Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Brazilians are passive about corruption-David Goldman case an example

care2I had some Brazilian visitors at my house and they know my disgust with the fact that David Goldman still does not have his son back in the United States. I asked them their position on David’s case and they are in favor of Sean being returned to his father (“obviously”, they pointed out). However, their attitude is of “defeatism” and “apologism”.

They gave me a very grim picture of Lula’s government and the ever existing corruption in the country. They said Lula is almost dictator-like and the poor population loves him due to popular actions like a “basic basket” of free monthly food items to those who have an income lower than a certain amount, the “school-scholarship” which is a certain amount of money given to parents who guarantee their kids go to school, etc.

Apparently Lula bailed out the Globo media group, which was struggling, and now they never badmouth him. Globo is the largest TV station in Brazil with the most viewership.

Meanwhile, corruption runs wild in a big scale, and most Brazilians feel helpless. Even though I lived in Brazil most of my life, it still shocks me to hear that the population accepts the corruption passively. They complain and complain, decade after decade, but they simply do not get together and act against it. They claim is has gotten better than in the past, but still has a long way to go.

I tried to argue that Brazil is an avid internet user and that widespread information is the best weapon to bring corruption to light and provoke enough ire that public opinion forces change. I gave as an example Twitter, extremely popular in Brazil, which has corruption stories availabe for all to see. My visitors said it doesn’t matter. The majority of the population just doesn’t care. All they want to watch or read about is SOCCER, Formula 1 and SOAP OPERAS. They skip the news on TV and watch the “novelas”, the soap operas that millions and millions of Brazilians watch every single night. If you try to discuss something more serious with many people, even the “educated” ones, they immediately lose interest. Girls are raised to try to be “models” and boys aspire to become soccer players.

They accept corruption with passiveness. They shrug their shoulders and say “fazer o quê, né?” (“do what, right?”). There is little sense of organization, community and activism. They say that it will take “100 years” to change the mentality, instead of trying to change things NOW. I blame only one thing for the state of affairs and corruption in Brazil: the Brazilian population. Finally, they did not try to find out more and showed no interest when my husband and I talked further about David’s case. I think they think this is small potatoes in the grand scheme of corruption. I believe that is the attitude of many educated middle class Brazilians now.



July 27, 2009 - Posted by | Activism, Brazil


  1. I completely agree every word you said in your post.

    I think this happens because people are just too worried about what others think about themselves to do anything, and any attempt of going to the streets and actually do something becomes a riot, where stores are robbed and people get hurt!

    If you skip work or school to go to a parade against something, people think you’re a bum who uses any excuse not to work/study.

    And just like you said, as long as there is cold beer in the freezer, naked women and soccer on TV, it’s all good

    People don’t understand why things are so expensive and why they pay so many taxes, and when they do they just don’t bother complaining.

    And with all the big scandals happening, when something “small” happens they just don’t bother to pay attention.

    Poor people are too worried trying to make money to survive, and rich people just don’t care because they have money.

    One thing that shocked me not to long ago was the reaction of the population when the government tried to implement the “lei seca” in Brazil and the population were astonished with such “rigid and stupid law” (that’s what i heard from most of the younger people)

    Comment by Alex P | November 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. I totally agree. Unfortunately, I went through the same ordeal that Mr. Goldman is going now. My 2 sons were taken away from me by my ex-husband, a high hanking officer in the Brazilian Air force. It took me a lot of money to find my sons in a military school in the middle of the Amazon. I was lucky that I met a lawyer with strong morals and ethics and a wonderful woman that saved us all, as well as the ethics of the judge and the court system in Manaus, AM.

    Comment by Denise Thompson | December 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. I’m a Brazilian living in the US. One of the reasons why I left my country is linked to what you write about here. My theory as to why Brazilians complain but do nothing is simple: given the opportunity, most of them would be glad to accept corruption money. It’s a cultural thing. They pay lip service against political corruption, but deep down they don’t see anything wrong with it. There’s an old-style feudalistic society underneath Brazil’s modern democracy; and most people will gladly pay the barons their due and dream of what they’ll do when they’re barons themselves. Ugly. Certainly an unfair generalization. But it is real enough that I don’t think I could ever live in Brazil again.

    Comment by Yuri | December 29, 2009 | Reply

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