Happy 2013 Again

This is a bit late for April Fools Day and, in reality, it is kind of serious so I’ll put a light spin on it.

2013 did not really begin in Brazil until after Semana Santa (Holy Week). It’s a good thing we are on the Julian-inspired rather than the Orthodox calendar.  Were it an Orthodox calendar, the Brazilian New Year might not start until May!

At year’s end in Brazil, Brazilians wish everyone a “Happy a year in advance” as in Happy 2014.  You are supposed to feign surprise and ask what happened to incoming year (2013) and the practiced cynic will wink and say that 13 promises to be worse than 12 so we may as well deposit our hopes another 12 months out.  Brazilians love to joke and we are also great cynics.

It is interesting that the Lula years brought significant optimism as well as growth with social inclusion in a democratic framework.  So what is there not to like?  The problem is that the growth model shows clear signs of exhaustion.  Everyone talks about sustainability in Brazil but the fear is that the country only “flies like a chicken”, that it never takes off and cannot seem to find firm footing that would make growth more organic and less subject to the typical swings between unsupported optimism and unrealistic pessimism.

I hope that the generation born in the nineties and currently coming to adulthood can advance and develop a clear and acceptable project for Brazil.  My generation had several goals.  The most obvious was to get rid of the dictatorship and, in so far, as the military returned to the barracks, we were successful.  We contributed to but did not finish the construction of democratic institutions.  We labored under the weight of the Iberian patrimonial heritage, the peripheral position and the “blessing” of an elite that is more self serving than altruistic.

The internet, with more ample access to information, helps.  Young people can see the possibility of actually changing things although fatalism and passivity still exist.  And education (especially public) keeps falling in quality and does a great disservice to any notion of progress.  Still many, many things are improving.

Darcy Ribeiro continues to be one of my heroes and as he stated, we are getting there “aos trancos e barrancos.”

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