I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of weeks now, so that it doesn’t come out as yet another Brazilian raving or ranting about the World Cup.
+We’ll start by keeping things light - a completely sarcastic soundtrack to listen to whilst reading this post.
And now let's get serious:
Over the past few weeks and months, there have been a slew of articles on the World Cup in Brazil, and many of them take one of two extreme stances:
- You’re going to have the time of your life #omgbrazilissogreatiwannalivethere.
- Brazil shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup, and you’re all soon to be frustrated idiots if you’re thinking of going.
The fact of the matter is: Brazil’s not that bad, and it’s not that great either.
As a travel agent working on incoming travel to Brazil, and a fan of analyzing the media and politics, I’m no scholar, but I’m involved in the ongoings, and can probably be a little bit more apolitical and rational than this girl and especially this dude.
I’ve decided to start with a list of pros and cons:
- Brazil’s infrastructure sucks for a cross-continental World Cup
- Prices are ungodly
- Our politicians are corrupt
- Some of the stadiums aren’t worth the investment
- Brazilians don’t speak English for the most part
- Brazilians are happy and friendly
- Brazilians don’t speak English for the most part
- Prices are ungodly
- You’ll get a wonderful cultural experienceOur politicians are corrupt
Notice how some of my cons are also pros? Aha!
This is my main point. Most World Cups up until now have taught the world about that particular destination. Let’s take the last three:
- In 2002 in South Korea and Japan – the first World Cup in Asia in two different countries showed two beautiful and different countries! (Not all Asians are the same! Tá-dá!)
- In 2006 in Germany – people realized Germans have nothing to do with their Nazi past and are friendly and welcoming to all!
- In 2010 in South Africa – the world was overcome with a nation of happy people and beautifully developed!
I think it’s timely I write this today, because of what’s going on in Sochi, and how comments of the issues in Russia going around the internet is exactly what Brazil needs, so the world can help us spread the word on our reality in this country!
Politicians + Corruption
Brazilians are a people that are very self-conscious and self-deprecating of themselves and our country. We feel our government is corrupt, and although there are over 100 other countries that feel even more so than we do, I’ve heard time and again we have the most corrupt government in the world and everything here is the absolute worst.
Let’s face it, 2014 is election year in Brazil. Dilma and her posse are smart enough to know these stadiums need to be ready, and Brazilians must have our international guests leave happy, and our pockets and stomachs full by the end of the Cup, in order to get reelected. If we’re left with half-assed stadiums, and terrible infrastructure, people getting mugged left and right – we’re bound to kill our multibillion (if not trillion) dollar tourism industry! The government will not allow this to happen. The people might though (see protests below)!
I’m not talking ethics here, we can leave this for another day. But do you really think these politicians will want to look bad in the face of the world and their people and risk their access to their corrupt money? I didn’t think so.
This has a little/a lot to do with the previous item. I hope there are protests during the World Cup. Hell, I hope there are hundreds of them! Every frickin’ day! All around the country! Millions of people should join! Gringos included! I’m hoping and wishing and praying for non-violent beautiful protests galore!
Why? Because the world will finally realize Brazil’s not just a country of samba and football and folly, but also a country whose citizens care about where their tax money is going, and clearly haven’t seen much of this, because of our current bureaucratic and corrupt system, yes. But also because of people who only know how to bitch and moan at the local bar, and don’t do anything about it but that!
If there aren’t any protests, we’ll go back to being the foolish idiots whose government tramples all over them and who don’t know what democracy is.*
You have no idea how many people are trying to learn English now! Language schools are making so much money, and people are really making an honest effort to learn! From cab drivers, to salon owners, to business executives and yes - even prostitutes - everyone’s using the World Cup as an excuse to learn English.
Will there be a boom in the country’s population speaking a second language fluently by the time the World Cup comes along? No. Not at all. Hence this also being a “Con.” But people will have started. At least some of them will continue. And they will provide for a more educated and affluent Brazil in the long run.
The prices are a whole economic formula involving the taxes discussed above, corruption, high import tariffs, and internal red tape all mixed with “big demand” greed. So it’s really just a take it or leave it issue that, if not dealt with, and people leave Brazil unhappy – whoever’s adding their greed tax to their prices will not be getting much business in the future. And I think this is a lesson well learned.
All of this being said though, I’d like to point out that violence is a not a non-issue for foreigners, but it’s a lesser issue for them. The violence that takes place in Brazil is for the most part in the outskirts of cities, or far away from where tourists will be staying. If you’re concerned about getting mugged, I always tell guests and clients to just act as if you would in any other big city around the world. That seems to work for most people. I suspect security will be covered by city governments, so there are very little assaults on foreigners, and most Brazilians are also saying a little prayer with this same hope, so you’ve got most of us on your side!
Which Pretty Much Means... Pros Outweigh Cons
If you have the means and would like to experience one of the most culturally diverse and exciting World Cups ever – I urge you to attend! You’ll be making history and helping to tell the Brazilian story by encouraging others to either visit because your stay will be so wonderful, or to help a Latin country out, because you’ll see up close how Brazil needs to tomar vergonha na cara, and do something about our many socio-economic issues.
Plus, you will be helping an economy out! Despite the obvious rip-offs, I can guarantee you that after seeing the economic results from Confederations Cup and World Youth Day, and working on reservations for the World Cup itself, a lot of super honest small travel businesses, local restaurants and lower class workers will benefit dearly from your foreign money and cultural exchange, and they’ll be more than thankful for this!
And no worries, I’ll give you tips on how to overcome the prices and safety issues.
There’s a lot more to be said on the topic and would love to see your comments on this below and in other articles you can point me to! This is just a Brazilian girl’s opinion on the matter.
*Contextual footnote: For those who aren’t aware – Brazil’s current state of democracy is only 27 years old. We opened our country to the economy in the early 90’s by the most corrupt president Brazil’s ever seen and who was impeached. He’s a senator now. We have a lot more to work on than just bridges and healthcare. We’re still working on the “business plan” so to speak – just like the US had wars and depressions decades after Independence. Just like Russia (and – ahem – the US as well) has gay rights issues today. So gringos – stop being so hypocritical. And Brazilians – parem de reclamar tanto de barriga cheia e se mexem ou calem-se com seu pessimismo sem embasamento. #porra.