RAPIDINHAS

    RAPIDINHAS

    Year after year it is the same thing, the annual summer routine of
    floods, a phenomenon well-known to Brazilians. But this year as in the past, along with
    the certainty that it will rain, the other certainties are that floods will follow, and
    there will be excuses.
    By Brazzil Magazine

    Weekly newsmagazine Isto É, the Brazilian equivalent of Newsweek, dedicated
    its cover to the subject, so did Manchete, another popular weekly. The news
    garnered headlines with large colorful pictures in all major newspapers, made the
    prime-time news on TV, and got four pages and large revealing pictures in Veja, the
    Brazilian Time. The momentous subject? Topless in Rio. Época, another
    weekly, proclaimed over close-up female breasts on its cover: "FREEDOM".

    Most people outside Brazil would think the country and certainly Rio is the uncensored
    paradise for those wishing to expose their bodies. Not so. It was a controversial action
    by the police that set in motion a chain reaction culminating with Rio’s governor, Anthony
    Garotinho, an evangelical Christian, to allow topless bathing in beaches all over the
    state.

    Rio’s mayor Luiz Paulo Conde followed suit announcing the creation of a nude beach in
    the city. "It’s going to be the summer of the topless bather," declared Conde.
    As expected, the Catholic Church is fuming and more than one person on moral grounds has
    already threatened with court injunctions to prevent topless bathing to become legal on
    Rio beaches.

    It all started on January 9, a Sunday, when the police detained Rosemeri Moura Costa,
    34, and her boyfriend Antônio Saraiva de Almeida, 63, at Reserva Beach, in Recreio dos
    Bandeirantes on Rio’s west side, because the woman was sunbathing without her top. The
    practice of going topless on Rio’s beaches has been tolerated for years and foreign
    tourists from Europe have being doing it without being bothered.

    Rosemeri has unwillingly become the heroine of the movement. She is the mother of a
    16-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy and was used to baring her breasts at Recreio dos
    Bandeirantes, a place where nobody seemed to pay attention to this kind of behavior
    anymore. But some 20 men from the military police came armed with batons, rifles and even
    machine guns, in response to a complaint, they say. When Almeida tried to defend his
    girlfriend, who refused to cover her breasts as ordered, he was slapped and the woman
    ended up going to jail accused of obscenity.

    The violence of it all stunned Brazilians and the world. CNN carried the news
    throughout the planet. Less than 48 hours after the incident women across the state had
    won the right to walk bare breasted on all public beaches. The discussion to allow women
    to expose their bosoms on Rio’s sands or not, split high ranking police officials. Josias
    Quintal, the secretary for Public Security, for example, was in favor of continuing the
    repression of the practice, but ended up ordering the police to adopt the new,
    "look-the-other way" policy.

    Rio’s Environmental Secretary Maurício Lobo came out in defense of the
    "naturalists", the name nudists prefer to be called in Brazil. In 1994 the
    secretary had reserved Abricó beach for those who like to sunbathe in the buff, but a
    court injunction prevented this from happening. In the end, Public Security Secretary,
    Josias Quintal, determined that police should leave topless enthusiasts alone even though
    he is personally against women showing their boobies in public.

    Quintal tried to argue, "There are families who are more conservative and that are
    offended by this behavior." But he did not convince the majority. Moreover he
    couldn’t explain why the police were in force on the beach to prevent naked breasts but
    incapable of explaining the origin of body parts that showed up on several beaches, that
    same week, apparently the result of gang feuds over drug territory.

    José Carlos Dias, the Minister of Justice himself, entered the discussion in
    statement to Isto É: "Since when is nudity an obscene act? The police
    response was an obscenity. It was pornographic! It was really appalling. I saw a beautiful
    scene on a Grecian beach. There were women in swimsuits, others in string bikini, others
    going topless, and still others naked. It became funny because everybody would go the way
    they wanted. I, of course, kept my swimsuit on all the time."

    No Shame

    The state of Bahia, which has been more liberal in this front, used the occasion to
    publish an ad in national newspapers with a topless girl on the beach and the caption:
    "In Bahia you can since 1500." 1500 is the date the Portuguese arrived in
    Brazil. Pero Vaz de Caminha, the reporter on board, wrote to Portugal’s King about the
    women Indians showing their "shameful parts without any shame".

    The controversy and the new measures, brought scores of snoopers to Ipanema and
    Copacabana beaches and also several women new to the practice of topless bathing, ready
    for any sacrifice and eager to show their mammary glands to the media cameras that showed
    up in the area. People like Cristina Ferraz, 21, explained her naked breasts with:
    "Everybody is taking it off and I’m doing the same."

    In the days following the police violence, there were several protests on the beach. In
    one of them, in legendary Posto 9 in Ipanema, the police observed from afar, a group of
    students who took off the tops of their bikinis and covered their bare breasts with
    placards proclaiming their freedom to expose themselves as they wished. Some of the
    phrases on the cards: "Down with hypocrisy", "It’s my body and I decide
    what to do with it". Some men in the area adhered to the protest donning themselves
    the discarded bikini tops.

    Wrote Veja magazine: "To forbid the topless bathing is a contradictory
    stance in Brazil, country that exports images of almost naked dancers during the Carnaval
    parades and where the TV helps to create sexual symbols as Tiazinha, Feiticeira and the
    dancers from the group É o Tchan. The Globeleza mulata, the symbol of Globo
    network during Carnaval, is shown without anything over her skin, besides body paint in
    strategic places, and it never occurred to the MPs to enter the studios of Globo to detain
    executives of the TV station for indecency."

    Mayor Luiz Paulo Conde reminded that Rio has always been the place in Brazil where
    behavioral changes and trends start. "Beachgoers have shown that they live at ease
    with topless bathing," Conde remarked. Rio never lost its position as a trendsetter
    even after losing the capital to Brasília and much of its glamour to cosmopolitan São
    Paulo. It was in Rio that the bikini was introduced in the ’60s and then the tanga
    (string bikini) in the late ’70s. The fio dental (dental floss) and the asa
    delta (hang glider) minuscule bottoms appeared during the ’80s. Many believe that
    topless bathing came too late: exactly 29 years after it was introduced in France and from
    there spread throughout Europe.

    Music
    The Lack and the Excess

    Jorge Mário da Silva does not forget the times when as a newcomer to Rio and a
    would-be musician he had no other place to sleep but on the beach and the streets. Times
    changed a lot since then and he just started a solo career after leading the Farofa
    Carioca band since 1993, in which he sang and composed. Farofa Carioca is the most
    critically acclaimed musical group in Rio today.

    Da Silva is much better known nowadays as Seu Jorge and is involved in a myriad of
    projects and activities, including a stay in the jungle with an Indian tribe, the
    recording of a solo CD and the starring role in Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki’s
    fictional documentary Moro no Brasil (I Live in Brazil).

    It’s for this film, financed by German TV, that Seu Jorge wrote in partnership with
    Gabriel Moura, from Farofa, "A Nova Música". The lyrics talk about the two
    faces of a Brazil that is at once wealthy and poor, classy and campy, First and Third
    World, formal and informal.

    A Nova Música
    Seu Jorge and Gabriel Moura

    Tem um Brasil que é próspero
    Outro não muda
    Um Brasil que investe
    E outro que suga
    Um de sunga, outro
    de gravata
    Tem um que faz amor
    E tem outro que mata
    Brasil do ouro
    Brasil da prata
    Brasil do balacochê da mulata
    Tem um Brasil que é lindo
    Tem um outro que fede
    O Brasil que dá é
    igualzinho ao que pede
    Pede paz, saúde, trabalho,
    dinheiro
    Pede pelas crianças
    do Brasil inteiro
    Tem um Brasil que soca
    Outro que apanha
    Um Brasil que saca
    Outro que chuta
    Perde e ganha
    Sobe e desce
    Vai à lua, bate bola,
    porém não vai à escola
    Brasil de cobre
    Brasil de lata
    É negro, é branco
    É nisei
    É verde e índio peladão
    É mameluco e cafuzo e confusão
    Ó Pindorama, eu quero
    o seu Porto Seguro
    Suas palmeiras, suas feiras,
    seu café
    Suas riquezas, praias, cachoeiras
    Quero ver o seu povo
    de cabeça em pé

     
    The New Song

    There is a Brazil that’s prosperous
    Another one that does not change
    A Brazil that invests
    And another one that extorts
    One in speedos, another
    in suit and tie
    There is one that makes love
    And another one that kills
    Brazil of gold
    Brazil of silver
    Brazil of the mulata’s swing
    There’s a Brazil that’s pretty
    And another one that sucks
    The Brazil that gives is
    the same one that asks
    Asks for peace, health, work,
    money
    Asks for the children
    of all of Brazil
    There’s a Brazil that beats
    Another one that takes the beating
    A Brazil that knows
    Another one that guesses
    That loses, that wins
    Goes up and down
    Goes to the moon, plays ball,
    but as yet, doesn’t go to school
    Brazil of copper
    Brazil of tin
    It’s black, it’s white
    It’s Nisei
    It’s green and buck naked Indian
    It’s mestizo, creole, confusion
    The land of palms, I want
    your Safe Haven
    Your palms, your open markets,
    your coffee
    Your wealth, beaches, waterfalls
    I want to see your people
    standing tall.

    Generations
    Like Our Parents

    Brazilian parents and their teenager children are much more alike than you would
    assume. They wear the same clothes, cut their hair the same way, have the same fundamental
    beliefs, use the same slang and even enjoy the same music. Caetano Veloso in his fifties
    is the teen music idol he was for their parents. Some other musicians like Rita Lee and
    Gilberto Gil also draw the youth as they did 30 years ago. Director Alfred Hitchcock is
    another common favorite.

    To believe new polls conducted among others by MTV, the conflict of generations has
    ended in Brazil and the gap between kids and their progenitors has disappeared. A study
    conducted by MTV Brazil with 2,425 youngsters revealed that children are staying longer
    with their parents, in many cases leaving only when they marry. A mere 18 percent of these
    youths say they are eager to leave the parental roof.

    They have plenty of reasons to stay and no generational conflict is strong enough to
    dim the appeal of free housing, food and washed clothes. Besides, a large percentage of
    these boys and girls are allowed or even encouraged by parents to use their rooms to bring
    their sweethearts to spend the night and enjoy sex as they please. How is their
    relationship with their parents? Excellent and good, answered 90 percent of the wealthier
    kids.

    Violence is the number one worry for these youngsters. The paternal house works as a
    shelter. Sixty four percent of them believe that walking in the streets is an open
    invitation to be assaulted and 74 percent don’t trust the police and are even afraid of
    them. The today’s youth wants distance from politics and are more conservative than their
    parents in areas like drugs, religion and marriage. A mere 15 percent are in favor of
    legalizing marijuana, while 69 percent believe in God and 70 percent want to get married.

    Another study, this one by Rio’s Centro Educacional da Lagoa, among 15 to 19 year-old
    students and their parents, revealed that both generations have rock as their first
    musical choice, that Machado de Assis’s Dom Casmurro and Antoine de Saint
    Exupéry’s The Little Prince are among their favorite books, and that Leonardo da
    Vinci and Picasso are two names that unite parents and kids in the arts. Albert Einstein
    is the scientist they admire the most, followed by Sigmund Freud. In politics Kennedy is
    the common choice, even though nobody got more votes among the younger crowd than "no
    politician".

    Among the differences between kids and parents is the fact that children are working
    much less than their father and mother did. While 34.2 percent of the parents worked when
    they were their kids’ age, only 5.9 of the students are working today.

    Emigration
    More Than Shoe Shiners

    While the majority of Brazilian newcomers to the US are still illegal immigrants who
    overstay their visa or enter the country through the Mexican border, a new breed of
    incomers—much better prepared and more affluent—is being noticed. Data from the
    INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) show that 70 percent of Brazilians obtaining
    their green cards nowadays are getting it for professional reasons.

    A new study conducted by the New York City administration also shows this same trend.
    According to the report, 2,761 Brazilians obtained a green card in New York between 1995
    and 1996. From these, 27 percent, the biggest concentration, were living in the Upper East
    Side, a upper scale area of Manhattan where monthly rentals for housing average $5,000.

    The number of Brazilians getting the right to live permanently and work in the States
    is still very small, since according to the Brazilian Consulate in New York estimates,
    there are 300,000 people from Brazil living in the states of New York, New Jersey,
    Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the areas covered by that department. Others
    estimate that for every Brazilian who makes it big on Yankee shores, 400 others live from
    day to day just getting enough to survive and maybe save a little at the end of the month.

    According to a recent article in Veja (Brazil’s main weekly news magazine),
    Brazilians in New York are losing to the competition even in areas they were prevalent
    until recently, like shoe shining in which they have a small monopoly. One case cited is
    that of Serbs and Croats, war refugees, who arrive eager to work and to learn English and
    who are taking Brazilian jobs as waiters. Russians are taking over construction jobs, and
    Filipino and Russian women are entering the baby-sitting feuds with a vengeance.

    As an example of the new upscale Brazilians arriving in town, Veja cites
    composer and pianist Marcelo Zarvos, 30, who came to New York five years ago and keeps
    busy composing for the movies and appearing in concerts. "What unites the cultural
    cauldron of the city is the language," Zarvos says. "He who arrives here without
    speaking English will be condemned to live in a Brazilian ghetto. In this case, it’s
    better to stay in Brazil."

    Health
    Con Therapy

    Aparecido Bueno Camargo, the president of Abrafarma (Associação Brasileira de Redes
    de Farmácias e Drogarias—Brazilian Association of Pharmacy and Drugstore Chains) was
    candidly talking to the members of a CPI (Comissão Parlamentar de
    Inquérito—Parliamentary Enquiry Committee when he dropped the bomb: "The
    medicine market is full of trash BO." BO? What does it mean, a committee member
    wanted to know. "Bom para otário" (Good for suckers), Camargo explained.
    And continued, a little puzzled by the commotion he caused: "This is a traditional
    classification. BOs have existed since pharmacies have." He wouldn’t name names, but
    promised to prepare a list of these products for dupes.

    The BO medicines, which are placebo products, are shelved together with the real stuff
    and are not illegal or clandestine. They are even licensed by the Health Ministry. In the
    days following Camargo’s revelation, some pharmacists disputed the meaning of BO, saying
    that it stood for bonus medicine, that is, drugs that bring a special commission to the
    pharmacist every time it is sold. What brings still another problem of the drug industry,
    the so-called empurroterapia (pushtherapy). Pharmacists and clerks are in the habit
    of trying to convince clients to buy those products that give them a bigger profit.

    Medicine in Brazil is a $12-billion-a-year business. Multinationals represent 95
    percent of this market, which has grown by 14 percent during the 1990s. Congress is
    investigating why drugs are so expensive in Brazil. After two weeks of hearings, the
    committee did not seem closer to a conclusion about high prices, but had to add new
    problems to be investigated. Pharmaceutical laboratories have been accused of intensely
    campaigning for and boycotting the introduction of generic drugs in Brazil.

    Earlier in the CPI, doctors’ representatives talked about a promiscuous relationship
    between physicians and pharmaceutical laboratories. For Edson Oliveira Andrade, president
    of CFM (Conselho Federal de Medicina—Federal Council of Medicine), there is
    "without a doubt, a significant interference of the pharmaceutical industry in the
    professional practice of doctors." To promote some drugs, doctors get from small
    souvenirs like pens to cars and trips overseas.

    Among the ideas being aired to prevent abuses are the prohibition of free sample
    distribution, the exclusive use of generic drugs on prescriptions and the ban of medicine
    ads outside medical publications.

    The president of the Doctors National Federation, Héder Murari Borba, thinks that is
    high time to curb the interference of labs. During his deposition he cited several
    instances in which this interference was very clear. He also brought stickers, which were
    distributed by a lab, for doctors to place on the prescriptions. They said: "I do not
    authorize the substitution of this drug." Representative Fernando Zuppo showed a
    communication by Pfizer urging doctors to participate in a competition whose top prize was
    a car.

    Economy
    Jobless Medallist

    Worse than Brazil only India and Russia. According to a study made by Universidade
    Estadual de Campinas’s Cesit (Centro de Estudos Sindicais e de Economia do
    Trabalho—Center of Union and Job Economy Studies), Brazil, in absolute numbers, has
    today the third largest contingent of unemployed people among 141 countries. They are a
    mass of 7.7 million. There are almost 40 million jobless in India and 9.1 million in
    Russia.

    The situation has been deteriorating since 1990 when Brazil was eighth in this ranking.
    By 1995 the country had already fallen to fifth place. While in 1986 Brazil had 1.7
    percent of all the jobless in the world, this number has risen to 5.6 percent today.

    Márcio Pochmann, the economist who coordinated the Cesit’s study, sees all these
    figures as added proof that Brazilian economic policies have failed to generate jobs.
    Pochmann noticed that unemployment in First World countries has been decreasing since the
    1970s. In 1990, the US was number two on the list.

    When the same study was conducted in 1975 with the same 141 countries there were 37.8
    million jobless. Today this number increased to 138 million.

    Third World countries were disproportionately affected by the problem. While 59 percent
    of the jobless were from underdeveloped countries in 1975, this share has grown to 79.4
    percent today.

    To measure unemployment in Brazil were used data from the PNAD (Pesquisa Nacional por
    Amostra de Domicílios—National Study Through Home Sampling), a research conducted
    yearly by IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística—Brazilian Institute
    for Geography and Statistics). The Cesit’s study considered unemployed only those people
    listed under a heading called open unemployment, that is, people who are looking for a job
    and are not making any money from any paying activity

    Music
    All the Sounds

    How rich is Brazilian music? You will get an idea when a new dictionary with 5,000
    terms is completed by year’s end. It’s the Dicionário Albim de MPB. MPB means
    Música Popular Brasileira (Brazilian Popular Music), but the expression has been
    stretched to the limit, to include from Padre Anchieta (1534-1597), a Jesuit who arrived
    in Brazil in 1552 and dedicated his life to converting the Indians, to Padre Marcelo
    Rossi, a priest who has been drawing hundreds of thousands to his show-masses. Add to this
    Dom Pedro I (1798-1834)—Brazil’s emperor, the man who declared the country’s
    independence and a Don Juan who wrote several love modinhas to his mistress
    Marquise of Santos—plus dozens of names nobody ever heard about and you understand
    that one thing you will not find in the new lexicon: prejudice.

    "Our dictionary has no kind of aesthetic censorship. Everything that is not
    unpublished and that has had some repercussion in the social field will be
    mentioned," said Cravo Albim in an interview with Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil.

    All the usual suspects will still be there naturally. Names like Chiquinha Gonzaga,
    Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and
    Gilberto Gil. But the team of 15 experts who are preparing the dictionary want to be sure
    that no one that left any impression on Brazilian musical culture be left out. It does not
    matter if he or she produced classical or kitsch sound.

    The work has been divided into five segments: from the origin to bossa nova;
    from bossa nova to today; samba, pagode, and axé; regional music;
    and rock, pop, brega (schmultzy) and adjacent. Every one of these segments should
    contribute with close to 1000 entries.

    Coordinating the whole effort is renowned music critic Ricardo Cravo Albim, who started
    to work in the project in 1966, had to stop in 1997 for monetary reasons, but is now in
    the fast track as of 1999. The Ministry of Culture has adopted the undertaking and is
    financing it. The information will be available over the Internet, but there are also
    plans to publish a book with the information.

    In charge of the popular music segment, stretching from colonial times to around 1959
    when the bossa nova appears, are music critic Artur de Oliveira and musician
    Márcia Taborda. Says Oliveira: "Father Anchieta was the first Brazilian composer.
    Music was one of the most important elements in his catechism. He was the first one to
    write works of popular music."

    AIDS
    Now the Very Young

    Brazil has already lost more than 170,000 people to the AIDS virus. Now, a new study
    shows that there are also thousands of less noticed victims: the children that were left
    orphan and that in many instances are rejected by relatives and friends. In the first
    study dealing with kids left parentless due to AIDS, the Health Ministry concluded that
    are almost 30,000 children in this situation.

    This number may be considered insignificant when compared to the situation in Africa,
    where according to the UN there will be 10 million orphans by the year 2002. "But
    this is still a worrisome number," said Reiko Niimi, representative of Unicef in
    Brazil, in an interview with Correio Braziliense, Brasília’s main daily.

    The 29,929 number is just an estimate. As Pedro Chequer, the Health Ministry’s
    coordinator for STD (Sexual Transmitted Diseases) and AIDS, explained: "There is no
    way to make a census this size. But it is the closest to the Brazilian reality that we can
    get." According to experts, the problem is worse than projected a few years ago
    mainly because the disease has been attacking men and women almost equally. While in 1985
    there was one woman with AIDS for every 24 men, today for every two men there is a woman
    infected. As for children, there are more than 6000 Brazilian kids with AIDS.

    The number of women infected by the disease should continue to climb because AIDS is
    not being taken seriously by younger women. A study by Bemfam (Sociedade Civil Bem-Estar
    Social do Brasil—Brazil’s Social Well Being Civilian Society) among 12,648 women and
    2,846 men of various ages in 13,000 residences throughout the country, showed that a mere
    4 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 have sexual intercourse with their
    partners wearing condom.

    The study conducted in partnership with Unicef and the American CDC (Centers for
    Disease Control) found out that AIDS is today the main cause of death among 20 to
    34-year-old women and the second one for men, who at this age die mainly from violent
    causes. In the whole country, AIDS is already the fourth biggest killer for men and women
    in this age group.

    For Maria Eugênia Lemos Fernandes, an infectologist, the media, TV in particular, has
    a major responsibility for the reckless way youngsters act. According to her, they talk
    about condoms and the dangers of AIDS, but there is also an excessive eroticisation of the
    airwaves with couples participating in constant sexual intercourse without any mention of
    the need for a prophylactic.

    Dr. Fernandes believes that’s high time to have an aggressive campaign to promote
    condoms and urges parents to dispense these prophylactics to girls and boys alike as if
    they were soap or toothpaste. She also suggests that condoms are made more available,
    being sold among other places in newsstands and school cafeterias.

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