Monday, April 2, 2018

By Antonio Proenca

To say that Brazil has been living in a fragile democracy since 1989, when we had the first elections after dictatorship, has become even more noticeable by those who maintain a mild level of media veganism.
To realize that since 2013 this fragility has increased and if during the turbulent demonstrations of June of that year there was a fear of a military coup, especially among the elders, a fear that was justified by the incapacity to govern by President Dilma, the fear was also explained by the history of coups in our country, today the tension and expectations are even greater. What we have in question is not “only” the threat of officers, like General Mourão in a speech promoted by the Masonic lodge in Brasília. This was also noticed in a recent speech by President Temer when he said: “…in 1964 the people rejoiced because again there was an absolute centralization of power…”. Such a statement was made a few days before the 54th anniversary of the coup. That can be viewed here.
The scenario is of political institutions in check because of the corruption scandals, a president with almost 1% of popularity, unemployment in record rates despite the lower interest rates and stable inflation, and increasing disparity in a population living in a moment of general disbelief. And now there is more speculation whether there will be elections this year.
And mainly,  the “Lula factor”. This factor will be crucial to understanding what will happen by the October elections. The presidential polls have been showing him as a preferred candidate, in contrast to the uncertainty about his candidacy due to the conviction, the doubt about possible prison to be decided on April 4, the rallies with Lula around the country, which brings up the worst of this polarisation, with people shooting buses and attacking Lula’s sympathizers, all this shows how a single figure can divide so much.
As if all this was not enough, the executions of councilwoman and activist Marielle and driver Anderson are still very hot.  Marielle’s death brought up the worst of this polarisation, apartheid Brazilian style. It was a unique action with political motivation but, because it was against a public figure, it had a worldwide repercussion – note that we are talking about a country where 58 activists are killed per year, more than one per week. Until now the culprits have not been found. It is believed that this political death will bring more moderate right to the centre, isolating the far right.
The military coup – as well as the shots that took the lives of Marielle and Anderson, does not give warning before: it explodes and when one realizes it; it is too late. A civil war, too.
Despite all the crisis scenarios, the unemployment rate is at 13m, if there have always been more chances of institutional attack than direct action, the reason is called Brazil. There is a huge separation between those in power and the rest of the population. In its massive territory, there are several “Brazils”, of different nations, different values, different classes that share a sense of individualism noticed by any European that passes by there on holidays. Furthermore, there is a great political alienation that can be illustrated in the daily incoherence of a good part of the population that has Lula (centre-left views) as its first candidate and Bolsonaro (conservative, far-right views) as the second option. These inconsistencies, contrasts, disparities, isolation, these “Brazils” inside Brazil, as well as the lack of commitment to the country, something that distinguishes Brazil even from the northern neighbour of individualist culture, all this shadows any possibility of formation of popular national mobilisation.
To think Brazil, you have to live it. If naively we use the Eurocentric views to understand a reality so different from the one we live in Europe, we will not be fair. In the Brazilian way (jeitinho brasileiro) of doing things, everything makes sense and everything can be explained and solved. However, this way has been used in a very bad and threatening way to the country. Never have the three powers been so exposed in their games of interest. Recently, Minister Barroso, from the Supreme Court, called his colleague, Minister Mendes, a very controversial figure, “…a horrible person with traces of psychopathy…Your excellency shames us…being always after some interest that is not of justice”. In the Executive, we have the president surrounded by criminals, some of his friends recently arrested, but later released. Temer, himself, despite being the target of serious accusations of obstruction of justice and criminal organization, does not “rejoice” at a resignation. On the contrary, despite very low approval, he wants to be a candidate for president. “This is Brazil,” it would sum up even the poor candy salesman. And the threats to democracy that are still up in the air, or in the lips of the president and his gang leave the future even more uncertain. Will there be elections? Will Lula be arrested or not?
We have reached a point where it becomes necessary for the Brazilians to feel part of politics, to enjoy it, to feel like citizens, to participate democratically, to respect each other, to discuss ideas, not to demonise politics as it has been done, and to overcome hate, passions and egos in favor of a debate that brings the progress for all. Since 2013, we question when we will have this society and since 2013 the shadows of the threats towards our institutions are seen in every corner of the country. And it is the alienated people who suffer most of the consequences. Our political institutions have lost credibility and our system is collapsing. Brazil is a dramatic reflection of what is happening worldwide, and no one has an idea when this scenario can improve. Turbulent times.

Monday, March 12, 2018

*Leia esse post ao som de Romeo and Juliet ou Tunnel of love, ambas do Dire Straits

Foram 2 meses peculiariarmente interessantes os que eu passei vivendo em Rosses Point, vila turística, no Condado de Sligo. Digo, vivendo, nao apenas existindo como fazemos em boa parte de nossas vidas. Era a última casa no alto de um morro, pequena e modesta mas aconchegante. Eu acordava de manha com o sol iluminando a casa inteira e ia caminhar ladeira abaixo até o Yeats Country Hotel, lá eu abria meu laptop e fazia um catch-up das notícias ao lado do meu fiel companheiro, o café! Ficava ali no bar do hotel como se fosse um hóspede. Depois voltava pra casa e lia um livro que mexeu comigo e até hoje me manda algum recado, The magic of findhorn é uma leitura fácil, prazerosa e cheia de misticismo. 
De brinde a casa era presenteada com uma vista VIP pra montanha Benlbuben. Um cenário de filme. Yeats pediu pra ser enterrado aos pés dela e eu entendo o porque. 
Foram dois meses depois de um período que eu sofri assédio moral no trabalho, meu pai foi hospitalizado, enfim, uma tempestade chata que merecia aquela paz. Durante esse tempo vivi com muito pouco, apenas o subsídio do seguro-desemprego que servia pra pagar o aluguel e olhe lá. A Karen cobria comidas, contas e o resto. Mas, eu descobri o quanto é bom viver no oeste da Irlanda se voce realmente procura sossego e aconchego. Se o clima nao ajuda, pelo menos vc tem a paz. 

*as músicas foram escolhidas pois elas sempre me lembram desses 2 meses. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A trade war has been put in place since Trump stepped into the White House, for example when he cancelled the TTIP and this war has became more explicit during his second year in the office.
Trump has already declared this trade war to the world and the indications are that he could make it more intense. The US, just like the UK, have a hegemony that allows them to push to some radical measures and protectionist decisions because their power are sustained through foreign dependence, in particularly from the neighboring Latin American countries. Those countries need the US more than the other way around. However, Trump's action has nothing to do with protectionism, something fundamental for any country that seeks for autonomy and independence, but this action is a type of sanction or, "boycott" that does not usually bring to good outcomes, neither to the actors that promote them (in this case, the US) nor to the ones that will suffer the consequences of it (Canada, Mexico, China, Brazil...).
Take Russia, increasingly isolated, dedicating itself to intense militarism and trying to regain its influence, Putin once said that the perestroika was the worse thing that could happened to them.
Trump's intentions are apparently good, he wants to reverse the damage caused by globalization, but as Adam Smith predicted, liberalism could export the trade but not the workers, keeping this way the cheap and exploited labor in China, for example. Something that he seems not to understand. This shift in trade is stupid and risky, a typical maneuver from a businessman who has gone into bankruptcy many times.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ah! Fresh French fragrance flowing fruitfully freely in the air...
I was always a big fan of whiskeys, from blender to single malts, until I crossed the border of Calais and went down to Val de Loire. Those days spoiling myself with homemade wine made me having second thoughts about the water of life also known as whisky. Whisky is a personal thing, it is you and you, a necessary solitude sometimes. Wine is romance, it is you with someone else.The reason why it took me so long to find that love for wine is that I've only tried the cheap ones. But, in Val de Loire I discovered a whole new world of poetry, passion and beauty. I remember this man who ran a vineyards in the country that we found by chance while driving through the fields of mid-France. I honked few times and by the time he came to open the gate for us we've been roasting in the french summer and I was thirsty and curious to try some white wine. He came quite frantically and agitated wearing very simple clothing, a bit dirty and smelly, sweating a lot, he shook my hands with a strong greeting, speaking very loud, with the strongest accent you can expect a french to have without sounding like they are taking the piss on us, or spitting on our face. French people are proud of their accent, we know that, but they are also proud of their wine. This man starts pointing and asking me which ones I wanted to try and I thought to myself "all of them", he then pours some on a glass, swirl it in order to get some oxygen and drinks it in front of me! Before swallow he gargles and then with a very pensive face for few seconds he shouts "verry good". I go next and tried it and we repeat this over and over. The man talks briefly about the wines, he is there to drink it and then share with his customers, but most of all he is selling his passion, a product that he believes has only one purpose, to make people happier. That afternoon we visited some vineyards mostly white wines, muscadet and I felt quite drunk due too much sun and too much wine. But that afternoon made me realized one thing that I will carry for the rest of my life, that wine is something that is there for one reason and that people should just like anything in life look for something, for life without seeking something is meaningless.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Black mirror tem enfatizado e amplificado a minha tecnofobia e ceticismo acerca de inovacoes. Ontem um senhor de idade me disse que trocou o nokia-tijolo por um smart phone depois de 14 anos com o mesmo aparelho. 14 anos!! Alguem imagina um celular durar isso? Um viva ao velho Nokia.

Sou saudosista a ponto de preferir algo que dure anos, nao soh com bens mas em relacionamentos, amizades, enfim. Qualidade deve estar sempre acima de quantidade. Percebo que isso eh cada vez mais antiquado e incompativel com a logica lucrativista do sistema. Compre, troque, compre, compre, troque, compre!!

Mas, voltando ao BM, receio que as pessoas fiquem mais idiotas do que ja estao devido aos devices "pensarem" por elas o tempo todo.

A teimosia que, eu prefiro chamar de relutancia, eh um atributo que tem um lado positivo que nenhum outro defeito tem, mais tarde vao perceber que o teimoso estava certo. Caetano disse, se o mundo eh imbecil por que eu tenho que ser?

Monday, September 18, 2017

E quando computadores comecarem a pensar por nós?
Quer dizer, já temos computadores que produzem músicas bastando apenas uma tecla.
E se computadores comecarem a produzir poemas, literaturas tao ou mais complexas e ricas como as melhores obras de Shakespeare ou Joyce? Pinturas fantásticas, músicas virtuosas e jamais possíveis de serem reproduzidas pelo Homem?
Já temos computadores imbatíveis no xadrez. E se os computadores virassem críticos literários tudo com base numa coleta de dados e de informacao?
O Homem teria menos ou nenhuma importancia na arte? A vida seria menos significativa? Que consequencias isso traria?
Os feitos humanos iriam deixar de ser incriveis pois, seriam facilmente reproduzidos ainda com mais perfeicao pelas maquinas? Ou, haveria mais tempo pra pensarmos e deixarmos as maquinas com as tarefas "burocraticas". Seriamos, de vez, programadores usando nossas imaginacoes, ainda na busca por conhecimento, na busca de um sentido pra vida ou de explicacoes que jamais vamos ter.

Sou de vez em quando um pouco nostálgico de um tempo que nao vivi. De um tempo de mais atividades físicas, de subsistencia em que, nos organizávamos em grupos pra decidir o que plantar, quando colher, o que explorar, o que construir.

Pois sabemos hoje que os computadores podem fazer tudo isso e muito mais mas, só o Homem tem capacidade de sentir, de absorver o sentido da arte e isso depende de quem a transmite. Pois, arte é transmissao de sentimento e nao limitada a observacao e coleta de dados. Arte é transcendencia e, assim como o sentimento com a misteriosa inexplicabilidade desses elementos, jamais poderao ser transferidos pra um código binário sendo portanto, parte essencial da diversao de se estar vivo. Sem arte estaríamos sem vida.

Quem sabe voltaríamos as raízes, destruiríamos todos os nossos computadores, fariamos um enorme churrasco com uma linda brasa alimentada por tudo que é elétrico, gadgets, devices, USBs, hard disks . Iriamos parar com todo esse frenesi de registrar digitalmente nossas acoes, nossos pratos e lugares que vamos e, voltaríamos a relaxar ao som de um mantra na cítara chinesa tocado por um ser de carne e osso ou, ouvir histórias de mundos de fantasia contadas por uma pessoa mais velha, ou dar risadas de uma piada velha ou criariamos músicas em um momento de entusiasmo com alguma forma de amor. Cantaríamos e dancaríamos até o sol nascer, e dancaríamos até o sol raiar.

Friday, November 11, 2016

They can build walls, increase the oppression, destroy governments, ignore the class struggle, segregate, nothing will change, there is no use.
The oppression, the strongest it could be, will not be enough to stop the force of immigration, let alone to solve the internal problems by placing them under the carpet.
None of this will bring answers to questions who are increasingly stirring up tempers of those who always wanted to deny the obvious, the growing social changes that the world is facing.
And at that point, it does not make me worry whether this extremist wave is hovering in the world and will continue like that. Time shows that the problems will be higher in the decades to come, what they call also refugee crisis will get more intensity. Right now, every minute there is a human being moving out of where they live to seek better conditions elsewhere.
I repeat, there is no oppressive force that can stop it.
There is no force that can reverse the likely effects of the climate change, which also will force millions to seek better conditions for their survivals.
We are just witnessing the events unfold, we can anticipate our extinction, but we can extend, everything will depend on how we respond to that.
The fact is that we have to find ways to adapt to this reality. And that is unrelated to ideals, passions or beliefs.