Tag Archives: Brazil

My quick thoughts on Jair Bolsonaro’s candidacy for president of Brazil

I have been asked a few times my thoughts on the controversial Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s leading candidate for the presidency. Bolsonaro was stabbed at a rally yesterday. The reports indicate that while he is in a stable condition, full recovery is still uncertain a. His fans will likely view his cause with a greater martyr-like passion and his opponents–populating the major networks in Brazil will outdo themselves in advertisements against him in these final 30 days.

Bolsonaro has been named as the Brazilian Donald Trump. He has received the kind of press Donald Trump has for speaking his mind. For example, he opines openly about sexuality issues condemning the public education system for their graphic school books on anal sex and other homosexual acts. He also wants to enact a policy that sexual abusers shall be chemically castrated which has been interpreted as homophobic by many and received strong opposition from human rights’ activists largely on the left of Brazil’s politics.

He has a general disposition towards de-bureaucratizing government policies. The man who will lead his economics department is a firm believer in more limited government and privatization. Bolsonaro also has a similar Trumpian view of trading with China. Bloomberg summarizes his position:
China is currently Brazil’s biggest trading partner but Bolsonaro has serious reservations about Chinese investment in Brazil. He says Brazil should trade with China, but says he’d like “trade with the United States to be much larger” than with the Asian nation. He prefers “great partnerships” with U.S. firms instead of “making concessions to the Chinese.”
Jair Bolsonaro has a military background which makes his central agenda the security of the Brazilian people which is one reason his numbers are so high at this stage in the election cycle. Brazil’s violence continues to soar under the current presidency. The New York Times observes:
With 62,517 violent deaths in 2016, Brazil reached a record-high homicide rate of more than 30 per 100,000 residents, according to the latest annual study that compiles law enforcement and health statistics. (In the United States that rate dropped to five homicides per 100,000 people from eight from 1996 to 2015.)
In my estimation, Bolsonaro will be a needed change from leftist politics that have dominated the country for almost two decades. Honestly, he needs to win. If the Brazilian political system is not shaken now, the country will become a glorified version of Venezuela.
  1. Thanks to Marcos Romano for the update  (back)

Book Review: Why Soccer Matters by Pele

I read through this historical gem in a day. I watched Pele’s interview on Jon Stewart and immediately ordered a copy of his latest work. In the interview, Pele reflected on the first time he saw his father cry:

“[I saw my father crying], and I asked him, ‘Why are you crying?’

‘Brazil lost the World Cup.’

‘I’m going to win one World Cup for you, don’t worry.’”

The book details Pele’s journey from one of millions of Brazilian kids who entertain themselves through futebol  a to the one who entertained the world through football. In less than 300 pages–an easy read–Pele lays the groundwork for Brazil’s greatest disappointment in 1950. That year, Brazil hosted the World Cup and everyone expected them to keep the trophy home, but Uruguay was able to triumph in what is considered one of the greatest upsets in soccer history. Pele then walks the reader through Brazil’s three main titles in 1958, 1962, and the remarkable undefeated 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Why Soccer Matters offers all sorts of wonderful facts about Pele like the origin of his name (pg. 68). It also provides humorous information on Garrincha’s life like his legendary crooked legs (pg. 75), and the introduction of yellow and red cards in 1970 (pg. 158). But Pele is far more than an athletic legend. Pele is part of Brazil’s political history, business history, and the unforgettable face of Brazilian coffee commercials.

Criticized, vilified, loved, admired, Pele is unmistakably the greatest soccer player that has ever lived. When people ask Brazilians who the greatest soccer player is they will begin by saying: “Well, besides Pele, X is my favorite.” Pele cannot even be put on the same category as modern players. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Maradona all deserve honor and respect, but none of them can claim three world cups and over 1,200 goals in their careers.

Pele’s book is an autobiography, but also an appetizer for the world’s greatest sports’ event, which begins in 31 hours.

  1. the Brazilian way to spell soccer  (back)