Sunday, 26 January 2014

The real Brazil: change to come from the next generation

Jean Wyllys
During the Christmas break, some friends of my parents from São Paulo stayed with us in Bristol. It was lovely to catch up with them but it was also a stark reminder of how many of us in the UK have little idea of what lies behind the seductive images of beaches and samba that we see in magazines, social media and television.
These friends are planning to move to the UK. Part of their reason is the search for a better quality of life - and these are well-educated, affluent Brazilians. They were telling me about the lovely house they live in, with its swimming pool and surrounding oasis home to monkeys, which are often spotted among the trees. But this São Paulo "condominio", with its gated community protected by armed guards, offers only a fake sense of freedom.
It made me feel sad that, for all its recent economic growth and public promises of improved infrastructure and social mobility, Brazil still has a long way to go. But then yesterday, I felt a little hopeful again when I read The Observer's special report on Brazil.

It's a series of interviews with influential Brazilians battling for a better Brazil. What struck me the most - and filled me with optimism - was how young these individuals are. A female chief of police, a gay politician and the founder of an alternative media outlet all under the age of 40. Change, real change, will come from the next generation, and these Brazilians are inspiring.
I particularly liked Jean Wyllys, a professor who, on his way to becoming a politician, won Brazil's version of Big Brother. How refreshing for a nation to pick a reality TV winner based on something more than big boobs and a fake tan.
The current, official portrayal of Brazil may, in places, hide a harsh reality, but there is clearly an appetite for change and, with Brazilians like those featured in The Observer, plenty of optimism, too.

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