On the same day it killed six beggars in the streets of São Paulo,
Brazil received three Olympic medals in Athens. These are two tragic, shameful
results with the same cause: Brazil is a country, but it has not yet become
Throughout our history,
we have always been a country divided, one without either objectives common
to all or a long-term project, without unity and without a proposal. We began
divided between colonialists and indigenous peoples, then between white ladies
and gentlemen and black slaves.
Today, we have merely
changed the names of the groups and the manner of division. We are divided
between includeds and excludeds, beggars and murderers. Despite possessing
the same language, territory, national anthem, currency, flag and government,
we are without a unifying principle. Even so, we are surprised when the dead
beggars are many and the athletes winning prizes, few.
Brazil has still not become
In order to be a country,
only a territory and a president are needed. To be a nation, what is needed
is a long-term project that unifies all the inhabitants. The small number
of medals originates, above all, from the lack of a project to build a championship
Brazil; the many violent deaths originate, above all, from the lack of a project
to build an integrated Brazil.
We still have neither
a project of social inclusion nor one of Olympic championship. And, sadly,
we know that even if one administration were to initiate these projects, the
next ones could interrupt them, simply because we are not a nation that is
continuous in its history.
If we compare Brazil with
the other countries that participated in the Olympics, by size of territory
and population, gross domestic product or per-capita income, we will see that
we lost to many smaller and poorer countries.
This happened merely because
they defined propositions, invested in objectives, built up their athletes.
In the same manner, if we compare Brazil with countries that are poorer, we
will see that our misery, our inequality, our violence do not originate from
lack of resources or from size of the economy. They originate from the division
of the country between includeds and excludeds.
Because of this, the decisive
step for Brazil's success in future Olympics is the same as that for becoming
a nation: a project of social inclusion. But Brazil refuses to undertake this
We still believe that
the growth of the economy will build justice. And we remain without any project
of inclusion, revenue distribution, reduction of regional inequality, increasing
medals, protection and broadening of cultural heritage, defense of the environment.
It is due to the lack
of projects like these that we commemorate the increase of exports without
measuring who benefits from it; we celebrate the growth of national revenue
without asking ourselves how it is distributed.
As if the country were
already a nation and everything good were spread about equally. We do not
perceive that we are still like we were 500 years ago, when the increase of
brazilwood sales meant nothing to the indigenous peoples except more deaths;
or 300 years ago, when the increase in sugar sales meant nothing to the slaves
except more work.
We have measures and incentives,
but we do not have clear projects that span administrations, that are incorporated
to the will of the entire population as a single proposal. Much less a project
to avoid our shame over the few medals for athletes in the arenas of Athens
and over the many deaths of beggars in the squares of São Paulo.
Even worse, we are suffering
from receiving so few medals but doing nothing to prepare for Beijing in 2008;
we are suffering from the many deaths of beggars but are doing nothing to
halt this shame.
We are creating a country
without worrying about making a nation of it, each of us segregating into
our own interest group, be that businessperson or worker.
If we cannot commemorate
either the few medals or the many deaths, let them at least serve to arouse
our sentiments and strengthen our will to build a unified nationone
looking to the futurefrom the divided country in which we are presently
Cristovam Buarque - email@example.com
- has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT senator for the Federal District
and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education
from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome - LinJerome@cs.com.