(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)
A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.
Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?
The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.
The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.
DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.
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.
(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.
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):
And here’s the black character:
And here’s the female lead protagonist, just because:
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.
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.
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.
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.
This photo was taken outside the World Cup stadium at Fortaleza a few weeks ago:
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.
Lagoa Santa in Central Brazil is the only site in the entire American continent where bodies of the earliest modern humans have been found.
The bodies date back to the earliest days of the Holocene period,
which began about 12,000 years ago with a global rise in sea-levels of about 60m.
The most famous body is that of Luiza, a young woman perfectly-preserved from the day she passed away in a cave and looking very much like a modern human.
The Holocene period encapsulates the period of the “modern human”, and continues with us up to this day. It’s incredible these early humans, who will have crossed into the continent from Russia, have been found only once across the entire continent, and all the way south in the cave systems of central Brazil.
In a tiny town in northern Minas Gerais called Montalvânia their early cave-paintings have also been found.
A lot of it is stick-men, including the man in the image above who has five sets of arms. A few of the drawings look like rocket-ships and planes, which sets the imagination alight about what was going through these early human’s minds.
The cave-drawings can be seen in Belo Horizonte’s Espaco do Conhecimento and the caves of the American continent’s earliest humans can be explored in Lagoa Santa.
Beware, though: the cave is full of spiders. Two of them are the “deadliest spiders in Brazil”, according to the tour guide. As he was describing the spiders he pointed to my foot and said: “There’s one.” Brazil’s deadliest spider was on my flip-flop!
The final catwalk-run by Brazilian designer Time Ellus (“Team Ellus”) featured a t-shirt slogan calling for the Brazilian government to catch up with the rest of the world by removing the inefficiency, corruption and lack of productivity that makes its traffic, airports, hospitals, schools and by definition its economy, so sluggish and slow.
Although it sounds like a call for a better society, the mission statement issued by the designer afterwards focused more on the fashion world and its problem with homegrown Brazilian designers being forced out of the market by cheap foreign imports “from poor countries”.
Is there a problem with a rich, white Brazilian designer jumping on the “corruption/bureaucracy/failing public education and health sector bandwagon to promote her own personal commercial interests? A fashion designer who almost certainly went to a private school for her education, a private hospital when she was sick and travels the world in luxury, attending the most fabulous parties in the gentrified air of some of Rio de Janeiro’s best hotels?
Instead, here’s the statement “Team Ellus” released following the catwalk run for you to decide by yourself (Portuguese below):
Brazil is clogged, congested in everything. The transit system, airports, hospitals, roads, energy, schools, communications, bureaucracy (corruption), all don’t work… Even the water system’s blocked!
It’s difficult for everyone! Nothing flows! Everything is so difficult! All this trouble costs us. Brazil = inefficiency, lack of productivity. That means we stay isolated from the rest of the world, making us fall behind in relation to the rest of the modern world.
It’s clear that those most responsible are the old-fashioned, pencil-pushing, quasi-medieval politicians and governors, with their backward ideas of protectionism just creating more and more atrophy (in the business market).
Within the fashion industry, exporting our designs is too difficult with all of these issues, and, because we don’t have the right conditions to be able to compete, it creates an opportunity for clothes and accessories to just be imported from poor countries.
We need to cut red-tape and simplify the system to motivate, advance, open and internationalise ourselves, because if not, everytime we fall back we get more and more isolated in the glaciers of the South Pole.
What kind of Brazil is this where businesses and public fortunes are just destroyed?!?!
DROP THIS BACKWARDS BRAZIL!
– Team Ellus
And the original Portuguese:
DESABAFOO Brasil está entupido, um congestionamento em tudo. Não anda no trânsito, nos aeroportos, nos hospitais, nas estradas, na energia, nas escolas, na comunicação, na burocracia (corrupção)… Até a água está entupida!Dificuldade para tudo! As coisas não fluem! Tudo é tão difícil! Tudo isso gerando esse custo. Brasil = ineficiência, improdutividade. Isso faz com que fiquemos isolados do mundo, acarretando esse atraso todo em relação ao mundo moderno.É claro que os maiores responsáveis são os políticos e os governos antiquados, cartoriais, quase medievais, que com suas ideias atrasadas de protecionismo acabam por gerar atrofia.
Até para indústria da moda, exportar o nosso design fica difícil com todo esse custo, abrindo espaço maior para as importações de roupas e acessórios provenientes de países pobres, porque nós não temos condições de competir.
Precisamos desburocratizar, simplificar para motivar, avançar, abrir, internacionalizar, se não, cada vez mais, ficaremos isolados nas geleiras do Polo Sul.
Que Brasil é esse em que até as empresas e patrimônios públicos acabam destruídos?!?!
Five not-so-well-known facts about Brazil every tourist visiting the country for the 2014 World Cup needs to know.
1) Napkin rollies: You’re going to eat in a restaurant or bar, you’re going to reach for a napkin from a little dispenser and you’re going to grab a piece of wax-paper.
Napkins in Brazil feel as if they’ve been coated in some kind of non-stick formula to stop any liquid adhering to them. They absorb nothing, they’re crunchy, and you need twenty to clean up the tiniest blob of grease, so good luck with that cheesy dribble of pizza hanging off your chin. You may as well use your hands.
So what are these napkins good for? Well, making spliffs, actually:
2) TP Backlog: I need to talk toilets. Brazil has a terrible plumbing system, and toilet-paper is not allowed to go down the drain. Next to almost every toilet in Brazil is a little plastic bin for your used toilet paper.
The cumulative effect of hundreds of thousands of visiting World Cup tourists throwing their toilet-paper down the drains could result in raw sewage pouring out onto Rio’s beautiful tiled streets.
Don’t do it.
3) Income disparity: On a more serious note, tourists should be aware that Brazil’s minimum wage is around 700 reais a month.
And remember, 700 reais is the official minimum wage. Consider the street-sellers, the Giras (trash-collectors) and the homeless, scraping by on a few reais a day, surrounded by wealthy tourists and locals thinking nothing of spending 10 reais on a Coca-cola.
It’s important visiting tourists keep in mind the huge disparity between the rich and poor in Brazil. It leaks into everything; crime, education, health, transport, housing, entertainment, safety and culture.
4) Gridlock: What time should you leave your hotel to attend your World Cup game? An hour before kick-off? A few hours?
How about the day before?
Traffic in Brazil’s big cities is monstrous, and it’s only going to get worse for the World Cup. Dilapidated and neglected roads can’t take the amount of cars and trucks packed into them, in what is a modernising, industrialised country. Despite the ridiculous price-tag of the Fiat Palio Fire, it is a best-seller. And remember, Brazil has its fair share of incredibly wealthy people driving SUVs and sports-cars, too.
Driving is a source of independence and pride for modern Brazilians, even if you do just end up rolling off the forecourt and into two hours of gridlocked traffic.
If you can, tourists should just walk to the game. You’ll get there so much faster.
5) Fala ingles? Outside of the metropolitan tourist cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador you’ll struggle to find many Brazilians that can speak a whole lot of English.
If you’re visiting Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Cuiaba or any of the other host cities, you’ll need to brush up on your Portuguese, as even in some of the big hotels the management don’t really prioritise teaching their staff English. It’s a case of time, money and the jeitinho brasiliero (“Brazilian Way”).
In any case Brazilians are very friendly people, and they’ll try their best to help you, even if the conversation consists almost entirely of Beatles’ song lyrics.
I’ll be writing five more things you need to know about Brazil, talking about winter, power and protests , very soon. Please comment or like if you want to hear more!
News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.