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Brazil, I’m Tired of Your Rich’s Insensibility and Your Poor’s Passivity

A hospital line in Brazil “I’m also tired of people who only want to take advantage, of the traffickers’ parallel government, of paying so many taxes for nothing, of so much impunity, of so much bureaucracy, of the aerial chaos, of the congressional investigative commissions that come to nothing, of seeing children in the streets and not in the schools, of prisoners talking on their cell phones, of corrupt businesspeople, of fear of stopping at a red light, of stray bullets, of so much corruption, of finding all this normal, of doing nothing.” – Civic Movement for the Right of Brazilians

Independent of any future evaluations of the Lula government, one thing is now certain: It was a time of retrogression for popular mobilizations. The unions, the National Union of Students (UNE), the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), the impresarios, the entire social movement – all have accommodated themselves. The poor population has accepted the Bolsa Família as a great gift with no need for any further demands whatsoever. The intellectuals have opted for “reverential silence.”


Fortunately, a movement has now emerged in response. A group of personalities, principally from the arts and advertising, issued a manifesto saying that they are tired of the situation.


It is too bad, however, that they delayed so long in growing tired in a country with income concentration, catastrophe in the healthcare and education services, and such unmistakable corruption. And it is a shame that they have tired only of the violence that appears in the streets without seeing the violence that causes this violence.


I’m also tired. I’m tired of the assaults on street corners, of the kidnappings in the streets. But I’m tired of the secular robbery as the privileged appropriate from what should be the rights of the poor; I’m tired of the violence that manufactures violence, of the theft of opportunities from the young people thrown into criminality.


I’m tired of the airport backups but I’m also tired of the blackouts at the bus stops, where millions of workers and students wait under the sun and the rain, under threat of assaults, with no one to complain to and knowing that their tragedy will be ignored by the press.


Of the blackout of healthcare in the hospital-waiting lines, in the sick faces of the people, in the eyes of the frightened children and the anguished mothers. I’m tired of those who got tired of departure delays at the airports but have never done anything about a country that does not take off.


I’m tired of those who are screaming against the corruption in the politicians’ behavior while at the same time benefiting from the historical corruption in the political priorities. I’m tired of the humiliation of the teachers’ extremely low salaries, but also of the union members who are unconcerned about the tragedy of the schools closed by the civil war in the favelas or by the interminable strikes.


I’m tired of the artists and performers who got tired of the corruption but who always vote for the corrupt and who will vote for them in the next elections because they prefer a corrupt friend to a honest candidate who is not part of their crowd. I’m tired of the advertising people who got tired of the corruption but who in the next election will happily conduct the campaign of the corrupt politicians who pay them well.


I’m tired of a country that says it has no racism but does not accept the use of quotas to increase the number of black students in the university. I’m also tired of the elitism of the black movement that is interested only in the quotas for the few who want to enter the university while at the same time ignoring the millions of poor black and white Brazilians who abandon their education before finishing high school.


I’m tired of the sense of accommodation of the millions of poor Brazilians who accept the fact that their fathers and mothers die waiting in the lines at the hospitals and passively sacrifice their children’s future in schools without quality.


I’m tired, above all, of the apparent impossibility of bringing together the tired, who are afraid of losing their privileges, and the poor, who have accommodated themselves to their lack of rights. I’m tired, but I still have the hope that one day the tired will have patriotism and the accommodated will have consciousness. And that together they will struggle for a country with a good school for each child, independently of the city or of the family into which that child was born.


I’m also tired of so many people thinking that this is an impossible dream. Except that I’m not tired of thinking that it is still worthwhile to believe that it is a worthwhile one. I’m tired but I have not yet given up hope


Cristovam Buarque has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PDT senator for the Federal District and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04). He is the current president of the Senate Education Commission. Last year he was a presidential candidate. You can visit his homepage – www.cristovam.com.br – and write to him at mensagem-cristovam@senado.gov.br.


Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.

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