28 comments on “Why Brazil needs to start loving itself a bit more

  1. Very well put. The only thing I would add is that if you live in the country (any country really), I think you have a right to complain and suggest improvements, regardless whether you’re a local or a foreigner. In a very real sense, a foreigner living in Brazil has more at stake with what goes on in Brazil than a Brazilian living abroad so the foreigner should have a bigger say.

    • Yeah, the whole ‘You don’t walk into a house and say the couch is ugly, do you?’ might apply to visiting tourists, but if you’re living, working and paying taxes then it’s the same as saying “You don’t rent an apartment in my building and complain that the elevator doesn’t work and security is bad”… which is ridiculous, of course you have a right to talk about those things…

    • Oh definitely, that was the theme of my last post – 100% it’s ok for foreigners to complain, it’s just how they go about doing it that is key.

  2. I had never heard of Salvador before I met my ex-wife. Since then I lived in Salvador for 6.5 years, and now Camaçari (50km outside of Salvador) for 6 months

  3. Beautifully written! I completely agree with you, though I think there is yet another common problem about the criticism we’ve been getting. I’ve realised that most clashes that I witnessed have happened not only because of the contents of such criticism (most of them are not really wrong) but also because of the way it is delivered. While americans and brits are used to making harsh comments with no sugar coating as a way of being clear (or so I’ve been told), brazilians usually find this offensive. It’s a cultural clash in my view, and it makes understanding each other’s point of view that much harder. Still, we all must learn how to live together, and yours seems a great way to start.

    • Thanks Marcela, there is almost definitely some kind of culture clash going with this as well. British humour, for example, is very much about self-deprecation, but as you say, Brazilians definitely do not feel comfortable being poked fun at – by themselves or others. Similar with criticism I guess.

  4. While I don’t expect Brits to know where Salvador is, I certainly don’t want the leading national newspapers saying that it’s located in Rio.

    That’s beyond ignorance. It’s plain wrong. And it’s about every newspaper in the country!

    What would you think if Brazilian newspapers published a piece with pictures of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, describing it as an event in Soho?

    • Newspapers should definitely be more savvy, although I don’t think it’s ignorance in every case.

      I’ve actually seen and heard Brazilian newspapers / commentators make mistakes about the UK. Usually its confusing England as being Britain or the UK. On a side note, take a look at the popular polo shirts kids wear here in SP with English or British themes. They often have Union Jacks on them, with England printed underneath.

  5. You can love a country and be critic at the same time. I don’t even think that there is a contradiction there. There is no improvement in anything without some previous critics, but here critics are actually always considered as a personal attack (I am not speaking about the “vent your frustrations” gringoes-stuff)
    I think that the main problem is the conformism. It was impressive to see the people raise against the poor conditions of infrastructure in contrast with the high levels of corruption and really disappointing to see that the legitimate aspirations of the people have been “forgot” with 20 centavos and a nice “jogo” against Spain…

    • Yes, it’s a healthy sign of democracy to be critical – and it shouldn’t just be confined to ‘natives’ either. However, I agree, it’s definitely that criticism is conveyed that is important. It needs to be balanced and fair.

      Hopefully the World Cup will stir up the hornet’s nest again next year…

  6. I agree with you. It’s too far fetched to hope that a briton would be able to point Salvador on a map, the same way that it would be very utopic to expect any brazilian to name other city in England besides the London-Liverpool-Manchester trio, or to recognize the differences between United Kingdon and Great Britain, and to name the countries that are part of the two divisions. The average person is not an Atlas, and that counts to every single nation on earth. As for the british press and the “Manaus controversy”, i remember that South Africa also suffered a huge deal with them in 2010, with the same endless complains about crime, poverty, and the occasional jungle/safari/wildanimalsroamingonthestreets news. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of projection regarding this behavior by the british tabloids, as we know that the british Hooligans are always a problem every since the 1982 tournament in Spain, so i think that this take the focus from the supporters and their bad behaviour. It’s good old public relations propaganda.

    • Oh yeah, the British tabloids specialise in belittling countries they deem ‘inferior’. I think it’s still very much a hangover from the empire.

      I disagree about football hooligans though – that’s a problem you’re unlikely to see at a major football tournament again. A lot of work has been done in England to clamp down on it over the past 15 years. Euro 2000 was the last time that I can remember a major problem.

  7. I´ve been living in the UK for 6 years now (self confessed anglophile – but miss São Paulo A LOT, best pizza, steak and night life in the world 🙂 I teach Portuguese to British diplomats at the Foreign Office and I´ve certainly become an ambassador for my country. It´s true that it´s much easier to live in London, everything works fine (public transport / health system / education), there is very little corruption / burocracy / abuse of power but there are certainly many things people in the “civilized world” could learn from and about us latinos. (the importance of family and close relationships, openness, flexibility, optimism, to name a few)

    Most Brazilians don´t understand sarcasm or cynicism. The humour is a bit “goofy”, just like in Italy or Spain. Most Brazilians understand Mr. Bean not League of Gentlemen. Therefore they get offended / confused with ironic comments.

    We know that Brasil is an amazing and beautiful country with great potential and a unique mix of cultures and races and also full of paradoxes (like any other country?) : it can be very conservative and very liberal, it can be altruistic and selfish, it can be warming and cold. But in general we are patriots, and we care and we want to change (demonstrations in June confirm that). However it´s tricky because we come from a country (or a continent) where democracy is still very young and fragile, corruption is absolutely everywhere because there is impunity, our income distribution is one of the worst in the world (European descendants are usually rich and African / Indigeneous descendants are usually poor) and we currently don´t have role models to be proud of.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head perfectly.

      I hope that June was the proof that this movement for change is start of something big. I really hope so anyway, because Brazil is already a fantastic place but it has the potential to be so much more as well.

  8. Hi Andy as you said the key is the delivery of balanced, fair and intelligent articles. Curious I live in Spain and the attitude is also highly defensive to constructive criticism and also due to my direct northerner delivery. Hope you use more than the Daily Mail in class 😉

  9. As I also teach and train it also sounds like you’re teaching/training cross-cultural awareness in your classes a key ingredient for better cross-cultural communication. Your students should be paying extra for that 😉

    • Well, that was much of what I used to do when I worked with refugees and asylum-seekers back in the UK so I guess it’s second nature really…and far more fulfilling than teaching English I think.

  10. As another gringo living here, my opinion is to look at how economic + cultural flow in the world. The most visible portion of the economy of the US and UK is exporting culture (music, movies, fashion, books, video games, TV shows) to much of the world, in exchange for labor / materials / food from “developing nations”. This causes a sort of “internalized nationalism” phenomena. Just as a belief of racial superiority can be internalized among someone it actually hurts (such as a person with darker skin “feeling inferior” to people with lighter skin), nationalism can be internalized internationally too. This results in some thinking that the “brazilian national character” is inferior to the “american national character”. Of course many/most brazilians don’t care about this nonsense, but still the constant torrent of american culture leaves the inferiority complex baked into the minds of many (and superiority complex baked into gringos), especially if they believe any crap about “national character” / “nationalism” / “patriotism”. I know getting here it was a shock to see things like Chicago Bulls or Lakers jerseys, and the use of English was just bizarre (for example, a place at a food court labelled “Italian Fast Food” in English… not Italian, not Portuguese, but English). Or the hundreds of Havan stores, wtf: http://goo.gl/maps/8YuIY (if i remember an interview i once read with the owner of the chain, he pretty much re-affirms what i have here as the basis of his choice of “theming” the stores). I dunno, just some thoughts from living here 🙂

    • I’m not sure. I mean, Brazil is not he only recipient of US or UK (English language) culture. For example, one of my best friends is Dutch and he speaks English fluently, but with an American tinge – despite being only 45 minutes away from the UK by plane. He admits his accent is predominantly due to the influence of US culture (films, music, etc). The point is though, the Dutch feel no cultural inferiority because they are bombarded with English language culture – they are, in fact, very proud of their culture whilst at the same time also being very critical of it.

      • Erm Holland being a first world country might have a lot to do with the absence of inferiority.

      • Seems pretty unique to Brazil though. For example, you don’t tend to see the same complex next door in Argentina – a country which is also, as you put it, not a “first world country”.

  11. “It’s time they embraced the wonderful country they live in, as well as be proud of who they are and not what they are aren’t. Brazilians are beautiful people, and not just aesthetically.”


    You’re correct. I see so many Brazilians abroad who just criticize Brazil as if the country had only negative things… That’s a shame. And it’s wonderful to have a non-Brazilian to reminds us of how ideas need to change. Thanks!

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