“Imagina na copa” – “Imagine, during the World Cup …” is currently one of the most heard & written sentences in Brazil.* Short, concise and said with a hint of resignation, it describes the current mood.
After years of strong economic growth and an increasing global popularity, culminating in the bid for the 2014 World Cup, a noticeable slow-down has set in. The World Cup, though not to blame for the situation, demonstrates that the foundation on which the development of recent years rested is still quite wobbly. The underlying weaknesses, may they be social, political or economic, are as present as ever: mismanagement and -planning, corruption, poverty , inadequate education, inflation, etc.
The stadiums aren’t getting ready on time, infrastructure projects are delayed or cancelled altogether after the contracts went to the sons of mayors or senators. At the same time, rising bus and tomato prices** , minimum wages which don’t cover the cost of living… the list of misgivings long. The World Cup which was meant to show the new ascending, strong and self-confident Brazil is becoming more and more a demonstration – some may say the cause – of the country’s problems.
Still, no need to be all that pessimistic. Instead, let’s focus on the best there is in this country. No, not the great landscapes, not the beaches, not the Samba or the Carnival, but the Brazilians themselves. They are outgoing, friendly and helpful, especially with foreigners . To spend time with family and friends, is incredibly important for Brazilians; so is good life. Above all, a good meal with carnezinho – a bit of meat (the ‘bit’ is not meant literally) – is very much appreciated, as is an evening on the beach or in a bar, with live music and sip of cool beer***
In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing more posts about Brazil, looking at this vast, fascinating country with its sunny and less sunny sides. Mas primeiro: seja bemvindo!
* The complete translation , including what’s not said, roughly corresponds to: “Imagine only how things will work out during the World Cup if already now…”
** Prices for public transport and food are a particularly sensitive issue, especially after the protests last year during the Confederation Cup .
*** Beer is served in Brazil chilling cold (-3° C). We’ll have to clarify why separately.