Friday, October 2, 2009

RIO 2016!!!

I am honored, excited and proud of my City. I know that I often spend this space writing only the dirt about Rio, but Rio is changing, and change is coming, and one way to help it is to be the host of the Olympic games.

The money that will come in together with the will and the pressure to make the city fit for all the many international tourists should be enough to turn reality around for this great city. The projects are many, the dreams are big, and now the resources are there to help it all materialize.

Rio needs this so much, as does Brazil and Latin America as a whole. Cariocas have been suffering because of the violence that has gotten out of control, and the leaders have had a hard time finding the means to resolve the situation. Now, more than ever, Rio can finally get back to what it used to be in the 1950's and 1960's: A Paradise for all. Nothing but tropical, blessed by God and beautiful by nature.

We are all so thankful for the opportunity the committee is giving us, and for the fact that not only do they care about having unforgettable Olympic moments, but they also care about helping make the world a better place.

Friday, September 25, 2009


It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I share with the English-speaking world the news that the Rio police is finally taking action against criminals and their violent acts in a way that is efficient.

This morning a twice convicted criminal attempted to rob a mail truck when he was surprised by the quick police response. The cobs surrounded the area and closed down the street. The criminal, who did not want to be arrested, went into a pharmacy and took the pharmacy owner, a 48 year old woman, hostage.

Armed with a hand grenade, the criminal held on to the woman, making threats to finish her and all those around him, including the officers who attempted negotiations with him for almost 2 hours.

The woman kept bending over because she felt dizzy and ill, and at the moment in which she bends over completely, a police sniper, stationed in the building across the street, about 40 meters from the criminal, shoots him in the head, killing him instantly and freeing the hostage.

This was the best police action I have ever seen take place in Rio. Maybe now these criminals will start to fear their criminal activity, because they never know when a sharp shooter will be somewhere "invisible" to them, ready to take them out.

This officer deserves all the respect and admiration he has been getting, and I sure hope this continues to be the police reaction to criminal acts, so that one day they may actually drastically decrease in number.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Yesterday I watched the Brazilian news at night, a terrible thing to do before bed if you want to avoid nightmares. As I watched all the bad news with horror, all the violent protests, the destruction caused by natural disasters that just recently hit the Southern region of the country, and the government's disdain to it all, I also watched with glory an extremely intelligent commentator named Arnaldo Jabor make a phenomenal analysis and call for change. I decided that it would benefit everyone to read what he had to say. So here it is:

"Formerly it was said that all the violence was caused by poverty, ignorance. It isn’t so. A country where all cases of obvious crimes disappear filed away in Congress, ethics disappear, the evidence vanishes, fired and resigned politicians rule the country…

In this environment the diffused idea spreads: not that 'anything can happen', because they do not fear punishment. It is much more than that. There is a fading awareness of evil. That's the thing. The consciousness of evil presupposes the idea of right, of good, but there's no longer not even that. There is no longer “good”. It is normal to beat a man to death at the mall, to place newborns in a trash bag and toss it in a public lagoon at the park, to fire shots randomly killing innocent people.

The crazy Islamic fanatic blows himself up in the name of Allah. Some others kill for any political causes, but here in Brazil there is no flag. Evil in Brazil horrifies because it happens without reason.

Philosophers talk of the banality of evil, but here there is the gratuitous evil, the lightness of evil, the pleasure of evil, the evil video game. This is the tragedy, there is no longer a cause or motive, only consequences.

And then Brazil arms itself against the enemy - With billions spent on planes and French submarines, but the war, gentlemen, is inside our country."

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I am sorry it has been so long since I last wrote any entries to my blog. It has been a pretty busy summer, I was studying for the bar exam and finally took it at the end of July. I won't know the results till November, so I guess in the meantime I will be busy with current events. I did take the opportunity to go to Brazil and spend some time in Rio de Janeiro with my family and making some sense of their reality. As many of you know, Rio is both blessed and cursed. It is blessed with the most beautiful landscape in the world, people of faith, a naturally wonderful world. But it is cursed with the plague of the drug war, and it is a city infested with crime.

The saddest thing about Rio, to me, is that people have somewhat accepted their horrible reality, and they believe that it is something that happens "everywhere" and that they are just always placed in the spotlight. They believe that the closing down of tunnels during rush hour to rob many cars is ok because it only happens "sometimes". They believe that at least it's not Iraq...but I bet anything that there are a lot more deaths in Rio than in Iraq today.

Here is a pretty interesting slide show posted on Youtube that depicts the reality of Rio today. It portrays the war between the police and the drug dealers, and it concludes that the only victims are the people - the taxpayers.

I guess most of the victims are in fact non tax-payers, because most of the victims come from the favelas, where they are not required to pay anything at all to the government (fact that still shocks many people I tell it to, since they INVADED public land and remained there AT WILL, but somehow their illegal acts are compensated with the benefit of not having to pay taxes). It is very easy to be the "good hearted person" and claim that these "poor people" had "no other alternative" but I tell you that such IS NOT THE CASE. I personally know of one very inspiring story of a poor, hardworking black woman named Clarice, who raised five children in a very far away, dangerous, poor area of Rio, the hottest part of the city, to be successful men and women today, and she did it with dignity, paying bills, commuting from afar, not committing ANY illegal act. This is something that these people who tend to create excuses for the slum dwellers and the criminals of Rio should spend more time emphasizing. It is people like Clarice, whose story I will be sure to share, who deserve unyielding protection from all possible organizations, but instead, the organizations tend to protect those who make her already difficult life close to impossible.

In order for Rio to change the ones who need to change are the Cariocas. Change can only come from within.

Friday, May 29, 2009


As the violence in Rio only increases, it is an obvious result that so does the anger of its law abiding citizens. Less than a month ago a bus cashier (in Brazil buses have not only the driver but another person, a cashier, who collects the money) was shot in front of the bus' security camera and many passengers, in broad daylight, despite the fact that he did not resist the robbery and handed over all the cash to the violent criminal teens (likely ages 12-17). That same week a drugstore sales woman in her 20's was also shot by the robbers after handing all the money to them as asked. Now a days there is nothing you can do to avoid death. Compliance or non-compliance, Rio's criminals are getting younger and more violent by the hour, and with the lack of deterrent laws (which protect minors from incarceration and limits lengths to 20 years with right of parole within 1/6th of the time) crime is worth it.

But still criminals and their families, with the help of "human rights" organizations, complain of prison conditions for things as ludicrous as the distance from the prisoners home towns, which increase the distance that their family members need to travel to visit them in their (short) stay. One woman however decided to speak out in a letter to one of these complaining mothers. She named the communication "letter from one mother to another" and her words accurately reflect the ridiculous lack of respect to the law abiding people of not just Rio, but the entire Federal Republic of Brazil. Carrying the slogan "human rights for the right humans" it read:

"Today I saw your strong protest in front of television cameras on the transfer of your child, a minor offender, from the dependencies of Febem in Sao Paulo to another dependency in the Febem farther within the state. I saw you complain about the distance that now separates your son from you, of the difficulties and expenses you now have in order to visit him, as well as other problems stemming from the whole transfer. I also saw the extensive coverage that the media gave to the fact, and saw that not only you but also other mothers in same situation, have the support committees, pastorals, organs and bodies for the defense of human rights. I am also a parent and thus can well understand your protest. So I decided to echo your sentiments. There is an enormous distance that separates me from my son. Working and earning little, I have the same difficulties and the costs that you have to visit him. With great sacrifice, I can only do it on Sundays because I work, including Saturdays, to assist in the maintenance and education of the rest of my family. Fortunately I have my husband, an inseparable companion, who, to me, has played the important role of friend and spiritual advisor. In case you don't know, I am the mother of that young man who your son brutally killed during a robbery, stupidly, at a video store, where he, my son, worked during the day to pay for studies at night. Next Sunday, when you are hugging, kissing and caressing your son, I will be visiting mine and placing flowers on his humble tomb in a cemetery on the outskirts of Sao Paulo ... Ah! I almost forgot: do not worry because even though I work very hard while earning very little, I still am able to pay my taxes in order to ensure that I will pay again for the mattress your son burned during the last rebellion in Febem, ok?"

I think it's important to disseminate these words. They are so powerful and show the disparate treatment, pro-criminal and anti-law abiding, tax paying, peaceful criminal. This extreme reversal of values is ruining my city and my country. Human rights should be owed to the right humans.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I apologize in advance for taking quite a while to write another entry, but finally I have found some time to share some very interesting developments today.

Two traffic robbers on a motorcycle were killed by private citizens in Rio de Janeiro.  They had just robbed two young women at a busy highway while they were stopped at a light, and took off on their motorcycle, but two men in another car saw the whole incident, and decided to follow the assailants.  They were able to catch up to them, side-swipe their motorcycle with their car, and then run them over, killing both robbers instantly.  

Now, I am not advocating the dangerous idea of vigilantes, but I feel that it is ignorant and foolish to ignore the amazing courage and determination required from these two ordinary citizens, who were probably very fed up with the lack of formal measures to prevent and punish crime in Rio.  

I wish I could say I feel bad for the robbers, and maybe deep inside my heart, as a human, I do, but I on the surface all I can say is what many commentators are saying, I feel a sense of relief - two less violent criminals exist in Rio.  And although human rights activists may think, well, two more will emerge in their place, well, I find that such would be the case anyways, and at that point, had this not happened there would be twice as many criminals out there.  

I very much appreciate these ordinary citizens' courage and presence at a time where the only victims that we should care for are the two innocent women, who feared for their lives at the hands of the now deceased criminals.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I know that this blog is dedicated primarily to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but today I feel compelled to write about a topic that greatly aggravates me and that I feel needs immediate attention: Bullying.

An 11 year old boy committed suicide after being tormented by his classmates at his school. He told his parents about it, and his mother complained to the school at least 7 times, but nothing was done to prevent the re-occurence of the torment. So Jaheem Herrera, who was severely bullied and even attacked in a bathroom, being called "gay" and "the virgin" (because he was from the U.S. Virgin Islands), told his mom he didn't want to go to school. But he had to. So he did, he came home with his report card, with excellent grades, and then he went up to his bedroom and hung himself with a belt in his closet.

This wonderful 11 year old child was tired of the torture he was exposed to, and felt helpless, as adults, especially the school officials, did not do enough to help him. His parents now feel guilty, blaming themselves for not being able to stop this tragic end, that now is irreversible. The school expressed their deepest sympathies, but that IS NOT ENOUGH!

What needs to happen is the following:
1) There should be ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES for bullies. that means that once a child bullies another, that child should be expelled from school.
2) Bullying has to be defined for what it is: unwelcome remarks or aggressive behaviors towards another child that cause fear, sadness and/or anger. Bullying is not just a physical act. Words are as bad and as traumatizing as violence. So if you are asking me whether I am advocating expelling kids for being "mean", my answer is "yes, I am".
3) Schools need to be held accountable for not following the procedures in place (once they are in place), which should entail notifying the parents of the victim and perpetrator that such events are going on, and authorities, as there should also be laws that fine the parents of the bullies for being incompetent at educating their kids and deterring them from causing permanent harm to other human beings in society.
4) Parents of bullies need to be held responsible, and social workers should visit the homes of those parents to check whether these kids are being mistreated or ignored. There is a chance that they are bullies because they too are bullied, or because their parents are not parenting as they should be. If that is the case, these kids should be removed from their homes (depending on the severity of the circumstances) or mandated to attend, with their parents, a program to learn how to behave like a human being and not a monster.
5) There should be a cause of action available for the parents of the bullied child against the school system and against the parents or guardians of the bullies. This way there will be an incentive for these adults who are in a better position than the parents of the bullied children to fulfill their roles.

It is outrageous that laws are in place requiring children under 16 to go to school but laws are not enough to protect these children from verbal and physical abuse. Parents of bullied children know that sending their kids to school is at times the equivalent of sending them into torture prison camps, where their minds are crushed with the libel and slander, and their bodies violated with battery and assault. It is time that adults start acting like adults and do something to protect the future. Allowing this behavior to go on only creates tragedy, so how can we not stop it? Did we forget Columbine? How about the many psychopaths that were either bullied or were the bullies themselves and never stopped?