Brazil in Crisis

“We would be more grateful if we knew how much of what we take for granted is planned by God.” Anon

If it were not for the World Olympics coming up this summer, few would care much about the number of crises facing Brazil. A crisis? An authority on world health recently called for the cancellation of the Olympics. The concern is not just for the Zika virus that could infect anyone visiting the Olympics but it is that the Zika virus could then be carried to other areas of the world and thus become a pandemic. Of course a cancellation is not going to happen—too much preparation has been made worldwide for those games.

The fact is I’m hesitant to write about the country itself for in most minds, Brazil is almost half of a world away. But Brazil is nearer to our interests than we might think. The Brazilian plane manufacturer, Embraer is in direct competition with Bombardier. They both are trying to sell the same size planes around the world. Jobs in both countries are at stake in aircraft manufacturing. Yet I imagine not one of is in the market for one of their mid-sized commercial jets. But who knows about your economic bracket?

One key issue that touches the church and our friends in Brazil is the endemic corruption. You see corruption is partially behind the collapsing Brazilian economy, a free-fall that is beginning to resemble the great depression of the 30’s. Brazilians are saying, “The corruption is no longer tolerable.”

When we lived there, we never met corruption that was directly affecting us. But we knew it was happening. A missionary we knew  had recently arrived in Brazil and wished to get a driver’s licence. He was advised by those who knew the situation, to be ready to slip a certain amount of money under the table. That would make it possible to be issued the licence. The answer was, “No I can’t do that. Why it would be wrong!”  He then took the test and failed—of course. He was warned that a “gorjeta” under the table was necessary and so he flunked once again.

So how was he ever going to get his driver’s licence? The advice among the others of the group was that tipping someone to do what is legal and right is not bad. But a person should not do anything to encourage a person to do what is wrong. With that in mind he passed the next driver’s test. I can understand the situation for without doubt the test examiner depended on those “gorjetas” to make a half-decent income. I suppose it was a system worked out over the years that helped pay employees.

But corruption has become big time with important people siphoning off not just millions of dollars from the national oil company Petrobras but the theft is declared to be into the billions. Recent news pointed up that elected and unelected federal government officials are being charged by the police. The accusations are landing at the feet of president Dilma Rousseff adding to her all-time low satisfaction rating. Brazilians are unhappy with a contracting economy for it is making it difficult for the working man to put food on the table. Right now a trial is looming to oust Rousseff from the presidency though I am not sure how much that will help. The vice-president has little more support than the president herself.

I recall during the time we lived in Rio the news was that off-duty police gangs were being paid by businesses to clean up the streets by killed both criminals and the indigent. A few days ago I saw a report on TV of police brutality in the slums. The police were trying to get rid of the drug traffickers and criminals. The reporter mentioned that in the slums it was not uncommon to hear gun shots and a machine gun firing during the night. The number of “desaparecidos” leaves most everyone in the slums afraid to cooperate with the police in any way or to take their complaints either to the police or to the courts.

Why should I mention these problems? From my viewpoint an answer is simply this—a request for prayer for this land so that a revival of the acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ might touch lives. Oh that the whole culture of Brazil might be transformed into one of honesty, goodness and Christian love. As I write this I know well enough that we here in Canada also need a good dose of the Grace of God that results in virtuous lives.



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