Sunday, 29 March 2009

Polemic: Lula's White Blue-Eyed Bankers

Last Thursday 26 March during a visit of British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva blamed the rich countries for the crisis.

"The crisis was caused by irrational behaviour of white people with blue eyes, who in the past seemed to know everything, and now show no knowledge at all", said Lula in reference to foreign speculators in the first world countries.
When asked by a journalist whether his statement would not have an ideological bias, Lula said: "As I do not know any black or indigenous banker [...] I can only say that it is impossible that the part of mankind, which is the worst victim, shall pay for this crisis. This is not possible," he added.
”We can not allow the poor to be the first to pay the bill run up by the rich," he emphasized.

During his statement to the press, at the Alvorada Palace (the Brazilian White House), with the visiting British Prime-Minister at his side, the president compared the financial crisis to a fever and also defended the actions of the government as inducer and articulator of policy.

“It is usually said that the government only is a hindrance, and when the crisis happened, those who seemed to be the “gods of the economy”, seek that same “non-knowledgeable” government, to save them.“

And continued to defend regulations for the international financial system, by saying: "It is not possible to have a society where you enter a shopping mall or an airport without being filmed, always being watched, and the financial system is not monitored and has no regulations."

Lula said that the global economic crisis will worsen if the G-20 meeting in London in April does not submit concrete initiatives to recover the global economy.

"If the G-20 is just a meeting to mark another meeting, we will be discredited and the crisis may worsen".

Lula questions the effectiveness of the economic package presented by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, which provides for USD 1 trillion for the purchase of assets considered "toxic”.
"If Obama made the decision in the best interest to the United States. Great. I hope it works," he said "but I can not use the little money we have left, to buy titles that I call “rotten”," he added.

He stated also that he hopes that Obama, in the G-20 meeting in London, presents a plan as the views of the American president are supreme and must be respected.

AmericaBlog's “Chris in Paris” writes in his post "Lula and Berlusconi need therapy":
"The last time I checked, disgraced but wealthy Merrill Lynch CEO Stanley O'Neal is African-American....." and contests Lula's words. Clearly he doesn't understand the language and the way-of-thinking in developing countries and doesn't know how the people living in these countries see AND experience daily the Americans living in their countries.
Lula's words had nothing to do with racism or discrimination, but everything with the cold truth as the big speculators (including bankers) of the USA created the mess the US and the world are in, in the first place and the European bankers ran into this pit out of greed too. Have you heard of any 'coloured' bank in Latin America which needed bail-out money? Brazilian banks proved to be sound. So, Lula is right, it were the "white, blue-eyed bankers" and it is of no importance that by any coincidence there was somewhere, sometime a 'black banker'.
Lula's words, blunt as they came from his infamous big mouth, are however correct. The poor, developing and emerging countries are suffering most, thanks to the insatiable greed of the white, blue-eyed bankers of the rich countries.
A sore blogpost. Better read the text in the original language first, before starting to shoot. Incredible that in general you attack the main stream media and now use their words as basis for your blog. A blogpost not worthy the slogan: "A Great Nation Deserves The Truth". It is not Lula who needs therapy, the white, blue-eyed bankers (speculators as Lula said) in the US and Europe need it most and urgently as well, as they don’t seem to be inclined to change their attitude. So don’t blame Lula without knowing what you are talking about.


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Battle against Slave Labour in Brazil

One of the items on the FSM (World Social Forum) was the slavery. But always when I talk or write about slave labour, I get commented that I have to show pictures to prove my case. My words are apparently not credible enough or the horrific and the disgrace of contemporary slave labour rise above the human mind and should be underlined with hardcore photos. Slavery in the sex industry is widely recognized as existing, but slavery in the "normal" industry, especially in the sugar cane, is often seen as excessive. And the "evidence" is often no more than words, because pictures are almost never available.

To my joy Leonardo Sakamoto published on his blog a video, which I like to copy here. Expect no images of slave-drivers with swinging whips, the modern slave-driver is more subtle: He simply is a crass sweater. I translate here his short text:

Click on the picture above, the video opens in a new window.

This video "Frente de Trabalho", made on behalf of the Sindicato Nacional dos Auditores Fiscais do Trabalho (Sinait = Union of Labour Inspectors) addresses the battle against modern slave labour in Brazil. Director: Caio Cavechini.

Caio, one of the best directors among the young makers of documentaries, also directed "Correntes" (Chains), in cooperation with “Repórter Brasil”, among other national and international award-winning documentaries.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

“What State is this? What Justice is this?”

When I wrote about the World Social Forum, held in Belém, I quoted the words the governor of Pará, Ana Júlia Carepa, used in her closing-speech. I repeat:
“…….. here in Pará we demonstrate that it is possible to construct a new development model for Pará and the Amazon. We feel one with these hundred thousand people, who believe that another world is possible and in the name of this ideal, we have built our government. In the name of this ideal, we work to transform Pará into a constitutional State.”
And I commented: If you know Ana Júlia and her political results, you get weak knees listening to these words.

Well, let’s have a look how weak our knees can get. First a few words as introduction.


Marajó. A pearl dwelling in the delta of the Amazon River. With a land area of 47.573 km² (larger than the Netherlands) it is the largest island in the world surrounded by freshwater. Although its northeast coastline faces the Atlantic Ocean, the outflow from the Amazon is so forceful that the water around the island is brackish. Its beautiful beaches, creeks, vigorous nature, the primitive handicraft, the breeding of buffalos and culinary specialities created the eco-tourism attracting many a tourist to this beautiful island.
It is this island we will talk about in this post and (unfortunately) not about its beauty.

The Bishop of the Prelature of Marajó criticizes the government of the Federal State of Pará for omitting cases of paedophilia

“The omission of the State is the worst thing facing the people of Marajó in all sectors, which contributes to the persistence of sexual exploitation of young children, teenagers and to the misery in the 16 municipalities of the archipelago”, according to the testimony of the bishop of the Prelature of Marajó, dom Luiz Azcona for the Parliamentary Commission on Paedophilia, installed by the Legislative Assembly of Pará, to investigate cases of abuse and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in Marajó.

The bishop, the first person to denounce publicly that there is an integrated paedophilia network by politicians, businessmen and other people in the towns of the archipelago, related that since 2005, when the first complaints were filed, till this very moment, nothing has been done to change this situation. He repeatedly denounced trafficking routes for girls from Melgaço, Portel and Breves to Spain, through Belém/Airport Guarulhos São Paulo/Madrid.

Dom Azcona recalled that in June 2006 there was a complaint against sailors who navigate the river Tajapuru between Melgaço and Breves, where 11 and 12 years old girls are sexually exploited in exchange for some kilos of meat or litres of diesel oil. “Until now, the authorities have done nothing. Members of the Pastoral of the Child who made the complaint and subsidized the reportage are suffering death threats”, he complained.

During his testimony the bishop presented a report, containing photos, video recordings, documents, names of parliamentarians, businessmen and other authorities involved, and statistics of social entities, a list of public and private establishments, involved in sexual exploitation of children and minors in the State of Pará.

The bishop of Marajó believes that the problem is very serious not only because of the scope and number of occurrences but also by the ‘modus operandi’, in plain daylight, near police stations, in classrooms, in the streets and public places, such as ports and bars with large movement.

“We are no man’s land, there is not one single navy vessel controlling the entry and exit. There is bio piracy, arms trafficking, distribution of drugs, and trafficking women to the exterior. The presence of the State is extinct” said dom Luiz Azcona.

In Portel you can find the sexual exploitation of girls between 12 and 17 years at the riverside and, according to the report of the church, in the bars Altas Horas, Mormaço and Tropical. In Breves, it is the central square of the town. In Anajás, gangs of lesbians are luring girls into sexual exploitation in neighbouring municipalities or tempting them to go to Suriname and French Guiana. In Bagre, at the riverside, boys and girls meet fishermen and owners of vessels, offering them “programs” that cost BRL 3,00 (one euro)

Another major complaint made by dom Luiz Azcona is that young people are enrolling in public schools with the aim to entice minors for sexual exploitation, scheduling meetings with businessmen and politicians in the region. “There are principals, teachers and public servants involved and all that happens in plain view of the police,” said dom Azcona.

Another case is the former councilman of Portel, Roberto Terra, son of the then mayor of the municipality, who was convicted for raping a 13 years old girl, but never went to prison. “The victims had to flee to not die, and the criminals are walking around freely. The municipalities continue to be miserable and with total absence of public policies.”

“What State is this? What Justice is this?” he exclaimed.
Parliamentarian Bira Barbosa, president of the CPI, said that after the official testimony of the bishop the commission had sufficient and concrete material to execute the investigations.
But as always a date for the following hearing was not set. And as always nothing will happen.

In the last two days more than twenty new cases of sexual abuse against children and adolescents, both in the interior of the capital, were brought to the attention of the parliamentarians and senators who participated in Belém in a joint session of the CPI’s about Paedophilia of the Senate and the Legislative Assembly.

Two cases are in this context of immense importance to the public. The accusations against the parliamentarian Luiz Afonso Sefer and João Carlos de Vasconcelos Carepa, a.k.a. “Caíca, brother of the Governor of the federal state of Pará, Ana Júlia Carepa. Yes, the same, who I quoted in my introduction to this article,
A dossier sent in February by judge Paulo Gomes Jussara Júnior addressed to police-inspector Socorro Maciel, who chaired the investigation in which João Carlos de Vasconcelos Carepa was accused, disappeared mysteriously, according to the judge himself.
The judge, hearing that the dossier did not come in the hands of the police, went to the post room, where he got the confirmation that the document had arrived on February 9, but then got lost.

So tell me, what will be next? Don’t dream of a conviction and prison. Forget it, be realistic! Nothing happens as usual.
“What State is this? What Justice is this?” You give the answer.

Source: CNBB, O Liberal and Agência Pará de Noticias

Thursday, 12 March 2009

War between the Vatican and Brazil

First in brief the (shocking) facts:
A 9-year-old girl was raped by her stepfather. The child is in the 15th week of pregnancy with twins, when an abortion is performed.
Although banned, the Brazilian law allows an abortion in two situations, namely in cases of rape and when the life of the mother is in danger.

The Roman Catholic Church had the (ridiculous) hope that the child would carry the twin pregnancy to the end. Last Tuesday, the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Dom Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, tried to convince the girl’s parents to refrain from abortion. The mother of the girl did not budge and did not even wish to talk with the Archbishop.

Subsequently, the Archbishop excommunicated the mother, doctors and others involved in the abortion.

“As a Christian and Catholic, I regret the fact that a bishop of the Catholic Church takes, I should say, this conservative position. Or in other words, it was not possible for the girl raped by her stepfather, to give birth to a child, as the girl herself was in mortal danger. I think that in this aspect medicine acted more appropriately than the church. The doctors did what needed to be done: save the life of a nine years old girl,” said medical-director Sergio Cabral.

According to the doctors, the girl, who is 1.33 m high and weighs 36 kg, had no physical structure for a pregnancy, let alone for a twin.

I do not need to make critical remarks myself. Here is a translation of the blog of Ricardo Kotscho, Paulista, 60 and reporter of iG and the magazine “Brasileiros”.

Can I excommunicate a bishop of my church?
This morning I opened the newspaper after I had written my previous article and could not believe what I read about this incredible incident of a 9 years old child, raped by her stepfather and pregnant with twins.

To save the life of the girl, the doctors of the Maternidade CISAM, University of Pernambuco, in Recife, did what they had to do. On Wednesday, she was subjected to an abortion to terminate the pregnancy.

The medical director of the Maternidade, Sergio Cabral, who was responsible for the operation, explained everything in detail:

“The biggest risk would have been the continuation of pregnancy. The body of a nine years old child has not yet been fully formed. If everything goes well, she will leave the hospital this week.”

Everything well, although not for the lawyer of the diocese of Olinda and Recife, Marcio Miranda, who announced that he will file murder charges against the victim’s mother, who allowed the abortion.

Can you imagine such an absurdity? As if he speaks in the name of God, the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Dom Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, personally justifies in public the activities of the lawyer:

“We, representatives of the Catholic Church have the obligation to proclaim God’s law. In such cases the aim does not justify the means and is the secular law contrary to God’s law against murder.”

We? Who? This paleface? As a practicing Catholic, baptized, confirmed and educated at a priest school, ex-member of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, I can not accept that this bishop speaks on behalf of me and my church.

Outrageous. But what is at stake are not the laws, neither the secular nor the religious, but the life of a helpless girl and that all in a country, where the law allows victims of rape abortion into the 20th week of pregnancy, without judicial authorization.

As bishop Sobrinho has excommunicated already the whole family and half the world in this tragic drama, I wonder: Do I have the right to ban him from my church?

The more he tries to defend his position, the more rebellious the bishop makes me with what I read in the newspaper, to the point that I doubt whether the words are really from him:

“The girl was totally illegally pregnant, but we must save lives. The Church has always condemned abortion and will continue to condemn.”

Illegally pregnant? What is that? Is there legitimate rape?

If the bishop really is interested in saving lives, he would have given full support to the physicians of the Maternidade CISAM and the mother of the girl and not threatened them with a trial in a secular court.

Or he should go talking to Paula Viana, coordinator of Curumim, a non-governmental organization for the defence of women, who could explain whose lives must be saved:

“With each advancing day, the risk would be greater, the girl felt sick and showed already other complications. Immediate medical intervention was necessary.”

And to think that this Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife has been occupied by a man as my friend Dom Helder Câmara, the bishop who in the darkest days of the military dictatorship, risked his own life to save the lives of others.

I am sure that this church, which dom Sobrinho claims to represent not is my church, not the church of Dom Helder. Someone is in the wrong church.

end blogpost

The Minister of Health José Gomes Temporão, regularly locking horns with the Catholic leaders because of his programs against sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, classified the decision of the Catholic Church to excommunicate those involved in the abortion as “radical” and “inappropriate”.

“I was shocked by two facts: what happened to the girl and the position of this clergyman who wrongly claims to advocate for life and puts a very important other life at risk.”

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also entered the war with the Vatican, when he said in an interview that “medicine has been more correct than the Church.”

I don’t need to add more words. Excommunication! Who cares? The Brazilian might be a Catholic, but he is no fool.