The Failed States (2011)

Josino Moraes
Latin America Economic Researcher
www.josino.net
email: josinomoraes@hotmail.com

Notes in [..]

“The further you go, the more you Know” - Christopher Columbus

I. USA

(1)The above motto was central to my decision to undertake a long trip
including some of the northern hemisphere’s developed countries while in
my 70s. The original title of this text was going to be Going North as a word
play on the American idiomatic expression Going South, which means when
things go badly.. But, when visiting Sweden I thought the above title would
better express my main point of view.

(2) The departure from Sao Paulo was a little different than usual because
there were no economic emigrants in sight Instead, hundreds of the
Brazilian middle class were travelling to the United States to shop - see
Why
Can’t Latin America Compete in Manufacturing
. A few economic emigrants
were probably among the throng as well as a new phenomenon/trend:  
hundreds of unemployed middle class young people with a certain command
of English and who have found a new “job opportunity ” or at least a new
source of income in “light” smuggling.  

(3) The cause of the above phenomenon is very simple: the over-valued
Real (Brazilian currency) caused by the large amount of commodities
exported from Brazil since 2002 [1] .   As confirmed by the illustrious Mr.
Alan Greenspan, the period 2002 to 2008 is the historical period with the
most economic and international commerce growth ever recorded. In Brazil’s
case, this growth continues even today. Asia’s expansion, mainly the
Chinese expansion, is the main explanation factor.  An additional factor, in
Brazil’s case, is the interest rates, which are usually the highest in the world.
This obviously attract financial centers. As a consequence of these factors,
Brazil has accumulated the largest reserves in its history.

(4 I arrived at JFK airport in Queens, one of the five New York boroughs on
a Monday morning.  My destination was Manhattan, the main part of the
city. In roughly one hour, I was there. The traffic flowed smoothly
everywhere I could see. Obviously, this made me think of Sao Paulo. In the
Failed states - or Semi-Failed States, the traffic in large cities is chaotic.  You
lose an enormous amount of time – and productivity – in traffic and on top
of that, inhale foul sulphurous gases, product of burning diesel oil  produced
by inefficient state monopolies. Pollution levels are terrible,, including those
of noise pollution.  General productivity levels droop a great deal.

(5) In the failed states, there is a super concentration of population around
centers of “economic development”. In Brazil’s case, S. Paulo is the best
example of this. I’ve also observed this in photos from Tehran and Istanbul
as well. In a recent visit to S. Paulo, a Dutch architect said in an interview
that the city reminds him of Jakarta, Indonesia and Lagos, Nigeria (O Estado
de S. Paulo, 28/8/11) [2].  Currently when it rains, Sao Paulo devolves into
chaos. Sao Paulo is growing in bigger and bigger concentric circles with
nearby little cities getting incorporated into the capital. This profoundly
exacerbates the problems relating to the city’s infrastructure  which needs
to be resolved by these Failed States that have few resources. Taxes are  
basically destined  to maintain and extend the privileges of public sector and
state-owned companies.  Traffic fatalities reach new records every year. In
2010, the national levels hit 40,000 (Folha de S. Paulo, 29/10/11).

(6) They have been discussing restricting car traffic during the week in Sao
Paulo since 1997 with the hopes of lessening the traffic jams.    I think this
idea originated in Mexico City [3] . This is done using your last number of
your license plate. Heavy fines are given for infractions. This has obviously
had no noticeable effect on the situation.  A friend of mine, a fellow engineer
from my school days who lives in Sao Paulo City, told me that they simply
buy a second car to circumvent the problem!      
     
(7) In Manhattan, most of the taxis are driven by economic immigrants from
the Arab countries and countries near India: Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, etc. In
the hotels – obviously in lower positions - they are from Latin America. Chile
is an exception. The day I arrived, the media was reporting that Bin Laden
had been killed and I was very happy. While going to a bank, I met two
Brazilian young women who were very proud of their American husbands.
The next step was Cranford city, New Jersey, to visit some American friends
that I met on the internet from the American Atheist Center.  I admire their
work very much.  America is the kingdom of religious freedom, but curiously
you have to have a religion! You are not free to be an Atheist! In fact, It is
somewhat dangerous to be an Atheist there. You can lose your job or even
be expelled from the military.  

(8) In Washington, D.C., my daughter-in-law pointed out a very interesting
aspect: Americans praise Brazilians but Brazilians look down on Americans!
This is one of the prevailing issues of cultures from Failed States, a kind of
inferiority complex. I will talk more of this later.

(9) In the Washington area – I believe this is the same in all of the USA -
there are no fences or walls between houses. Yards are clean and that grass
is perfectly cut…in the summer, of course.  In Latin America, wealthy people
and even those of the middle class live fenced-in with walls in what I call the
architecture of an internal war: where enclosures are surrounded by high,
electrical fences, guard dogs, etc. It reminds me a little of the European
medieval castles. The economic process has created a new class of
disinherited that is dedicated to robbing, assaulting, etc, in order to survive.
The local   media uses euphemisms such as “urban violence” or “level of
criminality”, etc. The reality is a new type of war that can’t be characterized
as a civil war, although some people do characterize it as such (see
Marcola´s Interview to the Brazilian Newspaper O Globo
(2006) and
Marcola: a New Face in the Brazilian War (2006) .)  

(10) In ordinary, every-day restaurants plastic utensils, plates and glasses
are used lowering costs and giving us the idea of a more productive and
efficient society.  

(11) My son and his family took me to Southern Virginia to visit Thomas
Jefferson’s centuries-old plantation house in Monticello. It is a very
important historic place as Thomas Jefferson was a crucial figure in American
history. He was the main theoretical mind of American Independence and his
ideas even had an enormous impact on the principles of the French
Revolution. He was born rich, inheriting a big plantation and many slaves. He
was governor of Virginia twice and president of the USA for two terms. In
the end of his life he went bankruptcy and his plantation and his slaves had
to be auctioned   

(12) In 1815, in the last days of his life, this man who is quoted as having
spoken the famous maxim “I can’t live without books”, had to sell his library
of more than 6,ooo volumes to the Library of Congress! The Library of
Congress had been burned by the English during the War of 1812 and the
rebuilt archive consisted of only 3,000 volumes before Jefferson’s collection
was added. Apparently it wasn’t only books that he couldn’t live without.  
When he was serving in France, he discovered that he couldn’t live without
wine as well.  
 
(13) I couldn’t help but think of José Sarney’s sinister figure. Sarney is
president of Brazilian Senate today and former governor of Maranhão as well
as former president of the Republic.  He owns an island in Maranhão. In fact,
the entire state of Maranhão “belongs” to his family. His daughter is
currently the governor of Maranhão. He became a very rich ma “serving”
(euphemism for public parasites in Brazil) the Brazilian state all of his life.  
Public life here is a prosperous business! The main focal point in the Failed
States is that we can’t seem to create men capable of serving the
community’s welfare instead of acting like animals just feeding their own
stomachs ,so to speak.How do we solve such a difficult problem?  There is
no solution in sight, at least, not in the short term or even the medium
term.   

(14) Travelling by train in both The United States and Sweden is simply
marvelous. It is so comfortable! You can read, walk, eat and drink. You are
free of those cursed black x- ray machines at the airports where you have
to pass your carry-on through, for example, in New York when leaving for
Stockholm.  Then, when making the connection in Heathrow, London, you
have to pass it through again, even though you never left the airport.  And
do do you have any liquid? It is crazy. Curse 9/11! Travelling by train you
have the joys of the countryside. High speed trains are the fastest way to
go from the very center of Stockholm to Arlanda, the main airport, It only
takes about 20 minutes.

(15) Discussing Brazil again, when I was a child, about 60 years ago, I used
to travel by train from my home town Assis to Sao Paulo, which is about
300 miles away. The old Sorocaban trains were not so frequent but were
great. They had a sleeping and a restaurant car. All of this is over now.
There are no more trains. This is a good example of a  symptom of the
degradation of the Brazilian state.

(16) One very unpleasant thing about visiting the US and Sweden is the lack
of public restrooms [4] . At my age, it is much easier to notice these things.
In America, they have the Disability Act. People who lack a leg are very
noticeable, but senior citizens who have to urinate very often are simply left
in a very uncomfortable situation. I remember this one time a few years ago
when standing in a bus terminal in Washington, DC, a Mexican man about
my age asking me how to solve this problem. I answered: there is no
solution. Do what I do, go nearby to solve your problem.
    
II. Sweden

(17) I arrived to Stockholm for the first time in 1973 for my second exile,
after fleeing from Chile through the Swedish Embassy. So, after  almost 40
years, I returned to this beautiful city. At the airport, the reception was not
friendly. I was greeted with beautiful Swedish police women, dressing in
black with hands on their pistols, closely watching my every move. Oh,
cursed 9/11! How bad you’ve been to us. Those radical Muslims were able to
stain the beautiful beginning of the 21th century. I am obviously comparing
this with the tragedy that was the 20th century.

(18) When I went to a bank to get local Swedish currency, I was shocked. It
seemed for a moment that I had momentarily returned to the Third World….
to an “emergent” country. Everything reminded me of a Semi-Failed State.  
It took forever to exchange money [5] . Most of the people in the lines were
senior citizens or foreigners. Soon I understood: this is the result of a new
policy associated with the internet.  The idea, correct in theory, was to
reduce costs, but at the expenses of senior citizens. This is just one of the
many imperfections of developed countries.It will be like this per omnia  
saecula seculorum (forever and ever). It has to be like this, otherwise, life
would make no sense. Man has a basic urge to always make his life better.

(19) Drinking wine and other alcoholic beverages is quite difficult in Sweden.
They have a state-owned monopoly called Systembolaget. There are no
sales of alcohol in the weekends and working hours are highly restricted
during the week. It is the same in Norway and Finland, but not in Denmark. I
am not sure, but I think it is a nostalgic movement originating from the
Prohibition from the beginning of the 20th century. As far as I know, these
ideas originated with the protestant Nordic women of the area and then
crossed the Atlantic, arriving in America around 1920. Today, we know very
well the tragedy of such ideas.

(20) One time, I remember walking down the sidewalk when I saw a older
man walking in the opposite direction pushing his rullator (walker). I didn’t
pay him any mind. I took a drink from my small vodka bottle.  When he
passed by me he said: “Det var got” (That  was good).I answered: Det var
det (of course it was!). Those rullators (walkers) are a great idea for senior
citizens. It is a kind of a modified baby carriage. Senior citizens can go
shopping at the supermarket  and walk more safely. I thought that this
could help me in the future. But then I remembered that sidewalks in Brazil
are not straight   enough for this!  This is the cruel reality of living in a Failed
State.

(21)  The subway in Stockholm is wonderful. There are no lines and even
dogs can take it too. Dogs can be seen in fine restaurants with their owners
– although not at fancy dinners, I suppose.  People who love their dogs can
be with them all the time. I remembered Thomas Jefferson’s ideas about the
pursuit of happiness as a mankind’s main purpose.  I think Stockholm and
probably some other First World cities have taken a  step in this direction –
probably it is the same in Copenhagen, etc. Parks and other leisure areas
are really clean. They are well-preserved inside the city.  

(22) A note on a cultural difference. You shouldn’t praise or play with the
dogs. People don’t like it, even if the dogs do. Maybe they consider it an
invasion of their privacy. Even praise or playing with Swedish children is not
welcome. As a Latin man, this seemed to be an excessive cautious to me. I
asked one of my Swedish friends who was partially raised in Brazil and his
experiences. He told me that on the bus in Brazil, people would pet his
head, exclaiming: “So cute, so blonde!” This obviously didn’t bother him. He
told me he even liked it.

(23) Another notable cultural difference is that the Swedish accept their
handicapped children quite well, as part of live, but we don’t. We usually say
something along the lines of “poor family”.The religious attribute it as some
sort of divine punishment.  I have a friend who is having a bad time at his
end of life because he can’t accept a handicapped grand-child.  The Swedish,
and I assume,  other developed peoples  are much better in this aspect [6] .

(24) When in Stockholm, I had the rare opportunity to visit the experiment
fields of Alfred Nobel in Aspudden.  There, you can find   all the facilities,
including the experimental tunnels for the developing of dynamite. A very
important note about successful countries fits here: they have a well-
archived memory. This is not the case for Failed States.

(25) I returned to the Vasa Museum now thet I am of a mature age. This is
one of the most important museums in the world. It is about a magnificent
warship that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. What is so fantastic about
this story is that the ship was found and recuperated in 1961 almost
entirely intact after more than three centuries   submerged . It is a piece of
human history. There is a lesson to be learned here. King Gustavus II
Adolphus, who ordered the building of the vessel, was too preoccupied  with
the grandiosity of the warship –including fantastic decorations - but forgot
the basic principles of balance. This is just my opinion, while my first college
degree was structural engineering, naval engineers are much more qualified
to give their opinions.   

(26)The Swedish, like the Americans, are very proud of their nations. Here,
an interesting discussion about the concepts of tribes, peoples, countries,
states and nations flourishes. The Kurds, for example, are a people maybe
even a country - even though the Turks don’t much like this idea. They have
a defined territory, speak the same language, have the same customs, etc,
but they don’t have a State. Brazil, as all Latin America, is a State– a semi-
failed state (with the exception of Chile), but still a state.  Many territories in
Africa can be considered countries even though they are the results of the
union of many tribes. Many of these lands are completely failed states, but
still states.  Somalia is a good example of a completely Failed State.

(27) Nation is a very complex concept. You must have a past, a clear history
not subject to the current politicians in power as well as values, memories,
huge economies and people who have sacrificed their lifes, etc. Brazil is a
very good example of this. Here, the names of airports and highways, for
example, are changed very frequently in order to honor new politicians and
national “heroes” – almost always new athletes – even to the point of
erasing some hugely historical events of our past.  

(28) Nation, in the Brazilian case, can be thought of as a edition of a very,
very expensive book (US$ 3.700 to US$10.000) according to the gossip
columnist of the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, Sonia Racy – O
Estado de S. Paulo, 09/22/11. This book is in honor of the Brazilian soccer
team Corinthians, with the largest Brazilian soccer fan club and champion of
the Brazilian Soccer Championship of 2011. The two last Brazilian
Presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula, were photographed
presenting the edition. So nice!

(29) I went to southern Sweden, Hoganas, province of Scania, near the city
of Helsingborg, to visit my friend Lars Thorbionson . There, I was impressed
by how many collection containers there were for  recyclable materials. In
truth, I had seen this in Stockholm as well.  We went to Louisiana, Denmark
Museum. We crossed the Oresund Strait , a very narrow strait and one of
the busiest waterways in the world that connects the Baltic Sea with the
Atlantic Ocean. From the ferry, we could see the grandiosity of the Kronborg
Castle immortalized as Elsinore in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

(30) In the supermarkets, systembolaget, etc, there is a machine that
counts coins. In countries like Sweden, USA, etc, with a currency that is
historically stable you have a tendency to accumulate many coins in your
purse and pockets. Some years ago, in the USA, I remember changing coins
for bills in a supermarket, which is a common practice there. This is a very
practical way of getting rid of coins and a sign of a highly productive society

(31) When I was studying economics at Stockholm University. I normally
rode a bike, but I was truly impressed by the numbers of bikes that the
Swedish are using today. It is a remarkable improvement. The city is mostly
flat, which is perfect for bikes. On top of this, the traffic is obviously civilized.

(32) When I arrived to Stockholm, I was very excited to go downtown to
visit my old workplace at the Institute for the Study of Latin America, where
I worked for five years. The building was intact, but it had become a children’
s library. See how wonderful a well succeed state is? The Institute had been
transferred and annexed to Stockholm University in Lappis. Magnus Morner,
our first deirector lives in a retirement home. Weine Karlsson, a great friend
and our second director took me to visit the new facilities.
  
(33) On a weekend, my daughter’s family and I went to an island that we
have visited before, which belongs to some of our Swedish friends. It was
inherited from a Swedish sculptor. It was summer and my granddaughter –
Nina - was fascinated by how swans swim. We were surrounded by a kind of
native forest. In fact, in Scania, Lars explained to me that the forests are
cultivated, renewable. The indigenous animals, such as deers and reindeers,
etc, live there in peace. And this presented a great opportunity to listen to
the marvelous Helen’s clarinet.

(34) There are a lot of trees in and around the cities in the developed
countries.  A friend of mine exclaimed to his son after landing in
Washington, D.C.:”Do you live in a forest?” On the other hand, Catherine
Deneuve, the famous French actress, in a recent visit to Sao Paulo was
shocked by the lack of trees in the city (Folha de Sao Paulo, 10-6-2011).
When travelling through Virginia I was impressed by the abundance of trees.
This seems to be a paradox of a failed tropical state, as is the case in Brazil.
Brazil has the largest rain forest in the world – perhaps the biggest worry
nowadays for environmentalist the world over - but we have no trees
elsewhere.

(35) A remarkable feature in the Brazilian media idiocy is the existence of a
so-called l gossip column in the main newspapers. Once, I was in Tucson,
Arizona, and I bought a Mexican newspaper and it had the dreaded gossip
column as well. I suppose that they are common in all the semi-failed Latin
America states, maybe even in the world.  They consist of long daily reports,
full of photos of high society, including, above all, celebrities. Rich people,
successful soap opera artists, top models and successful “writers” as well as
names in higher positions of the nation’s political scene are all covered in
these columns. They go even further, they stir up a sort of national  
dementia. When you read them, you get the feeling that your country is rich
and grandiose. Sao Paulo is like New York or Paris!

(36) Demented megalomania is a common feature to the Failed States.
Round about the year 2000, Hugo Chavez, from Venezuela, said he was not
going to interfere in the results of the problematic  Bush election. The
problem with the election was associated with problems in Florida regarding
the vote count. In a recent Osctober 2011 report from The Washington
Post, you can read the following: “The brazenness of the plot outlined by
Justice Department officials , regarding a conspiracy to kill Saudi Arabian
representatives shocked  many current and former U.S. officials as out of
character for Iran, which has rarely, if ever, been so bold as to strike targets
in America. U.S. officials were similarly surprised last month when an Iranian
admiral threatened to send naval ships to patrol off U.S. waters.”

(37) In Brazil, there is a myth that the Queen of Sweden is a Brazilian. But
in Sweden, they think she is a German! She was raised some years in Brazil
because her mother was born in Brazil, or something like that. But culturally,
she is a German woman. Brazilians – manipulated by the media and with a
certain national pride - love to say that she is a Brazilian. In 1954, Martha
Rocha, Miss Brazil lost the contest for Miss Universal. The alleged reason
was two extra inches on the hips, which is a national preference. Nowadays,
we know that this was just a invention of a Brazilian report, although   Brazil
suffers from this “trauma” even today. Rubbish, Venezuelans know very well
that their women are the most beautiful in the world!  

(38) Another important characteristic of Brazilian culture that I think it is
also present in most of the Failed States is a vagrant culture. We have many
holidays and the most important, Carnival, is not even legal. There is actually
no law that regulates it. This means that people make their own holidays
despite Congress and the law! It is the longest holiday in the country. The
financial system stops working for 2 and a half days or half a week, during
normal working days.  International statistics obviously doesn’t take this
into account. Officially, they aren’t even holidays. Besides these, there are
the so called “fill-in holidays” – as far as I know this is the same in all of Latin
America. If the holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, people don’t work
Monday before or the Friday after as well. It’s even worse in the public
sector. This is the vagrant’s paradise.  

(39) Another negative characteristic in Latin America is the lack of confidence
or trust in economic relations, etc. This is a crucial issue, as pointed out by
Mr. Alan Greenspan some years ago as well as by some other thinkers.
“Without mutual trust no economic system works.” People usually lie and
this makes relationships difficult. The norm is to lie and the exception is to
tell the truth. It’s totally crazy. People say they’ll come to finish a job but
they never show up, etc.   

III. Portugal

(40) Knowing that Portugal is the poorest country in Western Europe, I was
already prepared when I landed at Lisbon. When I arrived, in the evening, I
urgently needed a restroom and, fortunately, I had  access to one even
though the cleaning women were working in it.At the time I thought: “Thank
God I am in the Latin world again,” It doesn’t have the same rigid and
correct organization, but sometimes this is a good thing. As expected, the
Lisbon airport didn’t have the same appearance or infrastructure as the
airports in the United States, England or Sweden.
 
(41) The traffic in Lisbon was quite good. It was a holiday season   in
Lisbon. Perhaps it was just a matter of coincidence, but a national holiday
followed by a local city holiday or vice-versa. I had to hurry to have time to
visit A Torre do Tombo, the most important archive, library, museum in
Lisbon and my main interest in the city. The following day, I realized that
many Portuguese have the same bad habit of taking “fill-in holidays” or
“extended vacation days” similar to Latin Americans (see paragraph 38
above). Recent news from Portugal says that as a consequence of the public
debt crisis in Europe, the Portuguese government is trying to eliminate
about four holidays a year! I don’t believe they’ll succeed in getting  all that.

(42) When I arrived at the hotel – a cheap one in downtown Lisbon. I was
eager to relax and have a  beer, so I asked for a nearby bar. I figured that
because this is the Latin world, there should be plenty of bars. In fact, there
was a bar one block behind the hotel. In Stockholm it would have been
impossible to find one at that time. Even in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The bar
was full of young people probably college students, etc, drinking beer. Most
of them were probably unemployed or potentially unemployed as is the
current case in Portugal. At the exit, there was trash on the sidewalk. The
taxis were old Mercedes Benzes – about 25 or 30 years old and the  drivers
talked a lot at night. The perfect Latin world!

(43) The architecture of A Torre do Tombo, attached to the university, was
quite ugly. It reminded me of Sao Paulo. The architect probably tried to
create a modern building, but he didn’t succeed in his objectives. There are
big, straight-lined blocks at the main entrance.  It reminded me of Oscar
Niemeyer, a Brazilian communist architect from years ago who is responsible
for the creation of Brasilia and venerated by the local idiots as one of the
greatest architects of the modern world!

(44)  When I was on the first floor of the museum archive, I noticed a group
guided by a Portuguese professor who was emphasizing the importance of
history and memories. This part of the museum was  full of photos and
some tools, most of them from of modern times, nothing really important,
although some written documents from Portuguese history are quite
important for humanity. In the reading room on the up level, there were
very few people. It wansn’t a very pleasant image for a visitor.  

(45) In fact, I was skeptical about the perceptions of the best selling  
Brazilian writer, Laurentino Gomes, author of 1808 and 1822, regarding the
absence of memory and history from the Portuguese people. Gomes cites
his visit to O Porto, the second-largest Portuguese city, which is very
important in Portuguese history. I have to agree, he is right on this aspect.

(46 On the way back to the hotel, I talked with the taxi driver regarding
Brazilians living in Lisbon. As I had already known, there are a lot of Brazilian
prostitutes and transvestites in Portugal. He told me he used to drive one
young Brazilian prostitute to the bank to send Euros to Brazil. At that time,
I thought, “today, the Brazilian media insists on reporting the “lethal” crisis
in Europe while Brazili had a prosperous and bright future, but there are a
lot of young Brazilians workers in Portugal and not the other way around. “
You  meet them everywhere. I have never heard of any Portuguese
prostitutes in Brazil, though.  Furthermore, there are no slums in Lisbon.  

(47)   I went to Peniche, which is on the coast about an hour’s drive  
northwest  of Lisbon to visit my cousin, Sonia Machado and her husband,
Alvaro Oliveira, a naval engineer. Peniche is a small city and one of the
westernmost   points of Europe. Fishing is the principal   economic activity.
Peniche has a vestige from Salazar’s time (1928-1973): a historical political
prison that is no longer in use -  a trace of fascism in Portugal.

(48) Alvaro is the boss of a small-to medium- sized company that
manufactures and remodels boats. Their primary market is Angola and
Mozambique. I was interested on labor relations in Portugal. In fact, in 2005,
I had applied for a fellowship at Harvard, My Application  to Harvard (2005),
with a proposal to perform a comparative study between Portugal and Brazil
concerning labor relations.

(49) It seemed to me in that quick visit to the factory that the working
environment was better in Portugal than in Brazil, although I have no data
on the volume of labor lawsuits in Portugal. In 2010, Brazil had almost 3
million! The Japanese embassy in Brazil has more labor lawsuits than all of
Japan! In this case, Brazil in no doubt the world’s champion without taking
the number of workers into account.  The workers use cars and have a
parking lot in the factory. The average productivity level seems to be the
same as Brazil

(50) After talking with a Portuguese lawyer and my cousin, I found out that
the Portuguese labor relations are almost as bad as in Brazil and even worse
n some aspects. In Portuguese labor courts, employees win about 95% of
lawsuits. In Brazil, it must be about 99% So, this is not a significant factor
in the explanation of Portugal ‘s superior performance in the last decades,
as I had believed in 2005.

(51) My friends took me to a historical place named Obidos, a little north of
Peniche. It was originally a settlement constructed by early Celtic tribes in
308 B.C. It later became a Phoenician trade center.  The town has a
magnificent castle, which is a inn today. It is a kind of open-air museum and
is a really interesting place to visit.

(52) One time, when were going downtown to have some dinner, we met a
lot of young people, mostly young women. Alvaro explained that there is a
“college” in Peniche with such courses as tourism, etc. I immediately
associated this with Brazii, where we have a lot of these “colleges” as well.
They educate people to be unemployed while wasting resources and being
irrational!  

(53) A note about the current Portuguese culture. When I arrived in Lisbon,
the local holiday (see paragraph 41) was to celebrate Saint Anthony’s
Festival (A Festa de Santo Antonio). When I was in Peniche, I watched the
parade on TV. The Portuguese cultivate their values through the clothes and
dances of ancient times and include their entire families, including children, in
the festivities. It is great. I couldn’t help but compare this with Brazilian
carnival, with all the associated nudity and public expense [7] . And what’s
worse …..Brazilians are so proud of their carnival and even think that the
entire world is made better by so much beauty!

(54) A negative cultural aspect in the current Portuguese culture  is that
some people  have the habit of parking cars on the sidewalks. I saw this in
Peniche. In some parts of Rio de Janeiro, you can’t even walk on the
sidewalks because it’s become a parking lot!  

(55)In Brazil as in many other countries, including Portugal, water is
previously treated to be suitable for drinking. People with a better economic
condition buy bottled water. At a minimum, this is a hint of a semi-failed
state. In New York, Washington, the whole of Sweden everybody drinks
water from the faucet without the least worry.  

(56) Despite all negative aspects, Portugal is a healthy state. It is hard to
call Portugal a nation, as I understand the concept. It certainly seems like a
nation when its national soccer team plays! And in those occasions, you are
sure to see lots of Portuguese flags everywhere, as is the case in Brazil. On
all other occasions, you won’t  see even one flag in Portugal.  

(57) When I was in Portugal there was a threat in the air for a general strike.
Who were the leaders of such a movement?  Transportes Aereos
Portugueses (TAP) and Caminhos de Portugal (CP), the two main state-
owned companies. I immediately thought of Brazil where we inexorably have
a big strike every year with the banks. Who are always the leaders?  The
two big public banks. Banco do Brasil and Caixa Economica Federal.

(58) While talking to a Portuguese businessman and blaming the Brazilian
public sector as the main entity responsible for the lack of future in Brazil,
he responded that the public sector is the main problem for everyone in the
world. That is partially true. Today, the European debt crisis is a good
example. But you have to make a distinction between the phenomenon itself
and its intensity. Violence is a problem the world over, but the level of
violence in Latin America is so high that it has created a new type of war: an
internal war that is unique to Latin America, with the exception of Chile, as
always. This is also the case with the Brazilian public sector. We have  sky-
high taxation and almost no return in  public services!    

(59) Portugal is historically a large producer of olive oils and wines. This is
great. The problem is that this doesn’t generate enough jobs for the
younger generations. Portugal has to create small- and medium-size
manufacturing industries to solve this problem.  The main obstacles are the
labor laws and the privileged culture of the public sector and state-owned
companies, an old inheritance. Underneath all of these is the lack of
intelligence, which is the same in Brazil, its major discovery.

(60)  Portugal was a great country in the 15th century. “In the fifteenth
century the locus of maritime progress switched to Portugal, which was
exploiting the Atlantic islands and the African coast (…….)In the fifteenth
century, the Portuguese developed the quadrant, which made it possible to
judge latitudes and distance sailed. “ (See “Growth and Interaction in the
World Economy”, Angus Maddison, pg 22-23).

(61) The great Paulo Prado talks about the decadence of the Portuguese
race of roughly the 16th century in his book Retrato do Brasil (Portrait of
Brazil). It is quite complex to judge his opinion, but Paulo Prado was a rare
case of intelligence in Brazil. He could see the Brazilian tragedy as early as in
1927. Below is a recent photo of young smoking crack (the cheapest and
most residual part of cocaine manufacturing) in downtown Sao Paulo.    

                        
                                
                    
       
Notes

[1]Normally, manufactured goods are much cheaper in developed countries
independent of the exchange rates. They are roughly 4 times more expensive here.
The only difference at the moment is that people have more purchasing power – more
dollars for their income levels in Reais. This is the difference.

[2]  Nowadays, the demented Brazilian megalomania, stimulated by media idiocy,
associates S. Paulo to New York

[3]  In fact, there is a Mexican idea that came about some 110 years ago that works
marvelously well in Brazil: jogo do bicho (the Animal Gamble, which is a type of lottery,
although it is not a legal lottery insomuch as it is not run by the government). It is the
only thing that works perfectly in Brazil, probably due to the fact that there is no state
involvement.

[4]  In Sweden, people told me the reason for this nonsense is to discourage drug
addicts. Ok, I understand, but once, I was in a McDonalds restaurant in downtown
Stockholm desperately looking for a 5 kronor coin to access the restroom.  It isn't
enough to have money. No, you must have the precise coin! It isn't easy, let me tell
you. I also experienced this once in the main street in Stockholm’s, Sveavagen.

[5]  A curious thing about the current world is semantics. Today, countries like Brazil
and others in Latin America are called “emerging” when, in fact, they should be called
"submerging"! In the past, people referred to them as "developing countries" when
"underdeveloped countries" is actually the better description, despite their clear
communistic origins. In general, these semantic terms originate from bureaucrats of
the United Nations or the like. They soon mix Brazil with really emerging countries such
as China, South Korea and even India which seems to have found their way into the
future. Mixing garlic with oranges makes the situation even darker (local
expression).     

[6]  The main idea in this paragraph is attributed to my great Portuguese friend, Tila
Barreto, who has been living in Sweden for nearly 40 years.

[7]  The Brazilian carnival has its origins in a Portuguese festival called entrudo. It was
a kind of a simple and nice joke. It evolved over the last decades to arrive at today's
aberration. "Sad Tropics", as Levi-Strauss, the French anthropologist, would have said
many decades ago