’t it happen in Peru,
Concurring with many of these opinions and pointing to the good example of Brazil, The
New York Times wrote in its op-ed page on November 24: "One very important lesson
of the 2000 presidential election, regardless of its outcome, is already clearyou
get what you pay for when it comes to tabulating ballots. America’s unwillingness to
invest in a reliable, up-to-date system for casting and counting votes has helped produce
the chaos that now clouds the outcome of the presidential election.
"Brazil, a country larger than the continental United States, held the first
national election conducted entirely on an A.T.M. system, with resounding success. More
than 100 million people voted on 186,000 machines. Alas, in America, the land of rapid
technological change, the act of voting remains a nostalgic one. In New York, we use the
same machines our grandparents did, and a third of Americans attempt to punch out chads
that were state of the art the year the Beatles appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’"
Luís Fernando Veríssimo, who lived and studied in the United States and is one of the
most respected writers in Brazil, couldn’t resist going back again and again to the
American fiasco in his daily column in the dailies O Globo (from Rio) and O
Estado de S. Paulo. In one of them, after explaining the reason for the electoral
college (it was created to maintain the balance between the agrarian Southern states and
the North that was growing demographically) he concluded: "With the present mix-up it
is even possible that the Americans may reform the Constitution and put an end to the
electoral college, and the popular votepreferably registered on trustworthy
machines, as it happens in developed places like Caruaru (a little town in the
backlands)becomes decisive. And, more than 200 years afterwards, the spirit of the
admirable document in which for the first time it was put on paper that common men are
equal to kings, will prevail over their hypocrisies."
Veríssimo returned again to the same topic on November 15 in a piece called
"Disillusion, Disillusion": "Nothing else was serious; we couldn’t trust
anything else but the American democracy. There it was a society that, say what they
might, could give the world lessons of how an electoral system of free choice by direct
suffrage works, and frequently gave. Now we find out that all the recent American
elections, done with the same confusing methods and obsolete mechanisms as this last one
are under suspicionand that the suffrage, after all, was never direct. Nothing is
serious anymore, there’s nothing we can trust."
And when Florida had already certified the victory of Bush, Veríssimo came once again
to the theme writing: "The United States should propose a UN emergency meeting to
discuss sanctions against Florida, that weird place in the shape of an appendix in which
the presidential elections were defrauded more shamefully than in Yugoslavia. An armed
intervention by the NATO forces to end the ethnic cleansing of votes for Gore wouldn’t be
advisable, since there would always be the possibility of the bombs missing their target
and killing Mickey Mouse, with international repercussions, but an economic blockade like
the one they have against Cuba and Iraq would be justifiable. In the recent unacceptable
elections in Yugoslavia the fraud was more discreet. At least the authority in charge of
saying if the votes could be counted or not had not participated actively in Milosevic’s
campaign, as the State secretary of Florida did in Bush’s campaign."
Writing at Folha de São Paulo, Ricardo Freire had a good time making fun of the
U.S. in an article entitled, ‘America Doesn’t Know how to Vote.’ "The United States
might have asked for help from their technologically advanced neighbors like Brazil. We
would send immediately a load of electronic ballot boxesused ones for sure but in
perfect working condition. The Quixeramobim (a funny-named village in the interior of
backward Ceará state) ballot boxes for example. Our election ended and they are there,
inactive, waiting for the next. This way the Palm Beach folks could vote without any
mistakes. Because all they had to do was to punch a number, wait for the picture of George
W. Bush or Al Gore to appear and then press the CONFIRMA key.
"To make things easier, instead of the candidates’ pictures, the electronic ballot
boxes loaned to the Americans could show little drawings of the running parties’ symbols.
If the Palm Beach voter punched the Republican candidate’s number, the image of an
elephant would appear. If the Palm Beach voter punched the Democrat candidate’s number,
the image of a little donkey would appear. I know that by now you don’t believe anything I
write, but I SWEAR the Republican Party symbol is an elephant, and that the Democrat Party
symbol is a little donkey. A little don-key!!!!! It is obvious that a country that allows
the alternating of power between little elephants and little donkeys can’t really go far
"How long will our brothers from the North put up with being at the technological
rear end of the continent? How long will they allow their elites to shroud themselves in
their own backwardness, boycotting high-end technology developed overseas? The United
States cannot insist anymore in its provincialism, in the illusion that they will be able
to continue immune to globalization. Fat chance. Sooner or later the free market will take
care of bringing to the Americans technological innovations from the outside world. Things
like direct elections, the metric system, football (soccer), sunga (short swim
trunks), avocado with sugar."
The Jungle Is Ours
Everyone in Brazil independent of political affiliation seems to be interested in the
defense of the Amazon these days. With American troops training in neighboring Colombia
fears of an invasion have increased. Villas-Boas Corrêa, a well-known political
commentator for Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil has raised the issue recently. In
Congress, Mozarildo Cavalcanti, senator for the state of Roraima, also touched on the
matter of a possible American invasion.
Brazilian borders with Colombia are 1,700 km (1,062 miles) long, an area sparsely
populated and with an insignificant Brazilian military presence. It is a wide open border
where guerrillas, drug traffickers, weapon smugglers, and bio-pirates all come and go
Cavalcanti does not embrace the old idea of massive occupancy of the border by
stimulating internal migration. Disorderly occupation by crowds of peasants ignorant of
local cultures and habits is not something he accepts since past experience showed it to
be predatory. He also has no illusion that it is possible to maintain the Amazon
untouched. He believes, however, that the Amazon should be occupied according to
well-prepared ecological projects that have shown viability and efficiency in the past.
In his own state of Roraima, as well as in the stare of Amapá, self-sustaining
projects were established with excellent results and were internationally recognized as
such. Careful occupation does not destroy but protects forest reserves, teaches the
The senator also warns that the military should modify ancient concepts, abandoning
their old colonial strategy that concentrates the defense of the country on sea borders as
if to defend Brazil from foreign invasion by sea. While there is a concentration of 44,000
military men in Rio, in the Brazilian Amazon, which occupies over two thirds of the
country’s territory, there are only 22,000.
Cavalcanti believes that the United States intervention in Colombia will not end soon.
He says that Brazil has to accept the facts and protect its territory near seven bordering
South American countries. The geopolitics of the Amazon must change, he argues, pointing
that natives who live along the border feel more like Bolivians and Venezuelans than
Among the senator’s solutions are the rearranging of the Brazilian territorial division
in order to assure more efficient administration, and better territorial defense and
geographical equilibrium of the country. Cavalcanti is the author of three projects
proposing a referendum, as the Constitution determines, to create three new states:
Solimões, on the west side of the Amazonas state; Tapajós, on the west side of the Pará
State; and Araguaia on the north side of Mato Grosso state.
Approved with a few changes by a special senate committee, the matter will be voted on
next year in the Senate and then by the full Congress. The Fernando Henrique Cardoso
administration likes the idea; the Ministry of Defense approves of it. Despite the odds in
his favor, Cavalcanti is not overly optimistic. He says, "This is a long and
difficult struggle, but this is the only way we will be able to prevent the risk of
foreign interference in the region."
Fifty years ago this December 2001, a Brazilian cowboy roped a small plane and almost
dropped it to a ranch pasture. If his rope had not broken, Euclides Guterres of Arroyo do
Só, from Santa Maria, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, might have been with the first
lasso kill of a flying object. As a result, Irineu Noal, a young member of the Santa Maria
Aero Club, lost his flying license, paid a fine, and was barred from taking up any
aircraft belonging to the Club.
The penalty was imposed on Noal for his conduct "unbecoming a gentleman and a
pilot" by harassing cattle and people with his joy ridesrepeated dives and low
level passes that, according to the Club records, had "jeopardized the plane and
threatened life and limb of the pilot and of people on the ground.".
It took international news services some time to find out whether the "COWBOY
LASSOES PLANE" item was legitimate. Of course, most not even knew where Rio Grande do
SulBrazil’s southernmost Statewas located. After verification, Time magazine
did print a 36-line story in its February 11, 1952 edition.
Guterres, never known for more than his liking of dark eyes women and his inclination
to join fist free-for-all, later moved to Uruguay where he traded in cattle. A few years
later, he returned to his home pagos and sank back into obscurity. Today, nobody
even knows when he died. As to the foolhardy pilot, Noalnow a seasoned senior member
of the Santa Maria societydismisses lightly his adventure: "It was a little
boy’s joke," he says.
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