Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bashing blue eyed people again!

Several of my fellow bloggers posted a "Brazil on the rise" video from CBS 60 minutes from this past Sunday,Jim, at "Qualidade de vida", Rachel, at Rachel's Rantings in Rio de Janeiro and Rachel, from Adventures of a Gringa, they all had interesting views and some had funny remarks about their impressions from the CBS video and I enjoyed reading their posts.
The video is more than positive, it really makes you wanna dance in celebration for Brazil's good news!
However, I have to say that as a Brazilian who grew up watching step by step how Brazil got to where it is today, it is mind-boggling and irritating to me to see Lula taking most of the credit for the country's current economic success.
In my opinion, the best thing Lula ever did was to "NOT DO ANYTHING" to mess up what the previous president Fernando Henrique Cardoso's team had done to set the country on the right path for economic growth, the former president, a sociologist, created the "bolsa familia" and again, I give Lula credit for not messing it up and trying to create something with his footprint on it, better yet, he took full credit, today, ask anyone on the streets and 8 out of 10 people will assure you "bolsa familia" was a Lula creation.
Lula was VERY smart on not changing anything and taking credit for the GOOD results from the previous administration, so I don't totally discredit Lula but I don't agree that he is solely responsible for Brazil's economic boom, he is just not.
Now, to add insult to injury, he insists on making "fun" of the European for being perfectionists, he seems to try to sell an image that he is "cool" by dismissing the Europeans concern on Brazil's lack of seriousness and implies that HE is RIGHT and the perfectionist EUROPEAN are wrong.
If anything, the Brazilians who lack seriousness are the ones who have contributed less and have held the rest of the country hostage on a joke that always said "Brazil is the country of the future and always will be", yes, those, the slackers, those who think they are cool are actually the ones who have held everyone else back.
Honest, hard working Brazilians, the ones who pay their taxes, have no "Caixa 2", respect dead lines, arrive on time...yes, those have been held back for years by the idiots who think they are cool for doing everything wrong.
Well, that is no more my friends!
Now, back to Lula's foot in his mouth talents...
Why pick on the European like that? I seriously smell a strong inferiority complex in the air, but who am I to know if that is true, it is just a suspicion I have from his obsessive negative bashing of European people and Europe.

President Lula doesn't miss an opportunity to bash blue eyed people and have his foot half way into his mouth!

Keep in mind he is the one who "brilliantly" said that "Blue Eyed" people were responsible for the current economic crisis on Wall Street and around the world! Really? Not only you sound stupid and racist but completely uninformed.
Did you really say that? You are the president of a country of 190 million people, many of them Blue Eyed by the way, many in my own family!
How can a president of a country like Brazil lack common sense at such drastic levels?
When Lula went to Africa, the first thing he says was "Africa is not so dirty I thought!" Yes, He said that! Google it and find details in the media.
You are a president and you say that in public! to the media? Have you no shame, sense of right and wrong?
I don't hate Lula, I really don't, like I said before, the best he ever did was not doing anything at all, but we have to hold our breath when genius opens his mouth.
Being a blue in the face New England democrat, trust me, I wanted nothing more than Lula to sound smart and represent the left in a decent way, but he kept disappointing me every time he opens his mouth, at least he is letting the country be.
Now, let's back up to his comments against European.
Before I go any deeper, let me state that I think every Brazilian-European I know, many from my family and Gil's family have been true contributors of Brazil's economic success.
If Brazil is pulling out of the mud it's because of perfectionist European like my grandfather, who arrived in Brazil in 1926 and who worked hard all his life, always paid his taxes, made sure all four of his kids graduated from college, three engineers and one teacher, the perfectionist European was able to do accomplish a lot without the help from any government, don't get me wrong, I am not against bolsa familia, is has helped elevate millions out of poverty, but don't come bashing the ones who always worked hard and pay an absurd amount of taxes so these masses can be elevated from poverty.
Gil's mother is another example of a hard working European lady, perfectionist, disciplined who accomplished a lot as a single woman raising three kids and making sure they all graduated from college and became active members of society paying a very heavy tax load to make sure there is money in the public coffers to pay the "bolsa familia" and elevate millions out of poverty.
Let it be clear, that this money is coming from the sweat and hard work of middle class Brazilian families who carry an astronomical tax burden, Brazilian-European, Brazilian of African origin, Brazilian of mixed races, Brazilian of all races, all middle class Brazilians are paying a hefty tag for "bolsa familia", I am glad to see it is working and it is lifting millions out of poverty.
Lula is an idiot again when he criticizes European people and forgets that he just helped elect a Brazilian who's father immigrated from Bulgaria.
I am excited and full of hopes because the newly elected president Dilma Rousseff will take over the country has a reputation for being hands on, with a strong common sense lacked from Lula and an authentic capacity to lead the country into it's exciting new path of quick development and lot's discipline and full of European perfecionism ;)  which Lula so eloquently criticises.
Let it be clear that I am proud of my grandparent's blue eyes and my mother's blues eyes who brought to this land their dreams along with a stubborn European perfectionism, honesty and hard work that have always contributed to Brazil being the country of the future!
The future has clearly arrived!


Jim said...

Great post, as usual, Ray. I take most of your points. Believe me, listening to a president say stupid things burns my butt too - George W. Bush wrote the book!

But in an odd way Lula's foolish remarks helped endear him to LOTS of folks who have always felt disenfranchised in Brazil (While at the same time it gave the educated class the excuse they were looking for to deride him). I'm not sugesting either side is more right, just that it cut both ways.

Choosing to continue economic and other policies is not simply doing nothing. An assessment was made and a decision was taken. Lula and his party deserve credit for that choice, not just a sigh of relief they didn't screw things up.

While off hand anti-blue eyed remarks are inarticulate at best and stupid at worst, I can't help but agree that policies enforced by so-called first world nations and institutions like the IMF and World Bank have crushed many countries around the world. And the Neo-Conservative economic policies imported from the financial wizards in the US needed to be revisited. It took a Socialist politician to thumb his nose at the brainiacs that have been growing business at the expense of the working poor.

Again, we agree more than not, I think. But I just think that Lula's contributions need to be seen as authentic - even if his life story, personal style and pedigree is not seen as attractive or trustworthy (or simply worthy) by many of the more monied communities in Brazil

I think there is a parallel happening now in the US. President Obama is doing so many good things, but he either gets no credit or is railed on for being an enemy foreigner. (And you know it is because many white people will never see a black man as worthy or prepared to be president.)

Gil and Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gil and Ray said...


Great point of view!
The last part of your comment, regarding President Obama being a black man, I sometimes also feel a very subtle dismissive attitude torwards him from many people who seem to be bothered more with the fact that a Black man is the president than just disagreeing with him on the merit of whatever he is doing or whatever is being discussed.
Back to Brazil, I am really glad Rousseff is going to be the new president and don't expect to see her with her foot half way into her mouth as often as we have seen Lula.


Paper plains said...

I am enjoying this and learning so much from both of you thank you! Before we got to Brazil and embarrassingly enough hadn't really studied up on our history and knowledge of politics I overheard my husband mentioning how wonderful Lula was for Brazil. Several months later, after both having read a bit, talked with many people I now hear him lecturing to his family and friends back home a lot of what you have said Ray. I do see both sides as Jim presented, I think its also very difficult to keep the ship going in the right direction and much easier to screw it up. So Lula does deserve a bit of credit for that. I think Obama is much like Cardoso, low approval ratings, major decisions to change course and 10 years down the road someone will try and take credit for much of his success. I would rather however see someone carry on the good he is doing and take credit rather than spend another decade reversing it. I intend to pay close attention to Dilma and am curious how the world cup construction turns out. I have to say I am a little nervous...

Jim said...

Part of the issue is that the wealth redistribution process is - naturally - upsetting to those from whom the wealth is taken for redistribution to the poor and traditionally disenfranchized.

But what people often forget to take into account when they complain that "my father worked hard for his money..." is that there have usually been systemic dynamics at play that have advantaged one group of people to make the money and to see it grow.

For example, here in Brazil:

- College educations at public universites are free (if you can pass the strict entrance exam). So guess who gets in? The people who live in areas where the schools are good (or send their kids to private schools) and who also pay for their kids to attend test-preparation courses.

So the more priveleged kids go to college and their more priveleged parents don't have to pay for it.

The poor... they pay (or NOT) to send their kids to private colleges.

So the middle class sustains itself with a handy boost from the government and the poor stand on the sidelines, blocked from entering.

- Banks. Don't get me started. The banks are thieves. But one thing is clear, if you have a bunch of money in a bank here it will earn a sh*tload of interest and grow substantially over time. So as the saying goes: "The rich get richer." Aside from a Caixa Economica account to access the basics, poor folks probably don't even have a bank account.

So in some ways the poor have been subsidizing the middle class, if we are totally honest about it. Or better, the system has advantaged the middle and upper classes while bypassing the poor, so there has been more available to help the upper end.

But sure - it lights people's hair on fire when they see their taxes being redistributed to those they have been told are lazy or without the drive to better themselves.

That's why it takes a socialist to break the cycle. They are prepared to take the heat in the name of social justice.

As usual, it's complicated.

Danielle said...

I think if someone asked Lula about his opinions and preferred policies on the economy, education, etc, he'd say things that I agree with. I think he's on the right side of the political fence.

HOWEVER, he just has no tact or common sense when he speaks! For example, that blue-eyed comment wouldn't have been criticized if he had just said the direct problem: "banking policies and lenient laws for big companies in other countries are causing problems around the world". But saying it in that way was ignorant and was also detrimental-- a lot of less educated Brazilians look to him for their opinions, and may very well REPEAT him without thinking twice. And at the end, blaming white people doesn't solve any problems or show any productive opinions.

The other thing that annoys me is that Lula tries to be friends with every country, and just says what the leaders want to hear. So he's just as much of a yes-man to Obama as he is to Chavez and Ahmadinejad. I think that by doing that, he doesn't show any values or a strong foreign policy.

The result of all this is that I think Lula has a lot of good intentions, and his party has policies that I like, but I just don't take him very seriously.

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Paper Plains,

It is great to hear a comment like yours, this is what blogging is all about. I am glad the information I share here I are very useful and interesting to you and your husband.
I absolutely agree with you regards president Obama. He is doing good things for our country that will only be seen down the road and perhaps others will be taking credit for it.
The most important thing is that president Obama is doing the right thing for us.
Lula surrounded himself with good, smart people, which helped him keep the ship running straight.
I do give him some credit and I also criticize the things that I disagree, the same way I criticize president Obama when I see him doing something controversial to my beliefs, president Obama is too conservative if you ask me and I wish he had just a bit of the arrogance Mr.Bush had to push things down people's throat.

Thanks for you comment


Gil and Ray said...

Dear Danielle,

What you mentioned is my biggest fear, that president Lula's comments would turn ignorant people literally against "Blue Eyed" people or have other consequence he didn't see coming, but this is what you get from a person who doesn't even finish the 4th grade and becomes president, there is definitely something missing there in terms of intellectual maturity.
But again president Bush went to Yale and said similarly stupid things, so who knows? :)
My biggest disagreement with Lula is his support for THUGS such as Chavez or Almadinawhatever...I can't even pronounce his name without feeling like throwing up.
I understand Lula was trying to capitalize on an opportunity to become an international star on the foreign policy arena, but he learned the hard way that is not so easy as it looked...


Gil and Ray said...

Dear Jim,

I hear you again, thank you for your elaborated response with lots of interesting details.
We could definitely write a book on the subject together and we would agree on almost everything regarding Lula and Brazil.
Let me just share with you that regarding the University situation is not so black and white.
My grandfather fled Europe for religious persecution, he was a Jew, his family's farm house was set fire in the middle of the night, they nearly died and left France that same night, headed for a port in Spain where they boarded a ship to Brazil.
Upon their arrival in Brazil they spoke no Portuguese and couldn't get any jobs in the city so they ended up picking coffee in farms around Sao Paulo state.
A few years later after learning the language they moved to the city and got jobs in factories in Sao Paulo.
My grandfather was very strict with his kids, no playing soccer on the streets all day like many kids, my Dad would get a good beating if he was found away from his books and playing soccer on the streets.
Dad got into school, not a good, FREE public University, but a mid level engineering school and worked during the day at Ford so he could go to school at night.
His two brothers also worked during the day to pay for their college educational at night, never had FREE college.
My father's sister was the same thing, worked during the day to go to school at night.
In other words, my family never got the handy boost from the government, very much to the contrary, they all paid to go to school and keep paying a lot for every day things in shape of absurd taxes, which are also not Lula's doing.
I am glad however that the poor are getting a handy boost in form of "bolsa familia", everyone will benefit in the long run.
But I have to say I did feel my blood boiling when Lula's brother was caught selling "meetings" with Lula for huge amounts of money and got away with it scotch free.
It also makes my blood boil when I learned that Lula's son now owes a company worth millions and millions of dollars when we know they were just a blue collar family not too long ago.


Fiona said...

Posts like these and comments like these are so great. I'll be sure to keep reading after I leave Brazil. Cheers!!!

Gil and Ray said...

Dear Fiona,

You will become an expert in Brazil in no time ;)
Gil is making some books sugestions for you over at his post.
I look foward to seeing you back here always.


Carolina said...

Hi Gil and Ray, I found you via a comment on Ginger's Flowers and More blog. I lived in Brazil while in the Peace Corps 1967-69 in Sergipe. Later this year, I will return for my first visit since then.

I posted a link to the 60-minute segment on my blog. I didn't analyze it the way you did.

In fact, I found it rather refreshing. I'm fed up with U.S. warmongering and the right putting down every progressive social program suggested. And this segment seemed to show that Brazil is doing many things better than we are.

Since it has been 40+ years since I lived in Brazil ---in an area with no running water, electricity only 4 hours a night, and an average annual income of about $200 (US) ---I guess the contrast to what I see of Brazil now (albeit from afar) makes Brazil look amazingly progressive, whether or not Lula had anything to do with it.

And I agree with Jim's comment ---after 8 years of the Shrub and Ms. Palin constantly in the news, Americans are aware that foot-in-mouth disease is common among not-so-bright politicians. At least Lula has somewhat of an excuse ---his lack of education. W was a Yale graduate and from a wealthy family ---he had no excuse for being a bumpkin.

Maybe Obama needs a bit of the Lula bravado. He hasn't done as good job of selling himself as President as he did as a candidate.

come visit me at:

(I haven't been posting much lately ---but I have lots of stories that I've already told about my experiences in Brazil.)