RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – We get asked a lot what The Rio Times’ political position is, or should I say to what extent are we willing to expose the truth and tell stories that local media ignores, distorts or even covers up. This usually happens in the context of on-the-ground volunteers working in favelas seeing first-hand how the UPP and other police activity is effecting communities. Liberals for the most part.
Why is it we see more liberally-minded volunteers vocalizing this point of view? I know there are some conservative volunteers trying to make the world a better place with their blood, sweat and tears as well. I actually have some friends and acquaintances that work through the church here, but for some reason they seem less politically vocal as community volunteers.
The Rio Times tries to stay politically neutral, but it seems over time we have presented ourselves economically conservative, but socially liberal, with the topics and underlining editorial position is slightly Left leaning.
Traditionally, according to Wikimedia, the Left includes progressives, social liberals, social democrats, socialists, communists and some anarchists. The Right includes conservatives, libertarians, plutocrats, reactionaries, capitalists, monarchists, nationalists and fascists… although something tells me it was the Left that even created or contributes to Wikimedia.
Without digressing into a broad debate, the point is that two of our articles this week seem more politically skewed then we typically publish, and I wanted a chance to mitigate them further.
First, a comment on the article about the increase of 127 percent deforestation of Amazon lands protected by the government. What the headline doesn’t communicate – for space reasons – is that that is over a ten year period. Also that the 127 percent increase reflects only a small percent of the Brazilian Amazon.
The increase of deforestation was up from 5,000 to 11,400km², but overall, the Amazon rainforest covers 5.5 million km²; of that, some 1.73 million km² under some form of protection. So even talking about only protected lands, 11,400 out of 1,730,000 is 0.66 percent … hard to get too heated up about that number, despite being a supporter of general environmental protection.
The second comment is regarding the article we published about the Vila Autódromo Favela community resisting demolition and relocation of residents by the government making way for the 2016 Olympics. The story is certainly positioned to tell the story of the favela community’s side, but the other side is the greater good of Rio, and tremendous economic opportunities on the way.
While the challenge is to distribute that opportunity fairly and justly to Brazilian society, it is difficult to be too upset on a macro level given the relocation package offered to residents. Surely they would prefer to be left alone, but at least (partially due to the media attention) the government is not simply bulldozing their homes without public assistance… although I’m sure they won’t make it easy to collect the public funding.
The point is when dealing with political leanings it is hard to stay neutral, and issues can be tremendously complex and sensitive. We have developed the broad global categories of Right and Left, and in the U.S. they conveniently fall neatly into our two-party system (even with easy donkey and elephant mascots).
In Brazil there are twenty-something political parties that all have some ideology but wheel-and-deal with alliances each election, perhaps more flexible and analogous to the seemingly “contrary forces interconnected and interdependent in the natural world”.