quarta-feira, 30 de novembro de 2011

Brazil of nowadays, an introduction

I decide to start an introduction about Brazil of nowadays for a foreigner. To interpret the country by a non-traditional Brazilian point of view.

First, I assume I could not escape from the usual beginnings of such a post. All of the general articles giving an overview about countries start with the same kind of sentence: "[Country's name] is a land of contrasts". For me, it is always a surprise to discover that countries so different like UK or India can have the description. We Brazilians are so used to use this sentence for our homeland that it sounds they are exaggerating. Like: They are talking about that because they don't know Brazil...

This epithet is so Brazilian mainly for one big and dishonourable reason: besides the recent boom, we still have one of the biggest difference between the richest and poorest in the world [see the Gini index]. Considering we are almost the sixth richest country in the world, it appears even worse.

Other way to start such a text is: "[Country's name] is not just one country, but many inside its borders". It's also a kind of natural thing, if you know Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world [like, more than the double of India], and the fifth in population [more than three times UK pop.]. It is fair to think we have particularities around our territory.

But foreigners normally summarize Brazil at its stereotype. What they know is a mix from the Southeast [more Rio, less São Paulo] with the North [the Amazon forest, which most of Brazilians have never visited], and a bit from the Northeast [the beaches].

Of course Brazil has beaches [the most famous Copacabana and Ipanema], samba, carnival, football, feijoada, caipirinha, mulatas, tiny bikinis and all the things you expected to find in Brazil. And one of the biggest homicide taxes in the world - but it has improved a lot last years, and the trend is to get better, in the next years, with the World Cup [the final will be in a polemic refurbished Maracanã, which is in Rio] and the 2016 Olympics.

Rio is the home of almost all last paragraph features, and main entrance of the country. But, starting the demystification, Rio is not just sand-sea-samba. The marvellous city ["cidade maravilhosa" is the way cariocas call Rio; "carioca" is who was born in Rio or who adopted the city as its home] is where companies such Petrobras and Vale, two of the biggest companies in the world, are situated.

Outside the country, these characteristics gives foreigner a very good view about Brazil. I have never known someone who dislike it. They just love Brazil even if they don't know the difference from Sugar Loaf and the Corcovado Mountains [the first has the cable car, the second, the Christ Redeemer]. I guess they think all Brazilians have the same state of mind, the same way of be, a synonym to joy, happiness, party, and coolness. Is that true? As true as the Germans only drink beer all day long. Or as the Parisians are rude with tourists. It's a generalization, not a whole true, but part of that.

Though, the recent national growth - mainly pushed by the trade of some commodities as soy and iron to China -, can affects this national behaviour. From a country where the only possibility to have a good life was to emigrate,  we can became the new land for Spanish, Portuguese, or other Latin-american people who want to have another opportunity to live and work. In São Paulo, there are Bolivian markets. In Rio, you can find Equatorians or Peruvians selling Andean products on the sidewalks of downtown. We are, so, at a crossroad. How Brazilians will treat this people, who are not just coming as tourists, but trying to compete for jobs and all this way of life? Are we going to follow the US tradition and avoid the immigrants, or to allow people their "human right to migrate", as I have recently read from the National Justice secretary? Will we still be cool or show a new façade of xenophobia? That's a question that will be answered only in the future.

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