According to many Portuguese people 160 million Brazilians speak the
language wrongly. Are all Brazilians illiterate? Would they all be bilingual if they had
to learn Portuguese?
By Brazzil Magazine
It is hard to walk around these days in Brazil without coming uponand
oftenDanielle Winitskowski de Azevedo or Danielle Winits as she is known. She is
Alicinha, that glorious blonde with the winning smile, who stars in Corpo Dourado (Golden
Body), the daily 7-PM Globo novela (soap opera). She is the young lady trying to
sell you something out of billboards and TV and magazine ads. She is the starlet Tetê
Monroe on the musical Cabaret Brazil playing every night to a full house in Rio.
She is the Playboy cover girldisplayed on a 24-page photographic essay by J.
R. Duranwho decided to disrobe it all choosing as background the slot machines and
luxurious beds of Las Vegas casinos.
Is the 24-year-old beauty worried about her roles as stereotypical dumb blondes?
"I don’t fear labels," she told Rio’s daily Tribuna da Imprensa.
"These two characters are very different. The only coincidence is that both are
blonde and were inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Tetê is a starlet from the ’50s battling to
become an artist. Alicinha’s got the fame as dumb blonde, but she has her kind of
intelligence and will be able to fulfill her dreams. I’ve done theater since I was 12.
Naturally, it wasn’t everything pretty, I found several difficulties, but this is part of
life. I don’t believe in trees that are born with flowers."
Danielle has done ballet from age 5 to 18 and nowadays she prefers body building and
power yoga. Late poet Vinícius de Moraes is her favorite author and she always carries
around his poetry book Para Viver um Grande Amor (To Live a Great Love) and she
dreams about publishing her own poems soon. Winits loves Wim Wender’s movie Paris,
Texas. And yes, this romantic dream girl is already taken. She seems happy with her
actor and model husband André Segatti. By year’s end she should also be in movie theaters
in Até Que a Vida Nos Separe (Until Life Do Us Apart). And then it will be time to
start shooting Bolero, another movie.
Being a sex symbol is a "two-edged sword" says the Carioca (from Rio)
actress, who was born on December 5, 1973. You need to overcome this. I always keep in
mind that the sex symbol is not me, but the character I play. As myself, Danielle, I try
to keep the more distance I can from all of this."
The spirits of brothers Cláudio and Álvaro Villas-Boasthe best friends the
Brazilian Indians ever had among the white manwere finally freed from their earthly
chains to rivers and forests and were able to get to the "stars village" high up
in the skies. Their lives were celebrated in a Quarup, the highest homage paid by the
Indians to their dead heroes. Orlando, 84, was there to see it all. He is the last
survivor of the four Villas-Boas brothers, who in the ’40s started contacting tribes on
the border of the Xingu riveran Amazon tributaryin Central Brazil. For 32
years Orlando and Cláudio lived with the Indians. The fourth
Villas-BoasLeonardodied in 1961.
At the Kamayurá aldeia (village) in the Amazon High Xingu, Tacumã is the cacique
(chief) and the host for the Quarup, the ritual party for the dead. Everybody else is
guest: more than 1100 Indians from several tribes. The guests started to arrive on Friday,
on the eve of the celebration. The Yawalapitis were the first to get there followed by the
Waurás and then the Awetis. The Meynako, Kuikuro, Kalapalo, Matipu, Nafukuá and Trumay
tribes came in Saturday, July 25. The Quarup dances, which started Saturday morning, would
last until the breaking of the next day.
Tacumã leads over a community of 300 Indians living in 15 malocas (collective
huts). For 400 years his people have lived on the banks of the Ipavu lagoon.
"Cláudio died in the city," he said, "but his spirit moved here, so we
decided to do the Quarup, so he can rest in peace in the village of the stars."
Ulisses Capozoli, one of the reporters invited for the Quarup, mocked in his long piece
published by daily O Estado de S. Paulo the government involvement in the
ceremonies. "Justice Minister, Renan Calheiros, makes an empty speech, and heeding a
request from Iris Rezende, his predecessor on the post, "warns" the Indians not
to burn the forest. There is a refined irony here. The former minister owns a huge farm
with large deforested areas just beside the park. In the lands of his brother, Orlando,
the spectacle is even sadder. Black and smoldering tree trunks show the effects of a
recent fire although there is a vague economic justification for all of this."
The mainstream media, which was drawn to the spectacle, seemed mesmerized by the
bonfires, the mystery of the jungle, and the solemnity of the dances and chants. And at
times the Indians seemed puzzled by the shoves, screams and lack of sportsmanship
exhibited by photographers jockeying for a better shooting position.
Hugs and Tears
Other white men like anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro and indianist marshal Cândido Rondon
were celebrated in a Quarup, but nothing that compared to the show put on for brothers
Cláudio, who died March 1998 and Álvaro Villas-Boas dead in 1996, plus the Indian
warrior Mariká. Experts believe this was the largest Quarup ever staged for white men.
Maynapu, an Yawalapiti warrior, described the role of Quarup as an integrator factor:
"The dead must be remembered and grieved with respect, but after the pain it is time
for the huka-huka (wrestling) joy. "
The tree trunks were placed in the center of the village. "For us they are all the
same," explained Tacumã, even though Mariká’s trunk is thinner in deference to the
white men, and the one representing Cláudio was placed in the center because he was the
one of the two brothers who lived more among the Indians.
It was a time of high emotion and tears for Orlando, the sole survivor of the
Villas-Boas. He reencountered Indians he hadn’t seen for 30 years. Since 1984 the
indianist had not visited the Xingu Park Indian Reservation, one of the better-known
Villas-Boas accomplishments. "My father, my father", repeated cacique
Kanato, an Indian who is in his ’60s, but who was still a young man when Orlando first met
him at the end of the ’40s. Both men embraced each other and cried.
Not all participants came simply to mourn and celebrate the lives of dead heroes,
though. Pegrati, 15, for example, was excited about the possibility of finding a wife.
Said the Meynako warrior incapable of hiding a broad smile: "After one year in
reclusion the virgins are being released and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. The
Kamayurá girls are very pretty. I might get lucky and marry one."
Amid all the emotion, Orlando Villas-Boas talked about his concern for the future of
the area. In an interview with Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil he declared: "The
High Xingu is a world reference for the preservation of indigenous culture. You need to
have more resources to maintain this status. The biggest danger to the rivers that form
the Xingu river basin is the pollution at the headwater of the tributaries. If the
aggression to the springs is not prevented the Xingu will be jeopardized in the next
millenium." And Orlando, who has already spelled out his wish to be buried in the
Xingu reservation, continued talking about his brother: "Cláudio was my other half.
With his death I lost a piece of my heart. But tomorrow I will also die. The peoples from
Xingu are the ones who cannot die. My brothers died believing that Brazil would not do to
their Indians what the United States did. Some say that our namesmine and
Cláudio’smight be nominated for a Nobel Prize. If this happens the merit belongs to
the Indians who taught us more than learned from us."
The Villas-Boas brothers’ dreams might inspire a new generation of Villas-Boas. Chief
Tacumã made an invitation to Noel, the youngest son of Orlando to live in the reservation
and to continue his father work. The 23-year-old Philosophy (at PUC, the São Paulo
catholic university) and Linguistics (at USP, Universidade de São Paulo) student is not
against the idea but says that is too early for such a serious commitment and
An Indian ceremony to honor the illustrious dead. The honoree is represented by a cut
trunk of a tree, which is painted and decorated with feathers, ribbons, bracelets, collars
and all kinds of colorful ornaments. The trunk or trunks are buried in the center of the
village and the celebrations that include laments, dances, and bonfires are held around
the totem-like symbol. The all-night celebration ends when the first rays of sun appear.
The trunks then are taken and thrown into the river for their final liberating trip.
According to the Xingu Indian Genesis, Mavutsinin, the supreme being and creator, made
man from six mavunhã tree trunks that he buried in an empty village. He then spent
the night singing to the cut trees until sunrise when the lifeless wood gave sign of live.
Mavutsinin made a bonfire close to every trunk to help them but they never became people.
Sad, the god kept singing through another night and another sunrise after which the
exterior white side of the tree became women and the darker wood inside gave origin to
The fish then jumped from the river and the jaguar left the jungle and engaged in a
wrestling match to celebrate the first humans. Quarup, a Tupi word meaning "sun on
the wood", is a reenactment of the Mavutsinin’s ceremonial. After a Quarup there
should be no more tears since the dead are again alive although in another dimension,
Umañoretá, the celestial village where everything is the same as it was on earth.
The Xingu Park
The Parque Nacional Indígena do Xingu, created in 1961 with the help of the
Villas-Boas, today has an estimated population of 6000, spread throughout 30 villages from
17 indigenous nations. The reservation occupies 2.3 million hectares in the northern area
of Mato Grosso state, an area 30% larger than that of the state of Israel. The area is
administered by Funai (Fundação Nacional do ÍndioIndian National Foundation) and
is under direct supervision of the Brazilian Justice Ministry.
My Heart Is Red,
White and Blue
"Yankee, go home" graffiti and American flags being burned are scenes of a
distant past in Brazil. Blame it on Hollywood and the truculence of the US media, but a
poll by InformEstado, a subsidiary from daily o Estado de S. Paulo, shows that in
the eyes of Brazilians the United States is the ideal country, with the most freedom, best
education and government, as well as best economic opportunities.
Offered a chance to live overseas, the majority opted for the U.S.. But few, a mere
13%, would like to make this move a definitive one. The overwhelming majority of the
interviewees288 men and 312 women between de ages of 18 and 60also pointed out
English as being the most important foreign language.
From the 28.2% who traveled overseas in recent years, 55.7% went to the US, with the
rest choosing in order of preference: France, Italy, England, Argentina, and Spain. Thirty
four percent of those who are parents (322) said they would like to see their children
studying overseas and from those 72% chose the US as the best place to study.
According to the New-York-based International Education Institute the number of
Brazilians in U.S. colleges has doubled in the last ten years. In 1997 there were 6,168
Brazilians enrolled in American colleges and universities. Fifty one percent of those were
in graduate courses, a departure from past years when most students were doing
postgraduate work. Brazil’s upper middle class has found out that college prices in the
U.S. are just slightly more than those in Brazil and the American school is generally a
better passport for a good a job. The cost of a second-tier university in Brazil like the
Campinas PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica), not including an English course and
health insurance, is around $1,000. Few Brazilians go to the best American colleges
though. The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, generally does
not admit more than one Brazilian a year to its graduate courses.
The US won again with 33% of the preference when the interviewees had to point the
country with the best life style". The U.S. was also chosen by 47% as the nation with
the best form of government. And what is the country that least welcomes Brazilians? Once
again the United States won with 22% of the respondents choosing it. Talk about unrequited
The song was released in 1997, but only this year "Heloísa, Mexe a Cadeira"
started to make waves. By June it had already become the most requested tune on the radio
and in dance halls and nightclubs in Rio. Says DJ Jorginho: "Every time I play
Heloísa the dance floor gets crowded real fast."
Vinny (Vinícius Bonotto Conrado, 31), who composed and sings the hit, told Rio’s daily
O Dia that he never expected such a huge success: "I couldn’t believe all the
fuss. First it became a gay anthem and then it won the dance floor in a remixed version.
Now, no one can keep still when the music starts." Is there a real Heloísa?
"She can be anyone," says the crooner. For me she is someone who is pretty and
sexy." While the funk-rock rhythm is contagious some people criticize the song’s
lyrics calling them vulgar and in bad taste.
Heloísa, Mexe a Cadeira
|Heloísa, Move Your Hips|
Mexe a cadeira (1)
Mexe a cadeira
E vem, vai…Vem, vai…
Mexe a cadeira, hey
Mexe a cadeira
|Move your hips
And place on the side of the room
Move your hips
Now right on my face
Move the hips
And come, go… Come, go
Move the hips, hey
Move the hips
|1. Cadeira means hips but also chair.
2. Trepar is synonymous with jump on, but also to fuck
3. Mala is bag, but also penis
While presenting a nation where democracy starts to thrive the just-released TSE
(Tribunal Superior EleitoralElectoral Superior Court) map is also a sad portrait of
a country with a majority of illiterate and semi-illiterate voters. On October 4, 106
million voters will be choosing a new president as well as senators, House representatives
and state governors. More than 70 million of those registeredvoting is compulsory
between the ages of 18 and 70 and elective for the illiterate and youngsters between the
ages of 16 and 18are illiterate or never concluded first grade. The illiterate crowd
congregates 8.5 million voters. Another 24.8 million barely know how to read and write.
In São Paulo, the richest and most populated state in the country, 56.54% of voters
fall in this category of no or very little schooling. That makes an army of 13 million
people in that state alone. In the Northeast the situation is the worst. In the
northeastern state of Alagoas, for example, 20.88% of all voters are illiterate. These
voters added to those who never finished first grade make 78.55% of the state’s voting
On top of the pyramid, a mere 3.28% of Brazilian voters3.4 millionhave a
college diploma. Analyzing the numbers, Sergipe state’s opposition senator José Eduardo
Dutra from PT (Partido dos TrabalhadoresWorkers’ Party), commented: "Without
schooling people have less opportunity to vote with awareness."
Ronaldo Soares da Silva, 25, was one of the most faithful and considerate clients of
the Garcia Materiais de Construção, a hardware store in Cachambi, a neighborhood on the
north side of Rio. Da Silva would drop in once a week, go directly to the cashier and take
whatever money was available leaving with a smile and a thankful word. Since April,
according to his own account, the daring robber paid the extortionist visit 19 times.
It all ended when Antônio Garcia, the store’s owner, grew tired of the importune
visitor and decided to call the police who caught the bandit a few blocks from the shop
with the fruit of his last incursion in his pocket: close to $100.
Taken to the district da Silva was booked and charged. The police report stated that
the swindler admitted to have stolen some $5000 every month from several merchants. He
also praised the hardware storeowner for his kindness and calm, which made unnecessary the
use of a weapon, even though da Silva used to threaten to kill Garcia if he reacted or
called the police. Garcia returned the compliment: "He has an incredible chutzpah,
but is a very considerate robber. He would say `I’m sorry’ after each assault."
An offensive bathroom door on soccer star Romário’s recently-opened bar in
Rio has been brought down by the justice. It was a victory for Mário Lobo Zagallo, the
man who last June and July coached the Brazilian soccer squad in the French fields into a
second-place in the World Cup. Zagallo is also suing for $1 million in damages for a
painting on the door that showed him with his pants down sitting on a toilet.
All of this happened weeks before the Bar do Gol, located in the Barra da Tijuca
neighborhood, was even opened to the public. Romário alleged that the drawing was an
homage to the coach and that the door was going to be auctioned after three months with
the money going to charity. Zagallo didn’t buy the explanation and accused the player of
using the caricature as retaliation for being cut from the national team 10 days before
the start of the Cup. The reason for the cut was a calf muscle injury, which two months
after the Cup’s final game is still plaguing the striker.
Since the Cup’s end Brazil mourned and overcame the grief over its loss to France, CBD
(Confederação Brasileira de DesportosBrazilian Sports Confederation) fired Zagallo
and chose his substitute, and the country seems resigned to have not discovered the truth
behind the ill that befell superstar Ronaldinho in the final match, turning him
unrecognizable and useless on the field. But the media continue to give him star treatment
even when announcing that Ronaldinho also had opened its own hip bar in Rio and that his
name was left out the list prepared by the new coach for the first friendly of the
post-Cup national team.
By the way, the new coach in the land where 10 out of 10 are born with the soccer coach
genes, is Wanderley Luxemburgo da Silva, 46. He is the 36th man to occupy the much-coveted
and ulcer-inducing post. As expected, the media have been giving him the honeymoon
treatment despite his habit of using rococo terminology and expressions that don’t make
too much sense and his insistence on always wearing a suit in the European tradition even
during the games he is coaching. He dresses in Giorgio Armanis, Gianni Versaces, Tweeds,
and Vila Romanas and is believed to have an extensive collection of ties to go with 120
shirts and 30 suits. Forty pairs of shoes complete his wardrobe.
With a college degree in administration and another one in PE, Luxemburgo is a serious
adept of marketing for his own work even though he sounds humble when talking about his
plans and the help he will need from aides. He is also an avid reader of neurolinguistics
books and in high demand on the motivational seminary circuit where he is paid an average
of $15,000 for a conference. He talks about creating a "macro plan" for the
national team and preaches the need to "escalate parameters." One of his
favorite maxims: "The fear to lose takes away the will to win."
Luxemburgo believes in computers and always uses animation software Data Show to make a
point. He has even his own Internet site: http://www.wanderleyluxemburgo.com.br As his
predecessor, the new coach also appeals to the supernatural and has his superstitions and
lucky charms. For example, he will not stay in any other suite than the 171 when at his
favorite hanging-out place, the Park Hotel Atibaia, 37 miles from São Paulo.
Born in Tinguá, Rio de Janeiro, on May 10, 1952, he is considered a Paulista
for having developed his career in São Paulo. He has been married for 25 years with
Josefa with whom he has three girls: Valeska, Vanessa, and Vanusa. A Campinas (interior of
São Paulo) manicurist sued him for sexual harassment, but nothing could be proved against
In a show of independence, and a hint that things might have changed, he presented
early August his first team. For the surprise of everybody, among the 22 names a mere four
(Cafu, Émerson, Rivaldo, and Denílson) were in the squad that went to France last June
for the World Cup. He preferred younger and more versatile players who can be used in more
than one position on the field slighting experience. Even superstar Ronaldinho did not
make the cut.
The new coach was a mediocre soccer player from 1971 to 1982, having played at Botafogo
and Flamengo, both from Rio, before starting a glorious coaching career that took him to
15 different clubs, including two from Saudi Arabia. Notorious for fighting prima donnas,
the coach has clashed with several soccer stars, including Romário from Flamengo, Edmundo
from Palmeiras and more recently Marcelinho Carioca from Corinthians.
As coach for Palmeiras, a team from São Paulo, he won the national soccer championship
in 1993 and 1994. He got his first head-coaching job in 1983 at Campo Grande, a Rio team.
His first brush with fame came in 1990 after Luxemburgo took the small soccer club
Bragantino to the São Paulo state championship. He coached Flamengo in 1995, returning to
Palmeiras where he won the 1996 Paulista (from São Paulo) championship. In 1997 he
moved to Santos Futebol Clube. The coach is with Corinthians now and intends to accumulate
the functions of national team coach with his work at Corinthians, until December,
planning to dedicate himself solely to the national team starting January 1999. That’s
when he will begin in earnest the so-called Cup 2002 project.
How long is the honeymoon with the media and the public going to last? While the new
coach keeps winning. It is a daunting task. Much maligned Zagallo was at the helm when
Brazil became champion of the latest Confederations Cup (to be disputed again in January
1999) came in first on the America Cup (the new tournament is June 1999), and won the
pre-Olympic (to be disputed again on January 2000). He has an obligation to at least win
them all. How about this for a challenge?
‘Tis My Land
While some 2 million Brazilians have left their country in recent years in search of
better economic opportunities in Europe, Japan, and mostly the United Statesmore
than 600 thousand came here, tens of thousands have taken the opposite path, fleeing
their countries and looking for a better life in Brazilian shores. Like the Brazilian
emigrants, the immigrants to Brazil are in their majority undocumented people, living
clandestinely, unable to get a job with all the legal benefits or to drive, visit their
homeland or enroll their children in school.
The Federal Police believe that there are at least 100,000 in this condition, with
Bolivians making up the largest contingent. To address their plight President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso just approved a law allowing all undocumented aliens who arrived in
Brazil up to June 29, 1998, to legalize their status. This is the third time since 1980
that the government will give general amnesty to undocumented foreigners.
Despite rampant unemployment and serious flaws in the Brazilian education, health, and
housing systems, the country is still an Eldorado for some immigrants, who sometimes
prefer to work 15 or more hours a day in a sweatshop and receive as little as $400 a month
rather than be jobless back home.
Many of the undocumented are employed by sewing outfits generally owned by Koreans, who
for more than a decade have cornered the clothes-making business in downtown São Paulo,
which now represents around 2000 workshops.
"If there was such a thing as slave work this is something from the past,"
told Woo Jin Kin, 58, director of the weekly SP Journal, in an interview with
newsweekly Isto É. "Today, these workshops generate in São Paulo 150
thousand direct and indirect jobs for Brazilians as well as immigrants from several
In São Paulo, some ethnicities seem to have a monopoly on a market segment. Jews and
Arabs, for example, live peacefully side by side with their clothing and sundry stores;
the Portuguese own the bakeries, a widespread institution that looks more like a
mini-market, with a counter for a fast meal; the Chinese have their pastelarias
(turnover shops): and the Japanese have their stall on the ubiquitous open-air markets and
also own the laundry business. Some illegal Nigerians are making a living by giving
English lessons, Cubans teach salsa, and many Angolans have found a job as hotel helpers
On the other hand, a just-released report shows that 1.5 million Brazilian
youngstersroughly 5% of the young populationhave emigrated in the last two
decades in search of a job. There are today 32 million Brazilians between the ages of 15
and 24, roughly 20% of an estimated population of 162 million.
Inspired by similar lists of movies and books in the United States, Rio’s weekly
magazine Manchete asked a group of eight experts from Rio and São Paulo to present
their 50 favorite romances produced this century by Brazilian writers. Grande Sertão:
Veredas by João Guimarães Rosa came in first with 315 points out of a possible 400,
just slightly ahead of Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma. with 300.
Born June 3, 1908 in Cordisburgo state of Minas Gerais, Rosa, the greatest Brazilian
author since Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908), came from a wealthy patrician
family. He earned a medical degree and worked as a doctor and a diplomat before publishing
in 1946 his first book, Sagarana, a collection of short stories. Grande Sertão:
Veredas (Big Backlands: Pathways, The Devil to Pay in the Backlands in the
American translation) was published in 1956.
Rosa was responsible for inventing a new language mixing regional slang to Indian
dialects and modern and archaic Portuguese and foreign languages. Grande Sertão:
Veredas is the pinnacle of this accomplishment. The novel’s story is an endless
monologue told in the first person by Riobaldo, an ex-bandit, who with unfinished
sentences and invented words recalls what happened to him and sexually-ambiguous character
Diadorim in the backlands, starting at the end of the nineteenth century.
He died at his home in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, on November 19, 1967, of a heart
attack just three days after being formally received at the Academia Brasileira de Letras.
The author, who had a nearly fatal heart attack in 1962 was chosen in 1963 to become an
"immortal", but refused to join the other 39 members of the Academy of Letter
fearing "the emotion of the moment."
A sample from Grande Sertão: Veredas extracted from the episode known
as the "Slaughter of the Ponies," which was eliminated from the US translation:
"I can’t remember how many days and nights it was. I’d say six, but I may be
telling a lie. And if I hit on five or four, I may be telling a whopper. I only know it
was a long time. It dragged on for years, sometimes I think. And at other times, when I
consider the problem, in a different light, I think it just flitted by, in the whiz of a
minute that seems unreal to me now, like a squabble between two hummingbirds…. We were
trapped inside that house, which had become an easy target. Do you know how it feels to be
trapped like that and have no way out?… I can tell youand say this to you so
you’ll truly believe itthat old house protected us grudgingly: creaking with
complaint, its dark old rooms fumed. As for me. I got to thinking that they were going to
level the whole works, all four corners of the whole damn property. But they didn’t. They
didn’t, as you are soon to see. Because what’s going to happen is this: you’re going to
hear de whole story told."
Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) was the most important representative of the modernist
movement in literature at the first half of the century in Brazil. After studying at the
São Paulo Conservatory of Music and Drama he dedicated himself to learn about Brazilian
myths and folklore. His book of verses, Paulicéia Desvairada (Insane São Paulo),
came out in 1922, the same year of the Week of Modern Art, a mark in the Brazilian
culture. Macunaíma , the book elected as second in this list, was published in
1928. The "hero without a character" as Andrade calls Macunaíma, was
inspired by an Amazonian folk hero. The book is a patchwork of Brazilian myths and legends
including those from Indians, Blacks and European immigrants, written in an invented
language. The title character’s motto: "Oh, but I feel so tired." While the book
is now hailed as a masterpiece, when it was first published at Andrade’s expense, critics
and the public alike dismissed it as too hermetic and obscene.
Completing the list’s top-ten literary works we have:
3. Triste Fim de Policarpo Quaresma (Policarpo Quaresma’s Sad End) by Lima
Barreto (283 points)
4. São Bernardo (Saint Bernard) by Graciliano Ramos (271)
5. O Tempo e o Vento (The Time and the Wind) by Érico Veríssimo (247)
6. Memorial de Maria Moura (Maria Moura’s Notebook by Rachel de Queiroz (242)
7. Menino de Engenho (Sugar Mill Boy) by José Lins do Rego (238)
8. Fogo Morto (literally Dead Fire, means a mill that stopped working) also by
José Lins do Rego (208)
9. Memórias Sentimentais de João Miramar (João Miramar’s Sentimental Memories)
by Oswald de Andrade (192)
10. Vidas Secas (Barren Lives) by Graciliano Ramos (180)
Policarpo Quaresma, who gives name to the third book in the list, is a tragicomic
ultranationalist hero. Lima Barreto (1881-1922) initially published the story in 1911 in
installments in Rio’s Jornal do Commercio, as a feuilleton. The book would only
appear four years later.
Internationally-renowned Baiano (from Bahia) writer Jorge Amado is the champion
of appearance in the list with his works mentioned five times although he first appears on
25th place with Capitães da Areia (Sand Captain). He is remembered again from 29th
to 32nd places with Terras do Sem Fim (Endless Lands), Jubiabá, Gabriela Cravo
e Canela (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon), and Mar Morto (Dead Sea).
The list covers the whole century. The oldest book chosen is Euclides da Cunha’s Os
Sertões (Rebellion in the Backlands) from 1902, and the most recent Quase
Memória (Almost Memory) by Carlos Heitor Cony, published in 1995.
Oversights and overratings are de rigueur in such lists. Two of the more conspicuous
are the absence of Machado de Assis, Brazil’s greatest writer ever, from the top ten, and
the low rating (a 24th place) given Euclides da Cunha’s Os Sertões, which is
considered by many the best book written in Brazil this century. There is an explanation
for both cases though.
Machado de Assis (1839-1908) published the majority of his books and the best ones like
Dom Casmurro (Dom Casmurro) and Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas (The
Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas) in the 19th century. The only two released this
century were Memorial de Aires (Aires’s Notebook) and Esaú e Jacó (Esau
and Jacob). The latter, published in 1904, obtained a 12th place and was the number one in
three of the lists presented to Manchete by the jurors.
As for Os Sertões it seems that critics still don’t know how to classify the
masterpiece, presented as an extensive news report by some and as fiction by others. And
how to explain that a genial author like Curitibano (from Curitiba, capital of
Paraná) Dalton Trevisan who only writes short stories found a place among the chosen with
Vampiro de Curitiba (Curitiba’s Vampire)? No explanation there. The juror just
wanted to recognize a great writer. And they probably will contribute to divulge authors
that few people know nowadays, people like Dionélio Machado, Cornélio Pena, Octavio de
Faria, and Armando Fontes.
By the way it would be hard to find a more qualified jury, which was composed of eight
recognized writers and critics from Rio and São Paulo: Ivan Ângelo, Ignácio de Loyola
Brandão, Carlos Heitor Cony, Roberto Freire, Leyla Perrone-Moysés, Eduardo Portella,
Silviano Santiago, and Antônio Carlos Villaça, Cony and Ignácio de Loyola, who were
judges, have their books in the list. An odd situation to be in. Or the authors are too
modest and omit their work hurting their chances or are too eager to win and overrate
their literary contribution. How to ask for total exemption in this case? For your
information, the number one choice of each judge received 50 points, the second place 49
points, and so on.
The Top 50
1. Grande Sertão: Veredas, Guimarães Rosa
I save mine
This one was reported by newsweekly Veja on its little-notes Radar section: The
American consulate in São Paulo didn’t take any chances when notified that a bomb might
explode in the building in which they occupy five floors. The diplomatic officials were
prompt in evacuating all of its personnel. A little detail: they never told the other
tenants in the building of the danger of being blown up. And they all survived in blessed
ignorance a bomb that never exploded. At least the consulate people were unbiased and
equally unfair to all: among the not-warned crowd there were five of their countrymen: the
American workers for Bank of America.
A Whopper of
<bzz>For decades German automaker Volkswagen has given jobs to more Brazilians
than any other private company, foreign or national. Even after a series of economic
crises that cut as many as 20,000 jobs, Volkswagen is still a heavyweight, employing an
army of 30,775 people. The carmaker, however, has just lost its title as Brazil’s largest
employer to an American company, which is already employing 32,000 Brazilians.
Volkswagen has always offered some of he most coveted and well-paying jobs while the
Yankee firm provides some of the lowest wages all over the world. In the new world of a
global and service-driven economy the new champion of job positions, is, as you might have
guessed by now, the one with the golden arches, McDonald’s.
In Brazil’s recent serial killer casethe scariest in recent memorythe
victims were not only the girls killed and their bereaved friends and relatives. There
were casualties all over. As the episode demonstrated, the police are ill prepared to do
any meaningful work and even what’s considered the pick of the press in the country was
not able to escape the sensationalistic, yellow journalism tone.
The case that broke in the news in early July when over a period of three days, four
young female bodies were found at a forest reserve on the skirts of São Paulo became a
free-for-all after Veja, Brazil’s leading news magazine, scooped the competition
giving its cover to a close up of the suspect dubbed the "park maniac" with the
quote: "It was I." It is hard to separate what it was sincere indignation from
jealousy from being beaten at the news race. But the rest of the media were fast in
condemning Veja for lack of scruples in obtaining privileged lawyer client
information and then splashing it over its cover. To obtain the information the magazine
infiltrated a woman reporter who presented herself as a law intern. Given the opportunity,
however, it is probable that anyone of the accusers would have done the same, some experts
The police story introduced a new word to the Brazilian-Portuguese language: ‘motoboy.’
The word ‘boy’ is used in Brazil to designate an office worker, often a young one, in
charge of doing errands and small office tasks like serving coffee. The suspect in the
case, Francisco de Assis Pereira, 31, is a motorcycle courier who confessed to raping and
killing nine women.
He was arrested near the Brazil-Uruguay border, when a fisherman with whom he was
staying denounced him after having seen his picture on TV. Pereira had left the country
for a short stay in Argentina and passed several police barriers without being identified.
To arrive at the suspect police were helped in their investigation by a partially burned
ID card that was found in a clogged toilet where Pereira worked. The document was from
18-year-old basketball player, Selma Ferreira Queiroz, one of the murderer’s victims.
The finding on July 4 of two female bodies at Parque do Estado (State Park)a
550-hectare forest park on São Paulo’s southern borderwas the first hint that there
was a serial killer on the loose. Two days later two other bodies were found on the
vicinity of the first ones. All four bodies were naked, lying face down, with their legs
On July 7 the police had identified one of the bodies, that of Selma. On July 9,
authorities added to the list of victims another young lady whose body was found in
January in the same area and then another found in May. Before the end of the month the
list would grow to include eight dead girls.
By July 15 several ladies had told authorities about their experience with the same
man. They all had been approached by the maniac with the story that he was a talent scout
looking for models and that he wanted to take their pictures.
After divulging drawings of the suspect based on the recollection of witnesses, the
police, thanks to an anonymous tip, were able to get a picture of Pereira on July 17. The
discovery of semen in Selma’s body on July 30 made the police believe that they were close
to getting serious evidence against the criminal. It was revealed a little later though
that the semen sample was mishandled and could not be used.
Luck and Lack
The São Paulo police revealed that they have no laboratory to examine such samples and
have to count on the good will of college labs to do the work. Some police officers used
the occasion to complain that they didn’t have enough vehicles to go out on patrol and
that they had sometimes to make a collection among themselves to buy material for
fingerprinting, for example. On August 4 the suspect was arrested in Itaqui, state of Rio
Grande do Sul, after being denounced by fisherman João Carlos Villaverde. During a press
conference in São Paulo on August 7 the police indicted Pereira as the murderer of Selma
Queiroz. Pereira denied being a murderer and launched a challenge to his accusers:
"You have to prove it!" The phrase became the headline of Jornal da Tarde,
sister publication of traditional O Estado de São Paulo.
That same night, talking to his lawyers and police officers, the suspect confessed to
having killed nine women. The Veja cover story was based on transcripts from this
candid talk. The self-confessed murderer then took police to a still-undiscovered body as
evidence that he is saying the truth.
The press didn’t omit the most clinical details often identifying victims and witnesses
with full names. Folha de São Paulo, the leading paper in São Paulo, which had
one of the less sensationalistic approaches, so described a police finding: "The
spermatozoids were found in the rectum channel of Selma Ferreira Queiroz whose body is
among those found at the park. They indicate that she had maintained anal sexual
relations" "What if the girl did not maintain anything and was simply raped? She
is not here anymore to tell her story," wrote Folha ombudswoman Renata Lo
Prete, on her Sunday column, criticizing her own paper.
Jekyll and Hyde
Pereira was living in Santo André, the A of the ABCD region in the Greater São Paulo.
The suspect had been investigated at the beginning of the year after a girl he was going
out with disappeared and he was even jailed after being accused of rape in São José do
Rio Pretointerior of São Pauloin 1995. He posted bail and was let go at that
On explaining why he committed the crimes, Pereira told judge José Rui Borges: "I
was possessed by an evil force." and added that he had a double-sided personality and
that the "bad side" sometimes took over. Pereira’s lawyers decided for a plea of
insanity, hoping for a lighter sentence than 30 years in prison, which is the maximum
sentence allowed under Brazilian law.
The suspect also confessed using shoelaces to strangle his victims after sexually
abusing them. On his initial approach he was a charming seducer, who praised the prey and
talked about their bright future as models. In the park he became a monster, strangling
and biting their victims, sometimes taking pieces of their vulva.
Born and raised in an extremely religious family, Francisco de Assis, was named after
the Italian saint Francis of Assisi. He explained: "I am a person with a good and a
bad personality. Sometimes I am not able to dominate this dark side. I pray, I pray, but I
cannot resist and then I chase after women. I wished that they would not go with me into
the park, that they would run away."
Question of Properness
The Park Maniac episode served to illustrate how Veja, a press powerhouse, which
with more than 1.2 million copies a weekit is the world’s fourth largest
newsmagazine right after American Time, Newsweek and US News and World
Report besides having no scruples in order to get a scoop, has feet of clay and
a heavy hand. The magazine summarilyand by e-mail, mind youfired its TV
critic, Eugênio Bucci, after according to the publicationthe contributor
failed to defend forcefully the role of the magazine covering the whole episode.
Bucci appeared on cable TV Globonews’s N de Notícia (N for News), a program in
which was discussed how the media had (mis)behaved in the case. Journalist and former Veja
editor Augusto Nunes, one of the guests on the show, contended that the newsweekly had
mangled law and ethics to get its scoop. Fact is that even if Bucci wanted to defend his
bosses he wouldn’t be able to unless he had a crystal ball. Nunes’s remarks were made
three days after Bucci had talked and added to the program on the editing room.
Nunes himself came in defense of Bucci writing: "How could he guess what somebody
would say 72 hours later? This clarification being made, Veja has no reason not to
bring Eugênio Bucci back to the page he used to sign. The time for a magnanimous gesture
Ironically, over the years, Veja has adopted a posture of arbiter of good taste
and probity in every field of Brazilian life. The magazine once again gave proof that it
believes to be beyond any criticism or reproach. As a popular Brazilian saying goes:
"Pepper on somebody else’s eyes is eye drop."
But there was more in store. On its August 26, 1998 issue, two weeks after the "It
was I" edition, Veja published a clone of the criticized cover. So close were
the two versions that at first blush a subscriber would think there had been a snafu at
the magazine’s mailing department and that he was receiving the old copy again.
super close up of a face in a picture taken from the same angle was again on the cover as
well as the confession in large capital letters. "It was I." Only, this time the
photo was that of US President Bill Clinton. It was clear the equation: the rapist
murderer crimes were the same as the Yankee president’s sexual escapades. Odd black humor.
Has the magazine gone the Mad way?
Veja did not explain, but it published reader Evandro Paes dos Reis’s protest in
its letter section: "It was in supreme bad taste this week’s Veja cover. In
using the same layout of issue 1559, where the highlight is the park’s
"monster", Veja has placed Bill Clinton in a situation in which none of
us would like to be: to be compared to a rapist and maniac. We know Mr. Clinton made some
mistakes, but to use the cover of Veja to make this kind of insinuation does not
befit a magazine of such weight and prestige."
The letter appeared after another one celebrating the magazine’s comparison and signed
by Adriano Alves Gomes: "I thought it was a superb stroke of genius and made a lot of
sense the comparison between Bill Clinton and the "maniac of the park", as
presented on Veja’s covers. Congratulations, it is good to know that we still have
serious and concise journalism in this country." The reader might be just be playing
a trick and being ironic. Veja would never notice that, however.
Albert Dines, a Brazilian press guru and arguably the highest authority on media in
Brazil, wrote in his column at the Observatório da Imprensa (Press Observatory), a
media watchdog publication: "The Editora Abril magazine will be 30 years old in a few
days, but lately it is behaving as if it were only one year old…. The manipulation would
work on a humor or satire newspaper…. In the most important Brazilian weekly and the
fifth in circulation in the world it is unacceptable."
Known as poetinha (little poet) and as a whiskey-loving bohemian who wrote some
of the most unforgettable lyrics of Bossa Nova"Garota de Ipanema" (The
Girl from Ipanema) is an exampleVinícius de Moraes was also a respected diplomat
who served Brazil in several foreign posts including Paris and Los Angeles (vice-consul
from 1947 to 1950). His diplomatic career was interrupted in 1969, however, by the
military dictatorship that took the power in 1964. The diplomat was compulsorily retired
at age 55. He died in 1980.
Now a woman judge in Rio, Maria Teresa de Almeida Rosa Carcomo Lobo, has granted a
post-mortem amnesty to the diplomat-poet. According to the Itamaraty (Foreign Ministry),
Vinícius de Moraes had already being amnestied and reintegrated to the diplomatic service
during President José Sarney’s administration (1985-1990).
What the new decision does is to grant to the three single daughters of the
poetGeorgiana, 45, Luciana, 42, and Maria, 27full pension as if he had stayed
on his post until his death. Other diplomats who started their career at the same time
Vinícius did were minister of first class when he died. The bossa-nova lyricist
was also promoted to this position and the pension should be adjusted accordingly and
retroactively so that his heirs can receive the difference of all the past payments.
The Union intends to appeal the decision. In case it loses, Vinícius daughters will
get the monthly pension raised to $5000 and will also receive around $250 for past due
payments. "The money is the least important," says Luciana. What the sisters
want is to show that is possible to repair injustices that were committed during the
How do you celebrate the first anniversary of a company? Get Propaganda, an ad agency
from Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, decided to use the picture a one-year-old boy and
spread it on 80 billboards around the city. Nothing too original. To use a baby’s image to
convey the idea of vitality and a long road ahead is common practice. To avoid the trite,
Get placed its baby standing naked on the display and to give just a little zest and
impact added a computer-enhanced erect penis to the boy.
That was enough to take the subject from the marketing section of the papers to the
police pages and to turn an unknown ad agency into a hot name. Police have indicted the
baby’s parents, photographer João Vieira, and the ad agency’s owners. They are all
accused of violating the Child and Adolescent Statute that forbids taking pictures or
publishing images of children engaged in pornographic acts and protect kids from being
exposed to ridicule. If guilty they could get from six months to four years in jail.
Get Propaganda says that an ad piece should make people think. "The reading of the
message is done by people according to what they have in their minds," said creation
director Gilberto Trindade, who called the picture an "everyday scene". To what
Get’s co-owner, Jacqueline Vieira, added: "If you want pornography you will find it
in the high rate of child mortality in the country. And nobody does anything to change