A letter from Brazil

Dear Friend,

Yeah I’m talking to you. I hear you think of Brazil and think of beaches, girls in heels, football tricks, oversized asses and endless partying. Sorry to ruin your dream, but the party is over. It has probably been over for many years but you haven’t been told. Here we export, we do not drink coffee, we do not dance to samba outside the limits of Rio de Janeiro or dance at all anyway. Even in football, we export defensive midfielders and stoppers. The stereotypes have ran out like our patience.

We have no more patience. Last week we took to the streets . The protests began because of a 7 cents increase in transportation but by now we complain about all the rottenness behind it. The problem is not the seven cents but the basics rights. The military police, a relic of the dictatorship, doling profusely expired rubber bullets and tear gas. But it is too late. The people finally woke up and are calling for living standards equivalent with the country’s position in the economic map. Tired of seeing the few filling their pockets and be reelected over the decades. The poor are tired and the rich are tired too – I ‘ll explain.

the World Cup and the Olympics will not change anything In Brazil the minimum wage is 234 euros. The bus ticket is 1 euro and that shit comes whenever it wants to. A person who lives in Belo Horizonte earning minimum wage lives at least 15 miles from his work and takes two buses and at least an hour and a half to get there when no traffic. Traffic, talk about chaos! In Sao Paulo for example, every day we have 70 km queues at peak times. There we find the poor with the rich. The poor in the buses and the rich in their super cars with tinted windows.

The wealthy will return at his home for which pays on average 1500 euros on rent and another 400 on shared costs. He pays for private health insurance because the public one is not working. He pays for expensive schools for the children because the public ones are not going to teach anything, he pays twice as much for any product (car, clothes , computer , etc. ) because it’s imported and the import tax is 60 %  plus the profit of the trader. He pays in fear  because he can’t get out of his “castle” with the electric fence whenever he wants. He can not go for a walk where and whenever he likes. He fears for his life everyday. And I am talking of Belo Horizonte and other cities of the country. If you hit the road and go to the north, forget all this, you’re now in African standards.

We were promised that it will change our lives, finally, for the better. Almost no one has as much fun as you think here. Yes, we have beaches and sun but literacy is at 10% and each day about 13 million people can’t get food on their plate.
We are the world’s sixth economic power but nowhere near the top in terms of education and public healthcare. In regards to corruption and bureaucracy we have to be in the top 3, easily. We’re also top in crime. The numbers of dead in Rio and Sao Paulo seem to be larger than those in war zones (49.000 in 2010 ). Unfortunately, the World Cup and the Olympics will not change anything at all.

Once again we have been played. We were promised that it will change our lives, finally, for the better. That will we have transport systems and roads of first and not third world standards. That all this “feast” will be worth it. No, so far this whole story has cost us more than 27 billion dollars, more than the last three World Cups together. Here in Belo Horizonte, the Mineirao cost 270 million, while the original estimate was 146 million. I went to “Independencia” stadium, also here in Belo Horizonte, which cost 45 million euros, was delivered two years late and because of a manufacturing error has over 6000 seats with no sight of the goals. Similar and worse are the stories of the remaining stadiums.

Speaking of football, I gotta tell you that most Brazilians will watch the World Cup on television. A cheap ticket to the Confederations Cup for the match Tahiti – Nigeria costs around 50 euros. Imagine then what we would have to pay at the World Cup and do not forget, the salary is at 243 euros.

A Cup for who then? Maybe for those who will come to “live the dream” in Brazil . At this exact moment more than 200.000 Brazilians are in the streets and are protesting for their rights. They do not care about the World Cup ,do not drink coffee and they are definitely not dancing samba.

Article is an adaptation/translation by Christos Floros for Wordscover. Original Article in Greek: Γράμμα από την Βραζιλία by