Rio de Janeiro – Home of hate and fear

Rio de Janeiro – Home of hate and fear

While the Paralympics are happening in Rio de Janeiro and after the city tried to use the Olympics to portray itself in a good light, it should not be forgotten, that for these Olympics thousands of people had to be relocated or were forcefully moved out of their homes while the favelas were not “pacified” as promised, but continue to be not only home for thousands of people but also to gang violence and injustice. (The Guardian has a good look into this topic.)

But there is one more ugly mark on this otherwise beautiful city: the “most misogynistic, hateful official in the democratic world” Jair Bolsonaro. (Quote by TheIntercept who have also just published a short article about this diabolic and hateful family.) A man who is not only incredibly popular among Brazil’s ultra-right, claims to be evangelic while at the same time openly passing his hatred as seen for example when he was praising the General overseeing Dilma’s torture during her impeachment trail.

The beautiful city? The hateful city.

Violence, Brazil and the Olympic Games

After watching the games for a while it is interesting to see how German (and international) media and athletes talk about the Olympic Games in Rio. There are complaints about empty stadiums and arenas, even though the organizers claim that everything is sold out, then there was the long discussion about the green water in one of the swimming pools. But over all people seem to be quite content about the organization of these Olympics. Unfortunately there are also some news reflecting more the “real” Brazil: a gold-medal winning American swimmer being robbed at gunpoint in Rio, and the story of a German canoe coach who suffered a life-threatening injury in an accident while in a taxi. What most of the English-speaking news outlets don’t mention but was discussed in German media is, that this coach had been brought to an official “olympic” hospital, but couldn’t be treated there, so he had to be brought to a hospital across town which took another 45 minutes (and very critical minutes with an injury like this). Following Brazil’s first gold medal won by a girl from an favela there have been some articles about the phenomena “favela”. The guardian has a nice, short video about this very controversial and difficult topic. On a lighter side you can watch Brazils gymnasts winning a totally surprising silver and bronze medal and how much they couldn’t believe it.

The problem with Brazilian politics

easily explained by Mauricio Savarese. On the one hand the political landscape is incredibly complex especially because there are so many individual interests involved (published in Folha de SP), on the other hand voters claim to be fed up with corruption, but they seem to tolerate corruption as a necessary evil during elections. The latter is something I am always amazed by in discussions. There seems to be no “zero tolerance” for corrupt politicians, instead there is always the excuse “he might be corrupt, but so are his opponents from the other parties and at least this guy is in the right party.”

Political traditions back to the military dictatorship

When talking about Brazil with Brazilians, it is a topic I have heard many, many times. “Brazil is a truly blessed country” many Brazilians say, “because there are no natural catastrophes like earthquakes, hurricanes and so on, the climate is mild and you can grow fruits and vegetables all year long in many places.” Then they pause and of course this has only been an introduction to another complaint about Brazil. “But the Brazilians and especially their politicians, they make this country awful.” Sometimes I am also given an explanation, why Brazilian people are so morally inferior to “civilized” people, “because Brazil was settled mainly by criminals and uneducated people.” Yes, I have heard this many times and my counter argument is usually: what about Australia, is this a similar case? After all Australia was settled mainly by criminals as well. This  is part of the very Brazilian fascination with ranting about your own country.

But this rant doesn’t explain anything. But luckily there are awesome websites like BrasilWire.com who offer insightful articles and explanations like this analysis, how members of the current Brazilian Senate are related to one of the most corrupt and darkest episodes of current Brazilian history: the military dictatorship. “The Senate is just one example of a space where former dictatorship officials continue to wield power. There are hundreds of other examples of federal and state congressmen, governors, mayors and city councilmen who collaborated with the dictatorship. Then there are the media companies who propped up the dictatorship.” This is sad. But it makes sense.