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October 26, 2009



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I loved the title, Rachel!! I read Lobao's take and found it the saddest thing I ever heard, especially coming from a carioca!

I was just telling my sister about my fear of moving back to a place that once was considered home. In Brazil, I lived in a constant "alert state". It is true, however, that if one can afford to live in a better neighborhood (not a rich one, where one faces even more risks: e.g. kidnapping) and knows its way around, violence it is not as bad as many areas of high crime in the US.

Still, we were reminded in a daily basis, how lucky we were not to be a victim of robbery and violence, when we heard stories of friends and colleagues who had been. Even so, I was robbed three times in Brazil!! Twice with a gun pointed to my face and once by a kid who had smoked 'cola' and held a pointing knife. So, now that I've been spoiled with living in New York, in a fairly safe place, it is hard for me to picture a life where I have to be always on guard.

Worse yet, I cannot picture myself living in a place where children use drugs and live abandoned on the streets!!!

I was born in Sampa, never lived in Rio, but my two visits to the city were enough for me. I almost got killed in a dispute between the PMs and favela drug dealers, just by taking the bus to Barra da Tijuca. I swear I have never seen criminals so well equipped, if you can even say such thing. They carry heavy machinery. All pointed to the bus, which was stuck in the middle of the confrontation. I do not dare think what would have happened if they had opened fired, then. It was also incredibly sad to hear from the hotel room where one of my colleagues were staying (in this ocassion, I was in Rio taking a class in Galeao's airport for my job) in Leme, the sounds coming from the favela nearby in what it sounded and looked like a war zone!!!

I found Rio incredibly beautiful, of course. But I also found it terribly sad. To live in a state of constant fear seems to be the worse of all curses. It is my hope that Brazil and, this city in particular, can improve (whether with the upcoming games or a better government and/or people's effort). What we see in Rio, everyday, is what you see everyday in many areas of SP as well. Let's not forget what happened back in 2006 when the PCC paralyzed the city. There is a movie "Salve Geral" about this.

In my view, real happiness in Brazil can only be found when we do the best we can to stop social injustices and inequality. Unless that happens, we continue to see violence, we continue to see corruption, and we will continue only to pursue the "superficial happiness", the one we often see in Rio. Their optimism and positive take on life cannot be confused with happiness but only with denial. It is a drug "cariocas", and Brazilians in general, of course, take, to avoid the pain of looking at things as they are and do something about it.

Just like in the US, of not too long ago, when everyone thought they could achieve the "dream", the famous "pursuit of happiness", this is an illusion. We are not happier for having material things neither we are for being blind to reality.

Juliano Paiva Junho

Hi, Rachel.

I've been reading your blog and I have to say that I quite like your point of view and comments about my country and its culture.

However, I'm writing now just to make a small correction in your translation of the op-ed. "Luto", a masculine word, means "mourning", opposed to its feminine counterpart "luta", which means "fight". So, what Lobão meant by "estupra nosso luto" is "rapes our mourning".

Keep up the nice job on analyzing this "crazy" society of which you chose to be part. ;)



Some stereotypes are really hard to break, and when you try to show that things are not exactly what they seem, people just don't believe in you.
It's something like the cold wheather in Canada. EVERY TIME that I talk to someone in Brazil they ask me about the freezing winter here, even though it's summer and we are burning under a 40C sun. People just don't get it!
So, for ignorant people Brazil will always be only about samba, mulatas, Pele, corruption and women wanting to get laid. These stereotypes upset me so much!
I'd like to recommend 2 excellent books from Eduardo Giannetti: Auto-Engano and Felicidade.
I worked for Giannetti a long time ago. He is an amazing economist and social scientist.
Felicidade shows that the richness within the American way of life does not brings us happiness, it is important to invest in personal relationship.


very cool piece from lobão, there .. and very interesting what he says about the need for cariocas to reinvent themselves. the optimist in me hopes that these huge banner sporting events provide a vehicle for doing this .. the pessimist, well, i bet you can already guess what she thinks. thanks for posting this .. bjs!

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