“So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”
So said Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, on April 28 when a reporter pointed out that the country’s toll from Covid-19 had just surpassed China’s—reaching the grim milestone of 5,000 deaths. By the end of May, Brazil had surpassed the half-million mark for coronavirus cases, becoming the world’s No. 2 hotspot for the disease, behind only the United States; it has now topped 38,000 deaths. On Saturday, Bolsonaro’s government stopped publishing official statistics about the country’s outbreak.
“So what?” might sum up why Brazil’s response to the pandemic has been so catastrophic: I’m talking not only about the scorn with which Bolsonaro greeted the news of thousands of deaths, but also about the fact that he appears to think there should be no response at all.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s been almost three months since my toddler left the apartment. We’ve been enduring as best as we can: We spend countless afternoons at the balcony watching the street and counting red cars; we open and close all the curtains; we pile up boxes of paper tissues and make mountains; we invent stories about our neighbors based on the smells of their cooking. Recently, she has started to play with her own shadow. This was a wise move, since both of her parents are exhausted.
Quarantining with a 2-year-old is a draining job. On top of that, my husband and I are both still working remotely — he is a tax inspector for city hall — even as we cook and clean and disinfect the doorknobs.… Seguir leyendo »
NEW YORK City—How do you tell New Yorkers to forget about the culture and booze and laughter and food and people that make this city worth living in, and go back to their tiny, overpriced apartments and stay there, alone? Some wind or snow would help, but last Saturday there was nothing but vague warnings from politicians that we should keep a safe distance from one another, which sounds like advice from someone who has never been to New York.
“I’m waiting for the government to tell me I should be more concerned,” one woman standing outside of a bar told me that night.… Seguir leyendo »
It was around 5 a.m. on an average Tuesday. I was sitting on the sofa eating toast when I received a Facebook notification saying that a police raid had just begun. “Please don’t leave your homes,” I read. “If you are outside, take shelter!”
Classes were canceled that morning. Armored tanks rolled through the streets, shooting seemingly at random. By 8 a.m., according to reports, police officers broke into homes and tortured residents. Others headed to the roofs to set up sniper hideouts. The operation lasted all day. It was entirely typical.
Of course it didn’t happen where I live — a middle-class neighborhood in São Paulo, where such acts of state terror would be nearly inconceivable.… Seguir leyendo »
During the jury selection process for Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial this month, dozens of women gathered outside a Manhattan courthouse to perform a version of the dance/chant known as “Un Violador en tu Camino,” or “A Rapist in Your Path.” First in Spanish, then in English, they sang: “Patriarchy is our judge that imprisons us at birth/And our punishment is the violence you don’t see.”
This performance, which quickly went viral, was created last year by the Valparaíso, Chile-based feminist collective Lastesis, and is based on the work of the Argentine-Brazilian anthropologist Rita Segato. The lyrics describe how the state upholds systematic violations of women’s rights, through institutions such as the judiciary and the police.… Seguir leyendo »
This year has been marked by widespread social convulsion in Latin America.
Since mid-October, Chileans have been in the streets; what started as demonstrations over a subway fare hike quickly broadened into protests over enormous economic inequality. The right-wing president, Sebastian Piñera, ordered a militarized police force to suppress the protests, causing more than a dozen deaths and the partial blinding of more than 200 people.
In Colombia, students, workers and indigenous people have been demonstrating since late November against rumored pension cutbacks and changes to labor laws. Protesters accused the center-right president, Iván Duque, of failing to address issues like corruption, economic inequality and the murder of human rights activists.… Seguir leyendo »
When I first set foot in the Amazon rain forest, in the Anavilhanas Archipelago, northwest of the city of Manaus, I experienced something that can only be described as awe: an overwhelming sense of connection with the universe. Cheesy, I know. But this is something that we rarely feel — only upon seeing a clear tropical night sky, or the ghostly flickering of the northern lights or even the vastness of a French Gothic cathedral.
From the outside, the Amazon is a massive, undistinguished canopy of trees, but once you’re inside it, it is indeed a “monumental universe,” in the words of the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.… Seguir leyendo »
De acuerdo con el presidente Jair Bolsonaro, la educación brasileña deja mucho que desear. “Todo va cada vez más cuesta abajo”, dijo el mes pasado a periodistas durante un viaje a Dallas. “Queremos salvar la educación”.
Este parecería un argumento razonable si Bolsonaro anunciara, por ejemplo, un nuevo plan de educación o un aumento sustancial en el gasto dirigido a las escuelas públicas. Sin embargo, por el contrario, el mandatario estaba aludiendo a un “congelamiento” de 1500 millones de dólares al presupuesto para la educación en Brasil —el gobierno insiste en llamarlo así, en vez del recorte que es; esto se debe, en teoría, a que los fondos quedarán disponibles cuando mejore la situación económica—.… Seguir leyendo »
A little more than a year ago, a member of Rio de Janeiro’s City Council was murdered with four shots to the head and neck. The councilwoman, Marielle Franco, was headed home from an event when a car pulled up and someone opened fire, killing her and her driver. It was obvious from the beginning that this was a premeditated, professional assassination. Ms. Franco was a black, feminist L.G.B.T. activist, a fierce human-rights defender who wasn’t afraid to take on sensitive issues: the use of state violence in favelas, for instance, or the involvement of police and politicians in Rio’s paramilitary groups.… Seguir leyendo »
Hace cinco años, una mujer brasileña en trabajo de parto fue detenida por la policía y obligada a parir por cesárea.
La mujer, Adelir de Goes, ya había tenido dos cesáreas previas (un procedimiento demasiado común en mi país) y esperaba parir a su tercer hijo vía vaginal, pero su bebé venía de nalgas. Los médicos pensaron que un parto vaginal podría poner en riesgo la vida del infante.
Obtuvieron una orden judicial para practicar una intervención quirúrgica forzosa. De Goes había dilatado casi por completo y se preparaba para ir al hospital cuando nueve policías tocaron a su puerta para llevársela.… Seguir leyendo »
A few weeks ago, the Cuban government announced it would withdraw from the Brazilian medical program Mais Médicos, which sends doctors to remote, underserved areas in Brazil. It’s estimated that millions of citizens could be deprived of primary health care after the departure of roughly 8,600 Cuban doctors from the country. The decision was prompted by demeaning remarks made by Brazil’s right-wing president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.
Mr. Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the qualifications of Cuban doctors: “We have no proof that they are really doctors and able to take on these functions,” he said recently. This is false: All foreign doctors working for the program need to present their degrees and their licenses to practice medicine abroad.… Seguir leyendo »
En septiembre, a pocas semanas de la primera vuelta electoral en Brasil, Cabo Daciolo anunció una nueva estrategia para las elecciones presidenciales: dijo que iba a pasar veintiún días de ayuno y rezo en las montañas.
Daciolo es uno de los más de diez candidatos presidenciales para la primera vuelta del 7 de octubre y sus retiros espirituales no son la única estrategia poco convencional. También grabó un video en el que les pide a sus partidarios que ya no donen fondos para su campaña sino que recen por el país. Dice que una de sus prioridades es proteger a Brasil de la dominación de “banqueros, el Nuevo Orden Mundial, los illuminati y los masones”.… Seguir leyendo »
Every four years, Brazil is transformed by a sportive Midas touch that turns everything into apolitical emptiness. It sweeps our country with a force almost too strong to resist.
We puff up our chests and recall that we are the only country that has attended every single FIFA World Cup since its beginning in 1930 (a distinction we have held alone since 1950, when Romania did not enter the competition and France withdrew). We have also won the championship five times. And although Brazil has never gotten a Nobel prize—just three Ig Nobels and too many Darwin Awards—at least on the soccer field we can proudly face first-world countries such as England, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.… Seguir leyendo »
Han pasado más de dos meses desde el asesinato de Marielle Franco, una defensora de los derechos humanos que fue integrante del Concejo Municipal de Río de Janeiro. Sin embargo, su asesinato sigue sin resolverse. La hipótesis más probable, según el ministro de Seguridad Pública de Brasil, Raul Jungmann, es que las milicias locales hayan sido responsables de su muerte.
Las milicias de Brasil son distintas a los grupos paramilitares de otros países. Su origen data de la década de los setenta, la época de la dictadura militar, cuando los policías fuera de servicio formaban escuadrones de la muerte para ejecutar a criminales y opositores políticos, según José Cláudio Souza Alves, un sociólogo que estudia a esos grupos.… Seguir leyendo »
It has been more than a month since Brazil’s Army took control of public security in the state of Rio de Janeiro, following a presidential decree to tackle crime. One of the most eloquent voices against that intervention had been Marielle Franco, a 38-year-old black bisexual woman who came from the Maré favela and was a member of Rio’s City Council.
On March 16, she was assassinated with four shots in the head after attending an event with other black young women in downtown Rio de Janeiro.
Ms. Franco was elected in 2016 and was the only black female representative on Rio’s 51-seat City Council.… Seguir leyendo »
La historia es así: el gobierno anuncia otro aumento en la tarifa del transporte público, así que unos cuantos brasileños toman las calles, marchan unos kilómetros y después la policía decide que ya fue suficiente. Acto seguido, hay una especie de exhibición pirotécnica, con gas y explosiones. Todos se van a casa; algunos después de una corta estancia en la estación local de policía, otros más con unos moretones de recuerdo.
Unos días después, hay otra manifestación. Y luego otra más. La historia se repite unas cuantas veces hasta que todos están cansados, satanizados o suficientemente intimidados. Las tarifas siguen siendo indignantes y subirán de nuevo el año próximo.… Seguir leyendo »
It goes like this: The government announces another increase in the bus fare, so a few Brazilians take to the streets, march for a couple of miles, and then the police decide they’ve had enough. A kind of pyrotechnic exhibition ensues, with gas and explosions. Everybody goes home, some after a short stay at the local police station, others with purple bruises for souvenirs.
A few days later, there’s another demonstration. And then another. Rinse and repeat until everybody gets tired, demonized, traumatized or sufficiently intimidated. The bus fare remains outrageous, and it will rise again next year.
The plot has been the same for many other grievances in the recent years: labor reforms; the reorganization of public schools; an illegitimate, unpopular presidency; a costly, foolish World Cup; a catastrophic Summer Olympics.… Seguir leyendo »
It was not the best year for many of us. My country, for example, seemed to walk proudly backward through 2017, and the coming year promises fewer rights and even more inequality. Brazil is regressing so quickly that I can almost see on the horizon a fleet of Portuguese caravels coming to colonize us all over again.
A few recent setbacks worth mentioning: I lost my main job a while ago and many of my friends are unemployed. The bus fare is probably going to rise again. Yellow fever is once more a looming threat. People are cooking with wood because they can’t afford gas.… Seguir leyendo »
Cuando tenía 7 años, me uní a las Guías Brasileñas. Una de las leyes básicas de las guías era que una niña debía ser “cortés y delicada” (hoy solo enfatizan la parte de “cortés”). Recuerdo que me enseñaron a cumplir los siguientes requisitos para ganar una de las codiciadas insignias de las guías: una niña debe saber cómo tratar a las autoridades, cómo mostrar deferencia hacia la gente, cómo escuchar y hablar en el momento correcto y ‒mi favorita‒ cómo dirigirse a los demás sin gritar.
En septiembre tomé mis primeras clases de defensa personal femenina. Definitivamente dejaron una marca… y no solo por los moretones.… Seguir leyendo »
When I was 7, I joined the Brazilian Girl Guides. One of the basic laws of the guides was that a girl should be “courteous and delicate.” (These days they only emphasize the “courteous” part.) I remember being taught to abide by the following requirements to earn one of the guides’ coveted badges: A girl needs to know how to treat authorities, how to show deference to people, how to listen and speak at the right time and — my favorite — how to address people without yelling.
In September, I took my first classes in women’s self-defense. They definitely left some marks on me (besides the bruises).… Seguir leyendo »