Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The first stun gun was Brazil’s 1-7 thrashing by the Germans, because the Curmudgeon has been a rabid Brazil fan since the 1970 World Cup, when he lived in Brasília and was astonished by the outpouring of support for the “Seleção” and the spontaneous happiness after each victory, even though a military dictatorship was in power and tried to identify with the national team. All of us in Brazil were deprived of that happiness this time around.
I was stunned on July 10th by the news that Amarildo’s wife had gone missing for over ten days, had gone off and left her kids alone. Fortunately she was later found, in Búzios of all places. But on July 14th, a few (very few) people remembered that it has now been ONE FULL YEAR since Amarildo disappeared from Rocinha after being taken into a police unit.
I’m stunned by the fact that no one has done anything about finding Amarildo’s body, or prosecuting the people who killed him. Sure, they arrested some dirty cops, and are theoretically still investigating. But what is stunning is that the investigations have led to nothing. More stunning still is the fact that the newspapers have completely forgotten about the case — they couldn’t care less, it’s last year’s news.
I’m stunned by the shooting down of MH17. Putting aside the coincidence of the same airline having a plane disappear and another shot down, I’m stunned at the absolutely mendacious and heartless conduct of the thugs now controlling Eastern Ukraine. Putin gave them a few new toys to play with (Russian-made BUK anti-aircraft rockets) and some idiot decided to test one on a large plane. Guess what? The rockets work! Putin, of course, couldn’t care less about the people who died.
I’m stunned by Gaza because I simply cannot understand why Hamas insists on sending rockets into Israel, killing almost no one, when it knows, for certain, that this will only cause Israel to send bombs into Gaza, killing Palestinians. I cannot understand Israel’s “couldn’t care less” attitude about dead Palestian children. What on earth does either side stand to gain from killing innocent people?
I’m stunned by João Ubaldo Ribeiro’s death. A novelist and member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, he wrote weekly columns published Sundays by O Globo; he was their best. His penultimate column had one of his favorite fictional characters (a diehard Soviet supporting Communist) from Bahia opine that the reason the Seleção lost was because (a) Big Phil never gave anybody a rap on the knuckles and (b) nobody ever threatened them with Siberia if they lost.
I’m less stunned by the killing of “Tintin” — one of the owners of Guimas, a super-chic watering hole for Rio’s great and near-great. It’s really just another highly predictable drive-by theft after someone leaves a bank after having withdrawn large sums of cash. This happens often in Rio, even in places like Baixo Gávea. It’s horrible for her family and friends, but it isn’t really unexpected; in fact, it’s one of the predictable consequences of the UPP pacification program—more crime on the asphalt.
The Curmudgeon hopes not to be stunned by anything in Brazilian politics during the next few months, as elections are little more than two months away.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)