Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brazilians are tired of empty words

Mid- 2013: Confederation Cup coming up in Brazil.

Belo Horizonte, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro: thousands of people in the streets angry at the politicians of this wonderful country called Brazil.
Confrontations in the streets and in the main squares between police and protesters; tough confrontations and already the first deaths.

But it is in Salvador de Bahia that the toughest clashes happen, clashes that leave their marks. This beautiful black city which in 1835 gave birth to the riot of the muslim slaves Male' is again rising against the huge wastes generated by the Confederation Cup. Huge demonstrations started from the stadium clashed with the police and the first battles happened.

Anger is so much right here where Italy and Brazil meet in a match aimed at "testing" the infrastructures of the World Cup.

The arrogance of the Fifa top officers and some of Brazilian famous VIP like Pele' and others, was such to define the spontaneous demonstrations like something to criticize. Some of the first declarations were already withdrawn but the feeling is that the situation just blew out and it is already out of control.

An atmosphere of civil war in Brazil. But why?

The truth comes from the past, from the far past.

After the Workers Party remained in power for 11 years (8 of Lula and 3 of Dilma), Brazilian people have been cheated with the story that "o pais seta' crescendo", the country is growing.

Without doubt Brazil grew and a lot in the last 11 years. Huge changes took place in the structure of the Brazilian society.
However thee things remained the same or got even worse:
corruption, policy and social disparity.

Rich people got richer and poor people, while improved their income, continue to remain at the edge of the society.

August 2014: After the World Cup and the worst defeat of Brazilian football team in history.

Economic situation is the worst in the recent history. The economy is in recession affectively.
Forecast of growth were decreased several times to 0.8% for 2014 during the year.
But that is only part of the true story.

The middle class is the first one to pay the price for the increasing disparities because the cost of living in Brazil went literally up to the roof.
A family of 4 people to live decently must earn at least 7500 reais (about 2500 euros), a cost of living much higher than the Italian one for instance.
A middle class apartment in Rua Republica do Peru' , Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro costs about 4000 reais (more than 1330 euros) while a tiny apartment in the same area costs at least 2500 reais (about 800 euros).
To give a simple idea of the changes taking place in Brazil, In the past one spent multiples of 1000 reais (330 euros) to survive. Today one spends multiples of 10.000 reais (3300 euors). What does that mean?
If you want a comfortable standard of leaving you must earn 10.000 reais for a family of 4. If you have to hire a good lawyer for a civil proceeding you got to spent 20.000 reais (about 6.600 euros). Same thing if you want to hire a good professional to restructure your apartment in Rio de Janeiro. And from that upwards in multiples of 10.000 reais.

Whatever used to cost 10 reais only 3- 4 years ago now costs 20 reais. It doubled.

The bus for instance costs 3 reais (1 euro) in Rio de Janeiro, the same as in Europe.
But in Europe the ticket lasts an hour and you can take several buses. In Brazil you can catch only one bus. But most people have to take two or three buses and that costs (round trip) from 12 to 18 reais (from 4 to 6 euros) something unthinkable if you consider that you are using public transportation.

While one can argue that costs in Rio de Janeiro went literally out of control, Rio is just a proxy for the whole of Brazil. Costs soared everywhere driven by the craziness of the "grand" sporting events in Brazil, World Cup and Olympics.

Therefore costs soared up to unattainable levels. Not so much salaries.
In fact by maintaining the comparison with Italy, while costs of living became far higher that Italian ones, salaries in Brazil remain still well below Italian ones.

Minimum salary is Brazil is 724 reais (a bit less than 250 euros) while in Italy a family earns at worst 1000 -1500 euros, and wondd be classified as extremely poor with that salary by national statistics.
Nobody buys the big cheat that the country i"s growing" any more.

Therefore the social riot which was always alive under the ushes soon exploded when two things made that happen: The general increase of the bus tickets and the huge wastes of public money associated with the sporting events.

In Brazil, opposite to Italy where everybody has at least one car, the majority of people uses the bus. But today tat does not make economic sense any more. With a bigger investment (buying a car) you are much better off that taking the bus.
The fixed cost of taking the bus is lower of course than purchasing the car, but it is constant and if you annualize the costs of buses in 3 years you are much worse off economically by taking the bus than by purchasing a car.

However that choice is still not available for the majority of the population and that makes it very angry. Because they are continuously losing money, that know it and they cannot do anything about it. Loans to purchase cars are not so available as it used to be and interest rates are raising fast. People are getting more and more in debt.

In addition to catch the bus you have to get up two to three hours before if you live outside the centre. You have to catch very crowded buses if you want to get on time at work or at school. That makes you angry, very angry.

The huge wast of public moony due to the sporting events have left the Brazilian people stunned. Huge corruption associated with it, which caused the resignations of so many Brazilian ministers, worsen the situation of the country.
Politicians lost all their credibility and people are fed up.
To say that the "country is growing" is a kick in the face of the Brazilian people which work hard and earns little. Anger exploded and there are signs that will explode again.
Males surged against the oppression in salvador and their riot was suffocated with the blood in Salvador de Bahia.

Personally few years ago I experienced the atmosphere of civil war in town when there was the strike of the military police in Bahia. It was really dangerous. More than 200 people died.

The atmosphere is tense again in Brazil. Maybe after the elections the tension will explode again. In salvador again.

Salvador de Bahia is maybe the most beautiful city in Brazil, but also the city where the tensions are higher. The city where the slaves of Africa arrived in Brazil and where they were sold in the Pelourinho.

The city could explode any time. Why? Because Salvador is one of the cities which has the highest social awareness in Brazil. Awareness suffocated by the brutal violence of the police and by the elite of the city. But social awareness which is always there ready to explode.
Because Salvador of Bahia is the real soul of Brazil.

Bahia is a land of great contradictions and social clashes where many Brazilian people suffer a lot. And where the possible civil war could explode again. What is going to happen?
Nobody knows
But one thing is for sure: whoever is going to say that Brazil is growing, Brazil is the country of the future, risks seriously.

Brazil is tired of empty words