Category Archives: Brazilians

In Brazilian novellas, Brazil is an all-white country with a couple of happy-to-be-poor black people

Brazil’s Globo TV company is producing a new novella called “Sexo e as negas (“Sex and denials“), about a group of four black women living in a lower-class neighbourhood in the Zona Norte of Rio de Janeiro, loosely based on Sex and the City.

Instead, however, of it being about four white women working prominent jobs in Manhattan, the wealthiest neighbourhood in the wealthiest country on earth, the four black characters are poor (but glamorous), and work as a cleaner, a seamstress, a manual labourer and a cook.

sexo-e-as-negras like sex and the city, but with black girls in Rio

(Also don’t search that title on Google, or you’ll come up with a lot of naughty pictures).

Despite Brazil having a huge share of black people in prominent and senior positions (including a potential future black female president in Marina Silva), Globo’s novellas on TV prefer to cast black people in poor, subservient roles where they are the comic foil or lackey. Black men and women are cleaners, manual labourers or shop assistants in the world of Globo scriptwriters.

That’s if black people feature at all in the novellas.  Despite Brazil being the second most-populous country in the world for black people (over fifty-per-cent of Brazilians identify themselves as black), novellas are predominantly dramas based in a Brazil where only white people exist.

In the latest smash-hit novella from Globo, Meu Pedacinho de Chão, here is the main cast (which you’ll notice doesn’t feature any black characters at all):

Meu pedacinho de chao, the rest of the predominantly-white cast

 

And here’s the black character:

Meu pedacinho de chao's diapo, the one black character is a clown...

And here’s the female lead protagonist, just because:

Meu pedacinho de Chao seio hot Brazilian novella girl with huge breasts on TV

The cast is whiter than milk, which obviously doesn’t represent the real Brazil. In fact, the characters are so white it only represents the small contingent of European descendant Brazilians that live in southern Brazil and still have blue eyes and blonde hair. They’re a tiny percentage of Brazil’s population (think Gisele), but they receive the most amount of attention on TV, are considered the most glamorous and hold the most senior positions.

The majority of Brazilians are a mix of caramel, coffee and chocolate skin colours.  Most of them aren’t that poor; they hold down jobs and buy cars and drink beers and speak other languages and have dreams.  but Globo doesn’t want to portray that side, which is pretty sinister and cruel when you think of the insane popularity these shows have in Brazil and what that would do to a person’s psyche.

For Globo, it’s everyone in their place, forever, and for black people, that means staying poor and pathetic.

 

World Cup partying in Brazil ends with a whimper, with few Brazilians caring much about the score

Savassi , an area of Belo Horizonte that has been the centre of street-drinking for tens of thousands of locals and tourists during this World Cup, was almost completely empty of fans just a few hours after Germany lifted the trophy. The party is definitely over here in Brazil.

It did not look like this last night, as it had done every other night during the 2014 World Cup:

Savassi in Belo Horizonte was the scene for huge parties when Brazil was winning, but empty once they dropped out of the World Cup.
Savassi in Belo Horizonte was the scene for huge parties when Brazil was winning, but the place they emptied once they dropped out of the World Cup.

Street vendors desperate to rid themselves of ice-boxes full of Brahma and Stella Artois were off-loading beers at three for 15 reais, then three for 12 reais, and finally three for 10. On what was a chilly night in Belo Horizonte the few fans left still partying in the street were huddled together, a few German and Argentinian flags scattered around, singing that Pele scored a 1,000 goals whilst Maradona only ever sniffed coke. Around them the big-screens that had shown all of the Brazilian games were being disassembled and trucked away.

With Brazil out in the semi-final so shamefully, and then losing again so pathetically in the third-place play-off, Brazilians had lost all enthusiasm for the World Cup they had held so brilliantly in their own back-yard. The bars weren’t packed for the third-place play-off like they were when Brazil was still in the Cup, and drinkers only half-heartedly kept an eye on the Cup final to make sure Argentina didn’t win.

And so, for a few more generations, there’ll be no more World Cup in Brazil. No more afternoons off, no more street-parties (until Carnaval, at least), and no more sea of yellow shirts.

Well done, Brazil, for hosting a brilliant World Cup. Now back to the real world.

Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.

FIFA won’t pay any tax to the Brazilian government on its sales and merchandise at the 2014 World Cup

In 2002, Japan and South Korea spent 10 billion reals (£2.8bn, $4.4bn) each on hosting the World Cup,  and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 3 billion reais.

In 2006, Germany spent 9 billion reais on its World Cup, and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 5 billion reais.

In 2010, South Africa spent 11 billion reais on its World Cup, and (after taxes) FIFA made a profit of 6 billion reais.

In 2014, Brazil has already spent 35 billion reais on hosting the FIFA World Cup. And for the first time ever, FIFA will be exempt from paying all taxes to the Brazilian Treasury.

As a result, FIFA stands to profit 15 billions reais from the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

FIFA told Brazil it would only allow the country to host the World Cup if it made the football organisation exempt from imported goods taxes (IPI), the contribution to Social Security Financing (Cofins) on imported goods and services, and the Contribution to the Programs for Social Integration and Heritage Formation of the Public Servant ( PIS-Pasep) on imports.

The savings from FIFA not paying tax amount to around 2.5 billion reais. That’s money that would have gone into the government coffers that will now remain in Switzerland, where FIFA has charitable status and pays almost no taxes anyway.

“Brazil stands to win a lot more by the stimulating effect on the economy,” said the Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva back in 2010. Brazil’s economy has slowed to 0.2 per cent in the run up to the World Cup, an indication that huge sporting events don’t bring quite the stimulus politicians were expecting, although it has made a few people very rich.

If nothing else, Brazilians should be angry that FIFA is paying no tax for the sales it makes on its merchandise. It’s giving nothing back to the country financially. It’s also using an army of unpaid volunteers to make sure the World Cup goes well. Protests against the government are already shutting down entire highways in Belo Horizonte – it will be interesting to see how many protests flare up in the next few weeks.

 

Behind-the-scenes video tour of Brazil’s $270-an-hour Love Motel “Le Monde”, in Belo Horizonte

Last Friday I visited Belo Horizonte’s most expensive and luxurious “love motel” Le Monde for a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s absolutely not what I expected from a motel, or even a five-star hotel. The level of luxury is astounding.

This drive-in motel on the outskirts of the city is a place where, for just £160 ($270) an hour(!), clients have access to their own private pool and jacuzzi, as well as beds with mirrored ceilings, steam-rooms and sex-furniture. Of the more interesting aspects, the motel offers sex-toy room-service, private underground nightclubs (available for a mere 5,000 reais a night) and retractable roofs (to bathe under the stars).

Above all, it offers absolute discretion for you and your girlfriend, wife, mistress or prostitute.

Have look at the video:

Now, although it may seem seedy to visit a motel for a few hours to have sex, this is an entirely normal act in a country in which one in four Brazilians live with their parents long into their 30’s. Young lovers go there to celebrate their one-year anniversaries, for example.

All of my friends I asked about the motels said they had visited them, often regularly in the case of those with girlfriends and boyfriends. Having a motel to take your lover is crucial when your parents sleep in the bedroom next to you.

The "Japan" themed room at Le Monde love motel.
The “Japan” themed room at the “Le Monde” love motel.

Motels are also legally required to offer the utmost privacy for their clients. Garbage from the room is kept in a closed garage until it’s disposed of in an unmarked truck. Staff deliver food and drink through a network of hidden corridors that run behind the rooms, and revolving cupboards mean staff never even see the client.

The whole transaction, from parking up and entering the room from the garage, to ordering food and then settling the bill, can all be done without any face-to-face interaction.

You could do it completely naked and no-one would know.

The entrance to Le Monde's most luxurious and expensive room.
The entrance to Le Monde’s most luxurious and expensive room.

What’s more, overseas tourists visiting Brazil for the 2014 World Cup are set to be staying, whether knowingly or unknowingly, in these love motels. Ricardo, Le Monde‘s General Manager, confirmed 500 tourists from China, Finland, the UK, the US and Arabic states have all made reservations at his love motel. 

I guarantee they will enjoy their stay there.

This is a high-end luxury motel, and its cleanliness and professionalism reflect that. For my next trip I’ll try and visit the cheapest one I can find and report back on my findings. Love motels get as low as 20 reais an hour here (about £5, $8), so it could get pretty seedy.

An English school in Belo Horizonte really HAS been teaching prostitutes English

I have to admit I was really skeptical when I heard about Brazilian prostitutes taking English classes in order to better haggle in English with foreign tourists during the World Cup.

Seeing these images I’m still fairly skeptical.  The teacher is called Igor Fuchs (for Fuchs sake!).

A prostitute in Belo Horizonte, Brazil attending an English class

I’m all for prostitutes being supported and cared for in what is a difficult and dangerous profession, but realistically, how many words are they going to need to know? It’s not like they’re going to be explaining the entire plot of The Lord of the Rings. The Brazilian prostitutes need to know about six words and a few numbers. All of which can be communicated with hand-gestures.

A Brazilian prostitute learning English in preparation for the 2014 Brazil World Cup

I wrote yesterday about how foreign media should be focusing on real issues, not titillating nonsense that probably isn’t true. Thousands of trafficked children are set to be at-risk during the 2014 World Cup and beyond.

Remember, prostitution is a totally-legal, trade union-certified profession in Brazil. It involves consenting adults. Pimping is illegal, as it should be.

Child prostitution is a huge issue in Brazil. Let’s bring shameful images like the one below to the forefront of the international media and help make sure more work is done to help children in danger.

Child prostitution in the shadow of the Castelão World Cup stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Child prostitution in the shadow of the Castelão World Cup stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil.

If you’d like to know more or donate to a good cause please check out Meninadanca.org, a charity running a school that protects and cares for street-children that have been forced into prostitution.

Also, look out for my short video documentary behind the scenes of Belo Horizonte’s most expensive and luxurious “love motel”, a pay-by-the-hour favourite amongst wealthy Brazilians, and where a huge number of foreign tourists will be staying during their time here at the 2014 World Cup.

Child sex-trafficking in Brazil a problem foreign journalists could report. Prostitution, a legal, trade union-certified profession involving consenting adults , is not.

If there were really one million prostitutes in Brazil, as this Independent article suggests, that would mean one in every 200 Brazilians was a prostitute.

More than that, considering half of that 200 are men, and  assuming most prostitutes are women, it would mean one in every hundred women in Brazil was a prostitute.

Thousands of journalists are set to arrive in Brazil to cover the 2014 World Cup. Hopefully these journalists will dig deep into the country and leave aside the antiquated, colonial image of Brazil as a hyper-sexualised third-world country where everyone lives in a favela and sells drugs in between Samba and Carnaval.

What journalists and visiting tourists will actually find is that Brazil is a modern, technologically-advanced country full of entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors and hard-working Brazilians working 14-hour-days to provide for their families and loved ones.

Brazil has its own Silicon Valley, super-fast broadband, some of the best (free) universities in the world and more progressive social policies than most western nations on issues such as obesity (a wave of public health education and stringent controls on fast-food and candy companies), workers’ rights (successfully lobbying corporate giant McDonalds to provide better working standards) and advertising (food and drink adverts aimed at kids labelled an “abusive practise”, and all outdoor advertising billboards banned).

Brazilian prostitutes  on Avenida Alfonso Pena, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Brazilian prostitutes on Avenida Alfonso Pena, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

So no, there probably aren’t a million prostitutes in Brazil. Prostitution is, however, legal, and always has been in Brazil, which protects sex-workers and allows them access to trade unions as well as mental and sexual health services. Pimping is – quite rightly – illegal in Brazil. It is hugely progressive to see a country take such a progressive approach to one of the “oldest professions” rather than hiding behind phony puritanism and snobbery.

If we’re talking about real problems in Brazil, let’s take a look at child prostitution.

Agencies such as Meninadanca operate in the poorer northern areas of the country where poverty is high and families sell their children to passing truckers and sex-tourists. The Sun wrote a story about a 15-year-old selling herself to tourists in Rio de Janeiro for £26 a time. She was rescued a few weeks before the World Cup starts. Thousands of children won’t be.

This photo was taken outside the World Cup stadium at Fortaleza a few weeks ago:

Child prostitution in the shadow of the Castelão World Cup stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Child prostitution in the shadow of the Castelão World Cup stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Meninadanca.

The sex-trafficking of thousands of Brazilian children is a real problem foreign journalists could be spending their time reporting. A completely-legal, trade union-certified profession involving adults old enough to make their own decisions, is not.