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Why Born Again Brazilian?
If all those repentant criminals, addicts and all around sinners can transform themselves into God-fearing Christians, this midwestern babe can become a Brazilian.
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One of the things I took comfort in about living in Brazil is that the country didn’t seem to have the kind of twisted, sick criminals that randomly appear in nice, quite neighborhoods in the US. At least none that tumbled into the Sao Paulo bubble that I live in.
But on Sunday morning, someone found a bag of arms and legs down the street from where I live. Later that day, they found the trunk of the body in another bag down the street. The police were unable to tell if it was a male or female.
It gets worse. The fingers were cut off and the skin was removed where they suspect there were tattoos. The person who cut up this body didn’t want anyone to know who it was. Clever, you might think. Not so clever… because the person forgot that every single building has a camera.
I was slightly comforted with the idea that perhaps a car passed through our street tossing bags out the window while speeding by. But that’s not what happened.
The police got all the film from the buildings around where the bags with body parts were found and discovered that some young man dragged a cart around, which was covered in a woman’s clothing. He pulled his packages out of his cart and left them around town.
Yesterday, they found the head in the central area of the city.
I am not naive enough to think this stuff doesn’t happen, or worse. But once these events start to add up, (see Monsters on Motobikes), the scale starts to tip out of favor for Sao Paulo.
You can read about this in Portuguese here.
An insider expat who has been sharing her experience in Venezuela and finally had to get out.
Originally posted on Vivo en un Mundo Loco:
As I try to write about what happened (and is still happening) I cannot keep the tears away, I am heartbroken. I have learned to love Venezuela, even with its obvious flaws. I have met people who have touched my heart in ways i cannot describe. I have left a country and it’s people who are desperately fighting for their freedom, democracy and a better future, but at what cost?
Innocent people are being killed, hurt and taken to prison where they are treated with violence and torture. Why? Because they using their right to demonstrate against…
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In Brazil, each Escola de Samba, or Samba school, works all year long to develop their portion of the Carnaval parade. The people who put together these elaborate affairs are not the wealthy of Brazil. In fact, some of the schools are located in favelas. This portion of the Brazilian population is able to implement productions that put Broadway to shame. Yet, we can’t get a stadium ready to safely hold patrons for the biggest futebol event in the world.
The people who clean houses, service cars and ring up groceries participate in, execute on and somehow fund annual plans for a contest that involves choreography, musical scores, costume design and three dimensional art.
What do we learn about Brazilians business skills looking at carnaval? Brazilians…
1. …are very creative.
From concept to colors, the creativity that goes into these events is remarkable.
2. …can design and execute a one-year plan.
It takes a heck of a lot of planning to pull off this type of production. Plans that must include both short and longer term strategies, as well as action plans with detailed tactics and designated tasks.
3. … can lead the masses.
Somebody at each school has to be directing the process. That means organizing hundreds of people over the course of a year, at various points, to all achieve one objective. That means decisions are being made in advance.
4. … can take direction.
Based on the results, participants are ready and willing to follow orders, orders that have got to be direct and specific. Not only are they being led, but they are working together. This kind of result doesn’t come from each doing their own individual thing.
5. … have a sense of humor.
União’s put on a gorgeous “Toy Story” themed event full of gigantic, beautiful characters with dancing rubix cubes and dolls, etc. It was a wonderful and exotic display of childhood happiness.
However, did anyone else catch that there was a huge, knife wielding, Chucky doll on the back of one of the floats?
Now that’s funny.
Let’s face it, business leaders and politicians in Brazil most often come from wealthy families. Nepotism runs deep in this country. Everybody who is anybody has got an uncle who can make things happen for them. Yet, what do we learn about Brazilian business skills when we examine the actual business or environment? Brazilians…
1. … struggle with project management.
It’s not that Brazil businesses don’t get things done. They do. But they most often get things don’t at the last minute at twice the cost.
2. … avoid formal and efficient processes and procedures.
Anyone who has opened a business in Brazil or has tried to implement procedures within a corporation knows what I’m talking about. It can be very difficult to get commitments to move forward in the same direction.
3. … sidestep deadlines and deliverables.
It seems that Brazilian business people always assume your deadline is padded. If that is not the case, then it must be a complete disregard for your deadline – but I choose to believe the former. Again, it is a commitment issue.
So why can’t businesses have the same strategies as the carnaval crowds? Could it be that we have the wrong people running things around here?
In Brazil, there are these mini buses that take kids to school and back home. (Update: as reader João Deiró pointed out in the comments, these buses are actually run by private companies. But is it too much to ask that the school, who hands out a list of these companies when you register your child, might take a little bit of responsibility in ensure the drivers are safe? Or at least tell the parents when someone reports the driving to be dangerous?) Since living in my neighborhood, we local foreign mothers have witnessed:
- bus windows made of plastic and duct tape.
- nearly being hit while crossing the street as one blows through a red light (on multiple occasions)
- children inside doing a variety of dangerous things, from hanging out the window to handstands
A mother of my child’s classmate wanted my daughter to go to her house after school and play with her daughter. I agreed, until she told me that her daughter rides home within the confines of a perua escolar. I told her I didn’t want my daughter riding in one of those, and she rebutted with the fact that the driver was a nice guy. I explained that, just the day before, one had grazed my skin as it flew past me, having ignored the street signal. I got a look that indicated she understood I was one of those uppity American moms. Needless to say, I took both my daughter and hers to their home in a cab.
Why is this a socially acceptable danger? I constantly see signs on the street instructing people to wear seat belts, which are even required for dogs traveling in cars. Why is the safety of students being compromised?
Finally, today, I got tired of it. I was walking to school to pick up my daughter and one was stopped in traffic. Inside, children were standing and jumping up and down. I stopped to stare and the driver noticed me watching. I raise my hand in a motion to mean, “What the f**k?” He quickly called to the children to tell them to sit down. I noted his license plate.
At school, I hunted down his death mobile and found it parked on the street in front of school, but empty. I asked one of the other perua escolar drivers about his whereabouts and was informed he was inside picking up more victims.
I marched into the school to report him.
I didn’t get very far. I went into the main office and the woman who received me sent me to the director, who was at lunch. She then brought me to another person, who was unfortunately having some kind of spell but refused to sit down…
I left my name, number and the driver’s license number of the perua. We will see if anything comes of it.
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Did I mention that I drove all the way from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro? I’ll admit, after avoiding this type of task for so long, I’m feeling very empowered. We’ve spend the week back and forth between my … Continue reading