sábado, 22 de junho de 2013

Brazilian plane?... What about the bus?

This is my reaction to Gabriel Elizondo's first post regarding the protests on his Al Jazeera blog on June 21st

I had been waiting for his first written piece and I wasn’t disappointed. He came out with a plane analogy. Quite interesting, by the way, especially for the row 35 part. 

Being AJ's main correspondent in Brazil, he knows the country well. His saying that it is just impossible to know where all this might go expresses his view that Brazil is an extremely complex country, and that it makes it really unpredictable at a time of social unrest of that amplitude.

The plane analogy is scary. A big part of the population, heterogeneous and quite young, is taking control of the machine. But many in Brazil fear that they do not know how to pilot a plane that big, and don't we all know that a plane, after take off, can either land or crash. Added to that, the fact that they do not have a flight plan raises even more concerns (I hope I’m wrong here).

M. Elizondo is optimistic, and so am I most of the time regarding Brazil. But not this time, even if I applaud the pacific part of the protest. Vitor Carvalho (a PhD candidate, like me living abroad and planning to go back at some point "to do his part") reacted to a very good analysis posted on Luis Nassif's blog. He made the following point: the risk to have authoritarian forces gradually take control of the country has never been so high, and I think he is raising an important issue. These forces are there, some of them go back to the time of dictatorship, untouched (starting with the military police). And they would probably get support from some economic ones (domestic & international).

By the way, the guy pictured on the post is not inside the plane (my assumption is based on stats, not on prejudice). That's why the plane analogy is so great. There is definitely a plane, but the ones riding on buses have never left the ground, most of them working hard for low wages and long hours. It did improve, but there is still a long way to go (o trabalhador brasileiro, este é super heroi).

There is a young part of the "grounded" masses that may become a wild card in all this. They may not be interested in being super heroes anymore, working their asses off with dignity for nothing in return. How big is this group, I do not know. If these ones decide to take control of the bus' steering wheel (and trust me, they have absolutely nothing to lose and are not afraid of anything) it will be real trouble. 

And finally, let's not forget : some people have already died. Lives were lost.

So, to the guys in the plane: "it is a great ride, but do get your stuff together, because what you are doing may have a terrible impact on Brazil's institutions and citizens. It is a great move, but moving is not enough, you need to think about the ones who have no properties, no savings nor an education acquired in the "private system".

The move is great, but do get a sense of direction.

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