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Jo Bîdn’z biłnz w’nt stop Bolsonaro dstroyñ ɖ Aṃzn renforist
(Transcription of a Guardian article of 22 April 2021)
Fundz ofrd t pswed Brazil’z ruiṇs guvnmnt t stop dīfoṛsteśn r mnt wel, bt badli msjujd
Marina Silva n Rubens Ricupero, formr Bṛziłn invîrnmntministrz, 22 Epril 2021
Az a canddet, Jo Bîdn bilt p ɖ wrld’z hops ẃn h cmitd ɖ YS t rījônñ ɖ Paris agrīmnt, cnfruntñ ɖ clîṃt dnaylizm v hiz oponnt n sigṇlñ ɖt h wz redi t trīt ɖ clîṃtcrîsis az a stṛtījic prîoṛti. So far, ɖt hop hz bcm srtnti – n rlif fr ɖoz v s hu r strîvñ t fînd strucćṛl n globl s’luśnz t ɖ crîsis.
Fr ɖ Bṛziłn guvnmnt, prizîdd ovr bî ɖ clîṃtćenj sceptic Jair Bolsonaro, ɖ promis t rījôn ɖ Paris acordz sǎndd lîc a ʈret, īvn mor so bcz it wz foloud bî a promis md jrñ wn v ɖ dbets t moḅlîz $20bn (£14bn) in inṭnaśnl fundz fr tropicl renforists – includñ fr Bṛzil – t stop ɖ dstrux́n v ɖ Aṃzn. Bolsonaro riactd bî cōlñ ɖ planz “cawd ʈrets”.
Last yir, Bîdn me nt hv bn fŭli awer v ɖ xtnt t ẃć ɖ cuṛnt Bṛziłn guvnmnt hz trnsformd Bṛzil intu an invîrnmntl p’raia, ɖ wrld’z gretist dstroyr v tropicl forists n ɖ fōrmost ʈret t ɖ planit’s olrdi pricerịs clîṃt eqlibrịm. Bî nǎ, az Bîdn’z clîṃt sumit gts undr we, h wl hv bn fŭli informd n rpitidli wornd v ɖ risc v mcñ dīlz ɖt cd streñʈn Bolsonaro’z guvnmnt n alǎ it t frɖr advans its dstructiv poḷsiz.
Stl, ɖ Bîdn admiṇstreśn, alñ wɖ ministrz fṛm Britn n Yṛp, hz in rīsnt wīcs bn ngośietñ a dīl wɖ ɖ Bṛziłn guvnmnt. Fr ol ɖ tōc v cawdli ʈrets, Bolsonaro’z invîrnmntministr, Ricardo Salles, z ascñ fr a yirli instōlmnt v $1bn – in rtrn fr ẃć, h sz, Bṛzil’z foristcliṛns wd b rdyst bî btwn 30% n 40%. Ɖr r cnsrnz ɖt sm v ɖz fundz cd b ćanld t ɖ vri landgrabrz hu r bhnd ɖ dstrux́n v ɖ Aṃzn.
Ǎr wornñ z best on ɖ folowñ fact: dīfoṛsteśn in ɖ Bṛziłn Aṃzn z nt ɖ rzult v a lac v muni, bt a consiqns v ɖ guvnmnt’s dlibṛt fełr v cer.
Rsivñ inṭnaśnl fundz t implimnt pṛtctiv meźrz n ɖ ssteṇbl ys v ɖ forist z a norml n nesṣri trnzax́n. Ɖ Aṃzn Fund z ɖ most seḷbretd xampl: it oṗretd wɖ Jrmn n Norwījn rzorsz untl rīsntli ẃn, t ɖ horr v ɖ wrld, it wz diactvetd bî ɖ Bṛziłn invîrnmntmiṇstri. Ɖ guvnmnt md ɖ dsiźn t discntiny ɖ fund, ẃć stl hd abt $500m in fyćr dneśnz, bcz it wontd t rstrict hǎ ɖ muni wz yzd.
Rdysñ grīnhǎs-gas imiśnz hz nvr bn a prîoṛti fr ɖ Bṛziłn guvnmnt. Tec its ǒn clîṃtfund, fṛm ẃć abt $100,000 wz ćanld intu saṇteśnmeźrz rɖr ɖn ɖ mitgeśn v naśnl carbn imiśnz. V cors, saṇteśn z isnśl t hlʈ n welbiyñ in ǎr sitiz, bt it z far fṛm a sgnificnt sors v imiśnz. Ɖ guvnmnt olso slaśt ɖ bujit v ɖ Insttyt v ɖ Invîrnmnt n Rnywbl Naćṛl Rzorsz (Ibama), ɖ dpartmnt wɖn ɖ invîrnmntmiṇstri rsponsbl fr moniṭrñ dīfoṛsteśn. In ɖ frst haf v 2019, £2.2m wz aḷcetd fr inspx́nz; last yir, ɖ figr wz £700,000.
Ẃt ɖ guvnmnt z misñ z nt caś, bt a cmitmnt t ɖ truʈ. It dnaid ɖ xistns v fîrz in ɖ Aṃzn az ɖ flemz wr brnñ. Bṛziłn nyz z sać̣retd wɖ scandlz ɖt śo psistnt guvnmnt ax́n t wìcn invîrnmntl bodiz, rol bac lejsleśn, n ignor inṭnaśnl agrīmnts. Tū yirz ago, it dsmist ɖ hed v ɖ INPE – ɖ Naśnl Insttyt v Spes Rsrć – fr ɖ simpl fact ɖt ɖ insttyśn hd cmpîld deta on ɖ rîz v dīfoṛsteśn. Last wīc, it dsmist ɖ hed v ɖ ofis v ɖ fedṛl p’līs, hu hd léd ɖ larjist invstgeśn intu ɖ ilīgl xtrax́n v wŭd in ɖ hisṭri v ɖ Aṃzn. It hz rplest xpirịnst sivl srvnts wɖ indivijlz wɖt eni foṛstri xṗtīz in sevṛl dpartmnts, n it intndz t ifctivli śut dǎn ICMBio, Bṛzil’z fōrmost insttyśn dedcetd t ɖ pṛtx́n v naćṛl rzrvz.
T rīć a biłn-dolr agrīmnt wɖ Bolsonaro’z guvnmnt at ɖs crūśl momnt wl onli streñʈn its rzolv: it wl b a būn fr ɖ farmrz n landgrabrz hu hv ilīġli okpaid public forists n indijṇs land n snd ɖ prisîsli oṗzit mesij t ɖt ẃć z nīdd in ɖs crūśl yir fr ɖ clîṃt.
• Marina Silva srvd az Bṛzil’z ministr fr ɖ invîrnmnt, 2003-8. Rubens Ricupero srvd az ministr fr ɖ invîrnmnt, 1993-4
Bolsonaro’z ‘jeṇsîdl’ Covid rspons hz léd t Bṛziłn ctastṛfi, Dilma Rousseff sz
(Transcription of a Guardian article of 10 April 2021)
Formr prezidnt tlz Gardịn Bṛzil fesz phps grevist momnt in its hisṭri n z ‘adrift on an ośn v hungr n dziz’
Tom Filips in Rio de Janeiro, 10 Epril 2021
Jair Bolsonaro’z pvrs n “jeṇsîdl” rspons t wn v ɖ wrld’z dedliist Covid ǎtbrecs hz left Bṛzil “adrift on an ośn v hungr n dziz”, ɖ cuntri’s formr prezidnt Dilma Rousseff hz clemd.
Spīcñ t ɖ Gardịn ɖs wīc – az Bṛzil’z c’roṇvîṛs deʈtol hit devstetñ ny hîts, wɖ mor ɖn 12,000 deʈs in ɖ last ʈri dez – Rousseff sd hr cuntri fest phps ɖ grevist momnt in its hisṭri.
“W r livñ ʈru an xtrimli dṛmatic sićueśn in Bṛzil bcz w hv no guvnmnt, no stywdśp v ɖ crîsis,” sd Rousseff, a formr leftist g’ríla hu wz prezidnt fr jst ovr fîv yirz untl hr contṛvrśl 2016 impićmnt.
“W r siyñ 4,200 deʈs p’ de nǎ n evrʈñ sjsts ɖt f nʈñ ćenjz w’l rīć 5,000… Yt ɖr z an abṣlutli rpulsiv norṃlîześn v ɖs riaḷti undr we. Hǎ cn y norṃlîz ɖ 4,211 deʈs rejistrd [on Tyzde]?” Rousseff asct az Bṛzil’z ofiśl deʈtol rouz t ovr 345,000, secnd onli t ɖ YS.
Bṛzil’z frst fīmel prezidnt, lîc a growñ numbr v sitiznz, b’livz mć v ɖ blem le wɖ Bolsonaro, a far-rît popylist huz antisạntific rspons t ẃt h cōlz a “litl flu” hz md him an inṭnaśnl bôgiman. Opińnpoulz n potbaññ protests sjst growñ public angr at ɖ Trump-admîrñ poḷtiśn hu wz ilectd in 2018 aftr Rousseff’z mntr, formr prezidnt Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, wz jeld n privntd fṛm runñ bî a juj hu lêtr jônd Bolsonaro’z cabiṇt.
Rousseff clemd Bolsonaro’z saḅtājñ v cntenmnt n vax̣neśn eḟts, rfyzl t ordr a locdǎn n fełr t ofr adiqt ic̣nomic s’port t ɖ pur hd cntribytd t a traɉdi v “caṭstrofic pṛporśnz”.
“I’m nt seyñ Bṛzil wd’nt hv sufrd deʈs [wɖ a difṛnt rspons] – ol cuntriz dd,” ś sd. “I’m seyñ ɖt part v ɖ levl v deʈs hir z funḍmnṭli dǎn t inc̣rect p’liticl dsiźnz, ẃć r stl biyñ tecn.”
Bṛzil’z brecdǎn wz olso an inṭnaśnl ʈret. “Ɖ absns v an ifctiv fît agnst ɖ pandemic [in Bṛzil] līdz t smʈñ xtrimli sirịs: ɖ imrjns v ɖ so-cōld ny verịnts, ẃć r hîli infx́s n hv incrist ɖ numbr v deʈs in neḅrñ cuntriz,” Rousseff sd, pôntñ t hǎ Sǎʈ Americn nebrz wr clozñ ɖer bordrz fr fir v ɖ mor cntejs P1 verịnt linct t Bṛzil’z Aṃzn.
Mni critics nǎ argy Bolsonaro’z ax́nz amǎnt t “jeṇsîd” – n Rousseff sd ś wz amñ ɖm.
“I yz ɖt wrd. Ẃt caṛcṭrîzz ɖ act v jeṇsîd z ẃn y ple a dlibṛt rǒl in ɖ deʈ v a popyleśn on a masiv scel,” ɖ 73-yir-old sd fṛm hr hom in Porto Alegre, wn v mni sitiz ẃr hospitlz hv bn oṿẃlmd n doctrz forst t ple God.
“It’s nt ɖ wrd [jeṇsîd] ɖt inṭrests m – it’s ɖ consept. N ɖ consept z ɖs: rsponsbiḷti fr deʈs ɖt cd hv bn avôdd.”
On Ʈrzde, Bṛzil’z s’prīm cort ordrd a cngreśnl invstgeśn intu ɖ guvnmnt’s conduct – a śocmuv ɖt xprts cōld a mejr blo t Bolsonaro, hu stl injôz ɖ s’port v abt a ʈrd v votrz bt fesz record levlz v rjx́n.
Bṛzil’z dzastr – ẃć z biyñ trboćarjd bî ɖ P1 verịnt – z xpctd t dīpn frɖr in ɖ cmñ dez. Mor ɖn 66,000 Bṛziłn lîvz wr lost t Covid in Marć. Epril’z deʈtol z xpctd t xid 100,000. On Frîde ɖ Wrld Hlʈ Orġnîześn sīńr advîzr Brūs Êlẉd cōld ɖ ǎtbrec “a rejñ infrno”.
“It’s despṛt. T b onist, I c’nt slīp proprli. I g t bed wɖ ɖz numbrz n siḿleśnz in mî hed n I jst c’nt ʈnc stret,” sd Miguel Nicolelis, a prominnt sayntist huz grim pṛjx́nz abt ɖ ǎtbrec hv rpitidli bn cnfrmd.
“Ɖ YS hd wn de wɖ mor ɖn 5,000 deʈs n w’r gwñ t oṿtec ɖ YS – in ɖ numbr v dêli deʈs n probbli in ɖ totl numbr v ftaḷtiz tù,” Nicolelis pridictd.
“W’r gwñ t start siyñ bodiz pîlñ p in ǎr hlʈclinics n ppl dayñ in ɖ strīts sn in ɖ bigist siti in Bṛzil,” h sd v São Paulo, cōlñ fr a wn-munʈ neśnwîd locdǎn n ɖ cloźr v rodz, erports n rivrz.
Rousseff olso rjd an imīɉt śutdǎn, olɖo Bolsonaro hz rpitidli rjctd ɖt îdīa, apaṛntli firñ it wd cripl ɖ icoṇmi n hiz hops v riilex́n in 2022. “Ɖr wl b no neśnwîd locdǎn,” Bolsonaro insistd jrñ a trip t suɖn Bṛzil ɖs wīc.
Spīcñ ǎtsd hiz rezidns on Tyzde, Bolsonaro, 66, śrugd of criṭsizm. “[I’v bn cōld] hoṃfobic, resist, fasist, a torćrr … Nǎ I’m jeṇsîdl,” h smrct. “Z ɖr enʈñ I’m nt t blem fr in Bṛzil?”
Rousseff agrìd Bolsonaro wz nt ɖ onli culprit fr ɖ Covid c’laṃti śecñ hr cuntri, n ɖ wrld. Ś olso blemd ɖ ic̣nomic ilits, militri ćīfs, mīdịmǒglz n poḷtiśnz hu hlpt ɖ rîtwñ xtrimist win pǎr bî bacñ hr rmuvl fṛm ofis n ɖen ćirñ Lula’z dǎnfōl n Bolsonaro’z rîz. Wrldlīdrz includñ Doṇld Trump hd olso handld ɖ pandemic dzastṛsli.
“Ppl wl hv t b hld rsponsbl fr ɖ ctastṛfi ɖt hz bn enɉnird in Bṛzil,” Rousseff sd, ćartñ its cuṛnt tribyleśnz bac t hr sspnśn fṛm ofis xacli fîv yirz ago fr alejidli mnipyletñ ɖ bujit t masc ic̣nomic mleiz.
“Bolsonaro z a product v ɖs… orijinl sin: ɖ impićmnt,” ś sd v ẃt hr s’portrz cōl a p’liticli-drivn “cù”.
On Súnde 16 Epril 2016, Bolsonaro, ɖen an obskr congresmn, wz wn v 367 depytiz hu apruvd Rousseff’z impićmnt jrñ an unrūli seśn in ẃć h dedcetd hiz vot t a dictetrśp-ira torćrr hu oṿsw ɖ abys v leftist reblz sć az hr.
Bac ɖen, Rousseff sd ś hd nvr imajind Bolsonaro wd wn de bcm prezidnt. Nr cd ś invizij Bṛzil fesñ tde’z imrjnsi undr mor inadiqt līdrśp. “Ɖ riaḷti z wrs ɖn enʈñ I cd hv poṣbli imajind. It’s az f w’r adrift. W r adrift on an ośn v hungr n dziz… It trūli z an utrli xtrim sićueśn ɖt w’r witṇsñ in Bṛzil.”
[My translation of the short story Eficiência militar (Historieta chinesa) by the Brazilian writer Lima Barreto, which was first published in the Careta newspaper in Rio de Janeiro in 1922]
Li-hu Ang-Pô, the Regent of Canton, which was part of the Chinese Empire – “the Celestial Empire” or “the Middle Kingdom,” as it was called – had noticed that his army didn’t look at all warlike; nor had it demonstrated, in the most recent manoeuvres, any great military aptitude.
After a few months, he decided to test the success of the measures he’d introduced to enhance the pride, enthusiasm and martial vigour of his trusty soldiers. This took the form of general manoeuvres that would take place, when the cherry trees came into blossom in the spring, on the Plane of Chu-Wei-Hu – “Happy Days Plane” in our language. So, in due course, about fifty thousand Chinese soldiers, comprising infantry, cavalry and artillery, set up camp on the Plane of Chu-Wei-Hu under silk tents – silk being as common in China as canvas is here.
Li-Hua Ang-Pô’s army had been camping for over a month on Happy Days Plane, when the Regent decided to go and inspect the manoeuvres before conducting the final review.
(The following biographical details have been translated from the [now defunct] Casa Lima Barreto website.)
Afonso Henriques de Lima Barreto was born in Rio de Janeiro on 13 May 1881 and died in the same city on 1 November 1922. The son of a typographer at the National Printing Works and of a state-school teacher, he was of mixed race. He was taught at first by his own mother, who died when he was seven. Through the influence of his godfather, Viscount Ouro Preto, an imperial minister, he completed his studies at the Pedro II National School, from where he went, in 1897, to the Polytechnic with the intention of studying to be an engineer. He had to give up his course, however, in order to become the breadwinner at home, after his father – bursar at the Colony for the Insane on Governador Island – himself became mentally ill in 1902. In the same year he had his first work published in the student press. The family moved to the Rio de Janeiro suburb of Engenho de Dentro, where the future writer decided to take part in a public examination for a vacancy in the Ministry of War. He came second but, because the first-placed candidate withdrew, he was able to take up the post, which he did in 1903.
Because his salary was only small, the family moved to a modest house in the suburb of Todos os Santos in which, in 1904, he began the first version of his novel Clara dos Anjos (Clara of the Angels). In the following year he began his novel Recordações do escrivão Isaías Caminha (Memoirs of the Clerk Isaías Caminha), which was published in Lisbon in 1909. He also published a series of reports in the Correio da Manhã newspaper and commenced the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá (Life and Death of M. J. Gonzaga de Sá), which was not published until 1919. He participated in the Fon-Fon magazine and in 1907, together with some friends, launched the Floreal magazine, which survived for only four numbers but attracted the attention of the literary critic José Veríssimo. During this period he devoted himself to reading, in the National Library, the great names of world literature, including the European realist writers of the period; he was one of the few Brazilian writers who became familiar with the works of the Russian novelists.
In 1910 he was a juryman in a trial that condemned some soldiers involved in a student’s murder, an incident that came to be called ‘The Spring of Blood’; as a result he was passed over when it came to any possibilities of promotion in the secretariat of war. In the space of three months, in 1911, he wrote the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma (The Sad End of Policarpo Quaresma), which was published in instalments in the Jornal do Comércio, for which he wrote, and also in the Gazeta da Tarde. In 1912 he published two instalments of the Aventuras do Dr. Bogoloff (The Adventures of Dr. Bogoloff), in addition to little humorous books, one of them printed in the O Riso magazine.
Although alcoholism was beginning take hold of him, it did not prevent him from continuing to work for the press and, in 1914, he commenced a series of daily feuilletons in the Correio da Noite. In 1915 the A Noite newspaper published his novel Numa e a ninfa (Numa and the Nymph) in instalments, and he began a long phase of work with the Careta magazine, writing political articles on various topics. In the first months of 1916, the novel Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma appeared as a book, together with some notable short stories such as ‘A Nova Califórnia’ (New California) and ‘O homem que sabia javanês’ (The Man who Spoke Javanese); these were warmly received by the critics, who saw Lima as a true successor to Machado de Assis. He began writing for the political weekly A.B.C. After being hospitalised in July 1917, he delivered to his editor, J. Ribeiro dos Santos, the manuscript of Os Bruzundangas (The Bruzundangans – Bruzundanga being Lima’s satirical name for Brazil), which was not published until a month after his death, in 1922.
He applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters, but his application was not even considered. He published the second edition of Isaías Caminha and, subsequently, the novel Numa e a ninfa in book form. He started publishing articles and feuilletons in the alternative press of the period: A Lanterna, A.B.C. and Brás Cubas, which published an article of his showing sympathy for the revolutionary cause in Russia. After being diagnosed with toxic epilepsy, he was pensioned off in December 1918 and he moved to another house in the Rua Major Mascarenhas in Todos os Santos, where he lived until his death.
At the beginning of 1919 he ceased his collaboration with the A.B.C. weekly, because he took issue with an article it published criticising the blacks. He published the novel Vida e morte de M. J. Gonzaga de Sá, which was personally edited and sent for typing by the editor Monteiro Lobato; this was the only one of Lima’s books to receive such standard editorial care and for which he was well paid; it was also well advertised, being praised by both old and new literary critics, such as João Ribeiro and Alceu Amoroso Lima. At this time he applied once more for a vacancy at the Brazilian Academy of Letters; on this occasion his application was accepted, but he was not elected, although he received the permanent vote of João Ribeiro. Under the title of ‘As mágoas e sonhos do povo’ (The People’s Sufferings and Dreams), he started publishing, in the Hoje magazine, weekly feuilletons of so-called ‘urban folklore’ and he entered into a second phase of collaboration with Careta, which lasted until his death.
From December 1919 to January 1920 he was hospitalised in consequence of a nervous breakdown, an experience recounted in the first chapters of the memoir O cemitério dos vivos (The Cemetery of the Living), which was not published until 1953, when it was issued in a single volume together with his Diário íntimo (Intimate Diary). In December 1920 Gonzaga de Sá was short-listed for the literary prize of the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the best book of the previous year; it received an honourable mention. In the same month, the short-story book Histórias e sonhos (Stories and Dreams) was published, and the manuscript of Marginália (Odds and Ends), comprising articles and feuilletons already published in periodicals, was delivered to his friend, the editor F. Schettino; the manuscript was lost, however, and the book did not come to be published until 1953.
A section of O Cemitério dos vivos was published in January 1921 in the Revista Souza Cruz, under the title ‘As origens’ (The Origins); but the work remained incomplete. In April of that year he went to the little town of Mirassol in the State of São Paulo, where a doctor friend of his, Ranulfo Prata, who was also a writer, tried to put him together again, but in vain. With his health badly undermined, he turned into a sort of recluse in his little house in Todos os Santos, where friends came to visit him and where his sister Evangelina looked after him devotedly. Whenever possible, however, he would embark on another walk through the city he loved, keeping reading, meditation and writing for home, despite the constant presence of his father’s madness, which got worse through a series of crises.
In July 1921 Lima applied for a vacancy in the Brazilian Academy of Letters for the third time, but he withdrew his application for ‘entirely personal and private reasons.’ He delivered the manuscript of Bagatelas (Trifles) to the publisher; this book was a collection of his principal journalistic work from 1918 to 1922, in which he analysed, with rare vision and clarity, the problems of the country and of the world after the 1st World War. However, Bagatelas was not published until 1923. In November 1921 he published, in the Revista Souza Cruz, the text of a speech ‘O destino da literatura’ (‘The Destiny of Literature’) that he had been due to make – but had not managed to do so – in the town of Rio Preto, near Mirassol. In December he began work on the second version of his novel Clara dos Anjos, which he finished the following January. The manuscript for Feiras e mafuás (One Thing and Another) was delivered for publication, which did not happen until 1953.
In May 1922 the magazine O Mundo Literário published the first chapter of Clara dos Anjos, ‘O carteiro’ (The Postman). His health was declining steadily as a result of rheumatism and alcoholism amongst other things, and Lima suffered heart failure and died on 1 November 1922. They found him holding the copy of the Revue des Deux Mondes – his favourite journal – which he had just been reading. Two days later, his father died. They were both buried in the São João Batista cemetery, in accordance with Lima’s wishes.
In 1953 a publisher issued some volumes of his unpublished works. But it was only in 1956, under the direction of Francisco de Assis Barbosa and with the collaboration of Antônio Houaiss and M. Cavalcanti Proença, that all his work was published in 17 volumes; these comprised all the novels mentioned above and also the following titles that were not published during his life: Os bruzundangas, Feiras e mafuás, Impressões de leitura (Literary Impressions), Vida urbana (City Life), Coisas do reino de Jambon (A Report from the Kingdom of Jambon), Diário íntimo, Marginália, Bagatelas, O cemitério dos vivos and two further volumes containing all his correspondence – both letters sent and letters received. In the following decades Lima has been the subject of many studies, both in Brazil and abroad. His works, particularly his novels and short stories, have been translated into English, French, Russian, Spanish, Czech, Japanese and German. He has been the subject of doctoral theses in the United States and Germany. To mark the centenary of his birth in 1981, conferences were held about him throughout Brazil, resulting in the publication of innumerable books, including essays, bibliographies and psychological studies of the author and his works. There is currently a growing interest in him among new Brazilian writers, who see him as a pioneer of the sociological novel. His literary production, which is vast in view of his early death, is gaining him – quite rightly – more and more distinction.
Translator’s note: In an obituary for Lima in the Jornal do Brasil on 5 November 1922 , Coelho Neto – who had given the oration at Machado’s funeral in 1908 – described him as:
one of the best novelists Brazil has had, who observed things with the power and precision of a microscope, and who wrote with magisterial assurance, describing ordinary life like no one else has done. Just as he was neglectful of himself, of his own life, so was Lima Barreto neglectful of the work he constructed, not seeking to correct its defects of language, presenting it just as it flowed from his pen, without the necessary revision, the indispensable polishing, the definitive final touch which a work of art needs. Despite everything, however, what has remained to us of this man is worth so much by way of observation of life and depiction of characters that the rough edges cannot destroy the beauty: sometimes they compromise it here and there but only in the same way that a wall with stains and cracks can affect the harmony of a fresco, but cannot negate the magnificence of the painting.
Despite the nit-picking, this might be considered gracious in view of the virulent criticisms made of Coelho Neto by Lima.
(My translation of the story O caminho de Damasco, which was originally published in the Jornal das Famílias in Rio de Janeiro in 1871.)
THE THREE FRIENDS
It was two o’clock of an afternoon in June and it was a magnificent winter’s day – neither cold, nor rainy, nor sunny. That’s to say, the emperor star was still dominating the skies with his splendid rays but, on that particular day, his rays were soft and gentle. So, it wasn’t a sun for lizards to warm themselves by, but it was just the right sun for someone who was walking across Aclamação Square.
Ouvidor Street was just as busy as usual. There were people standing in front of the shops or sitting inside them; people walking down the street, people walking up; men, ladies and, once in a while, a horse-drawn carriage – all of which gave the principle road in Rio de Janeiro a bright and breezy look. Here and there, you could see a group of politicians exchanging news or ogling the ladies as they passed by, which, after all, is far more pleasurable than talking about the defence budget. As it happens, the minister of defence was speaking about that very thing in the House of Representatives at that very moment.There were also dandies – la jeunesse dorée –, who were discussing the latest goings on or the latest fashions. And amongst them, funnily enough, were some grey beards and even white beards. But if you were to ask those grey beards and white beards what they were doing there, they would no doubt have replied that youth has more to do with what’s inside than what’s out, and that ice can cover the mountain tops without descending to the plain. (And by “the plain” they mean “the heart.”)
Near Quitanda Lane, between the Garnier bookshop and the offices of the Jornal do Commercio, three elegant young men had been having a chat. One of them was just heading off downhill, another uphill and the third was about to get into a tilbury, which was standing there waiting for him. The first had black sideburns, the second a full beard, while the third just had an elegantly waxed, chestnut-brown moustache.
“So we’re agreed,” the sideburns called out to the others. “Ten o’clock at the door of the Alcazar Theatre.”
“Whoever arrives first will need to wait,” said the full beard.
“Yes,” said sideburns. “But let’s try not to be late.”
The moustache agreed, but asked for some laxity for himself. “I need to take care of the old lady.”
Sideburns shook his head impatiently.
“Really, Aguiar! I don’t know what to make of you. You’re a grown man, but you live like a nun!”
Full beard couldn’t help smiling: he was well aware of how little his friend resembled a nun. And he knew that sideburns was equally well informed about what Aguiar got up to.
Aguiar explained, as well as he could, the situation with the old lady, and the three of them promised to be at the door of the Alcazar at 10 o’clock that evening.
And just when Aguiar was about to say his final goodbye, a carriage drove out of Quitanda Lane into Ouvidor Street. It was pulled by a chestnut horse and driven by a youth dressed in white, whose expression of disdain for the pedestrians he passed would almost make you think that Cleopatra or Achilles must be inside the carriage; but one glance would disabuse you of such a notion: lolling on the seat of the carriage was a thin, blond girl, whose looks might have come from heaven, but whose dress and adornments were more reminiscent of purgatory.
The tears of sinners were crystallised in the refulgent jewellery that adorned her ears, her neck and her fingers. She was looking lazily at the passers-by to the left of the carriage, but without moving her head, and with such an aristocratic expression that one could understand both the arrogance of the coachman and the curiosity of the passers-by.
When she saw our three friends, she smiled and inclined her head slightly. Sideburns gestured something to her, to which she responded with a raised hand. All of it without the carriage stopping.
“Good – Candinha knows,” said sideburns. “We won’t have to send a note.”
And, after once more promissing to be there at ten, the three friends continued on their separate ways.
Of the three, it’s Aguiar who’s of most interest to us. He’s off in the tilbury, but it doesn’t matter: we’ll arrive in time to enter his house with him.
THE BLACK SPOT
At the time, Jorge Aguiar was 23 years old. The previous year he’d returned from São Paulo with a degree certificate in his pocket and a number of young ladies jostling in his heart. I could say he also brought some knowledge of the law in his head, that is, if I didn’t intend to be scrupulously historically accurate. The fact is, he’d learnt only the minimum necessary to scrape through the exams, and even that minimum had remained behind on the Cubatão Mountains, without him missing it at all. The young ladies in his heart had been carried as far as Guanabara Bay, but it’s certain they didn’t disembark with him. Anyway, they weren’t worth it: his affection for none of them had merited being brought back home.
When Jorge Aguiar arrived home, Dona Joaquina was giving her final orders in respect of a large quantity of coconut cakes and checking on the task she’d given to two young seamstresses that morning. Silvestre was playing backgammon with Fr Barroso, and Clarinha was playing some German variations on the piano.
She walked rapidly to the door and disappeared, leaving Marques standing awkwardly by the piano – as the reader will certainly imagine. Meanwhile Fr Barroso threw the dice before exclaiming happily:
A PIECE OF ADVICE
Dr Marques went to look for Jorge and found him in the study, sitting in the sofa and reading a novel by Feydou. He shut the door and pulled up a chair. Without changing his position, Jorge closed the book, using a bill from his tailor as a bookmark.
HOW A LAD IS LOST
I think the reader can do without a description of the party at which Jorge was the life and soul. It was one of the most magnificent suppers there had ever been in the hotels of Rio. And it finished when dawn was sweeping the darkness from the sky, and the sweepers were sweeping the streets.
During those months in which Jorge gave free rein to his every whim, Dr Marques had advanced his cause vis-à-vis Clarinha, albeit only a little. After hesitating for two months, he’d plucked up the courage to reveal his feelings to the young lady’s aunt. The latter responded favourably, imposing just one condition: that her niece should love him.
When Marques heard how Donna Joaquina had got on, he couldn’t contain his joy.
Now we leap forward about eleven months. All the main characters in this story are still alive. The commander still plays backgammon with the priest; Donna Joaquina’s loquacity has diminished somewhat with the passage of time; and, as for Jorge, he’s making the most of the debauched reputation he’s gained at his father’s expense. Silvestre has tried everything he could think of to drag his son back from the benighted path on which he himself unwittingly set him, but in vain; the die’s been cast.
One night, Commander Aguiar, who rarely, if ever, went to the theatre and had very old fashioned ideas on the subject, decided to go to see a play by Ginásio. His wife didn’t accompany him; she hated the theatre.
The austere old priest was wrong: Jorge hadn’t left as a changed man; all the advice and all the promises had evaporated from his mind. Of all that Fr Barroso had said, the only thing that remained with him was the thought of Clarinha’s love.
Up until that point, whenever Clarinha went to visit her aunt and uncle, her cousin hadn’t been home, which had been a great relief to her. After the apparent change in Jorge’s habits, however, not only did she find him at home, but he seemed to have a much better relationship with his parents. Whereas, before, they preferred not to talk about him, now they were overflowing with joy at the return of the prodigal son. Marques expressed his amazement to Jorge at the sudden change.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
One shouldn’t play with fire – a simple truth that Jorge learnt the hard way when he found himself engulfed in the flames he’d lit so carelessly.
GOING AND COMING
Fr Barroso’s visit had left the amorous young man irritated, but a few hours of reflection were enough to convince him that further efforts would be in vain. Everything and everyone was against him; it was a contest he couldn’t win.
Added to this was his growing annoyance at the knowledge that his cousin had been in love with him and that he hadn’t noticed.
That night, Aguiar and Fr Barroso sat down to start a game of backgammon.
One day, Jorge appeared from out of the blue. He’d found out about Marques’s illness and had returned to Rio as fast as he could. At least, that was the explanation he gave. The truth was that he was fed up with being away; he’d only heard that Marques was ill when he arrived in Rio. He’d gone to his home, but his parents weren’t in. One of the servants, however, had told him the illness was terminal.
THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Three months later, Fr Barroso was in the house when Jorge appeared. He was cheerful and unusually polite.
Fr Barroso was as good as his word; he went to speak to Clarinha. The widow greeted her old friend with real affection. It was a week since he last visited, and she was becoming concerned for his health.
A year after the death of Dr Marques, the cousins got married. The news caused amazement in the dubious society that had been Jorge’s early education in adulthood.
♥ ♣ ♦ ♠
Below is my translation of an article from the Brazilian Instituto Socioambiental about the genocidal policy of President Jair Bolsonaro. It’s important the world should know.
5 February 2020
“The appointment of a missionary to co-ordinate the territory of the isolated indigenous peoples overseen by the National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (‘Funai’ in the Portuguese acronym) is a significant step in Bolsonaro’s genocidal policy,” according to the Instituto Socioambiental.
The appointment this Wednesday, 5 February, of Ricardo Lopes Dias, a pastor who has previously been associated with the North American sect Ethnos360 (previously known as The New Tribes Mission), to exercise the Funai Coordination of Isolated Indians and of Indians of Recent Contact (“CGIIRC” in the Portuguese acronym) puts indigenous peoples who prefer to remain isolated in danger of being the victims of genocide. There are 115 records of such groups in Brazil, 28 of which have been confirmed. The appointment of a missionary to run the CGIIRC indicates the return to a policy of forced contact which, when it was government policy in the 1970s, led to the death of thousands of Indians through diseases brought, and violence perpetrated, by the government agents themselves. All of this could happen again with the return of religious proselytising.
The indigenous peoples who prefer to live in isolation are survivors of massacres that happened throughout the 20th century, the largest of them during the 1970s when Brazil was a military dictatorship and implemented a policy of “coaxing out” indigenous peoples, supposedly to make contact with and “pacify” their communities, but in reality to occupy their lands. In addition to outright violence – there were innumerable reports of massacres, including aerial bombardment of villages –, those communities fell victim to epidemics brought by non-indigenous people as part of official expeditions to enforce contact. Some indigenous populations lost 90% of their people as a result of diseases against which they had no antibodies.
This was the case, for instance, of the Nambikwara people, whose territory covered parts of the states of Mato Grosso and Rondônia. Nine thousand of them died as the result of epidemics of measles, flu, whooping cough and gonorrhoea. Similarly, in the case of the Panará people, in the north of Mato Grosso: between 1973 and 1976, 75% of the population died as a result of flu and malaria. Of 400 people, only 79 remained. Such cases are endless. In 1982, missionaries of the New Tribes of Brazil Mission, the sect to which the new Funai coordinator belongs, implemented a policy of forced contact with the remaining members of the Zo’é people, in the north of Pará. This contact resulted in an epidemic and many deaths. In the end, the missionaries were driven out of the territory.
Putting an end to the genocide of whole communities was the principal reason for the implementation of Funai’s no-contact policy in 1987. That policy, which had the backing of regional experts, anthropologists and other formulators of public policy, led to the establishment of the CGIIRC. The main motive was to guarantee protection of the territories where those peoples live by keeping out interlopers and harmful business enterprises. Up until now that has been CGIIRC responsibility, as set out in Funai Directive 281/2000.
With the appointment of this missionary to run the CGIIRC, there is again a threat of forced contact and, with it, the imminence of yet more tragedies.
The Brazilian government is obliged, under the Constitution, to guarantee the physical and cultural survival of these peoples in the lands they occupy. That means protected territories where they can organise themselves in accordance with their customs, languages, beliefs and traditions.
Forced acculturation of indigenous peoples is an affront to the Constitution, but is a regular practice of evangelical fundamentalism, including of the sect to which the new coordinator belongs, catechesis being its principle mission. Article 129(v) of the Constitution makes clear that judicial defence of the rights and interests of the indigenous peoples is an institutional responsibility of the Office of Public Prosecutions. It is high time that the Public Prosecutor, Augusto Aras, did something. Up until now, not a word has been heard from him about this deplorable situation. This omission has brought into disrepute the reputation of an institution that is meant to defend society – and minorities in particular – against any arbitrary measures by the government.
Non-contact should be seen as a manifestation of the desire of these peoples for self-determination, a right that is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The choice of isolation is protected by Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation, to which Brazil is a signatory, and which guarantees minimum rights to indigenous peoples in respect of preserving their cultures and identities in the context of the societies of which they form part.
The anti-indigenous policy of Jair Bolsonaro infringes the Constitution and disgusts the whole world. Scrapping the no-contact policy means ending a strategy that has helped to save lives during the last 30 years. Brazil has already seen the result of forced contact – contact with death. We sincerely hope the tragedy is not about to be repeated.