Brazil: An Inconvenient History
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Brazil: An Inconvenient History

2010, History  -   89 Comments
Ratings: 7.96/10 from 85 users.

Brazil - An Inconvenient HistoryAt first glance Brazil appears to be an alluring playground of exciting carnivals, sultry samba, divine football and a vibrantly diverse people.

But behind this dazzling facade lies a disturbing story of history's largest-ever slave population.

Astonishingly Brazil, a Portuguese colony, received ten-times more African slaves than the numbers transported to North America.

This programme looks at those estimated 4 million people with whose blood, sweat and tears Brazil was built.

Without them none of Brazil's present-day success and appeal would exist. Using contemporary testimonies, this film takes a hard look at Brazil s dark history through the eyes of those slaves.

They lived in squalid conditions on remote plantations or in teeming cities harboring fatal diseases. Most Africans survived only seven years in this 'New World'.

Some, however, did survive to create a new culture a fusion of African and European. This new ethnicity permeates and explains the modern Brazilian way of life.

This outstanding film, winner of the Houston Film Festival Gold Award, is directed by Phil Grabsky. His film throws light on Brazil s inconvenient history.

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M. Fernandez
5 years ago

What an "amazing" place Brazil is ...- "Paulistano." Where have you been lately. At mama and papa's fortified penthouse? Brazil is and always has been a smiling nightmare of sorts, a smiling-racist to the marrow country where the population has been desecrated - prorammed- since day one by a cheapo, exploitative sexual slavery of sorts( enter the maids ...).

7 years ago

Leonardo exagerated so much. I live here, and there are lots of things he said that are lies. A Nike cost 400 reais here, not dollars, which means 100 dollars! Here you can live very well, Brasil has the great system for health, the SUS, and you can live here happy with few. Of course, Brasil has a lot of problems, like corruption, education and power at the hands of a little piece of the population. Leonardo seems to be a person who had many problems here, and now has hate on Brasil, you're scary man! Anyway, travelling and living all over the world, it's difficult to find a better place, I love the diversified culture, the climate, the nature, the girls and the people. Obs: my english is not good hahaha

Johann Kepler
7 years ago

Leonardo-Igor: you sound just like frustrated uper class whining babies, typical discource of "wanna be elite or think I am elite" brazilians. Seriously you are patetic when thinking that crying out your emotional anti-patriotic depression though the internet will gather u some superhumanic gringo console, or do you think that by despising your nation, describing your country and your national fellas as a piece of shit you´re going to show the international community how enlightened you are. Much sorry for you bro. See Germany, France, Austria, despite their big problems in the past nad present, I´ve never seen their nationals reacting like you, by the way, instead of running away, they thought about reconstructing, improving their countries, working together.

So USA is the best country, as you use it as margin of comparison, because there you buy "surf shorts" way cheaper, you probably don´t know about the slavery work in the chinese factories and if you worship so much your american surf brand and want to buy the same in Brazil, you are due to pay import taxes or buy something made in Brazil instead, which maybe will cost not less, depending of the brand but still Brazilian workers have a generall better situation as the chinese ones! Or do better consume less, just the necessary and u do best for the planet. Get informed, try to de-mainstream your believes before spitting around bad vibes about a nation and its people, which have a tragical history of elitary exploitation in their baggage. You both lack of open minding new horizons. Being the deligent is not everything. People need to have school that serve the individual and community needs not the government, people need to have meaningful jobs, time to dedicate to their families and talents.

Brazilians haven´t had this opportunity yet, to work for something that they really like and believe, besides that they are suppressed day after day by media, elitary judiciary system and by big foreign unethical corporations (for those you Igor may wish to work one day - monsanto right?). You, for instance, think sadly shallow, when you say you want to keep studing, as you seek a place among the gringos, to feel like one, to simple be able to consume more. But you do not realize how manipulated you are, you are part of the problem not the solution when u express your excluding personality and your sense of superiority, lack of solidarity bro is sad and live room for hate and blind prejudice. I don´t have a religion, but I believe on spirituality, in thriving as a human not as a human trash that lives to adapt to the box you´re in. You probably think that increasing the number of white collars and "schooled" people automatically can be created an developed society.

Education can also be a form of "mind formation" to set up to "conformation". If you ar so deeply insatisfied, go to the "perfect" USA, maybe you can open your mind there; BUT please get around the many corners there, not as a moron uper class brazilian tourist that goes from shopping mall to shopping mall, from LA to Miami, please see America and you´ll see that even there the world is far far from perfection and in many corners so miserable as it is in Brazil. Beyond that see the USA compatriots just like the middle class in Brazil, consumer orientated, materialistic, dummed by the media and socialy enslaved. Watch less cable tv and start your travel in Brazil bro, backpack, don´t be afraid to talk to locals and see that "unschooled" is not the synonym for ignorance. There is a big powerfull machinery behind all that and it wished that it stays like that. Think open wide bro, peace.

Lord Effington Three Sticks
7 years ago

Sort of a "Social Justice Warriors" look at Brazil. I watched it but I would warn you it distracts from modern day slavery by focusing on negros as they call them in Brasil. Modern day slavery is the government as master and those who work as slaves.

I have no doubt slavery was not fun in Brazil but I also have no doubt that those who are in the "Social Justice Warrior" movements would love to have slaves if they were born in that era. They're not to be trusted.

9 years ago

A rather lukewarm and truncated attempt at chronicling a soul-numbing brutalization of millions of Africans and Aboriginals. Hopefully someone will do far better soon.

11 years ago

Fact: Bristish colonies: the most racist empire that ever existed...still not many docs about that...Apartheid in USA untill the 60´s (yeah, thats right), South Africa untill the 90´s and Australia untill the 70´s......Portugal was actually the 1st country to abolish slavery and maybe the european country that killed less indians as you can confirm from the present day population of present example of world races mix! the rest are just storys..not history!

Fernando Miranda
11 years ago

It is so funny and contradictory see a documentary entitled "Brazil:a inconvenient history" made by one of the countries who most exploited the Africa continent. Slavery in Brazil existed in a short period of time: from 1822 (independence of Brazil) until 1888 ("the golden law"). Meanwhile, the United States took almost 100 years to abolish slavery. There is another diference between us: here slavery ended when the princess Isabel put a signature on paper; in the United States, slavery just ended because of the American Civil War. So the conclusion is: we, brazilians, are above you in moral issues.

11 years ago

Brazil is blackest country outside Africa, the british colonized America but they only imported 0.5 million black slaves in other hand brazil slavery lasted till 1888 with import around 4 million slaves plus the european immigration was ten times more in US than Brazil, so dont need to much math to find it out cause this was and is major reason why brazil has more black than white.

11 years ago

Very interesting, revealing, although the left wing propoganda that they try to feed us in one or another place discredits whole movie. When I first arrived in Brazil, I was surprised how European Brazil is. Almost more so than U.S. The white Brazilians share the European values and tastes and absolute passion for everything European, because they are essentially Europeans just living now on the other side of Atlantic. Black people (obviosly not from Europe) have different tastes and values closer to their home land - of course, why wouldn´t they. So if the Brazilian society is not as homogenous and integrated as the filmmakers would prefere, it is more "clash of civilizations" as S.Huntington would call it, than racism. Racism definitely not.

11 years ago

You people are ridiculous. Study some Latin America History, please.

All of the America's were built upon exploitation of resources and indigenous people, in order to benefit Europe. It is the beginnings of Capitalism... (which I could go on a huge rant about, but I will stay on topic).

This documentary did a pretty good job in describing a huge chunk of Brazil's colonial past. Without this dark history, Brazil would not be what it is today, for the good and the bad. Brazil is a beautiful placed full of wonderful people and culture.

Sure, the government is corrupt, but name me a government that is not corrupt. However, it is unfortunate that Brazil is one of the richest countries in the world with only 10% of the population holding up the economy, while the rest are living in a struggle to get by. And the problems of social class inequality are a huge issue. Brazil is a wonderful place to live if you are rich! But if you are not, you are pretty much screwed. It is a beautiful place to visit, I highly recommend it. But it is not the best place to live. In North America you can make a living off of working in a fast food restaurant (In North America, you can sit on your ass and get paid at least 3 times as much as someone does in a demanding job in almost every other country! Lucky bastards ;)). Teachers make enough to be well off. However in Brazil, a teacher must work 3 jobs in order to survive. To work picking up garbage, you need a university degree. It is hard to survive it Brazil. But if you are a doctor, lawyer, politician, etc. go ahead, you'll be fine.

Anyway, regardless of the corruption. Brazil has one of the most unique and lively cultures I have ever experienced. The people are so warm and friendly, and they sure know how to party and enjoy themselves! You cannot just go and say bad things about Brazil, without also describing the good. There's two sides to every story!

11 years ago

this is very disturbing.

12 years ago

Brazil has many, many qualities and is very similar to United States in my opinion.

It has great beaches, countrysides, amazing forrests and waterfalls.
It has vast natural resources like gold, oil, the biggest hidrographic basin of the planet, the amazon and pantanal and all its bilogical capital, a privileged spot for launching space rockets.

It's not molested by hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanos.

Brazil's only problem is its people and their absolute lack of will to take advantage of all this potential. They prefer to lean on the state instead of achieving greatness for themselves. They prefer to blame their situation instead of making it better, they could be great because of portugal, than it was the slavery, than hiperinflation and now it's theor broken/corrupted political system.

12 years ago

In all my previous posts I was mostly speaking of Brazil's infrastructure and more indirect features of their reality. There are however many features of the day-to-day lives of brazilians that are worth remarking and serve as proof of what is the mindset of the average person( of any financial status). In this case, I am not the author of the following, rather I was sent this this myself but translate it from one of the many popular lists that go around the net, and it is all reak things that happen that are morally objectionable.

- Assume autorship to works that aren't theirs
- Puts co-workers names in attendace lists at work.
- Pays for others to do their work.
- Steals cargo from trucks that rolled over on highways.
- Parks on sidewalks, often right under signs prohibiting the fact.
- Tries to bribe everytime the opportunity prevents itself
- Will sell their votes for anything: dentures, a bag of rice, etc.
- Talks on the cellphone anywhere, including in heavy fast tight pot-holled traffic
- Will drive on breakdown lane in a traffic jam
- Double and tripple parks in front of schools
- Breaks noise and disturbance laws.
- Drinks and drives as the fact is culture
- lays out anything on a sidewalk
- fabricates or gets a doctor's note to miss work.
- Steals cable, electricity and water, and depending on the place pays for it to an illegal third party
- Registers real estate purchases with prices a fraction of market value to pay less taxes, often with officials turnign a blind eye.
- Buys fake receipts to pay less taxes
- Sues employers for hiring them under the table, after accepting the job in the first place
- Changes its race designation to get financial and social advantages, such as univertisy quotas for blacks
- when traveling for business, asks restaurant owners to make a 20 dollars receipt on a 10 dollar lunch, to get steal refund money
- trades donations of disaster zones.
- always changes a cars odometer to read out less miles when selling cars
- purchase and makes illegal products indiscriminately
- puts just a shell of a catalitic converter instead of a real one to pass inspection
- adulterates their kids age on documents so not to pay for bus fares
- carries fake student IDs to get 50% discount at cinemas
- register cars out of state to pay less taxes
- gambles in illegal slot machines and gambling schemes owned by mafia lords
- steals everything as far as office suplies from work
- sells food stamps, transport stamps, always, publicly

So there it is, the real deal that is. how can a country ask for morality from their government if their politicians are born and raised in this culture?

12 years ago

@Leonardo and others,
I am sorry to have put so many same comments, but since i was fed "on and on" the slashing of a country, i wanted to know how he/you got out alive....i am waiting for a response.

12 years ago

I have been living in Brazil for almost 2 years now. my experience : the first 3-5months - beautiful country, happy people; 5-10 months - hmmmm very beurocratic and really fake people; 10 months and more - BOARING , everything is just the same, ppl drive either black or silver colored car, limited clothing styles coz almost everyone has similar style, how can everyone have similar mind setup?, filled with corrupt minded people!!! can't wait to get hella outta here!

12 years ago

Although I cannot be sure, I believe the self deprecating comments are not simply made out of self - hate, it pains people to see a land that they probably love live in such a way.

It is not too common its true. Maybe it is trait the Portuguese left to Brazilians.
I'm Portuguese, and I can totally understand this point of view.
Its not health for a nation to look outside with blind admiration, but one should not be proud of ones nation on face value. Even less, should we ignore good examples from abroad.
Not so much now, but derived from eternal underdevelopment compared with other European countries, portuguese got used to looking abroad for positive behaviors, positive social and tecnological behaviors. It is not entirely without reason this point of view, but it makes one blind to what its being well done inside the country.
Ultra patriot and nationalist countries, like the USA (not bashing, its just the obvious well known example) have an endemic ignorance of what is foreign because national pride blinds people to what is foreign and to even attempt to see what is outside.
Neither opposite is good.

Brazil is a huge country, full of resources. It has a heavy burden of social inequality, which includes hard class, racial maybe even demographic divisions. It took longer than it could have to achieve the level of economical development that it sees today.
I'm glad brazillians can, with renewed joy, look down on portuguese as the butt of jokes.
I do hope that besides the recent enlargement of the middle class, Brazil can use its economic prowess to diminish the large numbers of really poor people still living large urban areas.

I don't find Brazil's history an "inconvenience" to anyone except anyone who wants a harmonious society in Brazil.
The legacy of Brazil's history is part of the reason Brazil is the way it is today. The good and the bad.
O samba e os nomes ingleses, o etanol e a destruição da amazónia, o programa espacial e os bairros de lata.

12 years ago

Hi Leonardo,
It can be that everything you mention (which is a huge list: I almost would admire it) are facts. However it is still a list that steers strongly towards all negative things. Nothing can be so bad that you can think of hunderds of negative facts and no good facts. So please don't argue that the list has nothing to do with your own perspectives and point of views. Furthermore if I have a look at your list, I keep thinking: Hell, why not think of all the usefull things that you could have done with the time and especially energy that you 'wasted' by thinking of as many negative things about Brazil as possible and even take the effort to write them all down.

12 years ago

A bit lack and not a great cinematic documentary; but boy if this doesn't get the brain thinking. labor relations, culture, colonialism, income inequality, societal structure, and are just a few of the topics running through the head. not quite sure about all this babel below but all in all good information, not a bad documentary.

12 years ago


A place that the Jitney cabs is a common fixture of large cities.What this means is that regular citizens with their own private cars run illegal taxi operations, with vans, motorcycles, sedans and so on.

A place that the only luxury store in the country (a Saks equivalent) is a known tax evasion entity, yet they bribed themselves off the hands of fiscal police for 2 decades. Now, after being caught, they are milking the litigious system to keep their founders free and the stores open.

A place that owners of low end motorcycles paint its engines in hot pink, to reduce chances of theft. They also paint helmets.

A place that transvestites make it to the cover of Playboy magazine.

A place that old fashioned zebu carts still roam the streets of major cities.

A place that stolen vehicles with its VIN #s scratched off ride around the country side and that is a known fact, yet authorities don't do anything substantial about it.

A place that in amazonian towns bordering drug producing countries, a common citizen can buy cocaine by the pound.

A place that your Rio's welcome package includes the smell of filth coming off the bay and its 40+ thousand fecal matter particles per liter. Sometimes you can smell it right after the door is open, which makes one think somebody pee'd right there.

A place that when you walk into a shop named to be an all sports specialy shop, you wonder if you walked into a sneakers shop.

A place that you can walk in pretty much any drug store in Rio's suburbs and purchase Viagra without a prescription.

A place that manufacturers of windows almost always make them with steel cross bars, for protection. Talking about Windows, but this time for the computer world, the only version that exists is "Illegal Pirated 7".

A place where governments introduce GMO crops and that fact makes zero fuss in the media. If you ask a person on the street, chances are they don't even know what that is.

A place that charges 6 dollars for an ounce of salmon wrapped in seaweed and a bit of rice, in what is called Temaki Bars.

A place that politicians spend public money all over Rio de Janeiro on signs and billsboards showing that they have constructed smooth road surfaces. That should be the norm, and certainly not something worthy of a billboard.

A place that the largest seller in the auto industry for 22+ years and running is the VW Gol. Just so you get an understanding of the technology under a car that will cost you 18 thousand dollars with a 1000cc engine and no power windows or A/C, its suspension and chassis haven't fundamentally changed since its inception in 1980, i.e: the vehicle only goes through cosmetic changes so after 30 years, is considered to be still a second generation vehicle and it still does not move out of 1st place.

A place were political party affiliation is seen as weird and radical.

A place that drug dealers stole riffles right off a military base in Rio.

A place that packing box and aluminum recycling is done by men pulling makeshift carts carrying 20ft high loads, a true balancing act right on the streets of cities.

A place where discounted metro tickets are illegaly sold on the streets.

A place where the stereotype is spoken as fact in many circles, including middle class and the rich. This means that there is a significant portion of the population that the only knowledge of the USA is fat people or girls with big breasts and little bottoms posing with big fluffy hair. FYI, there are still many 80s and 90s tv shows and movies on afternoon tv out there.

A place that some money and enough patience to shop around can get you any drug in a pharmacy, and until recently that could be done by delivery.

A place that there exists almost no zoning laws regarding where an individuial can put up a business. It means that if your neighbor wants to open up a strip club right next to your million dollar mansion, it will happen.

A place that you can see minor smoking crack cocaine at the door step of major shopping malls, like the Norte Shopping in Rio de Janeiro.

A place that one single color copy can cost 2,50 dollars downtown Rio, because the copiers are imported and cost a good 50 grand easily.

A place that guns are sold to drug dealers by cops themselves.

A place that peeing in public is common, albeit it is done hidden from view. For example, taxi stops with dozens of cars sometims function without a public restroom, which means guys pee on some street corner all day long. Certain areas of parks, tunnels, pedestrian crossings are also used as restrooms. Even places that are supposed to be must sees like the Arches of Lapa in Rio smell like urine.

A place that I have never ever heard a politician sound intellectually capable, with the exception of former President Fernando Henrique.

A place where traffic cones are used by civillians to mark off public parking spaces on busy downtown streets.

A place that one needs a driver's license to ride a personal water craft, which are rented at 100 dollars per hour in summer vacation hot spots. Despite existing laws prohibiting their transit near the general public, irresponsible and often drunk show offs are seen putting bathers lives in danger all over the country.

A place that basic public works like fixing sewage and road buidling often start before elections and are left behind or suffer major delays once the elections are over.

A place that water drains are used as storage by beggars and street vendors.

A place where water fountanis are almost certainly beggar showers.

A place that beaches smelling like sewage (because that is what they are) is a normal thing.

12 years ago

@ Luiz

There are numerous cases, from water usage to gun control to the complete repeal of the new Obama care laws that are the states using interpretations of the US constitution to make laws of their own. Brazilian States don't do that.

12 years ago

"A place that the constitution gives absolute powers to the federal government.This means that if the feds make a law, States cannot declare it unconstitutional and rule it out, because that is a power States don’t have (with the same amplitude as in the USA)."

You don't know anything about US law. States cannot violate the US constitution. You should just shut up about things you don't know anything about.

12 years ago


A place that the constitution gives absolute powers to the federal government.This means that if the feds make a law, States cannot declare it unconstitutional and rule it out, because that is a power States don't have (with the same amplitude as in the USA)

A place that has multiple cities that feature 50 murders per week on average.

A place that if you and your friends know people in TV, in a city of 1 million people, and you went to your regular vacation in Macchu Picchu for a week, you get that story run in the entire State!

A place that road blockades by AK-47 armed teenagers are a daily life treat in Rio's guettos.

A place that 3/4 of people are not hired based on intelectual merit or common sense, but on inside knowledge and recommendation.

A place where political progressiveness is always nipped in the bud by the media.

A place with dozens of multilated cities, featuring nothing short of despotic architecture and absolutely no planning. Most towns with 500 thousand people or less, are basically over developed slums with a few downtown roads. Large cities that were large enough in the beginning of the 19th century feature some beautiful architecture, but that is usually left to rot too. The very few exceptions to this rule become turist destinations, like the town of Poços de Caldas in Minas Gerais.

A place where the the fundamental rules of family life are talked about extensively in the conservative circles, yet the execution of it fails and it is seen in the form of our little girls having sexy dancers as their role models, like the latest samba dancer that in order to get her perfect looking legs, is able to leg press 1000 pounds.

A place that just got the lovely new Passat for sale in VW's showrooms, for 189 thousand reais, about 110 thousand dollars.

A place void of grass roots campaigns and substantial activism, in face of the obvious and rampant corruption. Most campaigns that make it big are usually the so called social entrepreneurship companies using government money to execute projects that typically pay big shot speakers and make a lot of noise but little actual change. It means, these are people that know how to milk the system with a front of being green/social but they are after profit. For example, recently there was a tradeshow on green economy in Rio that consumed 22 million reais of government money and was nothing but a show and tell and international ego boosting, as well as royal parties at key bourjois universities.

A place where you are able to illegaly double park right in front of a cop car, and nothing is done.

A place where most of its rivers are completelly polluted. In some cities, large rivers like the Rio das Velhas that crosses a major metropolitan region in teh State of Minas Gerais, used to be a 500 meter wide deep navigable river and now it is a city sewage canal.

12 years ago


A place that a sugarcane laborer earns 6 dollars a day on average, effectively being on the fields 14-16 hour days cutting tons of the stuff using a machete often without protecting gloves. Men start their shift at 3AM, after being hauled to fields in open bed semis. On such a truck, alongside perhaps 50-100 more guys, they hang on to their lives to be transported to the fields from the outskurts of Brazilian midwestern towns. Meanwhile, one cup of sugar cane juice is 1 dollar at the beach.

A place that most of its population watches religiously to mexican style soap operas. The multi million dollar per episode productions and its mix of passion, betrayal and greed is the staple of the most Brazilian entertainment.

A place that have scenic roads and key bridges crossings turned into toll roads, where they are controlled by important families with political ties. In my hometown, we have such a case: it was supposed to be built in 5 years and paid for in 7 years of tolls. It was built in 9, and the toll fares are going on 20 years strong. Did I mention the government just rewarded their company with a 25 year lease?

A place that a university with 20+ thousand enrolled refuses to hire private security for its own parking lots, allowing for regular re-ocurring carjackings.

A place that 50 million still go to bed hungry everyday, yet having the third most arable land in the world behind india and China still makes for Brazil being a huge importer of rice from Thailand.

A country that the income gap between the top and the bottom averages out at 400 times.

A place that accepts a police state including security cameras everywhere in public places, random searches, police barricades and so on.

A place that the upper class is fed the same soft euphemized filtered news Reuters gives them, i.e: Brazil has almost no original news reporting in the sense that there is a unbiased and multi-faceted opinion being fed to the masses.

A place obsessed with the United States, to the point of having a statue of liberty in one of its avenues.

A place that exports its best produce to foreign countries. For example, locally consumed coffee is mixed with various fillers, meanwhile export quality is top notch.

A place that has absolutely no pride on its production of goods. For example, we get to see in the US several coffee brands are branded as being from Peru or Jamaica and so on. Yet brazilians coffee producers spend nothing in branding the most abundantly used coffee in the world as the world's best.

A place that its population has no knowledge of its neighboring countries, because most aren't adventurous or rich enough to travel and are influenced by the media which shows nothing of them but violence and the standard internationally accepted political divide. There is no BBC showing documentaries of awesome developments of its universities, and we certainly don't have our own David Attenborough. This means that 90% of the people don't have a clue if Bolivia or Colombia are in the map.

A place that has had a major druglord behind bars for over 5 years, yet he is still making the news because he still runs the drug show from behind federal prison bars!

A place that has entire metropolitan communities like Recife (home of 3+ million) where it is common for 13 year olds girls to wonder the city selling their bodies to foreigners.

A place that has many metropolises where 3/4 of it population lives in slums or slum like conditions.

A place that the so called middle class are still absorbed by the post colonial mentality in the division of resources and class separation.

A place that projects an image of careless fun and the sober acceptance of the so called god given natural gifts, but the reality is that its population are unhappy, jealous, prejudiced, condecending, competitive and absorbed in futile entertainment.

A place with the largest population of crossdresses and transvestites in the world, 100% devoted to prostitution. In Rio's streets, random trials detected +50% of them carries HIV.

A place where its National parks are kept with 0.1% of the budget of American National Park system. It means that there are parks the size of NYC or Washington DC being kept with 1 ranger without a car and an old machete. Parks are left to burn at a regular basis and there is not much of a fire prevention system in place, let alone access to families to enjoy wild life. In fact, most nature has already been wiped out during the processes and patterns that layed out western civilization, at least anywhere outside of the Amazon in the NW. The Atlantic Forest, Brazil's most famous and rich biome, is virtually gone. What is left of it are 3rd and 4th growth bush dotting the landscape, no special care for riverside bush, no large mammals, no fancy birds or certainly rodents like the Lowland Paca are getting rarer and rarer.

A place that it's national tree, the Pau Brasil, is so rare that its ilegal trading is done by the pound.

12 years ago

Luiz, sorry, but you are naive. By the way, your last comment is true. Here in Brasilia, you can’t imagine how often we “ask the gringo gods for salvation”. If you knew how many public policies are just translation of “gringo’s” laws, ideas and principles, you would be not very “pride”. Because here in public service, as well as in big Brazilian’s companies (I have worked in some of them), you can’t imagine how value is somebody that has studied abroad (specially Britain and Common Wealth, USA and France)… hehe.
I haven’t had the chance yet. But I am struggling to do it. If I manage it, there are a lot of places that will fight for me.
Sorry again to tell it. I am not proud of it, and to be honest I don’t think we should think this way. I am attending a pos graduation at a federal university in Brasilia, all the biography is in English and the best teaches and references are just the ones that studied long years abroad (in the countries listed above).
I agree with Leonardo, if you work close to the people and institutions that make difference (technically)in our country and in big companies (even Brazilians) you will understand that we are not talking about against our country, but exactly the opposite, we are studying and working hard to improve the level and quality of our society, that unfortunately sometimes don’t want it. People only think about money and party(I like them too), but culture and knowledge by themselves are very valuable as well. The truth that they are considered worthless for the majority of our people (even by the elite). If we want to improve our country, we have to start being honest with ourselves, otherwise we will always be “in development” and blaming eternitily Portugual, USA ,or even God for our incompetence...

12 years ago

I wonder why one does not see people of other nationalities online creating long laundry lists of everything that is wrong with their countries, and in English? How many Nigerians, Mexicans, English, Americans, etc., do you see doing this? It's a typical Brazilian thing, of people who lack a sense of pride, who have a "vira-latas" ("mutt") syndrome. What's the purpose of washing dirty laundry to an international audience?

12 years ago

"So, as you all can see, some of the responses here suggest both the intelectual limitations of a people that can’t diferentiate fact from fiction, . . ."

How self-centered. I always find it sad when people think they are "intellectually superior" to other people when people don't agree with them. It is a sign of a small mind. Get some therapy so you will overcome your depression and not see the glass half empty all the time.

12 years ago

All I wrote on my long posts are facts: folklore, day to day activities, observations and the news. There is nothing that steer towards personal perspectives, emotions or a point of view.

So, as you all can see, some of the responses here suggest both the intelectual limitations of a people that can't diferentiate fact from fiction, and that there is no respect for those that are able to read in between the lines. Most importantly, it shows that these are people that cannot face the facts.

12 years ago

Luiz, I understand that Leonardo is already quite annoyed about his country… but as matter of fact I am quite annoyed as well. For me, the problem is our culture. We like things easy and not necessarily well done (in a nutshell)… and for me, it is unacceptable. We like, actually, LOVE to take advantage of each other (specially in Rio de Janeiro).If you read my previous post, I have worked auditing public and private companies, and after few years doing it, I have realized how things happen here, and it is a shame… we are not serious as a country or culture. I am sorry, but this is my opinion, based on my moral values.
Of course, there are countries worse than ours, but surely there are better places to live and raise a family… Societies more equally arranged, like Australia and Canada. First, I left Rio de Janeiro (for me a sick society – most of the ‘cariocas’ LOVE that mess, so that they deserve what happens there) to live in Brasilia – Plano Piloto - (not an interesting or vivid city, but maybe the safest and most organized place in Brazil). Unfortunately, like Leonardo, I am not in peace living here.
I recommend “Who killed the electric car?”. It reminders everyone how important is to keep fighting everyday and every moment for our rights and liberty.

12 years ago


This Leonardo guy is full of self-hate. Brazil has its problems but it is not the only country in the world with problems. Self-hate won’t lead you anywhere good. I have lived abroad for many years. For every negative about Brazil there is always one or more positive counterparts.

12 years ago

This Leonardo guy is full of self-hate. Brazil has its problems but it is not the only country in the world with problems. Self-hate won't lead you anywhere good. I have live abroad for many years. For every negative about Brazil there is always one or more positive counterparts.

12 years ago


A place that lacks pilots for its commercial flying industry, yet it does not offer plausible finance options for local prospective students. So instead of financing brazilians wannabe pilots, the government is about to open its doors for foreign pilots, which will virtually kill the chances for brazilians to become pilots.

A place that you can can enjoy a macaw stew right on the streets of many Amazonian cities.... yes yes yes... those birdies that Americans pay 1000 bucks for at Pet Smart.... are street lunch in Manaus and Belém.

A place that features 20 million dollar condos at Ipanema, 1 mile from drug dealing infernos where the governments offers the occasional siege control event just to show it is doing something.

A place that is infested by tagging (graffiti). Rio, for example, is tagged all over the place.

A place that its weather forecasting systems is ONE old and overloaded sattelite, which means 200 million people get better weather forecasting from Nostradamus.

A place that 30 million people were lifted ouf ot poverty. It means that instead of making 100 dollar a month, they make 130. yay!

A place that will turn a beautiful river estuary into another hydroelectric plant, ruining a region's ecosystem based on the scientific method (of making money).

A place that a carnival ticket in Bahia can cost up to 2000 dollars for 4 days, to which commoners save all year for.

A place that the only way youngsters act "pro environment" is when they are at large music festivals reading recycling education brochures.

A place that if you are a tradesman, meaning if you are skilled like a welder or a Veterinarian or an Arquitect, you are very likely not able to live an independent and prosperous life (barely being able to own a car, perhaps)

A place that those looking for higher salaries use their degree to compete for a job as a government minion, such as an elections clerck, federal police officer, prosecutor and so on, instead of pursuing the career which fits their life's mission or their degree. It means that there are many veterinarians working in an office managing people that count votes.

A place that the starting salary for a Architect at a small firm is 700 dollars a month.

A place that all government pensioning, the equivalent of Social Security in the US, is the federal minimum monthly wage, equivalent of roughly 300 dollars per month, and it does not matter who you are. NGOs say it should be 1800 dollars to cover what is considered minimum expenses.

A place that currently has 4-5 million undocumented domestic workers, meaning there are 4-5 million dark (likely) skinned women with multiple children squeezing fresh orange juice for squeaky clean teenagers wearing fresh ironed underwear (yes, it kills germs, so the local custom says).

A place that its reading and math test scores are 1/3 of its Chinese counterparts.

A place that is sold as the world's new eldorado by CBS's 60 minutes, where they featured the country's richest man as its spokesperson. Of course, it is not mentioned that his father was the energy and resources minister for years when the government was under military rule, which gave him a kick start with hugely facilitated government contracts.

A place that a condo that used to be 50 grand 10 years ago is now 250 grand, and they say the poor are able to afford homes now, of course if they finance it which tripples that 250 bill to 750 in a 20 year mortgage.

A place that an artisan build a friend's staircase out of stone over the course of a month, by himself, and charged 800 dollars for it... and that was expensive!

A place that the largest weekly magazine is 2/3 ads, yet if you want to subscribe it you don't get a discount for paying upfront (perhaps 5% on special occasions), so ultimately it costs 5x as much as its USA competition.

A place where unofficial and corrupt vigilante squads (retired or expelled cops or military) run the show in many parts of the country, either functioning as de facto government authorities or side by side with its official yet corrupt friends, the cops. This happens in all large cities, and it is specially occurring in Rio de Janeiro.

A place that a friend and his wife were victims of armed carjacking, to luckily get away with it. Subsequently, because were influencial folks, they ordered the hunt and killing of both robbers, and still boasted in private circles as the right and cool thing to do.

A place that police armored helicopters are shot at and even shot down by drug cartels and nothing is effectively done.

A place that the police hijacks gasoline frmo their own cars and aircraft, and sell it for a profit.

A place that is about to federalize its identification system, featuring data tracking RFID chips, which is another step to tax and control the population even more.

A place where males trained females to accept infidelity and blame other (so untrustworthy) women for it!

A place that your average male cannot express himself artistically just for the sake of it, fearing association with homosexuality. In fact, a man is made fun of regularly if he is near, around or holding any falic object like a banana.

A place were drunk driving is a fact of everyday life, and getting away with it a matter of money, such as a person I know that got away with running over and killing a senior citizen after a raging night out and subsequently passing out on the wheel. Yes, he is rich and lives happily and free with no jail time.

A place that recently had its government make an effort to raise its education standards by relaxing rules for the opening of universities (the easy way out, as usual), which created a plethora of awful schools around the country. It means that now the government can say that its citizens have access to higher education, albeit the quality is sub-par at best.

A place that features a handful of high schools with a 3-5 thousand dollars monthly fees and they don't even rank in the top 50 in the country in tests.

A place that only 25% of its people donate any amount of money to charitable organizations and only 15% of its people volunteer their time, in comparison to for example 70% of Australians giving money and 40% volunteering. These numbers put brazil lower than Malawi, Kenya, Congo, Myanmar, and hundreds of others.

A place in which its citizens are not familiar with sarcasm. It means that the cheapest form of humor, making fun of oddities and common behavior like a 7 year old, is the average citizen's humor repertoire. For example, say a 20 year old guy walks into a mall wearing a panama hat. He will be laughed at (under the radar of course) just because a hat is not the norm. Same goes for a beard, or a mustache, and needless to say any behavior vaguely resembling homosexuality. That same behavior ends up creeping into the everyday life of couples, when calling each other fat is normal.

12 years ago

@everyone that made comments, both foreign and domestic (lol)

Thanks for all words, certainly appreciated.

For those that agree with me, all I say is that despite Brazilians being well intentioned and positively spirited, they lack confidence and the ability to make judgment and act on it specially as a group. Curiosity, as I see it, comes from the observation and thus the interpretation of issues, and sadly that is not in the realm of possibility for most Brazilians because they focus on reproduction and religion. That is the truth, as you can see right here in this forum, for people crucify me simply for pointing out obvious truths. I wonder when will I hear something like "what else do you know?" or "how do you see a solution that gives people purpose and meaning?"

For those that don't agree, I can only offer my deep appreciation for your time, and understanding for your anger. Let me tell you that gratitude for dark skinned maid Maria's fresh squeezed orange juice goes a long way to work out those anger issues...specially if she has been ironing your underwear just the way you like it...... you know.... your basic rights (sarcasm here...)

Not but really, wake up people: there is not enough petroleum under the atlantic that will give the average brazilian people a fair share of the resources they deserve. Until a God comes out of the sky and gives exact instructions in plain portuguese.....until then... forgetaboutit

12 years ago

Although I have a good salary for Brazilian standards (~110,000USD per year). I am studying hard to have a chance abroad, maybe in Canada or Australia... not as a floor cleaner or seller, but as a qualified worker... who knows my children grow in other society...

"If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen"

12 years ago

As Leonardo and Emanuela, I'm Brazilian too...
I have to agree with Leonardo. I am from Rio de Janeiro, but for five years I've lived in Brazilia, Brazil's capital.
I have worked in some private and public companies/agencies basically in international trade and auditions and finance. I’ve audited many public projects in Rio de Janeiro as well as federal too. In a nutshell, I am a high qualified worker for Brazilian standards.
In addition to facing our reality everyday as a citizen, I, unfortunately, have some experience with Brazil’s public administration reality.
I don’t want to write too much, so in few words I‘d say that, depending on your personal values (moral and life style), living in Brazil is terrible. Corruption, injustice, violence, high taxes with no benefits, everyone wants to take advantage of each other and so on… a HIGHLY HIPOCRITICAL SOCIETY.
Emanuela, sorry, or you are one more Brazilian hypocrite, or very naïve. There are problems everywhere and of course our country isn’t by far the worse place in the world. I advise you to study more the indices of development, education and happiness, like HDI (Human Development Index). You will realize that our economic health don’t follow our human development. They are very distant from each other… why?
Thank you

12 years ago

I enjoyed everything you said. I`m a gringa living in Rio, your SO right, I had to laugh. I love Rio, now you have made some things much more clear to me.. Good for you, keep it coming, brilliant!!

12 years ago

If u see how unfair is to live there, as a Brazilian, you should at least help make changes. In fact, is very sad when we need to compare Brazil with other countries, but in my point of view, you are part of the millions of Brazilians who watch it all quiet, or better, in your case, you only complain about it all.
Seu trouxa.

12 years ago

Thank you very much for such an extensive description of the real Brazil. Awesome work!

12 years ago

some of the natives got mixed with the Europeans and black people, while some still live in remote parts of northern Brazil.
many natives who still follow their customs can be seen these days though reports said this trend is decreasing.

12 years ago

What happened to the natives, where are they now.

12 years ago

Dear Leonard,
I´m Brazilian and your view of my contry is very very stereotyped. I don´t know were you are from but I´ve travelled around a lot and I´ve through very bada situations on france, on US, on UK and a lot of other places and that don´t change the way I think about this countries. Would be easi to say tha UK is a place were brazilian workers are killed for nothing by the police. But we got to know that is not a rule. Is easy to say that coca cola company murder people in the the third world because they belong the union. But there is a lot of people from UK and US and all over that are fine human beens. This documentary is very interesting, But in Brazil the story of slavery is not a secret story, is our story. All this wealth construct that documentaries talks about went to europe, not to us. We had to deal with this heritage. And that is what we are doing until today. If our economy is groing is for obvius reasons. Large country huge population a lot of natural ressouces. How we are going to deal with it that our challenge for the future, future is today. I´m sorry that you spend your time to say this kind of things of Brazil, an amazing culture. Next time try to look at good side of things.

12 years ago

Everywhere we go around the world has its ups and downs. I live in Dubai for a couple of years now, literally the dream land, and it is far from being perfect. If you live in a country for a long time you will end up developing a more critical opinion about it based on experiences of your everyday life, but that doesn’t except all other countries of having flaws as well. There are lots of things that go on a daily basis everywhere that most people don’t know about it and, let’s face it, never will. The trick question is: what are you doing to make a change where you live? Or is it more comfortable leading a live being condescending and bending down to things you don’t believe in?

12 years ago

honestly hate to hear people talking badly about my native country Brazil, but unfortunately it is our reality and it shocks me too.
Brazilians are naive and have no idea how miserable they are, as you said, for them being able to finance a refrigerator is good enough.
I didn’t know either how badly we live over here until I spend 5 years in the US. Now, back home I live this sad reality.
Where I pay 30% in taxes for food, $1.900 in car insurance a year, 4 dollars a gallon for gas and not saying that people will fool you right and left to get your MONEY and if u sue somebody, be ready to wait long years for nothing.

12 years ago

I honestly hate to hear people talking badly about my native country Brazil, but unfortunately it is our reality and it shocks me too.
Brazilians are naive and have no idea how miserable they are, as you said, for them being able to finance a refrigerator is good enough.
I didn't know either how badly we live over here until I spend 5 years in the US. Now, back home I live this sad reality.
Where I pay 30% in just in taxes for food, $1.900 in car insurance a year, 4 dollars a gallon for gas and not saying that people will fool you right and left to get your many and if u sue somebody, be ready to wait long years for nothing.

12 years ago

comments@ Leonardo~ You sure articulated enormous inequalities and blatant fractions of wealth Leonardo's like an anarchy of self defeat and yet I was somehow coherant that the africans' were living life with integrity in tact...But the deep struggles for this life , It's not working for all , it's a non-sense ...Could be change on the way as everything does ...I will continue observations of the promised future from now ...I will witness thru' your open and articulate comments for us to read to know better your country ...:)

12 years ago

Watch both 'Elite Squad' movies, they show you how it is. Elite squad 2 which is still in Brazilian cinemas is specially interesting because it is so realistic. It shows you exactly how a politicians works. Also watch Manda Bala, that talks loudly about this country.

Hugo Arana
12 years ago

I live in the USA, the most racist and segregated place I've ever been to. I travel to Brazil sometimes. Brazil is a beautiful country. It is racially integrated. And people are friendly and hospitable. Now with the PT in power, life conditions are improving a lot. All the social discrepancies shown on this film are due to the class differences. It is not about race or the slave trade. Now that the working class is uniting and fighting back for social justice, things are improving and poor blacks are fighting alongside poor whites, and Meztizos and Japanese, etc.

12 years ago

What a pity, the videos aren't any longer available.
Is it possible uploading somewhere else and sharing the link?

12 years ago

thanks dude.
Hope Brazil will improve soon and become a better society

12 years ago

A few more cute facts about Brazil:

A place that is more expensive than the United States by far, to live or to travel or to open a business.

A place where sidewalks are mostly nonexistent.

A place that a pair of surfing shorts can cost 200 dollars easily.

A place that a 5 pound bag of protein powder is 150 dollars, on the cheap side.

A place that books cost 3x as much as in the USA, while people make little money.

A place where a politician is accused of stealing hundreds of millions from the budget for the construction of an airport and still gets elected.

A place that features cities like 'Hell de Janeiro' which is essentially 95% slum. Look on Google Earth.

A place that a politician is caught stuffing his underwear with stolen cash, and his wife still gets 42% of the votes in an election.

A place that tickets for several new years parties were going for 1000 dollars and you still had to pay for drinks.

A place that you can see political cabinet members and other assistants beign hired to fulfill election favors, while nothing gets done ever, on a regular basis.

A place where any unqualified person can turn into unlicensed self help guru by opening up evangelical churches, and being coaches for ex-murderers, ex-drug-dealers and so on.

A place where you can get a pretty good hooker for 80 dollars, I say a 8,5 girl can be yours for that much.

A place that you can make 100 grand a month for your entire life, but when you retire the government will get you 250 a month.

A place that until the mid 90s a phone line was 10 thousand dollars in cities liek Rio or Sao Paulo.

A place that still have 1/4 of its population living under 2 dollars a day, and that means mud shacks, cow eyes for special occasions and parents prostituting their daughter in vilalges up north

A place that a special phonomenon of "river dolphin children" happens up north. it means that old men raping teens and getting them pregnant and people actually believe it was some spiritual dolphin spirit that impregnated the child.

A place that has 12 planes for its air defese... and 11 are not working.

A place that if the goverment hires your company to lay tarmac that is 8 inches thick, you lay 4 inches and pocket the profits.

A place where comedians and cartoonists were prohibited by law to make fun of politicians that were running for office....until they finally changed that last minute

A place that the internet is 4x slower than in the US for the same money.

A place where hospital infrastructure is dirtier than many slaughterhouses in Europe

A place that calls itself "Marvelous City" which is Rio de Janeiro has the city's largest dump site right next to the ocean.

A place where hippies are essentially beggars selling trinkets to pay for food and weed.

A place that if you want to race your car on the weekend be prepared to pay 500-1000 dollars for a trackday, instead of the usual 10-10 dollars in some regional tracks in North America

A place where the doctor rides in his 300 thousand dollar BMW X6 and his assistant rides in her bicycle.

A place where getting pulled over means instant and opening bribing the cop is ok.

A place where guys will walk around selling pirated DVDs for 1-2 dollars each.

A place where safe home ownership means having 2 dobermans, alarm system, electric fencing and tall walls....inside your gated guarded community.

A place where highrises in large cities have 2 gates, so when you are driving out of the garage the building is locked before the car is released 'into the wild'.

A place where for every 100 dollars you pay an employee, you pay 121% to the government.

A place where a high end club charges 100-200 dollars per person just for entrance.

A place where mininum wage is 295 dollars a month for a 44 hour work week, which means most brazilians live on 9,85 dollars per day (not enough to buy a big mac meal).

A place where most people are completelly and utterly emotional in their decision making.

A place where being a foreigner person or company somehow gives you instant status in and by itself.

A place where your 100 dollar raybans will go for 400.

A place where the latest car is the model that was out of product line in 2005.

A place where marketing agencies have almost no creativity, with the exception of those run by international conglomerates, because business owners are typically old school barons with limited minds and limited budgets.

A place where if you have a governement project, it automatically means 'let's rob to the last drop'.

A place where people will be condescending right to your face if you aren't evangelical christian, 'you are going to hell style', totally uncalled for.

a place where one of those 5 dollar bottle openers you can get at target runs for 30 at a supermarket.

A place where a bottle of jack Daniels is 70-80 dollars easily.

A place were oligarchs openly and produly own everything, from the farms to the gucci shops.

A place that if you want to ascend in your fashion modeling career, it means sucking or worse.

A place that you cannot make out with your girlfriend in a car

A place that if you arrive in a small town and try to run for office with a proper proposal to make change, the boss family will kill you.

A place where small towns have politicians load vans with dollar bills and toss them around for votes

A place where a politicians motto is "I steal but at least I will do something". The politician that was found guilty for having over 1 billion dollars in swiss bank accounts is still free and have been reelected in 2010 for a federal chair.

A place that you will struggle to find good housing construction labor because you are offering 50-60 dollars a day for a guy to work like an animal building your mansion, meanwhile he rode his beater bibycle in, lives in the ghetto and will try as much as possible to slack to make an extra buck.

A place where jailtime means sharing a 20' long shipping container with 50 guys defecating on the floor.

A place that you can send your 5 year old to buy your beer or cigarettes at the bar unattended.

A place where people watch billions in loans from the IMF or the World Bank disappear right under their noses and all people say is 'it is how politicians are'

A place that opens up credit lines for NGOs and over 1 billion dollars disappear and NOBODY knows where the money went because it was not required for the organizations to report on their actions.

A place that rich teens may drive without a license, because they know people.

A place that you simply cannot be alone in the night in the city in deserted areas, like at a beach in a city, ever withotu risking participating in a crime scene.

A place that until nmot too long ago, people were being kidnapped by the thousands on ATM at nite.

A place where bank lines are massive, I mean get used to waiting 1 or 2 hours to deposit a check if you are poor. If you are rich there are special VIP branches.

A place where sewage is not treated in 80% of the country, if not more.

A place where you will absolutely get away with murder if you have money and you don't need Jonnie Cochran to assist your case.

A place that people still email each other PPT presensations with motivational messages, over and over again.

A place where if you leave your house unattended it will be stripped down to bare earth by crack users which scavenge around large cities for scraps to get their high.

A place that stopping at a stop light at night is just not something you do. in fact, if you see a person getting too close, running them over is an option.

A place that being in a traffic jam in a city in RIo de Janeiro is a kidnapping, murder and armed robbery risk.

A place that thieves pretend to be police doing routine roadblocks and will rob you even your kidneys if they could.

A place that rips tourists off OPENLY and PROUDLY.

A place that will tax your car between 2 and 5% of its value per year depending on the state + 10% of its value for insurance if you get the good stuff. it means that if you own a 100 thousand dollar mercedes, you can be paying 15 thousand dollar a year in fees just to drive a nice car.

A place that you cannot return goods once they are bought, money back is almost nonexistent. Exchanges exist sometimes, if the product is unopened.

A place that makes sure that small business to fail, by overcharging in taxes and having the world's most insane tax system. In real life, it means you are forced to pay employeess under the table which in turn can easily sue you if they feel like it for not doing something you could not do to begin with.

A place that sexual harassment and flirting is the same thing really.

A place that you can watch large corporations pollute on a catasthrofic scale and nobody does anything about it. In the city I live, the country's largest steel pelleting company lets iron powdery particles pollute the lungs and homes of entire state. It means that everywhere you walk in a city of over 1 million people, your feet will be laced in lovely iron ore powder.

12 years ago

the information you provided really bewildered me about all the points you posted i hardly knew nothing. Your points can be made into a new doc.real man, they worth it.And thanks for enlightening me coz i have plans to study in brazil.