Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Jeitinho Brasileiro" or "Lei de Gerson"!!!

Dear friends, I really missed writing posts here. I have been thru a roller coaster of emotions in the past month, happy, sad, busy, busy, busy. Not an excuse for my absence, I could have found a little time to write, but honestly, I lacked inspiration to write anything.
I will write more about this crazy freaking MAY of 2012, later.
Now, the reason for this post, is to try and clarify a concept, or rather, a couple of concepts often misunderstood by foreigners in Brazil and sometimes even by some Brazilians.
The famous or infamous "JEITINHO BRASILEIRO".
Let me explain to you, the trail of comments and post that inspired this post.
First I read THE COMMENTS AT THIS POST WRITTEN BY DANIELLE, then I found out about THIS BLOG POST, and couldn't sit here and watch without having any response.
This is the comment I wrote at Brazil Phenomenon's Blog, her blog is moderated, so the comment probably hasn't been posted just yet, but you can read it here first hand:  :)

Ray says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Dear Cipriana,
I read your post about “jeitinho” and have to say, unfortunately, even after all these years in Brazil, you have been misinformed about “jeitinho”.
What you are describing above, we “Brazilians” call “Lei de Gerson” which means “to take advantage” over every one else. I don’t know where you got the idea that it is tolerated, it is not, it is hated by most Brazilians I ever knew. And the cutting in front of the line issue, I never saw people putting up with it, anywhere, in Brazil, in a Developed country or any developing country, this is a human being issue, nobody is an idiot to watch someone cut in front of them and sit idle without any reaction.
The case of the corporations described by you, happens EVERYWHERE, including in the good ol’ US of A, where I have lived for the past 15 years.
Jeitinho Brasileiro is a creative way to solve a problem. It is the creative way Brazilians find to overcome difficulties, not a way to take advantage of others, that is NOT what jeitinho Brasileiro is, not at all. What you are talking about, we call it LEI DE GERSON, “Gerson’s Law”, which is taking advantage of others.
Please don’t take my comment the wrong way, I just can’t sit here and read such a wrong conception of such an important part of Brazilian culture.
“Jeitinho Brasileiro” is supposed to describe a positive treat of the Brazilian culture, the creativity of the people to overcome adversity, not at all the bad habit of many, to take advantage over every one else.


So, friends, here it is, JEITINHO BRASILEIRO is NOT a negative treat of the Brazilian culture, it is a very much the opposite, it is positive way, a creative, innovative way Brazilians find to overcome their problems.
Whatever they may be, from a problem that arises at a factory, to a group of friends trying to built a place to barbecue, using blocks, sticks and stones found at the beach.
Jeitinho Brasileiro is a creative solution for a common problem, not otherwise thought before by other people.

Shopping cart and random bricks turned into a perfect improvised grill!

Barbecue in the flood! Nothing will stop us from having fun!! :)

The piece of foil placed your TV rabbit ears antenna to improve reception ( Jeitinho Brasileiro), the guy who used a plastic string extracted from a random package to repair his Volkswagen Bug's engine, so he could drive to the mechanic and save money for the Tow Truck.

You are out of Gas, problem, you still have electricity!! :) 

The biggest "Jeitinho Brasileiro" I know was the invention, or implementation of the Alcohol project in Brazil in the 1970's. After the crisis of 1973, the Brazilian generals of the time ( yes, the country lived under a dictatorship), realized that if they tried to fight the system ( Shell, Exxon, Texaco) they would loose, and would not be able to implement Alcohol fueled cars as a viable option.
So their "Jeitinho Brasileiro" solution was: "Se nao pode vencer, junte-se a eles", translation: "If we can't win, let's join them."
And they did, and that is why the Brazilian Alcohol project was so successful. The government gave the existing owners of the distribution infrastructure the privilege to distribute the new alternative fuel. Shell, Exxon, Texaco and others joined the Brazilian government in the efforts to implement the new alternative fuel. They financed renovations in every gas station in the country to accommodate the new option for fuel. New fuel tanks in every gas station in the country. We watched the long process thru most of the 70's and 80's. Today, if you own an Alcohol fueled car, you can find both fuels in EVERY gas station in Brazil.
The "Jeitinho Brasileiro" didn't stop there, years later, they realized that with fuel prices fluctuations, people who had Alcohol powered cars could be in a disadvantage. So once again, the Brazilian creativity and innovation "JEITINHO BRASILEIRO" came up with a great solution: FLEX FUEL cars.
Yes, my friends, the FLEX FUEL technology that you see in cars all over the place nowadays, was invented in Brazil. This way, Brazilians could take advantage of whatever fuel had the best price on any given day.
To add to this wonderful tread of great alternative fuel solutions, Brazil started implementing NATURAL GAS for cars, from factory. Yes, my brother drives a FORD ESCAPE, in Brazil called FORD ECO SPORT, and his car can be powered by GASOLINE, ALCOHOL or NATURAL GAS.
On the opposite side of this example, you can witness the difficulties the ETHANOL industry in the United States is having to implement distribution of their alternative fuel. In my opinion, they have a hell of an uphill battle, see, they are trying to create a whole new distribution network for ETHANOL powered cars. They didn't partner with the companies that already have a heck of a great distribution network around the country such as SHELL, CHEVRON, EXXON, TEXACO, and in my opinion, if they had, they would probably be far ahead on offering the American public with alternatives for fuel.
Wow! I can get side tracked like nobody's business.
Ok, back to our main topic, JEITINHO BRASILEIRO is often misclassified and misunderstood. If you read Brazilian Literature and learn a little deeper about the culture, you will see what I am talking about.
JEITINHO BRASILEIRO is not breaking the law, finding a way around the law, cutting in front of the line, or anything anyone might do to gain advantage over others.
That is what we call "LEI DE GERSON", "GERSON'S LAW". A "Lei de Gerson" is what us Brazilians HATE more than the devil itself. The notion that Brazilians tolerate poor service or long lines is wrong, we HATE people who take advantage of others, come on, we are NOT IDIOTS.
If someone in Brazil is putting up with poor service is most likely because they have no reference of anything better or worse yet, they have no option, and have to put up with whatever crappy product or serviced offered to them.
I have to say one thing, Cariocas and Paulistas do not put up with crappy service or products. We are usually known as BIG MOUTHS around Brazil!
We are the ones complaining at restaurants if the service is not impeccable, we are the ones with high standards for food and many other products.
So, just to be crystal clear, TAKING ADVANTAGE of others is NOT JEITINHO BRASILEIRO, this is what we call LEI DE GERSON.
Please forgive me, I am a little edgy today, I know. Gilson has been in Brazil for the past 3 weeks, and I am not having the best of times. And just for the record, I am not yelling at anyone in particular, it's just my dramatic "Brazilian" way to put emphasis on a certain point. ;)
So, as soon as I get a little more inspiration. I will describe the roller coaster of emotions, adventures and hard and good times we have faced in this unforgettable MAY of 2012.

PS: I also recommend this great post written by our friend and Brazilianist Alex: "LEI DE GERSON IN THE USA"

Forte abraco a todos