Over the last few weeks, my country of Brazil has been going through imperative historical moments. First, the protests and manifestations, then the remarkable Pope Francis’s visit, which ended with a glorious Mass gathering more than 3 million people at the sands of Copacabana beach on Sunday July 28th, 2013.
Between one ongoing event and another, Brazil has been on the news almost every day. It all started with a simple protest in São Paulo against an increase of 20 cents of Real (our currancy) on public transportation. Through social media, these protests grew across the nation to critizise the government on a wide range of issues such as political corruption, the high cost of living, and the billions of dollars being spent to build stadiums for the upcoming World Cup and Olympic events, while the rest of country receives no injection of improvement.
Despite the violence that emerged from these protests, I am proud to see that “ O Gigante Acordou” or, the giant woke up, with Brazilians screaming and fighting for a better life.
There is almost always a larger context like that when protests of this magnitude dominates the country as spectacularly as it’s happening in Brazil. In this case, the inevitable has occurred: unfortunately, the down global economy arrived in Brazil, after a long steady period at the highs, with a sharp reversal from the booming of previous years.
I just came back from Brazil this summer, and I have to admit that both these events have touched me deeply, and posed a moment of reflection, making me question, what is now on the table.
Just how long can we live in a country where the government doesn’t invest in infra structure? Just how long can we pretend that we are happy with our music, soccer and samba, while many of our people remain living in poverty? Just how long can we pay an exorbitant amount of taxes, and see nothing in return?
As a cookbook author, there is nothing else that I want to do other than promote all the wonderful things about my country: first and foremost the food, and of course music, beaches, soccer, and the beautiful culture in general.
As a Brazilian however, the level of dissatisfaction and injustice is boiling in my blood, just as in every protestor. The high cost of living is just unbearable and if I begin to attempt to site number examples, like the cost of goods, it is revolting.
Now, as a Brazilian living in the US, I am torn, wondering if any word that I write makes any sense at all. I look at my life in Brazil, and my life in the US, and realize the new reality, the new world, this new global economy, and how different my generation is having to face life, with much less than our parents, when it should be the opposite!
But life is bigger than my generation, and Brazil is bigger than this moment. After this trip, I got to the conclusion that I too belong to the hopeful group of citizens who dream with a better country. I can attest that wether I live in Brazil or in the US, what’s most remarkable of all this, is the sheer spirit of Brazilians, which I’ve observed in the highs and lows across the nation, through a sequence of my own experience.
“The Pope may be from Argentina, but God is Brazilian”, Pope Francis joked about this “saying” with warmth in his heart. And I may be putting a lot of stock on this Pope, but so is the rest of Brazil.