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:
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.
Across Brazil’s 10 biggest cities there were 71 major protests in the 12 days before the World Cup started. In the 12 days since the opening game there have been 43.
Sao Paulo’s Folha gathered data from police, transport bodies, trade unions and social movements to collect the data, which is probably still too vague to draw anything but broad generalisations about popular protests in Brazil. One sociologist said in the report: “Brazilians really like football.”
Folha reckons underlying motives for the protests are changing, too. Before the World Cup started protests were being held in support of pay-rises and improved work conditions. Trade unions knew that heightened pressure would be thrown onto the government to act in the unions’ favour quickly, as the government wouldn’t want tourists witnessing protests in the street.
At least for the teachers here in Belo Horizonte, it didn’t work. A 15 per cent pay-rise (after three years of 6-8 per cent inflation had seen their real wages eroded) was rejected, and the teachers went back to work days before the World Cup started.
Now the protests are more generally Anti-World Cup.
One of the problems with protests this year is that last year’s Confederation’s Cup protesters saw how their anti-corruption, pro-Brazil protests were “hijacked” by organised, extreme-right elements that wanted Dilma out and their people in.
Consequently a lot of citizens don’t want to protest for fear they’ll be portrayed as extreme-right antagonists. Such is the problem with popular protest; with so many problems in Brazil, it’s hard to be clear about what you’re protesting about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.
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.
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.
If you only do one thing during your visit to the 2014 Brazil World Cup in Belo Horizonte, visit Inhotim Art Gallery.
It’s about a two-hour drive out of the city (it’s only 70km away but traffic takes care of the rest) but it’s definitely worth it. The art gallery/botanical gardens is built within the huge grounds of the former English mining magnate Senor Tim (pronounced “In-yo-cheem” in old Brazilian, hence the name).
Dotted around Inhotim are modern art installations of glass, mirror, water, brick and sound buried deep in lush Brazilian forest. It’s a really beautiful place to walk around on a sunny day.
This huge tree-hugger truck sits forever tipping over in a glass dome structure in the middle of the jungle.
Paths lead through thousands of different types of flowers and trees as you look for each of the hidden installations.
The art installations are really, really cool. Photography inside the galleries is banned but I managed to snap the Cildo Meireles installation below.
Another installation has you walking across broken glass (you’re wearing shoes).
A spectacular sound installation called The Murder of Crows has you sat facing fifty different speakers in a dark warehouse as a girl recounts a dream beginning in the warehouse and moving through jungle to a beach.
Another has you in a pitch-black room as a strobe-light illuminates a fountain, making the water look like molten glass. In another you enter a room with a mirror, but you can’t see your reflection. You can literally step through the mirror, as crazy as that sounds.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s a really cool place.
A few tips: wear a good pair of walking shoes, tickets are 30 reais to enter and the best place to eat is the Oiticica self-service restaurant (where they weigh your plate; it’ll cost about 40 reais for a really nice meal and a drink).
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.
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.
Seeing these images I’m still fairly skeptical. The teacher is called Igor Fuchs (for Fuchs sake!).
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.
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.
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.
News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.