like, “There are more non
izations than street children” and “It‟s easier toarrest Saddam Hussein than to arrest a drugs baron” say more about their author than his
targets.Rio has no integrated or co-ordinated strategy for eradicating its reputation as human charnelhouse; a city whose streets are an abattoir, awash with the blood of its young people.
In a surreal, Kafkaesque remark, Conde‟s opposite number at the city hall, Senhor AntonioVales, Rio‟s deputy mayor, told me that “violence is not under the jurisdiction of the
In the grandeur of what was once the sumptuous British Embassy in Rio, Vales said
that he couldn‟t comment on any of the fundamental issues because they were “too sensitive”and that there was little point them talking to the military police because, “
Those talks are not
These are not bad men but nor are they brave.
In the favela, I was reminded of the prophet‟s words that, “Where there is no vision, thepeople perish.”
The merry-go-round of buck passing in Rio is like a carousel, which passesfor coherent good government and courageous political leadership.Probably the best hope for breaking this inertia and for imposing a nationwide strategy in
Brazil‟s 26 states remai
ns President Lula Da Silva, who was elected with 61% of the vote andbecame President in a wave of optimism in January 2003. Lula has himself
and veryunusually for Brazil
risen from deep poverty and obscurity; but already there are inevitabledisappointed voices asking where is the change. If Lula cannot make the arms of governmentrespond to this crisis he will deservedly lose his reputation at home and abroad.
I was struck by the remark of one youngster in the favela who told me that, “The only way
go up in society is to go through the trafficking of guns or drugs.”
The role models are youngmen with designer clothes and brand new motorbikes. They earn phenomenally more throughthe drugs trade than their fathers. But, if they come to represent the only ladder on which theyoung can climb out of destitution, Lula will end up presiding over a dead country. It isimpossible to reconcile rhetoric about social justice and opportunity with the reality of corpses lying like litter in the streets.It would be unfair if this account did not refer to the positive and hopeful initiatives thatshould provide men like Conde and Vales with a blue-print for concerted action. They could
do worse than to heed the calls of Jubilee Action‟s partner in Rio, Sao Ma
rtinho, whoadvocate the need for an integrated programme of action. We did see evidence of anembryonic strategic approach in the city of Recife.A piece of sculpture in the heart of that city recalls the time, thirty years ago, when deathsquads routine
ly killed opponents of the country‟s military dictatorship.
The sculptor has left
the defiant words, “Torture –
never again,” to exhort those who see his work to cherish the
fundamental human rights that should be the corner stone of any democracy.Near Recife, is the ancient Portuguese settlement of Olinda. Here, in 1537, the PortugueseGovernor, Duate Coelho, established Olinda as the first capital of the State of Pernambuco. Simultaneously, the Jesuits built the first churches and provided the firstopportunities for higher education in Brazil. In 1582 the Benedictines established the truly