Brazil on the Road to Fascism: The General Attourney vs. Free Speech

The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.

Adolf Hitler

In 1988, Brazil became a democracy after over more than 24 years of military dicatorship. A new constitution was introduced and established and over night everybody was suddenly a democrat – and has always been, of course. The years of torture, corruption, authoritaritan leadership and behaviour, misgovernment and so on, were simply wiped out over night and a new bright future has broken out, simply by decree and constitution.

The new constitution granted the right of free speech and the seperation of the powers, which were, or better said are, supposed to control each other. It also granted autonomy to state institutions like universities, to take their own individual decisions without any ministerial interference and also guaranteed the freedom of research, independence of science and the right to voice one’s own opinion. In 1990, Law nr. 8112 was introduced, which regulates the the rights and duties of a public servant and which states that a public agent, a person who does work for the state or the government, must not behave disrespectful in work environment towards anyone, especially not towards the state. Therefore it has to be mentioned that Brazil has some history with shutting the mouths of people who are not in favour of the government. In 1968, the infamous Instutional Act Number Five (AI-5) was passed, which had the following consequences:

  1. The President of the Republic was given the power to order the National Congress and all State and Municipial Legislative Assemblies into forced recess. This caused the lockdown of these institutions for almost one year in 1968 and another one in 1977.
  2. During this forced recess, the president could act with the same power in the place of those assmblies by issuing decrees.
  3. The federal government could intervene anywhere in the country in legislation assemblies under the cover of the “national security interests” tag.
  4. Censorship was institutionalised
  5. Political meetings, as not authorised by the police, were considered illegal and therefore could be broken up without prior warnings.
  6. “Habeas corpus” for political crimes was suspended
  7. The President of the Republic could sack any public servant, including elected political officers and judges, if they were considered as uncooperative, subversive or simply had a critical thinking towards the regime.
  8. Political rights could be ceased for up to ten years and death penalty could be put back into effect.
  9. The acts of the president were not subject to liability by juridical review.

Additionally it should be mentioned that this law was originally supposed to protect the citizens from the abuse of power by the state/governmental workers, for example by refusing to deal with a person’s application, simply because the person behind the counter would not like the clothes the other one was wearing. In principle this is a very good institutional idea, especially when it has to be taken in consideration that Brazil is a country full of small powergreedy kings and queens, who like to rule their own king- and queendoms without following the official laws.

In the year 2019 Sr Jair Messias Bolsonaro became president of Brazil and with him a wave of weird things started to occur in the country. They would be too many to be mentioned here, especially as they happened on all levels of society, but the climate changed from cold (the Temer years 2016 – 2018, who couped against the democratically elected president Dilma Vana Rousseff) to frosty. Had the country been divided between the left and the more central political powers, now the ultranational right winged spectrum had gained power and started to spread itself within society.

In the year 2020, the coronavirus pandemy also reached Brazil and the saviour of the country, the elected president, was the first one to deny its danger and what it could do to the country. In the media he openly opposed the scientific based recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), he celebrated himself as immune because of his past as a (mediocre) athlete, the whole world was against him and the virus was a communist conspiration of China in order to remove him from office and much more. All these statements were greeted with a warm welcome by his followers, who obviously liked to die as they refused to used masks or any other protective gear in public, and met heavy criticism by those who believed in science, medicine and research and who also had some common understanding and thinking about the real danger of the pandemic. Until March 2021, the Covid-19 pandemy had consumed two ministers of health and the third one, General Eduardo Pazuello, was not much of a health specialist. His greatest achievments as a carreerist were being responsible for the military logistics during the Olympic Summer Games 2016 and having soldiers pulling carts instead of horses, when he was responsible for them in the military forces.

On the other side, there was an everlasting construction site called Ministry of Education. As previously mentioned in this blog, it was occupied by a certain Abraham Weintraub, who was lauded away from his post for being too competent for it. His successor, Carlos Alberto Decotelli da Silva, was out of office before he even took it for some irregularities concerning his career and then followed Milton Ribeiro, a Presbytarian reverend, theologist, lawyer and ex-rector of the Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, one of Brazil’s private elite universities. At Mackenzie he had stirred things up a bit, transforming an already conservative place into an even more conservative one (for example the graduation course of philosophy is under the threat of complete extinction, as it causes critical and individual thinking – something that is most unwelcome under the Bolsonaro presidency). That trajetory of success qualified him for becoming minister of education.

With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, science and negationism moved more towards the centre of public and political attention. The various pros and contras of each position waged war against each other, through the midia, in social networks, the main weapon of all sides was WhatsApp and all the veracities that were told there, may they be based on facts or simply be an invention of the human mind and creativity. What remained as fact though was the constant ignorance and negation of the federal government of what was going on with the health of the people in the country. This lead that far that some public university professors even used the official channels of the university to voice themselves about the lethal ignorance of those in power, sacrifising their own voters and people to satisfy their extremely big egos and individual believes. They heavily attacked the president, even on a personal basis. One of them is Pedro Rodrigues Curi Hallal, rector of the University of Pelotas until the end of the year 2020, who himself is a specialist in epidemology. Known to the general public by this constant appearances in the mass media, he gained fame for opposing the governmental position concerning the official health policy in combating the Covid-19 epidemy that rampaged through the country. The other well known case is the one of vice rector of the University of Pelotas, Eraldo dos Santos Pinheiro, professor in the area of physical education of the respective university

As Mr Hallal’s mandate as rector ended, it was time to find his successor and the usual process started with a final result of three suggestions for this post. Usually the President of the Republic follows the list and nominates the candidate who gained most votes in the elections. It has to be mentioned that in Brazil the rector of a public university is voted in a democratic election by students and university staff. Unlike in other democratic countries, where a rector is chosen by the highest university council from a suggestion by the senate and can remain in office forever in case he has many friends in the senate and the university council, this is a real democratic election and the rector cannot stay longer in office than for two successive periods. Anyway, the president is free to choose whoever he wants, so Mr Bolsonaro, in his neverending wisdom and infinite competence, did not choose the most voted candidate. This outraged Mr Hallal to that extend, that he called Mr Bolsonaro being a president with a minuscule “p” and someone who would try a coup against the university.

That again called up Mr Bolsonaro’s hardline disciple, Bibo Nunes, to act. There is not much to say about Mr Nunes, just that he exists and breathes the same air as many other people do. Anyway, this Mr Nunes handed in a complaint at the General Attourney of the Republic with the plead to shut up those voices, especially as they would criticise the president in a disrespectful manner and would spread party propaganda against the government – and as it is the most democratic act to use institutions in one’s particular interest, the General Attourney did so and Mr Hallal and Mr Pinheiro signed an agreement to be censored for the next two years, otherwise a full process would be opened against them, based on Law 8112/90, especially as they had used the official university channels for their critique and those channels are considered as workplace. What is strange though it, that the Supreme Court had is seen as constitutional that university teachers and professors may talk about political ideologies and propaganda in their classes. The verdict was made just a few months before that case of Mr Hallal and Mr Pinheiro. The President of the Republic is allowed to attack teachers in bright sunlight through his hate speech, but responses, especially on the same level, are not allowed. Quod lived Iovi, non licet bovi.

When Mr Ribeiro took office, he promised to restore respect to the teacher. But what has he achieved so far? Nothing, teachers are still most disrespected in Brazil, receive low salaries, are censored, are attacked by ignorant and simply uneducated, stupid parents and other representatives of the students, even receive death threats, just because they try to do their job and defend a civil and civilised society for a better tomorrow. Ever since this movement called Escola dem Parrido (School without [political] Party) got a foothold in the schools, free thinking and education are under threat. Not that Brazil’s public school system would have been among the world’s best for centuries, but now it is even further down the drains. It goes even that far that on university level, teachers receive death threats when they talk about gender topics and anything that is related to social progress. When will the General Attorney of the Republic do anything against that? Teachers have the right to be protected, people have the right to speak freely, children have the right to receive a good education – and citizens have the right to live without fear for their thoughts and also have the right to live and not to die, just because the president negates reality. In a democracy these are basic human rights, obviously in Brazil they are not.

Justified Injustice, or: How to push through your candidate for a temporary position

It’s my duty as a human being to be pissed off

Eric Bogosian

In Brazil public agents have the right to take some time off after some time to go on a leave to increase their capacities of any kind. Depending on the employer (federal, state or municipal government) a person can leave for a certain amount of time and then also depending on the function this person can leave for certain activities. When someone is working at a federal university as a professor, lecturer etc., a situation like the chance for a post-doctorate (domestic or abroad) could cause such a leave and then this would lead to a call for a substitute. Such substitutes are usually called up for two years and when they have to leave the post again, they must not take another temporary position at the same university for the following 24 months. That way the law wants to protect the abuse of employees and protect itself from chain contracts, which would generate a permanent contract according to the Brazilian labour law jurisdiction. Someone is either permanent (yes, there are still permanent posts in the academic field in Brazil) or only temporary (which is a very cultivated policy of European universities, which think that adding a bit of excitment to one’s life by being unemployed every couple of years without knowing if there is ever going to be the chance for a return to the academic world is the best thing that could happen to a scholar or scientist).

Very often the academic unit has someone in mind to fill in that position temporarily. Usually these are people known to the permanent post holders, ex-students, current master or doctorate students, people they got to know at conferences, friends, friends of friends etc.. But as the calls are public, it could happen that The Big Unknown also appears on the scene – and then this one is not wanted, as he or she is unknown. Especially in the country’s capital the exclusion and isolation of those who are unknown, the ousting of outsiders, strangers or foreigners is quite strong. Why Brasilia is so different from the rest of Brazil, where these things are hardly notable or even objected, remains a mystery. The author has just this explanation: as Brazil is not just one Brazil, there are many Brazils and each region or even state thinks that it is the only true Brazil and the rest is not, and in Brasilia they all get together from all over the country, the people there prefer to stay among themselves in their own tiny bubbles. They hardly get in touch with anyone else from another region of the country when it is not absolutely necessary, their activities are among the same cultural circle (e.g. Northeasteners hardly ever frequent any festivities from the people from the South and vice versa) and they simple live parallel to each other, not with each other.

This now is a true story, the names are changed to protect the persons involved. Early in the year 2020, a position opened at a federal university in Brasilia for a susbstitute position of a professor at a department related to the faculty of languages and arts. A man, a foreigner, who has not studied at this university, let’s call him Jack, saw this job opening and decided to apply for it. He filled in all the forms and handed in everything. According to the chronological schedule the draw for the topic of the presentation and the test lecture was supposed to be on the last day of the month. Then came the Covid-19 pandemy and put this process on a halt. For months there was silence, the pandemy held the university for ransom with an iron fist and nothing ever got done. By the end of the year 2020, the department realised that they still had the process open and would have to finish it until the end of the year, in case they would not want to lose anything. So in a hush hush activity the process was revived, but unlike how it happened when it was halted, the subscribed candidates were not informed of the resume of the process. From the eight candidates only two took the pedagogical exam, as the public hearing was called. Jack had other things to do as well during the pandemic year and therefore did not take a look at the for months stalled homepage of the process every day; so he was not among those two who were heard, but none of them was hired anyway. Obviously the desired person was not among those two.

By the end of the year, there were only three days left until the year 2021 would come, the process was reopened under a new file number, but with the same conditions. Jack took a very strong interest in that post, because it could have been his ticket back to the academic world, which had spat him out in Europe several years before. So he reapplied for the position, handed in all his documents and this time the sacred cow of the universities all over the world, the administration, was better organised. This time they actually sent mails about every step and when there were new files or activities of the process, all the candidates were informed about them. So the day of handing in the documents came again. It was a Tuesday, Jack handed in all his documents and waited for Wednesday to come.

Wednesday was the day of the draw for Thursday. What draw? As in the previous process, all candidates were numbered and the call for candidates stated that on the day before the hearing, they would be drawn as for the topic and time they would have to lecture about on the next day. That draw is an administrative act. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to leave a comment under this article.

So Wednesday came, the draw was to start at 1400. Jack had some problems to get into the virtual room, but at 1407 he made it in, still in the tolerable time of a 10 minutes waiting period announced in the call. He identified himself to the three ladies of the commission, let’s call them Carolina, Verena and Joelma, and waited for the draw to start. There was another candidate present and her and Jack’s number were put into a sack to be drawn from to see which candidate’s application would be treated first concering time and topic of the hearing lecture. Jack was not the first one to be drawn so he had to wait. The moment the hour of the hearing of the other candidate was drawn, Jack’s internet connection failed and did not return for the next 4 hours. He tried everything possible to get back into the room and when he finally could establish a mobile date connection, the commission did not let him back in anymore. Hence the why…… the reader may draw his or her own conclusions from that. Anyway, Jack did not give up. He sent a mail at 1445 explaining what happened (as he was present and this could be confirmed by the recording of the draw), asking for his topic and time of his hearing and waited for an answer. The answer was…… silence. No answer, so Jack prepared all 4 topics for the next day, as he believed he would have been drawn.

On the next day, at 1320, 40 minutes before the start of the hearings, he received an answer. Mrs Carolina, who declared herself as the chairlady of the commission, informed Jack that his participation was refused, because he was not present. She quoted a guideline of the dean, which only dealt with the topic for the day of the hearing. There was absolutely nothing about an administrative act in that guideline. Jack tried to settle it in an informal way, responding immediately to the mail telling that this was an administrative act and therefore not covered by the quoted passage. There was no answer. As he felt treated extremely unfairly, Jack decided to go for appeal against the whole process and result and handed that one in at 1430. His appeal was rejected first, as he had handed it in too early. According to the secretary of the department he would have to wait for the provisional result to come out to be able to go against it. So this is what Jack did. He handed his protesting appeal in again 20 minutes after the provisional result was published. The provisional result had one rejected candidate, who obviously did not score enough points in the basic pointage but who had the best result in the hearing, and two other candidates who were accepted in the form of a ranking. The commission had two days time to deal with Jack’s appeal – and the appeal was rejected. For some very strange reason the appeal was treated by the same three ladies, Carolina, Verena and Joelma, who had already rejected his participation in first place. When Jack asked at the secretariat to have his injust treatment judged by a second instance (according to Brazilian law each public act must have a second instance of appeal), he was informed that there was no second instance. Jack could have gone to court and definitely would have won the right to be heard, but he would not have got the job even with a brilliang performance in the hearing. Absolutism rules, arbitrariness as well and as Jack wants to have a future at this university, may it be as a student or lecturer, he refrained from taking things further, but the bitterness remains and this injustice is not forgotten.

Even in countries with a very questionable juridical system and state administration there is an instance of appeal composed of different people. Not in Brazil, at least not at this federal university, which declares itself as a fighter for equal rights. There was no man present in this commission, which does make one wonder if the idea of gender mainstreaming and equal rights and representation of the sexes has not arrived at this place or if it is simply a one sided idea. There is no second instance, no instance of appeal, which makes one wonder why one would appeal anyway when the same people, who treat someone injust, also decide about the appeal. As they were infallible in the first place, why would they go against their own decision now?

Public administration is supposed to act only based on laws and guidelines and there would always be the chance to run against unlegal decisions, but that is not the case here. Mediocricy and favouring one certain candidate always find their way and injustice prevails.

Brazil on the Road to Fascism: Congresschair Elections 2021

Let fascism find not even a single passage to power or else that poisonous snake will infiltrate into every vital corner of the country and kill the future of the nation!”

Mehmet Murat ildan

On February 1st, 2021, the two houses of Brazilian Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, elected their two new chairmen. Preceeded by weeks of discussions if chairman Rodrigo Felinto Ibarra Epitacio Maia (House of Representatives) and chairman Davi Samuel Alcolumbre Tobelem could be reelected, on February 1st, 2021, the elections finally happened.

In Brazil, the consitution permits one consecutive reelection of a chairman of each house, whose reign is limited to two years (compared to the four years parliament is elected for), but it leaves it undefined if this can happen in the same legistlative period, or if the reelection could happen in the following term and then this person cannot be reelected anymore. This was the case with Rodrigo Maia. He took office in the middle of the democrativally elected presidency period of Dilma Vana Rousseff, just when the coup’d etat of her vice president Michel Temer happened in 2016, and by-then chairman Eduardo Cunha was impeached by parliament as well; with the change of the presidency to the Jair Messias Bolsonaro administration, he was reelected as chairman of the House of Representatives for the 2019 – 2021 period. Mr Maia was a very important counterweight in the first two years of the Bolsonaro regime, as he knew how the state was run, how parliament works etc., simply: how Brazil functions. That counterweight was extremely important, as the best president of them all in Brazil’s history and his bunch of extremely competent ministers brought a period of disgovernment with them. Who really administered and governed Brazil was Rodrigo Maia, while those who should do were more interested in securing their sinecures, cementing their power and influence and showing their (in)capacities and capabilities. Without him, Brazil would have sunken even deeper into chaos than it already was.

For being this counterweight, Mr Maia was the target of the Bolsonaro clan and their bandwaggon support, who attacked him on avery possible occasion in public and also on a personal level. The number of attacks was too high to be mentioned here, but on the internet lots of them can still be found. This link is just one of them. So when the time for the (re)election came, they worked very hard to avoid a third Rodrigo Maia period as a chairman questioning the legitimacy of such an election, running dirtbag campaigns against him etc. The nationalists set up a candidate, strongly supported by the president, in order to get control over the House of Representatives as well. This candidate was Artur Cesar Pereira de Lira from the Partido Progressista, lawyer and entrepreneur in the agrobusiness. The other candidates were: Alexandre Frota de Andrade, PSDB, ex-TV presenter and porn actor, Andre Luis Gaspar Janones, Avante, lawyer, Luiz Felipe Baleia Tenuto Rossi, PMDB, entrepreneur, Captain Jose Augusto Rosa, PL, member of the streetforce police, Fabio Augusto Ramalho dos Santos, PMDB, entrepreneur, General Roberto Sebastiao Peternelli Junior, PSL, military forces officer of the reserves, 86 year old Luiza Erundina de Souza, PSOL, social worker, and Marcel van Hattem, Novo, political scientist. The president could not openly support the police and military candidates, especially not after the internal struggles he faced with those forces (especially as they do have some kind of autonomy and therefore are not obliged to follow presidential orders in a direct hierachial way). So Mr Lira was chosen to be the president’s dummy for this position.

The author is not much of a fan of Mr Maia either, but he has some kind of common sense and kept Brazil afloat. A big mistake that he has made in the past though was putting all the impeachment bids against the president from the opposition parties into a drawer for some later withdrawal from there. What Mr Maia’s motives were not to follow the impeachment bids, remains in the dark. Maybe he hoped to quell the waves and benefit from current political streams in the House.

In the senate the situation was a bit different. Mr Alcolumbre took the chairman’s position in a very turbulent session in the year 2019. This election reminded the author more of a cabaret performance than of a serious political decision, which concerned one of the highest positions in the country. But Brazil is Brazil and that also means that serious decisions and activities are not always taken seriously – and that elective process definitely showed it. So when it came to hold new chairman elections, the President of the Republic, as he likes to refer to himself at every possible and impossible opportunity, also wanted to install one of his dummies. It is easier to “govern”, when both houses of parliament are under one’s control and influence, isn’t it? This man to be chosen for the job was Rodrigo Otavio Soares Pacheco of the conservative-liberal right Democratas (DEM) party, whose member Mr Maia also is. The other candidates were: Jorge Kajuru Reis da Costa Nasser, Cidadania, journalist and TV presenter, Lasier Costa Martins, Podemos, lawyer and journalist, Major Sergio Olimpio Gomes, PSL, police officer, and Simone Nassar Tebet, PMDB, lawyer and teacher.

In the senate the configurations, which rule the House of Representatives, seem to be different. Despite being supported by the president, Mr Pacheco was also supported by the left wing parties PT and PDT. Considering that the presidential elections in 2018 between Mr Bolsonaro and Mr Haddad were marked by heavy polarisation of the country, this is quite a remarkable turn of those parties. There must be something going on behind the scenes that the public does not know and which might have got something to do with the elections in 2022. Time will tell.

As a matter of fact, the result of both elections was feasable only with the help of the so called “Centrão”. These are small parties with only a few members holding seats in parliament. Since the middle of 2020, Mr Bolsonaro made moves towards these parties, trying to draw them to his side. As some kind of surprise Mr Bolsonaro gave way to an annual party subsidiary just on the day before the chairmen elections. The government has to pay the subsidiary every year, but the amount and the when is the sole decision of the government itself. That a warm rain of 504 million Real (approximately 100 million US$) to cover party costs for election expenses (which they had in 2020 for regional elections) dropping into the pockets of the notoriously underfunded members of parliament (why else could such a high level of corruption and greed on parliament level be found and be explained) could have got something to do with the elections and make some of them change their minds, is just mere coincidence and pure speculation. They are all honorable men (and women).

What is there to come and to expect from the new chairpeople is unforseeable. The “centrão” is known to be an instable partner for any party, they follow the money from wherever it flows and it has to be waited and seen how the president will act in the coming weeks. The to be expected augmented influence of the government in both chambers of parliament does not promise anything good for the future. But there are new elections on the horizon, the year 2022 is coming for sure.

The Weeks the Light went out – The Blackout in Amapa

People often don’t understand the engine that drives corruption. Particularly in India, they assume government equals corruption, private companies equal efficiency. But government officials are not genetically programmed to be corrupt. Corruption is linked to power. If it is the corporations that are powerful, then they will be corrupt.

Arundhati Roy

Brazil is a very big country. It has continental dimensions and therefore it can happen that some places are considered to be very remote, as not to say distant. It is not the question of distance, as for those regions they are not distant as they are there. The question is: distant from what?

The state of Amapa is considered such a region. It is Brazil’s furtherst northern point of the country, holds a population of approximately 850 000 people by the year 2019, and covers a territory of 142 471km². After having disputed the border with French Gyuana until 1900, it was made a federal territory in 1943. Amapa finally became a federal state of its own with the new constitution from 1988. The state as such is nearly empty of people. The capital, Macapa, hosts nearly half of the population of the entire state. So it is easy to imagine that a person from Amapa is considered some kind of remote and exotic within its own country. As an additional local curiosity it might be of interest that the equator runs through the halfway line of the football stadium of Macapa, making each team defending a hemisphere for 45 minutes during a match. That the equator is exactly located at the goal kick line of the southern half of the pitch is just a detail, that is commonly ignored.

As it was just shown, Amapa is not really one of the centres of economy, art or anything else in Brazil, but in November 2020 it made it to the national headlines for weeks. So what has happened? For almost three entire weeks (it was 20 days to be precise) the whole state was blackened out. On November 3rd, 2020, one of the only three transformator stations of the state caught fire during a thunderstorm, due to overload, causing a chain reaction and bringing down the other two stations within a couple of hours as well. The whole state went black, no more electricity at all. The aftermath was disastrous. As modern life depends hugely on the use of electricity, there was no more TV, radio, no street lightning, no more functioning of petrol pumps at the filling stations causing local and regional traffic coming to a stantstill, no more refrigeration bringing restaurants, supermarkets and private households to their knees (hence, the average temperature in Macapa in November is around 32°C), the ATM machines did not give out any money anymore and the battery driven credit card readers could not wire the data anymore as there was no internet connection either. This and much more brought daily life in that state to a state of emergency, which could not be lifted. Solar power is hardly used in Brazil, in a country where people try to avoid the sun because it lavishes its rays (and their effects) onto the ground way too much, and electricity can not be transported by freight lorries into the state.

As Brazil is a federal republic – with loads of (local and regional, as well as federal) neoliberal kings and queens – each state can outsource several of its generic services. Amapa opted to outsource its energy provider and remain as the controling body, cashing in the financial surplus. A foreign company was the lucky winner for Amapa, but they didn’t seem to care much about the infrastructure. When the transformator station caught fire, it was because one of the three blocks was in maintainance for over one year and the lightning strike could not be handled anymore by the other two. So they burst in flames, causing what was mentioned above already. Maintainance for one year….. that does not sound very professional, does it?

The consequences were: the federal judiciary gave that company three days to present a plan of how to restore the electricity in the state, the Secretary for Energy of the state was suspended and the state company, Eletronorte, which is responsible for the electricity in the whole north of Brazil had to jump in. They provided the necessary goods for reestablishing electricity in Amapa. But as Amapa is a state full of rivers and therefore water and less of earth and therefore roads, they had to transport most spare parts by ship to the closest landing points, where they could be loaded upon lowboys and then slowly transported across the dry land. The whole operation took more than 15 days, while the restoring of electricity took the rest of the 20 days. Basic electricity providing was established, but it was combined with rationalisation of the hours, sometimes the whole providing net broke down again. People protested heavily against this situation.

The blackout showed that Amapa was not only a remote place of Brazil, it also showed that remote places and their people are easily forgotten and neglected by those who collect their taxes, but simply forget to give something in return. Privatisation might look nice in the budget and is a good way to pass on responsibility, but in fact it is nothing but a cowardly way of the state to withdraw from one of its most original duties: to take care of the population.

The Evil under the Brazilian Sun: Sergio Camargo

What matters is not so much the color of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray.

Frantz Fanon

Brazil is a very interesting and diverse country. It has over 200 million inhabitants and most of them are descendents of any kind of immigration, forced or deliberate ones. The forced immigrants came from Africa as slaves, stripped off their orginal names, clothes, customs, denied of their rights (as human beings) and religious activities. Those people were not considered as human beings, they were treated as some kind of ware which could be bought, traded or sold at the owner’s free will. Still those people, those African slaves, found ways to resist that kind of treatment. They fled, rebelled, created brother- and sisterhoods (very often with some kind of Christian religious backgrounds), they practised their religions under the disguises of Roman Catholic rites, developed self defence techniques smokescreening them as dance etc. An estimated 4.9 million of Africans, which is approximately 40% of the whole number, were brought to Brazil. That makes Brazil the biggest receiver of the African forced diaspora in the Americas.

Brazil was the last country of the western hemisphere to abolish official slavery in 1888. Eventhough the Transatlantic slave trade was forbidden by England in 1851 and that put a lot of pressure on Brazil, slaves arrived illegally in Brazil until this inhuman practise was finally abolished. As this period was never really come to terms with, the country is still suffering from this burden. Brazil is probably the country with the hugest black population percentage outside Africa, but because of several social and cultural factors, such as the relic of colonial thinking or the branqueamento movement, the African contribution to Brazilian culture as it is known today, has always been looked at as something inferior and not really worth being considered. To oppose this and in order to fight for their recognition as full citizens, from the 1910s on social movements of Afrodescendants started to form themselves with the first peak in the 1930ies, when they even formed a political party. But as under the Vargas dictatorship lives of political parties remained quite short, this try to fight for recognition was also shortlived and it was only in the 1970ies, that the social movements of Brazil’s black population got strong again. In 1975 the Instituto de Pesquisa das Culturas Negras, the Research Institute of Black Cultures, was founded in Rio de Janeiro. This was a milestone on the slow and long way for the recognition of Afro-Brazilians as an important contributor to Brazilian society, culture and to the country. In 1978 the Movimento Negro Unificado Contra a Discriminação Racial, the United Black Movement against Racial Discimination, was founded, which engaged in neighbourhood programmes in the combat against racial and social discrimination of black people. Finally in 1989, one year after the end of the military dictorship and the introduction of a new federal constitution in 1988, Brazil declared racial discimination a criminal offence. 1988 was also the year of the foundation of the Fundação Palmares.

The Fundação Palmares takes its name from the famous runaway slave settlement Palmares in the state of Pernambuco. It is a governmental organisation, which has the intention “to promote the preservation of cultural, social and economical values which happen through the black influence in the formation of Brazilian society” (translated by the author from the establishing law of the foundation). Its position was strengthened even more when the constitutional reform of 1998 manifested that the (federal) government would “guarantee to everybody the full exertion of cultural rights and access to the national culture and will support and stimulate the valorisation and dissemination of popular, indigenous and Afro-Brazilian cultural manifestations, as well as of all other groups, which participate in the national civilisatory process” (translated by the author from the Brazilian Federal Constitution). So, this institution, this foundation has all the possibilities to enter the struggle for cultural equity of Afro-Brazilians. It did so, and then came Sergio Nascimento de Camargo.

Little was known about Mr Camargo before he became president of the Fundação Palmares. Not even the president of Brazil, who officially nominated him, knew him by then. Meanwhile he should have heared of him. He graduated in journalism from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Sao Paulo in 1988, held several positions as a reporter for various radio stations and newspapers from 1987 until 2015 and knows how to read English. That is what the site of the Fundação Palmares said about its president on October 15th, 2020. What is also known is that he is the son of the writer and black movement militant supporter Oswaldo de Camargo and the brother of cultural producer and musician Oswaldo de Camargo Filho, also known as Wadico Camargo.

Brazil has this kind of curious situation that lots of top positions in governmental organisations are officially associated with the government and that the contractual situation of those who occupy them is also linked to the electorial success and the nomination of and by the respective minister. Those positions do not hold mandate posts, they hold invitational posts. Anyway, the president of Fundação Palmares is no different. In the year 2018 the best president in the history of Brazil and his extremely compenent ministers were voted into office and therefore they had to nominate a new president of the foundation too. First they nominated the lawyer Vanderlei Lourenço, but only to nominate Mr Camargo later on in the same year, following the government’s excellent practise and policy of revolving doors. When he was nominated, the founder president complained that racism would prevail now in this institution, which was supposed to combat it on a cultural basis. Obviously he had heard of Mr Camargo before.

Mr Camargo’s nomination was not very welcome by the black artists of Brazil. A selfdeclared “negro of the right wing“, he had uttered some statements in the past on the social media networks, which lead to a juridical suspension of his nomination. The designated president of a black culture institution attacked several black personalities and artists in a very dastardly way, made statements against the black movement, claimed that Brazil’s racism would not be any racism at all – that one could only be found in the USA, showed his opposition against the Day of the Black Consciousness, criticised the assasinated Rio representative Marielle Franco and did much more. A few statements can be found here. His nomination lead to an open letter initiated by his own brother, and signed by tenthousands of people, pleading not to put him into office as he would do much more harm than good to whatever he does at the Fundação Palmares – and he was right.

After a few back and forths between the government and the juridical system, Mr Camargo was allowed to take office in early 2020, while courts of appeal were dealing with his case still. A special court session of Brazil’s Superior Court made the final verdict in favour of his enthronement as president of the institution. Meanwhile Mr Camargo had fired staff, which he considered too left and therefore not right enough, by using the telephone. He did not even have the guts to talk to them face to face. In their place he hired people from the far right spectrum of society. He called the Sao Paulo mayor Joâo Doria a “public enemy’, stated that he would not take any Chinese vaccine against COVID-19 (probably because it would come from Communist China), demanded the abolition of the holiday for Black Consciousness and in a personal cruzade he personally removed first time black female governour of Rio Benedita Souza da Silva, Marielle Franco and even the quilombola leader Zumbi dos Palmares, among some other important black people, from the list of honourees of the foundation. It is very interesting that the very important namegiver of the institution has been removed from the list of important personalities.

Maybe the foundation will suffer a name change too? “Fundação Sergio Camargo” would be a proper name, wouldn’t it? Especially after all that this president has done for the Afro-Brazilian culture in order to follow the law and constitution, which lead the institutional direction from the past to the future. There is definitely more to come, if he does not get ejected from office.

The Evil under the Brazilian Sun: Marcelo Crivella

A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks that the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case.

Finley Peter Dunne

There is a city on Brazil, which used to be the country’s capital from 1763 until 1960 and which is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is famous for its beaches, its breathtaking scenery, its carnival and its four world known football clubs, but it is also notorious for its drug trafficking, its shanty towns and its high murder rate. We speak, and the reader surely has guessed it right meanwhile, we speak of Rio de Janeiro.

As every small or big place, Rio de Janeiro also has some mayor to govern it. Since Januart 1st, 2017, this mayor is called Marcello Bezerra Crivella. After having been senator for the state of Rio de Janeiro, Mr Crivella did not want to leave the feeding trough of a high income and power, so he decided to run for the mayorship of one of Brazil’s most important cities. In the wake of a wave of conservativism and religious fanatism, which swept over Brazil since the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, he took over from his predecessor, Eduardo da Costa Paes, who could not run for a third period anymore.

Mr Crivella is the nephew of the founder of the neo-pentecostal enterprise called Igreja Universal, which has been featured in a previous article on this blog already. He was invited to join this money making machine and climbed up the hierachy to the rank of a bishop. Of course his kinsmanlike relationship with his uncle, Edir Macedo, did not have anything to do with it at all, as Brazil is a country free of nepotism and corruption. It were pure merits of the cause of Christ, which brought him there. As Mr Crivella is such a devoted Christian and knows the bible by heart – and as every other selfproclaimed reverend without any real theological university education, he holds a degree in engineering – he has attacked other confessions and religions, because he knows the one and absolute truth. In 1999, he accused the Catholic church of poisoning its innocent followers with the venom of the Lady Mary as a protector. He lashed out against Candomble, a religion of African origin and widely practised especially in the Northeast of Brazil, inciminated homosexuals conducting evil and condemnable behaviour, condemned Asian religions as those where demons would disguise as forces and energies of nature and he also considered the faithful of Native American religions as slaves of the wrong religion. His polemic attacks continued during his political mandates, while he executed his other profession as reverend.

Mr Crivella was already imprisoned for a day in 1990 for trying to take the law in his own hands, when trying to to get rid of squatters, who had invaded the plot of land in a posh district of Rio. Well, being imprisoned is something quite common for a politician in Brazil, that is nothing extraodrinary and it did not harm his electoral campaign in 2016, when this detail of his life saw the light of the day during it. The 2016 campaign also saw Igreja Universal openly campaigning in favour of their bishop, which would be a criminal offense in Brazil, a favour he tried to return in 2018 when being mayor of Rio de Jameiro. The 2018 try was published, but was close to nothing compared to the 2020 one, where Igreja Universal tried to interfere in the appointment of members of the Ethics Commission of Tutelage Councils of Rio de Janeiro in order to prepare the paths for the 2020 local council elections.

With God on his side, Mr Crivella also tried to do something that is usually the death of any government: to govern against the will of Rede Globo. How it was shown in a previous posting, Rede Globo is some kind of shadow government, manipulating public opinion according to their own interests. So when somebody does something against the will of Globo, sooner or later this person will fall first from grace and consequently will be pushed out of power. So it is some kind of interesting to observe that the president of Brazil, Jair Messias Bolsonaro, and Mr Crivella waged war against the powerful media outlet. Mr Crivella had with something about carnival, Globo’s own fundation and the money it receives from the state, excluded Globo’s teams from press conferences, refused to answer to any Globo questions and much more. It just did not stay with the war of words, he even physically pushed a reporter of Globo, who asked him about the stopping of some repairing works that were done after a storm. Mr Crivella accused the reporter of campaigning against Rio de Janeiro. Whatever is thought about this situation, the reader of this article should have their own opinon about it.

About his try of censoring the Rio Book Fair, this blog has already written here.

Brazil’s publish health system is based an excellent thought: it is free of charge for everybody who is in the country at the time the person needs its services. So unlike in other countries, the “free use” of it is not based on an employment and a health insurance attached to it, which makes it also possible for the unemployed poor (and Brazil has lots of them) to get to know the true promise of a health system to make it possible to see the next day. That is an excellent idea, but this requires accurate planning, high financial resources and a government that knows the basics of public administration to grant the constitutional right of health to everybody. But this is Brazil and those three pillars are contradictitory in this country. The year 2020 is an election year and as it was previously mentioned, Mr Crivella and Rede Globo are on war. So there were reporter teams swarming out in order to interview public servants and patients in Rio’s public health centres in order to find out what people really thing about Crivella’s health policy. The mayor, in his manorial lordlike behaviour style, sent out his own troops, the so called Guardiões de Crivella (Guardians of Crivella) in the form of civil servants of the city, who intimidated and threatened the health service employees and patients, telling them not to talk to Globo, or there would be severe consequences for everybody. When being confronted with these allegations, Mr Crivella, as a good and fauthful follower of the Igreja Universal, quoted the bible on Twitter as a response, saying “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Mr Crivella showed his antipathy towards a Brazilian tradition, called carnival, on several occasions. He cut the funding of the samba schools, refused to participate in the tradional ceremony of handing over the key to the city to Rei Momo, the carnival king, sending a representative and has voiced his personal conviction of disgust about one of Brazil’s most important and most known festivities, which moves millions of US$ or Euros every year and therefore is a very important economic factor too, at several occasions.

If Mr Crivella is reelected in the 2020 elections, there is more to come from him..

125 Years of Waiting for a final Judgement

Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.

Henry Wadsworth Longellow

 

Brazil is known as a country where time has no real meaning. If someone gets invited to a party, let’s say at 19:00, in other countries the people appear around this time. Not in Brazil, in Brazil if someone turns up at the announced time (in our case at 19:00) then it is to be sure that this person will find the hosts not even having had a shower for the party yet. It is a sign of good manners to appear 1 to 2 hours AFTER the official starting hour (here it would be between 20:00 and 21:00) and even by then it is not sure that the arriving guest won’t be among the first ones. The author has experienced a birthday party which officially started at 12:00, the author arrived – in an aready adapted good Brazilian manner – at 13:30, the host only appeared at 15:00 and lunch was served at 16:00. Time? That is something for those weird folks from the northern hemisphere.

So it is no wonder that Brazil’s justice system is not among the fastest ones of its kind. Processes are delayed forever, unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy play a vital role in it, a modern, slim administration of processes is unheard of and anything else, that is known from (partly surrealistic) movies and novels (especially Franz Kafka’s “The Process”) has been transformed into pure reality in Brazil. On June 26th, 2020, a 125 years lasting process came to an end, which was announced on September 2nd, 2020.

So what happened? In the year 1889 Brazil declared itself a republic, abolishing the monarchy, which was run by the House of Orleans and Bragança by then. That also means that the new republic confiscated the crown’s properties and the royal family had to claim them back using the juridical system. In 1895, Isabella Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga d’Orléans-Bragança, the last crown princess of Brazil, entered in a process at the court of Rio de Janeiro, the by then capital, to reclaim ownership of the Guanabara Palace, which was home to the royal family by the time of the declaration of the republic. So the process started and with all those various steps that a legal suit has and takes, it went on and on. In 1920 Isabella died, but the heirs continued the process against the Republic. In 2020 the final verdict was spoken by the Federal Supreme Court. Between 1895 and 2020 Brazil saw the following historical events: 

The states of Amapa and Acre become part of Brazil (1900 and 1903), Brazil declares war against Germany in 1917, revolution in Brazil (1930), the Vargas Dictatorship Years (1930 – 1945), a new constitution (1934), Brazil declares war against Germany again (1942), a new constitution again (1946), Brazil loses and wins the World Cup (1950 and 1958), Vargas returns as president (1951), Vargas commits suicide (1954), a military dictatorship (1964 – 1985), Brazil wins the World Cup a third time (1970), the opening of the by then biggest hydropowerplant of the world (1984), the creation of Tocantins as a state (1988), another new constitution again (1988), hyperinflation (1980ies and 1990ies), Brazil wins the World Cup a fourth time (1994), Brazil wins the World Cup a fith time (2002), the Lula Years (2003 – 2010), Brazil hosts the World Cup (2014), Brazil sees an unjustified impeachment using the means of democracy (2016), Brazil hosts the Olympic Summer Games (2016), Brazil votes for fascism and against democracy (2018) – and Brazil sees the end of probably the longest lawsuit in its history (2020).

The final verdict, after 125 years, was: the palace will not be restituted. It remains in the custody of the Brazilian state. So there is no chance anymore for the currently living members of the former royal family to reclaim the palace, as the higherst juridical institution of the country had finally arrived at a conclusion. It was a several generations long lasting process. The question is: why did it take so long? Only Maat, Themis, Dike, Justicia, Perimbo, or Xango would know. They run the grindstones of justice and in Brazil they run them a bit slower than in the rest of the world.

I pay, so you have to do what I want – Toughts about Brazilian Arrogance

The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.

Samuel Butler

There is a certain way of thinking, a certain way of behaviour, that is deeply rooted in a human character. It is called arrogance, the feeling and idea of being better than everybody else around this person. In some societies this type of behaviour is visible more openly, in some it is less, but it is present in all of the existing societies on earth.

In the case of Brazil, which has a very individualist society, it is paired with some cultural heritage: the colonial way of thinking. So what does this mean? The country has been a Portuguese colony and territory from the year 1500 until the year 1822. It has also been the last independent Western country to abolish official slavery. That one happend in the year 1888 only, with the Lei Aurea, the Golden Law. That one abolished slavery in two paragraphs only, but did not prepare society for the new situation. Ever since, Brazilian society had the chance to undergo several social and legal reforms, but it never really did. The way how society and its complex inner structures and webs are thought and executed never faced a reform, nor a radical change as it happened in other countries of republican, dictatorial or democtratic state structures. The old families, whose roots often date back to the period of the captaincies of Colonial Brazil, still held everything in their hands, independently of who was in power officially and no matter form of the state was at that time. But not enough of that, with that kind of social structure, who holds a certain position either in society or administration, a way of thinking was also created: the “I am better than you” culture.

So what does this term refer to? As someone holds a certain position this person has either real or fictional power. Some people inherit positions, some people get into positions by connections or social capital, some people get into positions because they simply buy them (that also includes democratic elections) and some people don’t get into any real position by the previously mentioned possibilities, but think because they are paying for a service, they have the right and power to boss the service providers around. Of the latter kind, Brazil is full of. It starts with extremely rich people, who force their domestic servants into inhuman work conditions (like no working contract, no free days of the week, bad payment, having to live with them, eat just the left overs from the previous days etc., you name it, in Brazil it had definitely happend before you were even thinking of it), continues with rich people, who shoo around shop assistants for hours in the search of the right shade of blue of their favorite shoes and don’t buy anything at all in the end, because the blue was not blue enough, and it finishes with well off people, who think that they can tell teachers how to grade them or their offspring, because they are able to pay for a very expensive school or course. They openly question the capability and competence of those who studied the subject for years, are hard working (most of the time badly paid) professionals in that field and simply think that they know it better than the specialist. So why do they try to learn some competence in the professional’s field then, when they know it all? The same goes for members of private sports clubs in relation with football referees. The referee is always wrong, the player is always right, because he pays for the services of the (private) referee. Even when he is wrong according to the Laws of the Game, he is right, because he pays for the services of the professional and so the professional has to do what the payer tells him. In Brazil that syndrome is also known as “O Sindrome da Casa Grande” (Manor Syndrome).

The Manor Syndrome affects all parts of society. It can be seen everywhere where services are delivered and the worst thing is: money talks, God Mammon rules and that encourages those who suffer from that highly infectious disease to push even further their limits. Manmade laws, which should be obeyed my all citizens, exist only that paper has something to be written on it. Divine laws, which should be followed by those who believe in a god (and the one called Mammon does not count in this case), are for the others only, when they interfere with one’s own comfort zones. Internal guidelines, respectabilities and anything of that kind just curtail one’s own freedom to shine and show how good someone can be. Why should there be any limit as long as someone can pay his or her way out of a situation they have caused by themselves and has done harm to the others? The others are not of the individual interest, because they are simply the others, not oneself.

That is how Brazil functions in many aspects. It is not only limited to the wealthy classes (but among them it is extremely widely spread), it is also to be found among those, who occupy some minor decisive positions. When a passenger kindly asked a bus driver in Brasilia once when the bus would come, as she would have been waiting for a very long time, he answered: “I decide when the bus arrives”. What is there more to say?

Suddenly Person of Color – An Answer to Fernanda Tome de Souza

People don’t know what it’s like being the foreigner until they are one.

Amber Liu

On August 14th, 2020, Fernanda Tome de Souza, a Brazilian living in Germany, published the article “Plötzlich Person of Color” in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. There the author makes several remarks about the switch from being a “standard person” to a “person of colour”.

The author of this posting has thought a lot about this article before he decided to write an answer to Ms. de Souza’s writing. The main idea of her article seems to be to have received a shock when suddenly someone realises that he or she is not part of the dominant population anymore and finds it difficult to deal with that situation. She hides that shock experience behind the tags “racism” and “social participation”. In several paragraphs she goes on about Brazil and its social situation dealing with racial disparity among its citizens and other people living in that country, just to jump back to Germany and to accuse the autochtonous population there being racist, just because they look at her.

First of all, the term racism needs to be defined, because it is easy to hit somebody with the racism club, when in fact it is something else. Racism has several wider and narrower definitions, but one element is something that they all have in common: it is the consideration of a superiority and inferiority of an ethnic race in comparison with another one, followed by discriminative actions or thoughts. That distinguishes racism from xenophobia, where the considerable element is the presence or absence of a certain citizenship or cultural element, like language, cultural practises etc.

Brazil is a very racist country, Ms de Souza says. That is true. Every day you can hear and see acts of lived racism (in the previous definition) in the media. There is always somebody, who consideres him- or herself superior to somebody else and openly shows this in words and deeds. The list would be too long to be linked here, way too long. Racism in Brazil is open and hidden, it is present and could be lingering just around the next corner. That is a fact. It is also a fact that stereotyping is part of Brazil’s every day life. The author of this article is a white male from Europe, which, in the eyes of most Brazilians, would make him automatically a person of wealth. So when someone gets begged for money, it is him who the people turn to, not to his wife – who would be a black Afro-Brazilian and therefore would be classified as someone who does not have money and therefore it would make no sense to insist on begging her. It was very obvious when one night the author, his wife and another black friend of them were sitting in a cafe for a small birthday celebration of this friend. One lady went from table to table asking the guests for some small contributions of money and when she approached that table, she ignored the two others sitting at it and was talking for almost 10 minutes just to the author of this article. That the other two would both have high academic degrees, which might earn them quite a good salary in the job market, didn’t even come to her mind. They were both black, therefore it would be a waste of time even looking at them, black people = poor. It was the white man, she concentrated on, white man = money. So the question is: is that always the case? Is that stereotyping some kind of racism too, according to the definition above? The answer rests with the individual reader of this posting.

When the author read Ms de Souza’s article, he had very much the impression that it is much more about realising that when being foreign several every day (culturally determined) practises, privileges and rituals are either lacking or simply impossible to be conducted. The author had a Brazilian acquaintance, who had lived in Austria for over ten years before returning to Brazil. He once said: “In Austria, I did everything on my own. Here in Brazil, I need to have someone for every manoeuvre I make, or I will be considered being more than just a weirdo. I don’t like that”. Being foreign in a place does also mean that someone does not know the unwritten laws and codes of that place and the foreigner will definitely make an appearence just be breaking them all the time. Even when living in the place for a long time, there are always new ones of them to be discovered in order to avoid them. It’s not that they are written in a book and be revealed that way. Of course the autochthonous population will see them, as they have lived with those invisible regulations all their lives. They will take a look, sometimes they might even notice the offender about them. It is not necessarily racism that they are executing that way. Their behaviour could be viewed in many different ways, one of them could be (in the best of all intentions and all definitions) a try to help the integration of the foreigner in the receptive society. Of course it could also be considered as a disciplinary act. It always depends on the situation.

The author has had several of these experiences as well, as he is a foreigner in Brazil. He is often seen as some kind of curiosity by the population, who very often does not understand how someone from “the first world, from a place where everything works” could move to a third world country. To be sincere, the author resents that attitude that he is some kind of curiosity, some kind of tourist attraction. Just for being from abroad does not make him a better (or worse) person than anyone else. It is alright when somebody is curious about the place of origin of somebody else, about the cultural practises there, the different landscapes etc. and for sure everybody likes to talk about those topics and present a bit of that heimat the migrant always carries around with him or her. But to consider someone superior or inferior because of the origin or other attributes he or she is innocent of, that is not acceptable.

Ms. de Souza, if you ever read this article, maybe you can think about trying to reconsider using the word “racism”, as it is misused many times. Maybe you could rethink the your concept of being foreign and see this as a chance to make a difference. The Czech philosopher Vilem Flusser wrote in his book “Von der Freiheit des Migranten” (About the Freedom of the Migrant): “In my first heimat I was thrown in because of my birth, without being asked if this appeals to me. The laces that have connected me to my fellow citizens, have been put on me. In that now acquired freedom it is I, who spins those laces with my fellow citizens – in collaboration with them. The responsibility, which I took for my fellow citizens, has not been imposed on me, I took it voluntarily”. When feeling free and open for something, then the looks of the others, which rest upon oneself, can’t do any harm anymore.

The God Mammon

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Gospel of St. Matthew, 6:19 – 21, 24

 

There once was a kingdom called Translusitania. It was full of beautiful beaches, wild, dark and mysterious forests, fierce creatures from the woods, deep valleys and hilly plains and had a very diverse population, with shiny happy people in the Northeast and serious, overdilligent people in the South. The West of Translusitania was so far away that nobody had ever reached the border of it, the East was limited by a big big water. Translusitanian people only heard from the places that lie beyond the East and the West from tales of travellers, who soon died after they had told their stories of peoples with a different language to a crowd, which shook their heads in disbelief. There can’t be another place, so different from Translusitania.

The rulers, respectively the kings and barons, of Translusitania lived well from the exploitation of those who really laboured. The poor masses would never have a chance to see any of those strange lands, the travellers told about. But there were those, who made their fortunes from the exploitation and they wanted to see these lands with their own eyes. They wanted to know about this strange white flakes that fall from the sky and were described as “snow” by the travellers. They wanted to drink an alcoholic drink made from hops, water and malt, which they were told it would be warm there and would therefore flow from taps in the taverns, but in Translusitania it was only served frozen and in bottles. They wanted to explore these lands to see if they could also exploit the people there. They were on a divine mission, in the name of the Lord.

To serve the needs of this noble mission, a commercial sector developed in Translusitania, the sector of languages. It employed not only teachers, no it employed real masters of the language. The masters received good wages, were respected people and were treated like real people. But with the growing amount of institutions, the profit of the traditional language institutions started to melt like ice in the sun and the working conditions of the language masters deteriorated. They were treated like kettle and were always told that it would be easy to substitute them.

One dark day, a mysterious plague swept across the land, clenching its iron first and smashed it down onto the people of Translusitania. The ruling king, King Messias, was affected by sightlessness and desultoriness at the same time. He was so blind that he could not even see the gold coins that were put into the queen’s and prince’s treasure chests by one of his coachmen. But he could still see far enough to wave to the lemmings that were parading in front of his palace every Sunday. But even he was affected by the plague, but some miraculous pill kept him alive, while it le some others die. The population of Translusitania kept dying like flies, but the king remained alive – and so did most of the barons. They soon had hardly anyone to exploit anymore, as the bailiffs of the lands kept issuing decrees, which would close down the commercial establishments in order to prevent the plague from spreading and to keep the population alive to be exploited even more after the pandemia had passed.

The language establishments were deeply rooted in society as institutions of humanities and culture, institutions of bringing foreign thoughts and ideas to the people. These institutions would be called schools in countries far distant from Translusitania and even if they were only dealing with a single subject – a language – they would consider themselves as institutions of education. But in Translusitania everything was different from the rest of the world. When the kings of Lusitania fell and were to be reelected, Translusitania never had a reform. The barons and kings were never disappropriated from their properties, the lands were never distributed among the common people of the population, the population continued suffering from being exploited by those who governed them. So the language establishments did not consider themselves as important contributors to the education of a plagued country, they considered themselves as part of the commercial sector, whose only goal was to withdraw the hard earned florins from the pockets of the others in a legal way.

But it was not only the governing ones who ruled the country. The mighty god Mammon, worshipped by so many entrepreneurs, had replaced the old gods and saints and together with his followers he ruled the country. Mammon blessed the exploiters and punished the exploited ones, just for the fact that they did not exploit anyone else. He was so powerful, that mighty god could even enter the impeccable king’s quarters without any trouble. The princes fell for him, the queen adored his gleaming vigour and fruits of his loin. With the divine power, the entrepreneurs saw a possibility to exploit the labourers even further – and the barons and representatives of the people helped even more to complete that work.

When the plague hit the country, language establishments were closed down temporarily as well by some decree. The willing students, who wanted to travel to those far distant lands with the knowledge of the local language, had to stay in remote places for receiving the service delivered to them by the opressed and exploited masses of language masters. Most understood the necessity of remote activities, but there were always some, who considered them superior to the recommendations of the global and local alchemists. Usually they were part of the lemmings the king waved to from the balcony of his palace every Sunday. Their florins were speaking louder than the value of the health of language masters, who were the real gold diggers for the sweaters. In the search for gold, all means were valid, as long as the florins clung in the slave driver’s pockets, leaving the ones who really worked with empty ones though. Their lamentations remained unheard, but in Translusitania that was nothing uncommon. It wasn’t the last empire on earth to abolish official slavery for nothing.

So when the plague reached its peak and devastated vast areas, liberating them from any sign of human beings, the bailiff of the capital decided that everything could open again, because the florins had to roll. Why would the life of a single person matter, when there were over 210 million left? God Mammon kept laughing and licking his fingers, the more of this, the better for him. His already big empire started to expand, the other gods named Charity, Mercy, Solidarity and Empathy were driven away as the worshippers of Mammon waged war against them. They besieged their castles, took their walls down, burnt down their humble homes and danced around their bonfires with laughter and jeers.

In this climate the entrepreneurs of the language institutions remembered that they were not stronghold of education, but a part of the sector of commerce. So they decided if one of the barons wanted to acquire more knowledge of another language in person, in order to set sails to a foreign land to colonise and exploit it, why not taking advantage of that and order the language masters to obey the call of Mammon and appear in the language house to service the baron? Whether the plague came in, it did not matter as long as the florin kept rolling and coming in too. If the language master fell sick, it did not matter much, should the language master die, there were uncountable others who wanted to be exploited. As long as the florin kept rolling, all means were valid. God Mammon laughed and spread his wings to outset for other regions he could conquer. Translusitania he already had under his power.