The 2014 World Cup approaches and fun and games increasingly dominate the Brazilian headlines. Especially deserved is the special audacity award for Catarina Migliorini, a twenty one year old who is auctioning her virginity. This is actually auction number two, one congress but two auctions. In October, Migliorini took part in a documentary called ‘Virgins Wanted’. 14 men made bids and a Japanese man known as Natsu, whose winning bid was £483,000, claimed the privilege of consummation. Natsu is rumoured to be 52 years old but Migliorini insists he is only twenty-one. Young or not nothing happened between the couple. Migliorini, who has posed naked alongside a pink teddy bear for Playboy, admitted to being surprised by the lack of action. Perhaps the teddy bear should have been a panda. Disappointed but not daunted Catarina is repeating the auction. She is not interested in cheapskates. Migliorini expects winning bid number two to be at least $680,000. There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that Wayne ‘Odd Commercial Transactions’ Rooney will be organising bids in the England football camp or that Migliorini will participate in the World Cup Opening Ceremony. One of the 12 stadia being prepared for the World Cup, the Arena Patanal, caught fire in late October. Officials were quick to calm the anxious and state that there was no damage to the infrastructure. More heat from virgins on the make is not required at the moment.
North in the Amazon, life is calmer and there is evidence of sense and restraint. Indigenous Games number 12 has ended. Untainted by the moral visions of FIFA or the Olympic Committee the Games were held in Cuiaba, the capital of Mato Grosso state, and had 1500 participants from 48 Brazilian tribes. This year indigenous peoples from 18 countries, including Norway and the United States, were also invited to attend. Rejecting the consultancy services of the Premier League and Alex Ferguson the organisers ensure that all participants are awarded medals, which consist of seeds and pieces of wood. The events, rather than contests, include paddleboat racing, spear throwing and tug of war.
It might sound idyllic but we should not expect it to provide inspirational hope. Unfortunately, the Amazon continues to bear a significant portion of the cost of excess and extravaganza in the modern world. Deforestation in the Amazon has increased by a third in the last year. President Dilma Rouseff has supposedly weakened the legal protections of the forest. Environment Minister, Isabella Teixeira, claims the invasion by loggers and farmers is a coincidence and has said the overall trend of tree retention is positive. Greenpeace is as dubious as the rest of us.
Paulo Adario, who leads the Amazon campaign for Greenpeace, blames the Government, ‘their own action is what’s pushing it.’
Prior to the change in legislation powerful agricultural interests lobbied against the laws that protected the forest and restricted expansion into the Amazon region. The previous approach by the Government reduced deforestation but there is nothing new in successful legislation perishing prematurely.
Dr Doug Boucher, who is in the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the amendments to the Forest Code were a reason for the increase in deforestation. Right now he is especially concerned and Boucher thinks that what has happened in the last 12 months is a scandal. Again, there is no truth in the rumour that the Daily Mail in the UK will be supporting the scientists in their concerns. Nor are they likely to respond positively to the suggestion that reduced deforestation should be supported through international funding.
In 2009 plain speaking Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said this, ‘I don’t want any gringo asking us to let an Amazon resident die of hunger under a tree.’
Of course, the Amazon residents are quite partial to their trees and are dubious that without them, and excluded from forest life, they will enjoy an improved diet.
Always ready to fell opponents, da Silva added, ‘We never destroyed our forest like they mowed down theirs years ago.’
The word ‘they’ refers to Americans and Europeans. The ex-President has travelled the world extensively, often expenses paid, and he has noticed the missing trees in the Lake District. 2250 square metres of rainforest have been destroyed in the last year. Greenpeace claim that you cannot argue with numbers but the smoke and burning continues and mirrors are never too far away.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has other preoccupations. Those who were found guilty in the trials based on
the Mensalão corruption scandal are now being sent to prison. The Supreme Court has confirmed 12 of the 25 convictions. The others are having their appeals processed. The sight of the convicted being taken to prison has surprised the public who had expected smooth lawyers to win successful appeals. The first three Mensalãos to arrive in prison will share a single cell each night but will be allowed to leave prison in the day. Not that different to a budget weekend in central London, one imagines. All have entered prison declaring their innocence. Jose Genoino, previously chairman of the Workers Party, claimed, in a letter that was published on his website, that he was a political prisoner. Jose Dirceu who was a former chief of staff for Lula also insists that he was innocent. ‘I shall keep fighting to have this spurious sentence annulled,’ he said.
The Brazilian banker, Henrique Pizzolato, is equally convinced of his own innocence but, unlike 11 of the 12 summoned to prison who have surrendered to the authorities, Henrique has not been willing to serve time. Possibly scarred by an unpleasant experience in a cheap London hotel Henrique has pizzolatoed off to Italy with his Italian passport. He is supposedly seeking a fair trial there although that could be difficult because so far Pizzolato and his private jet have disappeared without trace.
For those disillusioned with grasping humanity there are alternatives, more popular than most is the zombie phenomenon. Not only will it inspire the next anthology from Red Rattle Books (excuse the plug) it has led to the Brazilians adopting the worldwide ritual called the Zombie Walk. This first occurred in Brazil in 2007. In Rio de Janeiro this year nearly a thousand people appeared disguised with imitation blood, white make up and sometimes detached intestines. You Tube videos confirm that the make up is often of a high standard and certainly an improvement on the George A. Romero movies. Beginning on Copacabana beach the fake zombies walked 2.48 miles. If the stumbles and staggering were zombie authentic, it probably took a while. The event also included a fake fight between the zombies and humans. For those who think it must be really dull to be a human in such an event there can be compensations. This year Batman was present to battle the living dead. The walk is not restricted to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Hundreds of zombies walked in Sao Paulo and crowded the city centre. Despite its size, Brazil is not setting any records for the Zombie Walks. The 1000 zombies in Rio have been exceeded in number around the world. ZombCon in Seattle attracts zombie filmmakers and holds the record for most zombies walking although the quality of make up does suffer when the crowd becomes enormous. Even Nottingham in the UK in 2008 produced a record breaking Zombie Walk with 1299 participants, although it was soon exceeded by a Zombie Walk in Chicago. British Zombie walks are easily distinguished from the alternatives elsewhere in the world because, in the UK, the female zombies carry that normally not recognised zombie icon, a recently emptied bottle of vodka. More weak perhaps on the make-up than other nationalities the British stagger more convincingly than anyone. But those who think the British and Brazilians sidestep one another too easily should note that Crow Blue by Brazilian writer Adriana Lisboa has just been published in the UK. The Guardian describes the book as a vibrant and hopeful story about family life that also provides an account of the political history of Brazil. The fun and games continue but a serious read should make a pleasant change for all of us.
If you want to read more about what happened to the author in Brazil click here.