Monday, April 28, 2014

Lavoro schiavo a Prato?

L'incendio nella fabbrica del Macrolotto li ha bruciati vivi mentre dormivano.
I sette operai che lavoravano nella fabbrica di Via Toscana a Prato sono morti di una morte orrenda. Nel disinteresse generale. Gia' dimenticati. Eppure e' avvenuto qualche mese fa.
La morte e' stata orrenda ma la loro vita anche.
E' di questi giorni la notizia dei sequestri di capi di abbigliamento fatti in Italia con pelle di ratto. Sempre prodotti in fabbriche di cinesi in Italia.
Lin (nome fittizio usato), la persona che incontro, mi racconta la storia.
"Vengono qua intere famiglie con bimbi anche molto piccoli. Li aspettano già'. Li prendono i caporali. Li reclutano. Li fanno lavorare nelle fabbriche.

I cinesi sono abituati in alcune zone della Cina a mangiare carne di ratto. E' considerata più' prelibata di quella di pollo. Ammazzano i ratti. Tirano loro la pelle e li mangiano. Con la pelle fanno capi di abbigliamento che vendono nelle fiere di paese. Poi le persone, che vivono in stazione di schiavitù', dormono in brande di fortuna o per terra. I bisogni li fanno in una fossa comune fuori, dove si lavano. E poi lavorano, lavorano, lavorano tutto il giorno.

I proprietari dei capannoni, italiani, se ne fregano. Sanno tutto ciò' che succede. Ma non fanno niente. Basta che i cinesi proprietari pagano l'affitto altissimo i proprietari dei capannoni guardano dall'altro lato.

I costi sono quasi inesistenti. Le persone sono in situazione di semi-schiavitu'. Mangiano ratti o cibo di poco costo che il capo da' loro. Vivono nello stabilimento. Il materiale sono i ratti, gatti o cani randagi o materiale di basso costo che comprano.

E gi italiani che fanno? Se ne fregano. Dei proprietari dei capannoni abbiamo già' detto. E poi ci sono i clienti, che vanno nei mercatini. Questi poi badano solo a comprare cose economiche. Non si chiedono come possano essere così' economiche. Da dove vengono. Vai a Via Toscana a Prato e lo vedrai. Allora si che capirai cosa succede qui in Toscana. Gli italiani che venivano trattati come schiavi in Brasile fanno lo stesso qui in Italia. E' Giusto questo?"

Ed io giro la domanda a te caro lettore.
Ti e' piaciuta la storia? Che ne pensi?

Scrivimi a freethinking2004@yahoo.com e dimmi la tua opinione
Grazie!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brazilians Don't Want Solidarity from their Rulers. They Want Action

Salvador da Bahia. The city is burning. Campo Grande, Rótula do Abacaxi, Iguatemi. Everywhere people are getting excited. People want to prevent the soccer teams of Italy and Brazil to get to the stadium for the Confederation Cup's game today.

But Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff made crystal clear that there will be no tolerance for the rioters. The game will go on. We all hope that there will be no confrontation but nobody knows.

There have been some statements from some police officers of the Elite troop that "we have to break (quebrar o pau, descer a madeira) the protesters."

The video showing that has even been posted on YouTube:

The images should be sent worldwide to show that the tension is up in the sky in Salvador de Bahia.

We have seen it before last year with the strike of the military police. The situation is out of control.

Welcome to the new Brazil, the country which is growing, as it has been sold to the local and international community. The problem is that while the country has indeed been growing and fast, large part of the Brazilian population has not been benefited.
The rich have become richer while the poor have improved their wealth. However the gap has widened a lot.
The middle class has been squeezed by an increase in prices, which makes Brazil a country with living costs of Europe or USA but incomes of developing countries.
The minimum wage (678 reais) in Brazil is about US$ 300. But costs for a family of 4 people (husband, wife and two kids who go to private school and rent an apartment) is of more than 5000 reais (US$ 2500).
How do you come up with this number? Simple. The rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about 1400 reais in Barra, Salvador. The school for the kids is at least 800 reais each per month. Then the food, which costs approximately 300 reais per week (1200 per month). The sum is 1400+1600+1200=4200 reais plus some little things make up for 2000 per month.

How do you go about that? You have two jobs, your wife too. You work long hours, never see the kids during the week. You leave them with nannies and grandparents. Still you are cash-strapped.
And then the crisis finally came to Brazil, prices soared and people got fed up. Why? Because you see government throwing billions of dollars to organize sport events which will not really benefit the people. Yes the tourism will benefit, but not probably as much as expected.
Shop sales will increase. But school, health and public services will continue to go from bad to worse.
The Brazilian people are fed up. They want this vicious circle to be stopped.
The Workers Party, the PT, took control to change things. We were all excited. But then, after 10 years, we work like dogs and barely get to the end of the month.
And people are also fed up with the statements made by politicians and from the president herself when they say: "We express our solidarity to the protesters." What? People are asking. We protest against you and you express solidarity to us? Are you pulling our leg?
Today the game will be played. And probably Brazil will win. But Brazil will lose too. Why? Because a country that does not take care of its people clamoring against the status quo is losing the game with its own people.


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How Cold Heart and Zeal for Rules at Pharmacy Killed Young Brazilian Mother

Salvador, beautiful city what happened to you?

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil 14th December 2007. Viviane was feeling very sick. She had asthma. She could not breath properly. With her stepfather she ran to the farmacy to buy the equipment to facilitate the breething during astma crisis.
It cost 22 Reais (a bit more than 12 $). She had only 12 reais. Her stepfather in the rush to the farmacy had forgotten the wallet. There were 10 reais (6 $) missing.
Viviane, 29-years old, mother of two kids, student of pedagogy was getting worse and worse. Her stepfather, totally desperate, offered to live the documents of his car to prove he was getting back to the farmacy to pay the 10 reais missing. It was so little money.

Sorry we cannot do that, this is not the procedure. You have to pay the difference.
Viviane’s lips became very red. She was undergoing a violent and devastating crisis. The salesmen at the farmacy could see she was not kidding. She was dying. But they did nothing.

Healthline defines asthma attack this way: “when they occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swell. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by, and can lead to wheezing sounds. Asthma attacks can last minutes to days and can become dangerous if the airflow becomes severely restricted.”
It is a terrible way of dying and terrible thing to watch too.

Viviane’s stepfather took her to the closest municipal health point. She did not make it. She died while getting there. Her heart stopped beating on the way to the health point.

Any comment is useless. Viviane is dead. The farmacy replaced its employees while some others.
Just few questions come to our minds: what happened to today’s humans to get to this point? A woman is dying in front of our eyes, for such a ridicolous amount of money, and still we are there watching but we stick to the rules, sorry there is an amount missing, small but still missing.

Is this today’s world? A world in which only money and rules account, where a life is not worth not even 6$? Have we lost any human feeling, how did we become like that?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Bahia, Brazil, Politicians Revenge Is Also Best Served Cold

Marco Prisco was getting tanned in the sunshine in the wonderful resort in Costa de Sauípe. Life was wonderful. He was the most powerful man in Bahia state, in the Brazilian Northeast.
He was able to end the strike of the military police in the state. In just a couple of days. there were more than 40 deaths, but that was peanuts compared with over 200 deaths in 2012.

At that time Prisco was the headmaster of the police strike. He was behind the upraising then. Nobody has really forgotten what he said in the Brazilian Rede Globo, two years ago.
"I am going to burn cars, I am going to burn trucks and shut the access of the Rio-Bahia road, a federal road. Shut the access my brother. Shut the BR".
This conversation shown on the Brazilian national TV did not take place between criminals but between policemen and Marco Prisco, the head of Bahia's police trade union.
That happened two years ago. But now in 2014 things changed. Prisco has become a politician. After the end of the 2012 strike, he was arrested. But then he was released and then elected as a councilman to the municipality of Salvador, for the PSDB party.

But who is Prisco and how did he behave in the past? This is what I wrote two years ago just to give an idea of this guy:
"The strategy of using terror to win the uprising against the Government of Bahia failed entirely in 2012. The truth? Mr. Prisco and his followers at the beginning of the uprising must have thought: "They (the government of Bahia) have to do what we say. We have the weapons. We shut the streets. We do terrorism. We, not the politicians, give orders here in Bahia. Why? Because we have the pistols, machine-guns. And if they do not obey we are going to use them".
A typical dictatorship mentality, which is still present among some military police in Brazil, especially in the Northeast. Not all the military policemen think that way and certainly fewer of them think like that today.
The governor of Bahia risked seriously to lose control of the situation, but he was right not to accept blackmail. He won. The military police lost as they will receive a pay raise in line with the other public civil servants." Prisco was available to do whatever it was necessary to win the game in 2012. To play dirty too. No problem.
But when the new strike exploded a few days ago, Prisco was on the other side. He was the official negotiator for the governor of the state of Bahia, Jacques Wagner.
This time the approach to the strike was entirely different from the past. Why? Let's go back to what I wrote two years ago: "The governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner, is the most anxious one in this situation. He is a very smart politician and a very successful man, but his entire political carrier is at stake now. His entourage underestimated the seriousness of the situation. Now it is too late for recriminations".
"Not this time, my dear", Wagner must have thought. The governor of Bahia acted immediately. And Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil too. The Army was sent immediately to Bahia. In just two days soldiers were in the streets after riots were causing hellish scenes all over Bahia state.

Why? Because Wagner had a special consulting specialist on the issue. Who? Marco Prisco of course. Prisco must have told Wagner what to do. At the end of the day Prisco knew exactly how to suppress the riot. Call the Army immediately. That was the only way. Who knew this better than Prisco himself who lost the game because of the intervention of the Army two years ago?
Anyway, Wagner did just that and in two days the strike of the military police was over. Unbelievable, considering that two years ago
it took more than a month to see the end of it.
Let's go back to Prisco tanning in the splendid resort in Bahia. "Who is better than me?" must have thought Prisco. And he must have thought about what happened when the end of the strike was officially announced. A total defeat for the military police.

But a great win for Prisco who managed to end it so swiftly. But there was a but. Maybe something in the role of Prisco mediation in this year's strike must have left somebody unhappy. Maybe he asked something for his mediation. Whatever happened yesterday it is amazing what happened today.
All of a sudden, the day after the end of the strike, Prisco was arrested by the Federal Police for his role in the 2012 strike of the military police. Why now?
Well we do not know. But we know that Wagner is a close friend of president Rousseff and she has influence over the Federal police. Maybe it is not a coincidence that just after the end of the strike Prisco was detained and taken to Brasilia. Immediately.
Prisco is a very shrewd man. But Bahian politicians are smart too. And they have the power. Maybe Prisco underestimated Bahian politicians. "I am the master of universe", he was thinking.
And now he has been taken to an undisclosed place (maybe Papuda prison) and taken to prison for 90 days for being "a serious risk to public order".

Well my reader this is Brazil. One day you are the master of the universe and the next day you are in jail and with no chance to get out.
What is the lesson? When you deal with Brazilian politicians be careful. Yes they might be very polite and nice. But if you upset them, when the situation gets calm you might end up in jail.
Politicians run the game in Brazil, never forget that my dear Marco, somebody at high level must have thought in Salvador, Bahia.

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http://www.brazzilmag.com/component/content/article/133-april-2014/13073-in-bahia-brazil-politicians-revenge-is-also-best-served-cold.html

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Real Brazil Is Not for Beginners

Sunday afternoon in a dusty road of a residential area of a city in the interior of Brazil. A car stops suddenly. From the car a 15-year old kid gets out together with his father. The very loud speakers scream: "Puta que o pariu (The whore who gave birth to you)".

My little daughter asks me: "What does the song say?" My answer is to get all of the family out of front room into the back of our house. There the nasty song cannot be heard because we shut the windows despite the hot weather and turn on the TV.
A few minutes earlier, another car with loud speakers was running in the street with another song: "Vote for this guy number X."
I know nothing of local politics, but I know all the names of the candidates to council members. Why? Because with a noise comparable to the one which hammers the people detained in the US base of Guantanamo, every hour of the day and night cars with loud speakers go down the streets playing stupid songs about the candidates.

Does anybody on earth vote based on a silly song heard in the streets? I do not know, but that is what people do here in the interior of Brazil.
Welcome to the real Brazil. Not fancy Rio de Janeiro or fashionable São Paulo, but the tough Brazil where most Brazilians live. Lawless cities where you get used to anything.
There's no respect for civil rights. You have to just get used to whatever happens. Here you're always wrong and you cannot complain. This is the way it is they keep telling me. If you do not like it leave it.
It is amazing how Brazil is developing nowadays. Even with the marked slowdown in the economy, Brazil is much better off compared to 10, 15 years ago. Cities are growing at fast rate.

The interior of Brazil, however, seems to live another reality. Here the time has stopped. Here you have to get used to what happens and not to complain if you don't want trouble.
The most popular TV show right now is the novela (soap opera) Avenida Brasil on Globo TV. Everybody is amazed by that. It is all too well to turn on the TV and be admiring the "true" Brazil, the real people. Then you turn off the TV and go to sleep in your pleasant apartment in Copacabana or Ipanema.
But if you live in the real Brazil the story is different. Your kids want to sleep but the car with loud speakers stops again in front of your place singing "puta que o pariu" at night. You cannot sleep.

Meanwhile on the backyard of your house a churrasco of what they call here "cat meat" invades your house with a terrible smell at night. Drunk women and men start singing loudly. And you start wondering what the hell you are doing here.

Do you like real Brazil right? Go there, stay there, live there. Then you are going change your mind. The beauty of the place and of nature goes together with people's wildness.
Brainwashing is so deep that even in the kindergarten children sing "Ai, ai assim você mata o papai" (Wow, wow, this way you'll kill daddy). The song has undoubtedly double meaning with heavy sexual content, but children don't get it. If I weren't a foreigner would I vote based on the songs heard in the streets? Maybe not.
But what I can say for sure is that it's not easy to adapt to this reality. And an old song comes to my mind: "Should I stay or should I go?"
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Friday, April 18, 2014

UFBA: Brazil's Less than Gringo-Friendly University

Thinking of doing a semester as a student at Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) in the beautiful city of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil? Thinking of having an experience of studying in the Northeast of Brazil? Think twice. At UFBA, if you are a foreign student you run serious risks.

You might be arrested even if you accidentally break the glass of a door so fragile that is falling apart by itself. And you are not going to have any assistance by the UFBA university, which, on the opposite, is going to be the responsible for your arrest.

UFBA is considered to be a very good university by the locals in Salvador da Bahia but it is also one of the worst university in the country for foreigners. You do not believe it? Read below.

This is what happened to a foreign researcher and professional journalist, who asked not to be named for the danger of retaliation. The man brought his ten-day old baby for vaccination to the CRIE, Centro de Referência de Imunobiológicos Especiais of UFBA. CRIE is a public center for vaccination and other medical services located just next to the reitoria (president's office), where the reitor Naomar Almeida has his office.
In Brazil there is a law which guarantees priority assistance to newborns like the foreign researcher's daughter. The man felt confident that he was going to be assisted soon. He had no idea what he was going to go through. A nightmare called UFBA. A real hellish situation.
As soon as the man got to the CRIE he sees dozens of people waiting to be vaccinated. Young and average people. No infants. The foreign researcher spoke to the responsible of the center, Jacy Amaral Freire de Andrade, who ironically, was herself a foreign researcher at Berkeley University, in California in 2003. One wonders what would happen to her in a similar situation at Berkeley University.

Jacy Andrade tells the foreign researcher that there was no chance for the infant to have priority. Despite the Brazilian law. Ordem de chegada. First comes first goes. This is the UFBA law. No exceptions. UFBA runs its places its own way. The man, distressed, with the other two-year old son in his arms opens the door and leaves it shut without holding it. The door was very fragile.

Let's explain why. The door was an old fashioned-door with thin glass in a wooden frame. Normally for these kinds of door in USA or Europe a particular glue is stuck on the glass to hold and keep it firm. Something that costs less than 1 dollar. But we are at UFBA, Bahia, Brazil. Here no investments are made. Not even the ones that cost few dollars. The glass broke down. It had happened before. The other door at the same entrance had already broken before and a piece of wood had replaced the glass. A normal accident at CRIE. Do you really think so my reader? You are wrong: a foreign student was involved. A Kafkian situation was going to happen.
The "criminal" family was immediately surrounded by eight security guards, who of course, did not care about the 10-day old infant being left in the sunshine. The "criminal" family was made up of the infant, the two year-old baby, the foreigner and his wife who had undergone surgery for the birth of her son just a few days before.
The family could escape. Some security guards are strange people in Bahia. They could not think that somebody would escape with a newborn in his arms. Unless he wants to risk her life. Frankly speaking to you should be crazy to run away not to pay for a glass that costs, at most, 30 dollars. But, then again, you are in UFBA territory. There the law, the way of thinking is different. UFBA security people can do whatever they want. Even with a newborn involved. Despite that, the foreign researcher was confident. He knew the responsible for foreign relationships at UFBA, professor. Emilio Silva. The foreigner called professor. Silva on his mobile to ask his intervention. The foreigner offered to pay for the broken glass and go home. But the answer of Mr. Silva left him very surprised.
Mr. Silva said it was not his problem. He knew nothing about the foreigner's accident and nothing wanted to know about it. It was not his problem. You are on your own man, that was the message. I do not want to be involved, said Silva. And, all at sudden, the foreign researcher discovered he was alone. No protection.
And he was going to be arrested. Yes man, you read it right. He was going to be arrested to break the glass, even if he offered to pay for it. He was accused to kick the door and break the glass intentionally. The foreigner explained that it was an accident and he would never kick the glass because he was holding his 2 year-old son in his arms. If he kicked the glass he would have seriously hurt his son. No witnesses, only words of the professor of the UFBA. But UFBA is the law there. The UFBA teacher did not go to the police station. It was enough her word at CRIE.
The man was taken to the Federal Police and arrested. The police treated him well. They said it was the law. If you break, intentionally or not, a glass which belongs to the Federal government, like UFBA goods, you are breaking the law and are going to be arrested. It does not matter if it was an accident. You broke the glass, you are a criminal. Strange law the Brazilian law.

The foreign researcher was lucky. He called his wife, who ran to the police station and paid the 280 dollars bail and was released. He still has to face the judge and the law.
This is UFBA my reader. And if you think that you are protected because you are going to call the international department for their intervention in the case an accident happens think twice. You are going to be arrested instead. The risk to be arrested at UFBA is very serious, especially for a foreign student and should not be underestimated. Due to its chronic lack of investments, UFBA infrastructures are literally falling apart. Any chair, desk, stapler or glass can be easily broken in a matter of seconds, due to their age and fragility.
And if you are a foreigner you might easily be found guilty to destroy public goods belonging to UFBA and be arrested for that. So my advice is think twice if you are thinking to go studying at UFBA. You go at your own risk. Remember the UFBA law, ruthless with foreign students.

from John Dear a brazilian journalist:
http://www.brazzilmag.com/component/content/article/63/9810-ufba-brazils-less-than-gringo-friendly-university.html