By John Fitzpatrick
About a week after the Iraqi regime collapsed I was passing the American consulate in São Paulo and saw a small group of protesters standing in the middle of the road. They were waving placards bearing messages like Sound your horn if you are against the war” or holding up posters in which President George Bush was portrayed wearing a Hitler-like moustache. Obviously none of them knew that Bush`s father, an air force pilot, had been shot down during the Second World War fighting against Hitler and his like. The protesters were chanting something like: “Bush nazista/Estados Unidos pas imperialista”. I stopped and spoke to them and it quickly became apparent that their lack of knowledge was not confined to World War II but also to the history of their own country.
They were also convinced that, after subduing Iraq, the US was intent on invading the Amazon. “Why?” I asked. “To get their hands on all the oil and drugs there”, was the reply. They were young and idealistic so there is no point in berating them here. However, they disputed my view that the Amazon had only ended up in “Brazilian” hands, as opposed to remaining in “Indian” hands, because Brazilian governments had consolidated and expanded claims by the Portuguese colonial rulers. The Brazilians had acted exactly like imperialists by invading the territory and using violence. Why not “O Brasil pas imperialista” I asked.
Brazil`s own imperialistic past is generally overlooked here. While it is acknowledged that 19th century Brazil was ruled by Emperors, the corollary i.e. that the country had imperial desires is ignored. As the Roman, Russian/Soviet and Ottoman empires showed, an empire does not have to be scattered across the world but can be land-linked, as was the Brazilian case. The fact that the Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil in the early 19th century to escape Napoleon is often cited as one of the factors which helped unify this vast country. The presence of the monarchy is generally regarded as one of the reasons why Brazil did not fragment into separate countries, as was the fate of the Spanish empire. This may be true but the boundaries of present-day Brazil were created mainly by force of arms and sometimes by diplomatic guile, backed up by the saying that “possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

Broken Treaties – Bandeirantes on the Move
Right from the beginning of the so-called Discoveries, the Portuguese broke the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) which was supposed to divide the New World between Spain and Portugal. The Brazilians subsequently superceded the Portuguese claims. The bandeirantes – brave adventurers or murderous exploiters depending on your point of view – who set out on expeditions from São Paulo to find slaves and gold, wandered at will across half of South America, claiming their right to its resources. Recent research has shown that most of the participants in the bandeirantes were bona-fide Brazilians, generally of mixed Indian and European blood, rather than European pioneers. The power was still Portugal but the Brazilians were the willing participants. Even today gold prospectors and cattle raisers will go where they like, regardless of boundaries, laws or the presence of established Indian populations. In the last three decades of the 20th century the military government attempted to people the Amazon region by mass migration, mainly from the Northeast. Roads were built, cattle rearing and other agricultural methods encouraged and the forest was exploited for its resources. In purely statistical terms, the policy was a success and the population increased from four to 10 million between 1970 and 1991. In terms of the destruction of the environment and the pressure on the Indian population, it was a failure. Thankfully, the most recent governments have realized this and are trying to contain the damage although, sadly, they do not have the financial resources to do what should be done. Perhaps the United States might be able to help them although this is such a touchy matter here that it is unlikely.

Centralized Power
It is also interesting to note how during Brazil’s history any attempts at challenging the central government have been repressed, usually savagely. The brutal destruction of Canudos just over a century ago , the attack on the slave settlement of Palmares in Alagoas in the late 17th century and the crackdown on the revolt in Recife in 1824 show this. In all cases, the leaders were executed or murdered, as the Luso-Brazilian and Brazilian state showed its refusal to accept any challenge to its authority. As recently as 1932, federal forces attacked São Paulo and crushed a revolt against the government of Getlio Vargas. The aftermath of this was not so violent but São Paulo people are reminded of these events every time they pass a huge obelisk, similar to the Washington monument, erected in memory of those days outside the state assembly building, next to Ibirapuera Park.

Brazil Wins – Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru lose
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some more recent examples of how Brazil took over territory belonging to other countries – Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru. In the first case it was done through war and in the others by stealthier but, at times violent, means. These actions may not conform to a strict definition of imperialism but the end result was the same.
In 1864, Brazil ganged up with Argentina and Uruguay against Paraguay. This is not the place to go into the reasons for the so-called War of the Triple Alliance which was, in fact, caused by belligerent Paraguay, which even invaded Brazilian territory. Most of the fighting by the allies was done by Brazilian forces. At times it was a David and Goliath contest with the Paraguayans giving the Brazilians a bloody nose, but the Brazilians eventually won. The cost was high on both sides. Brazil lost 50,000 men and Paraguay was devastated. As Edwin Williamson puts it: “Paraguay had been all but destroyed as a nation: the population had been halved by the ravages of warfare and disease, leaving mostly women, children and old people; large tracts of territory were annexed by Argentina and Brazil, who had agreed secret protocols to that end in their treaty of alliance.” The Brazilian historian Jorge Caldeira says that in order to end the war and kill the Paraguayan leader, Solano Lopez, “it was necessary to destroy the neighboring country.”
It is difficult to find matching figures but it is generally agreed that at least half the population of Paraguay, and most of the adult men, were killed. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica the population of Paraguay, which amounted to 1,337,439 at the start of the war, was reduced to less than 250,000 by the end of the conflict in 1870, of whom only 28,746 were men. A more recent Brazilian account says the Paraguayan population fell from 406,000 in 1864 to 231,000 in 1872. Another account says that, of a population of 800,000, only 194,000 were left alive at the end of the war, of whom only 2,100 were men aged over 20.
Brazil and Argentina forced Paraguay to hand over a slice of its territory amounting to around 142,000 square kilometers. Of this, 62,325 square kilometers went to Brazil and now forms part of Matto Grosso do Sul state. Brazilian troops occupied the country until 1876. However, by breaking the secret protocols with Argentina and signing a separate treaty with Paraguay, Brazil annoyed its erstwhile ally. It also had to give up its dream of absorbing Paraguay which, along with Uruguay, became, in effect, buffer zones between Brazil and Argentina.
In the long run, though, Brazil emerged the winner. Twenty-five years later, Brazil managed to win a large chunk, measuring 13,680 square miles, of the disputed Missiones territory from Argentina. This time it used diplomatic means and the arbiter, who ruled in Brazil`s side, was none other than the US President Grover Cleveland. I wonder what the protesters outside the US consulate would say about this.
Even today there is a big Brazilian population in Paraguay, particularly in the Foz de Igaucu region and it was not surprise me if over the coming decades it increased and the Brazilians started a subtle take over of that part of the country.
This was what happened in the case of Bolivia, which also ended up losing part of its land to Brazil. In this case, Brazil used the presence of thousands of Brazilian rubber tappers who had started arriving in the Bolivian territory of Acre in the last decades of the 19th century. These Brazilians eventually formed a majority of the population and revolted against Bolivian rule. At one point, the Brazilians expelled the Bolivian governor leading to intervention by Bolivian troops. In 1902 there was another revolt, this time backed by the governor of Amazonas state, an experienced soldier, who provided military and financial support to the rebels. Bolivia was unable to resist and in 1904 handed over 73,000 square miles of its territory in exchange for access to the Madeira river, US$10 million and a pledge by Brazil to build a railway on the right bank of the Madeira, thus giving the Bolivians access to the Atlantic via the Amazon .

Rio-Branco – Border Baron
Peru was unhappy with the Acre settlement, since it also claimed part of the land. After almost a decade of negotiations on fixing borders, the Peruvians agreed to split the disputed territory. Once again Brazil benefited from the presence of a large Brazilian population and received 63,000 square miles while Peru obtained less than 10,000 square miles. The man who was responsible for this amazing increase in the size of the country was the Brazilian foreign minister, Baron Rio-Branco. In just 15 years he added around 342,000 square miles of territory to Brazil, an area larger than the whole of France. As E. Bradford Burns put it: “The Baron of Rio-Branco carried to a successful conclusion four hundred years of Luso-Brazilian expansion from the Atlantic Ocean to the Andes Mountains.”
In 1900, Brazil also managed to win a claim of 101,000 square miles of Amazon territory which France claimed was part of French Guiana. Mediation by Switzerland supported the Brazilian case. Other agreements were made with neighbors such as Venezuela, Colombia, Surinam and British Guiana and nowadays Brazil has no territorial disputes. Considering Brazil’s amazing success in expanding its frontiers, its neighbors must have been delighted to reach a deal even if they did have to give up some territory.
Against this background, I think that if the name of the game is to point a finger at one country and accuse it of imperialism – assuming that imperialism is necessarily a bad thing – then our protestors outside the American consulate should take a look at themselves first.

John Fitzpatrick 2003
John Fitzpatrick is a Scotsman who writes on Brazilian politics and culture for sites, including and, and magazines. He runs his own São Paulo-based company, Celtic Comunicaes, which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. He can be contacted at

Anna Cole-Morgan
John Fitzpatrick’s article ‘Brazil and Portugal -The Samba and The Fado made some generalisations about Portugal and seemed to rewrite history; this article aims to balance the scales.

Looking at Portugal today, you would never believe that 500 years ago, it was a major world power, the first to circumnavigate the globe, the first Europeans to settle in sub-Saharan Africa and the first to find the sea trade route to India. Culturally Portugal can boast writers of the calibre of Cames, Gil Vicente, Fernando Pessoa and Jos Saramago and outstanding architecture such as the Mosteiro de Jerónimos and the Manueline style, evident in most of downtown Lisbon today. After its heyday Portugal suffered a general decline in its fortunes culminating in a fascist dictatorship under Salazar and Caetano. This era in Portuguese history left the country’s economy in ruin, and literacy at under 25% of the population.

Although Mr Fitzpatrick makes it clear his opinions about Portugal are personal and do not reflect those of Brazilian nationals, I would still like to tackle some of the points he tries to make. For ease, I have selected some quotes from his article that illustrate his position and respond in turn:

“.had history developed differently, Portuguese may not have been the language spoken by Brazilians at all. “

You can apply this sentiment to everything; a couple of changes to the past and the USA would be speaking French.

“It would be difficult to imagine Brazil sending forces to assist Portuguese forces in any armed conflict.”

This is possibly due to economic constraints more than anything else. Were Portugal to suffer the same threat to its very existence as a free country that Britain did in the two World Wars, I am sure Brazil would look beyond economics and help out, but this, like most of Mr Fitzpatrick’s arguments, is pure speculation. Additionally, the British did not receive much voluntary colonial support in any of its colonial wars, which were quite different to World Wars one and two.

Brazilian troops may well be in East Timor. However, Portuguese citizens have a great deal of difficulty getting a visa to even visit Indonesia because of the amount of pressure the Portuguese people and government have been applying to the UN and other international organisations with regards to the country’s treatment of the East Timorense. They are fighting the same battle, but on a different front.

“.even today many Brazilians still express annoyance that the Portuguese sent criminals to Brazil as though this country was a dustbin for Portuguese rubbish.”

Strange that people should knock their own forefathers without much of a thought. The British did the same to Australia, the French with their colonies. This was common colonial practice. Prisoners were often deported for political reasons, so this ‘rubbish’ could well have included some real treasures. The Portuguese also sent over a great deal of slaves, without whom the African link, so important to Brazilian culture, would not have been created.

“The Portuguese seem to have been particularly inept … the East Timorese are just the latest example of a people being abandoned by their so-called protectors ”

In 1975 when Portugal “abandoned” its former colonies, it was still suffering the effects of Salazar’s regime which only ended in 1974. This rule destroyed the domestic economy and exiled almost all of the liberal-minded intelligentsia (including Nobel Peace Prize winner Jos Ramos Horta’s father). Portugal could simply not afford to run an empire. The Portuguese were also under very strong pressure from other former colonial powers to give up their overseas interests as they had already done. Britain is fortunate to have a very stable political history and this has been reflected in a lot of Commonwealth politics (although British colonial history is not without its embarrassments, you need only think of Zimbabwe). The French left Guinea in 1958, taking with them the entire infrastructure they had put in (even the railway tracks). What sort of colonial leader does that make them? Yet Mr Fitzpatrick offers them up as a paradigm of colonialist virtue.

“. it was the colony which came to the rescue of the mother country when the Portuguese court fled to Brazil to escape Napoleon’s troops.”

Brazil didn’t exactly come to the rescue. The court simply moved to a safer location in one of its colonies (and according to some introduced the inhabitants of Rio to bathing in the sea! Take a look at the beaches there at the weekend, if that wasn’t an influential cultural introduction, what is? Cariocas are almost defined by their love of the beach and watersports).

“Even when Brazilians visited other parts of Europe, such as France or Germany, any Portuguese they met were probably immigrants working as low-paid waiters or construction workers. “

These people moved away from their economically challenged country to earn money and help their families back in Portugal. Surely it is this sort of spirit that helped the Portuguese build an empire in the first place.

“All of us were enacting a ritual the slaves brought from their African homeland.”

Tourists will flock to be a part of this sort of ceremony but rarely do they try to understand it or pay any attention to it beyond getting a good picture and finding a beer afterwards. Every Sunday millions of Brazilians enact a ritual in church. This ritual may not seem as interesting or as colourful to the Western eye, but the cultural legacy of the Portuguese is very apparent in it. Why is an African ritual more poignant and more Brazilian than one from Europe?

As for Samba and Fado, you cannot compare the two. It is like comparing tea bags to curry powder: both add flavour to something, but you would not normally use them together. How can you let personal taste colour your opinion of two nations, neither one of which you actually belong to?

Brazilians use the Portuguese as the butt of their jokes, just as the Americans use the Polish. But to try and justify this by calling the Portuguese ‘incompetent’, ‘inept’ and ‘bad-tempered’ and labelling their culture ‘gloomy’ is ignorant and borders on racism.

Brazil truly is a melting pot of cultures. With nearly two hundred years of independence it is old enough now to stand on its own two-feet without having to look back at its colonial past for political or cultural support. Portugal is also a changed country but you cannot compare the Portugal of today with the Portugal of Salazar or Portugal of Dom Joao VI. They are three very different countries.

Aspects of Brazilian culture can now be seen everyday in Portugal from music to literature to soap operas. I would argue that the cultural exchange between the two countries lies a lot deeper than a common language and it is something from which both countries benefit.

Next time you are enjoying a plate of salgados with your beer or a hearty feijoada try and remember who introduced these into Brazil.

Anna Cole-Morgan

For those who missed the original article by John Fitzpatrick it can be read here

By Karina Weil
Doing business in Brazil is different from doing business elsewhere. Oh, really? Yes, really. Take it from me, I was born here. I am sorry if I disappoint you or slay your painstakingly developed and carefully preserved notions of international corporate dealings and global leadership. Global does not mean alike (thank God for that!). And even though you maybe a seasoned business person, possibly with an international portfolio, you will find that, you are about to engage on a road that will lead you beyond particular cultural images and points of view.

Naturally, you have a check list which, by now, must be a mile long with data on geography, politics, religion, social structure. So, relax. I do not intend to contribute to your tedium. What I want to do is to lend you a pair of metaphoric glasses through which you begin to look at this wonderful, surprising culture for a few minutes.

To do business (successfully) in Brazil the very first thing any new comer needs to know, and remember, is the word jeito” or “jeitinho”– its diminutive. “Jeito”, or for that matter “jeitinho”, comes from the Portuguese vernacular, but it has no real direct translation. The dictionary offers imperfect synonyms such as: way, manner, dexterity; as well as the expression “the hang of a thing”. The variations are far too many to list but none fully defines what it means in daily life in Brazil; the business world included.

However, a Chinese American friend of mine coined a definition so perfect that it was copyrighted. With his permission I now impart it with you. He puts it this way: “The Brazilian ‘jeitinho’ is an ingenious manoeuvre that makes the impossible possible, the unjust just, the incorrect correct, and the ugly beautiful.” This took his keen sense of observation and cultural savvy –developed over 20 years of living and doing business in Brazil.

In sum, it is just the way Brazilians find of getting around obstacles. For those of you going to Rio de Janeiro, curiously, it is said that the “jeitinho” is second nature to the natives of Rio. Oh yes! An important point: My friend lived on Copacabana Beach. Is there a better school?

Vivre la difference!

A globe trotter herself and speaker of seven languages, Karina de A. F. Weil is a native carioca (born in Rio de Janeiro). She built her consulting career in Human Resources in the US and across the Pacific Rim in the last 20 years. She currently lives in São Paulo dividing her time between her company- providing executive search, career counseling, and corporate astrology services- her doctoral studies, and her family. She may be contacted at

By John Fitzpatrick
If you ever stop at the statue of Pedro Alvares Cabral by the pond in Ibirapuera park have a look at the inscription on it which claims that Brazilians owe everything to Portugal – their institutions, freedom etc. This is hyperbole of the highest sort and the fact that part of the lettering is crumbling almost symbolizes the lack of connections between Brazilians and Portuguese. In this article I would like to make a few brief personal comments on the rather ambiguous relationship between Brazil and its so-called mother country.
On September 7, 1822, Dom Pedro I made his famous declaration of independence during a visit to São Paulo. On December 1, he was officially crowned Emperor of Brazil and three years later, after much bloodshed, Portugal was forced to recognize Brazil’s independence. Not only did the Portuguese lose the jewel in the crown of their empire but they also lost most of their economic influence in Brazil, to the British.
Since then, the Portuguese influence has remained, principally in terms of language, religion and architecture. In some places you still find beautiful colonial-style buildings and churches, and since names like da Silva, dos Santos, Nascimento, Mello etc. are common, this influence will remain for as long as Brazil remains.
A special relationship undeniably still exists, formally and informally. For example, Portuguese citizens enjoy privileges under the Constitution denied to other foreigners. Relations at government level are good and there is a constant coming and going of political leaders. If you have ever had the misfortune to attend a ceremony between representatives of either country at which speeches were made, then you will have been exposed to the gushy, sentimental myth of eternal Luso-Brazilian togetherness.
Language Links
There is a large Portuguese community here and a large Brazilian community in Portugal. Portuguese have been coming here for 500 years so there are still many family links although not nearly as close as at periods of mass immigration. Many Brazilians making their first visit to Europe stop off in Lisbon where they have the reassurance of a (more or less) common language.
The language forms a strong bond with other Portuguese-speaking countries. About a year ago, I attended a concert at which the guest of honor was the recently-elected president of East Timor. The warmth of the reception he was given by the audience, most of which had probably never heard of East Timor until just beforehand, was quite astonishing. One of the reasons for this admiration may have been the odd decision by the East Timor government to make Portuguese the official language.
However, I believe this attachment to the Portuguese language among Brazilians is more related to the fact that it makes them stand out from their Spanish-speaking neighbors rather than any innate love for Portugal. In fact, had history developed differently, Portuguese may not have been the language spoken by Brazilians at all.
In the early 19th century, Portuguese was only spoken in the Northeast, with a variant of the Tupi Indian language spoken elsewhere. The gold rush, which brought in more Europeans and African slaves and led to the opening of the interior, changed this1. While the Portuguese language eventually linked all of Brazil, unfortunately it led to the suppression of native languages, like Guarani, which thrive in places like Paraguay.
Overall, Portugal’s links with Brazil are much weaker than those which Britain still has with, say, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other former colonies, including the U.S. In the 20th century, all the British territories voluntarily sent troops to fight alongside UK forces in two world wars. It would be difficult to imagine Brazil sending forces to assist Portuguese forces in any armed conflict.
Portugal fought the wars in its African colonies alone, with never a chance of Brazilian intervention even though the military was in charge of Brazil at that time. Brazil has actually helped clear up the mess left by Portugal’s incompetent imperialism in Africa and Asia. Brazilian troops are currently in East Timor and have also acted as peace monitors in places like Angola and Mozambique, which collapsed into anarchy and barbarism after the Portuguese simply walked out in the mid-70s.
In political terms, for example, there is no Portuguese equivalent of the Commonwealth, which still links virtually every former British territory. Nowadays the Commonwealth even includes Mozambique, an ex-Portuguese colony. There is a grouping called the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), made of up eight nations, which was set up in 1996 and has its headquarters in Lisbon. Although it’s full of grandiose ideas and notions it is a lightweight outfit with no international influence. Apart from Brazil and Portugal, the other CPLP members are among the world’s poorest states. In an attempt to get some information about its memberships, budget, staffing etc I sent an e-mail to the organization several weeks ago (in Portuguese since it does not have an English version of its site) and have still received no reply.
So, despite the obvious connections, I think one can fairly say that the average Brazilian cares little for Portugal. Let us start with one or two small examples. In his book The Brazilians, Joseph Page makes an interesting point when he says: Brazilian municipalities named after Portuguese cities and towns are exceedingly rare.” Most places in Brazil seem to be indigenous Indian names (Ipiranga, where Dom Pedro declared independence or death), have religious origins (São Paulo) or were named after geographical features by practically-minded sailors or travelers (Rio de Janeiro, Porto Seguro etc.) or heroes (Benjamin Constant).
There is, indeed, a remarkable shortage of New Lisbons and New Portos. I noticed recently that Praa Portugal in São Paulo had been defaced and someone had scrawled “This is Brazil” on the signpost. Another example of this resentment is that even today many Brazilians still express annoyance that the Portuguese sent criminals to Brazil as though this country was a dustbin for Portuguese rubbish.
Brazilians also believe that the Portuguese looted Brazil of its gold, which was sent to Lisbon but ended up in London, since Portugal was indebted to the English. Less seriously, the Portuguese are the butts of a million jokes and, in an untypically cruel jest for the easy-going Brazilian, a Portuguese woman is always said to have a moustache.
I think the reason for this lack of respect and, at times, hostility to Portugal lies in the fact that Portugal, like Spain, exploited rather than developed its overseas territories. Of course, all imperialist powers have exploited the lands and peoples they conquered but the Iberians seem to have been particularly ruthless and, as a result, left little good will in their former colonies.
The Portuguese seem to have been particularly inept. The east Timorese are just the latest example of a people being abandoned by their so-called protectors even though technically they were Portuguese citizens living in what were supposed to be parts of Portugal overseas.
The same happened to the inhabitants of Goa when India annexed it in the 60s although fortunately the Indians treated the locals more humanely than the Indonesians did the Timorese. With the return of Macao to China in 1999, fortunately the age of Portuguese colonialism has ended and no other people, except the Portuguese themselves, will suffer their incompetent rule.
Ingratitude and Arrogance
Portugal has also proved to be a poor role model, especially for Brazil. While Brazil was large, Portugal was small. While Brazil was rich, Portugal was poor. While Brazilians were developing the lively samba the Portuguese were listening to the gloomy fado. Portugal benefited not only in material terms from Brazil but also politically. In fact, it was the colony which came to the rescue of the mother country when the Portuguese court fled to Brazil to escape Napoleon’s troops.
The fact that most of the court eventually went back to Lisbon is seen by the Brazilians as a sign of ingratitude and arrogance. By refusing orders to return to Portugal, Dom Pedro I won the hearts of the Brazilians. His declaration of independence was, in fact, done in the spontaneous, cavalier manner of the true Brazilian as opposed to the more cautious Portuguese.
As E. Bradford Burns puts it: “Pedro unsheathed his sword right there on the bank of the Ipiranga River and gave the cry “Independence or Death”. One man, then, without the backing of a congress or junta declared the independence of Latin America’s largest nation. He left no formal, written document of his accomplishment. His declaration was solely verbal. In that solitary act, the personable prince accurately reflected public sentiment.”2
In more modern times, Portugal was one of the most backward countries in Europe and offered little to inspire Brazilians. Not only was it poor but, in places, primitive. I recall visiting northern Portugal as recently as 12 years ago and seeing wagons pulled by oxen. A trip from Porto to Bragana became a nightmare after a sudden storm flooded the poorly constructed main road and required a massive detour. Lisbon, at that time, with its faded beauty, and cramped Alfama district around the São Jorge castle, its crippled black beggars, reminders of the defeats in Africa, had an almost medieval feel.
Even when Brazilians visited other parts of Europe, such as France or Germany, any Portuguese they met were probably immigrants working as low-paid waiters or construction workers. The drab, bad-tempered concierge in Paris was typically a Portuguese woman.3
Portugal’s small size could not cope with a place as immense as Brazil. There were never enough soldiers or colonizers to penetrate it in depth. The Portuguese were always in a minority, outnumbered by native Indians or imported black slaves. In 1822, for example, the population of Brazil amounted to around three million, of whom one-third were slaves, a quarter Indians and most of the rest of mixed race4.
Since enslaved Indians and Africans were named after their owners this gives a false impression of the Portuguese influence, since most had no Portuguese blood. At the same time, intermixing with Africans and Indians resulted in a huge mixed-race population, which, once again, had Portuguese names. Until the mass immigration of the late 19th century and early 20th century the population of Brazil was overwhelmingly of mixed race. Even the most recent census showed that around 45 percent of the people said they were of mixed race. The result of this is that a Brazilian bearing the most traditional Portuguese name can easily have no idea about Portugal or affinity with it. 5
African Legacy
Whereas the Portuguese have tended to be rather self-effacing and introverted, the Brazilian became the opposite, perhaps because of the African influence. The slaves may have lost their names and languages, but they kept many of their cultural and religious traditions. Their dancing and singing helped create the culture, which the whole world recognizes as uniquely Brazilian.
In religious terms as well, the Africans combined their traditional beliefs with Catholicism to such an extent that many white Brazilians adopted them. I have twice welcomed in the New Year by walking into the sea and throwing flowers on the waves accompanied by hundreds of others, of all races. All of us were enacting a ritual the slaves brought from their African homeland.
Finally, I would like to stress that the point of this article is not to downplay the Portuguese contribution to the development of Brazil in any way. However, one cannot stop wondering how this continental-sized country would have developed had other powers, such as Britain or France, been the colonizers.
1 História do Brasil, Jorge Caldeira
2 A History of Brazil, E. Bradford Burns
3 Having said that, in recent years Portugal has grown richer, thanks to the return of democracy and its membership of the European Union, and Portuguese businesses have started investing once again in Brazil.
4 História do Brasil, Jorge Caldeira
5 (I cannot let this point go without recalling an incident in Bruce Chatwin’s book In Patagonia where he meets a red-haired Argentinean gaucho called Robbie Ross who announces that he is Scottish but has absolutely no idea about his Scottish roots. As Chatwin puts its rather plaintively: “He peered at me with milky blue eyes, feeling out affinities of race and background with a mixture of curiosity and pain.”)
John Fitzpatrick 2003
John Fitzpatrick writes on Brazilian politics and culture for sites, including and, and magazines. He runs his own São Paulo-based company, Celtic Comunicaes, which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. He can be contacted at

By Monica Trentini
This article is the second of a three part series on cleaning tips in Brazil. This edition focuses on cleaning in the kitchen.
A very overzealous reader of my articles is to thank for most of the following hints on cleaning in Brazil. Thanks, Terry! She wrote her ideas in Portuguese, so if you would like a copy of this for your household help, just write me. See contact information for both of us at the end of this article.

In the Kitchen:

Dish Washing Detergent – Brazilian kitchens rarely have hot water and even more seldom, dispose-alls. We use the better quality detergents, which are gel, and antibacterial. Once a week or so, I use my dishwasher to sterilize everything. In the dishwasher, I use Sol. It comes in a blue plastic bottle. Finish is good if you are concerned with water spotting.

The highest quality dish towels are called pano de jaca.” Terry has these hand embroidered. She also does guest towels. Please contact her for more information. I have bought good dish towels at the Extra. They are hand crocheted, and a hit for stateside gifts.

Sponges – only Scotch Brite, 3M. Other imitations do not last as long and the pieces come apart. Terry has two handy at all times: one for glasses and one for plates.

Steel Wool – if needed, use Bombril, but beware. Brazilians are not aware of Teflon. They will use steel wool to a fault. Also – one of my friends caught her maid scrubbing her silver teapot with it. AHHHH!

Trash Bags – The only strong trash bags are black and sometimes white can be found. The trash bags I buy come in blue rolls or black, folded in bags. Look at the labels for sizes – 100 liters is the largest size available. Forget finding cinch sacks or anything like that. Tie your trash bags shut the old fashioned way.

Cleaning Tools – If you are looking for high quality cleaning products such as brooms (vassouras) and “rodos,” there is a shop in the basement of the El Dorado Shopping Center where you can get the industrial supplies. The grocery stores only carry low quality cleaning tools that break easily. Brazilians do not use mops. They use squeegees (rodos), which they wrap in a cloth to wipe floors (pano de chão).

Smelly refrigerator? Put a few spoonfuls of baking soda (bicarbonato de sódio) in there on a little plate. Change once a month or so.

Desengordurante is to remove grease stains in the kitchen. There are many different types, but we use X-14.

Polishing Silver

Tired of cleaning silver? Terry has the recipe for you. Boil approximately 5 liters of water in a big, heavy pot. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and throw in a heaping tablespoon of baking soda (bicarbonato de sódio.) The water will stop boiling. Add a sheet of aluminum foil to the mix. Throw the pieces in and presto-cleano. Take the pieces out carefully with tongs and rinse off the white residue “Sparkling like new, in about 15 minutes all objects, just in time for guests to arrive. My Sheffield and Tiffany have gone through this process many a time.” says Terry. (This was in English.) Terry also recommends Polistem, a powdered cleanser that should be applied with a soft cloth. Silvo is another brand, but take care not to use a sponge to apply it. This may scratch your silver.

Copper Cleaning – She uses “sumo de limão.” Sumo is the juice and the meat (but not the peel). She rubs the actual cut lime onto the copper. And it really doesn’t clean to perfection, BTW. “Suco de Limão” is just the juice. Another option is to let it turn green, and enjoy the patina. For other metals: Brasso and Limpa Inox are her recommendations.

Monica Trentini writes for, and The Flash magazine of the
International Newcomer’s Club of São Paulo. She was
raised in Brazil. She currently has a cookie
business, providing fresh home-made cookies and frozen
dough to customers in Greater São Paulo. She also
makes and delivers large cookies, cupcakes and
brownies for birthdays at home or at school. Call her
for more information! 11-3739-2599 or write

H. ‘Terry’ Crispin
Translators and Conference Interpreters
Telefax: 3079-7046 SP

See Part 1 of Cleaning in Brazil

By Ed Rowley
If you are after a nice, peaceful Sunday evening stop reading this and go straight to the next article. If, however, your weekend does not finish at 5pm Sunday afternoon and you still want a bit of fun, you could do a lot worse than spend a couple of hours in the company of Toil’n’Trouble, you might even end up singing a song with them.

From 8pm until 10pm on Sunday nights you can find Toil’n’Trouble playing a lively mixture of Rock and Blues at O’Malley’s bar on Alameda Itu. But this is not just another pub band doing random covers – this is the good stuff!

Made up of five extremely talented musicians – Touro” (vocals, bass, guitar), “Dr Ritimo” (Drums and backing vocals), “Garrafa Boy” (lead guitar), Pedro (keyboards) and “the Mississippi Mouth Organ” aka “the Polish Redneck” (slide guitar, mouth organ and vocals) – Toil’n’Trouble are different. Unlike many ‘covers bands’ you see who just seem to turn up, go through the motions and disappear, this band has personality that sticks.

It is the obvious pleasure that they get from playing their favourite songs that sets them apart from so many other bands that just end up producing background noise. The members of Toil’n’Trouble have so much fun themselves, you will find it almost impossible not to join in and some people do, literally.
Good musicians and singers are occasionally invited to get up and help the band perform a number. This week, for example, one member of the audience replaced “Dr Ritimo” on the drums for a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’.

Toil’n’Trouble have been playing together now for the best part of a year, although Pedro has only recently joined them, his keyboard adding an extra depth to songs such as Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Child’. In this time they have performed at a number of charitable shows as well as several large private functions. Playing Rock classics from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bob Dylan and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers alongside some of the best Blues you are likely to hear in São Paulo, it is no wonder that they have a crowd of regulars turning up to see them each week.

So, next Sunday evening when you are about to resign yourself to another hard week at work, put that thought on hold and head out for some pure, unadulterated fun courtesy of Toil’n’Trouble.

Ed Rowley is an IT Consultant who likes beer. He can be contacted at or via

Contact details for Toil’n’Trouble are available upon request.

O’Malley’s bar –

By Beatriz Guimaraes
Fusion cuisine is coming into fashion. The birthplace of this culinary mode is the English-speaking Pacific Rim: Australia, New Zealand, California, Oregon and British Columbia. Like all new fashions, fusion allegedly breaks with traditional ways, offering unusual combinations of taste, texture and colour. Fusion is the word that better expresses our globalised times. It’s not exactly new, fusion – as an influence, combination, exchange, amalgam – is the essence of human nature and it has been present in different cultures since long ago.
Fusion it not confined to cuisine either, it can also be applied to pop music, like samba-rock or New Bossa Nova, and all the influences and combinations of the world music. We can say that the same happens in the fashion business, where ethnic influences are always an endless source of inspiration.
It’s no different when we talk about gastronomy – where contemporaneity is fully expressed – and fusion seems to be on everybody’s mind. Fusion here means a modern, light and fresh cuisine adopting exotic ingredients, or making exquisite combinations in traditional dishes.
In Brazil, particularly in São Paulo, there is a constant search for novelties, so fusion fits the bill perfectly.
Some chefs in São Paulo, and some in Rio, are using local ingredients, or exotic fruits, like jabuticaba, tamarind, passion-fruit and so on, for their sauces. Alexandre Bertolasse, chef at Pitanga, is causing some sensation with his beans and prawns, an attractive combination according to those who tried it.
São Paulo is full of places adopting this new tendency. Here are just a few suggestions:

R. Araari, 266 – Itaim
Tel.: 3071 1818

R. Manoel Guedes, 474 – Itaim Bibi
Tel.: 3078 9884

R. Sergipe, 753 – Higienópolis
Tel.: 3661 8670

Chioto Di Vecchio (Nipo-Italian)
R. Manoel Guedes, 320 – Itaim Bibi
Tel.: 3066 2714

D. O. M.
R. Barão de Capanema, 549 – J. Paulista
Tel.: 3088 0761

Alameda Lorena, 1899 – J. Paulista
Tel.: 3062 1452

R. Oscar Freire, 30 – J. Paulista
Tel.: 3083 0375

R. Original, 162 – V. Madalena
Tel.: 3816 2914

Santa Gula
R. Fidalga, 340 – V. Madalena
Tel.: 3812 7815

Alameda Min. Rocha Azevedo, 72 – Cerq. Csar
Tel.: 3284 6131

Uma Refeitório
R. Girassol, 273 – V. Madalena
Tel.: 3815 3201

By Monica Trentini
Cleaning… Where to begin? When I was in college, I met someone who thought all soaps were equal. He tried to buy one all purpose soap and use it for everything. I guess if he were in Brazil, he could almost get away with using sabão de coco (coconut soap) for everything – and I mean everything, from washing his dishes and clothes to his body and hair! Well, he soon gave up on the idea, but not until he had cleaned up quite a mess from the overflowing washing machine.

This article is the first of a three part series. It focuses on cleaning clothes in Brazil.

A very overzealous reader of my articles is to thank for most of the following hints on cleaning in Brazil. Thanks, Terry! She wrote her ideas in Portuguese, so if you would like a copy of this for your household help, just write me. See contact information for both of us at the end of this article.

I was telling some friends what a hopeless mess I am (literally) and one of them gave me a book by Marla Cilley entitled Sink Reflections for those of us living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome). If you are dreading moving anywhere for lack of household help, or if you just want a good laugh (and some helpful hints along the way), you should read this book. Marla has a web site, too –

But, let’s get back to business. I always procrastinate when it comes to cleaning.

You probably have a tanque (complete with wash board) at your house or apartment. Some Brazilians continue to use it and bar soaps (like sabão de coco) to wash their clothes and hang everything up to dry. The next step up is to have a tanquinho just to wash and a centrifugador, just to spin. We bought a washer and a dryer to bring in the move, but good luck finding an apartment with space for these appliances!

Terry uses Ariel in the washing machine. For the record, so do I. It is like the American Tide.” She claims the Omo brand stains clothes. To remove stains, Vanish, Resolv or Semorin. You may be deceived by a “Shout” which is actually for covering up smells, not stain removal. My mother has an amazing stain removal recipe for when nothing else works. All you have to do is fill your washing machine or a large bucket with hot water and mix in a cup of bleach and a half a cup of dish washing detergent (Sol). Mix this well before adding your clothes. Run them though a cycle with this before re-washing with laundry soap. Scary, but effective. Terry’s big hint for stain removal is she adds Veja Multi Uso to her laundry. She says it works like color-safe bleach.

Bic and other pen stains – alcohol.
Blood – Peroxide (gua oxigenada) from the drug store.
Red Wine – Ice or White Wine
Other stains – food, etc – on rugs, upholstery, etc – vinegar and LIQUID DISH detergent diluted in big bucket of water, brushed onto stain. White vinegar is less harmful. Has to be real vinegar, not de ma or balsmico or fancy stuff.
Chewing gum – ice removes it.
Pet stains – White Vinegar removes the urine scent.
Mud stains – good old soap on damp sponge, and it is either that and ruin upholstery or leave stain there!

For Delicates:
Roma em flocos, or Woolite is available if you have larger pockets. For silk, Roma or Dove soap diluted in water. Silk flowers should just be left to soak in Roma and water. Terry works with hand painted silk. Write to her!

Brilhante is Terry’s choice, even over Clorox. Once again, heads up! Brazilians tend to think bleach is a simple solution to cleaning everything. Wondering how those bleach stains got on your bathroom towels? If your help is cleaning the bathroom floors with bleach, and your family drops your lovely towels on them, that is a recipe for disaster.

Fabric Softener:
Comfort and Fofo are two that we use. You will not find dryer sheets here. I gave one to my help and she put it in the air filter. Oops! Good thing I caught that one.

Passe bem helps ironing go smoothly. If you want something starched, the way to say it is engomado. Unless you want your sheets and silk underwear ironed, and possibly ruined, you should always specify what you need ironed.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. I must add that I cannot take responsiblilty for any of your precious clothes or anything else. You follow my advice at your own risk.

Monica Trentini writes for, and The Flash magazine of the
International Newcomer’s Club of São Paulo. She was
raised in Brazil. She currently has a cookie
business, providing fresh home-made cookies and frozen
dough to customers in Greater São Paulo. She also
makes and delivers large cookies, cupcakes and
brownies for birthdays at home or at school. Call her
for more information! 11-3739-2599 or write

H. ‘ Terry ‘ Crispin
Translators and Conference Interpreters
(Tradutores Pblicos TAMBM)
Telefax: 3079-7046 SP

By Beatriz Guimaraes
São Paulo’s equivalent of the Parisien Latin Quarter, is the bohemian neighbourhood of Vila Madalena, a perfect place for those looking for lively Brazilian bars and good food. Some people say Vila Madalena got it’s name from a Portuguese land-owner who named Vila Madalena, Vila Ida, Vila Sonia, and Vila Beatriz after his daughters. A stroll around the area is an endless source of surprises. Its streets have curious and picturesque names like Original, Fidalga (noblewoman), Purpurina, Girassol (Sunflower), and many others. The place is full of workshops, joiners, ateliers, designers, bakeries, greengrocers, cobblers, 60s furniture shops, and so on. In through bohemian style the neighbourhood has no shortage of good restaurant, bars and clubs. Here are just a few…


Capim Santo has a charming and quite tropical decor. Surrounded by trees and exuberant plants, it serves food both indoors and outdoors in a beautiful garden. The restaurant provides a self service buffet at lunchtime, including a large selection of hot and cold foods, as well as desserts. Among the highlights is fish stuffed with prawns, seafood, grilled bananas, and a variety of salads. The restaurant has a modern cuisine that can be defined as Brazilian fusion. Perfect for a Sunday lunch, but don’t go too late as it normally gets crowded.

Capim Santo
R. Arapiraca, 152
Tel.: 3813 9103

Live Music

Grazie a Dio (Thank God in Italian) is right in the heart of Vila Madalena. It has a warm atmosphere with a variety of live music every night. Usually on Thursdays it has a jam session, and on Sundays it’s Samba-rock time. During the happy hour – from Mondays to Fridays between 7pm an 9pm. – there is plenty of cheese, wine, appetisers and other drinks to choose from. For those who want dinner, there is a very good restaurant in the back, serving light and tasty food, with a good wine list.

Grazie a Dio
R. Girassol, 67
Tel.: 3031 6568

Traditional Bar

Though Piraj is not right in the Vila Madalena, it is in its neighbourhood. It is a typical bar from Rio de Janeiro – actually it is a little of Rio transported to São Paulo – with its noisy and lively surroundings, square tables in white linen, a perfect Chopp – the Brazilian draft beer – and several appetisers as grilled sardines, ham sandwiches, bacalhau (salted cod fish) cakes, and a proper meal, if you want.

Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 64
Tel.: 3815 6881

By John Fitzpatrick
For a number of foreigners Brazil is a state of mind rather than a physical state – more like the legendary Hy-Brazil, an Atlantis-like island believed to be located to the west of Ireland, than the country in South America .
These people are mental imperialists who sack Brazil for what they can get out of it and make it their own. Some of them do this without even setting foot in the place. A look at the discussion threads on forums about Brazil shows that many of the contributors have no idea about the place.
For them and many others – dreamers, fantasists, fanatics or just bores – Brazil has become a blank page on which they can scribble and doodle as they wish. I cannot think of any other country, which has this fascination for foreigners. It is as though Brazil were a drug.
Sometimes the dream idea of Brazil is based on the actual country but selectively, so that only those aspects of the country, which prop up the dream, are used.
I can think of two artistic examples – Terry Gilliam`s film Brazil” made in 1985 and John Updike’s novel “Brazil” published in 1994. Is it not interesting that two Americans, who have a vast country of their own to plunder for artistic purposes, should choose the Brazil of their imaginations?
Gilliam`s film, set in the future, is the weird account of a nobody who fantasizes about disappearing into the clouds to escape from the repressive society in which he lives.
The advertising poster showed a crazed looking man whose head is literally exploding, along with the title “Brazil. It`s Only a State of Mind.” That film could easily have been set in an anarchic city like São Paulo yet it never entered the director`s mind to set it in the country after it was named.

Magpie Meets Magnet

In an interview Gilliam said his characters were “all trapped in a world of their own making”. It would be good to detect some irony here but I do not. He added: “I work in this strange sort of magpie approach.
I just start collecting things, and having an idea, a central idea, works like a magnet. Things just start sticking to it. I might end up with basically all these ideas that I start shuffling around like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to make a story or some sense out of the thing.”
The magpie and the magnet: this odd combination of scattered ideas and thoughts being drawn to the Brazilian magnet is fascinating. However, why is the magnet Brazil and not Bulgaria or Belgium or Burkina Faso or Botswana?
Maybe these places would have resulted in “a story or some sense” since the film had little. I could find no reference to the origin of the name of the film, showing how the idea of Brazil as a place of fantasy is taken for granted.
Unfortunately for the director, the moneymen who backed him were appalled with the result, re-edited the film and showed it without his approval. Maybe we should be grateful to them because God knows what other nonsense we would have had to endure in the name of Brazil.

New Englander Updike Goes Native

At least Updike`s eponymous novel is actually set in Brazil with Brazilian characters. However, these characters bear as much resemblance to real Brazilians as a Jorge Amado character would bear to one of the Updike`s more common New Englanders.
Updike takes a well-off white girl from Rio de Janeiro and pairs her off with – guess what – a poor black boy from a favela. The boy, called Tristão – no, the girl is not called Isolde but you get the point – gives her a stolen ring, they fall in love and set off on a trip around
Brazil What follows is a trip around Updike`s mind – a middle-aged man`s version of Easy Rider set in the tropics. During the years of their wanderings the couple has all sorts of adventures during which she becomes a prostitute and, at one point, they even switch colors, thanks to the mandatory injection of the magic realism, which makes the reading of so much Latin American literature a chore.
I accept that all writers have the right to wander around in their imagination but Updike uses Brazil in a way he could not have used any other country.
Brazil gives him all the contrasting material he needs – wealth and poverty, black and white, tropical rain forests and the drought-ridden sertão. Like a tourist who behaves differently abroad than he would at home, Updike goes overboard in a way which would have led to him being burned with the witches at Salem had he written this book in the 17th century.
Foreigners have been writing about Brazil for 500 years and have often got it wrong. Since the country was actually “discovered” when Cabral was going in the opposite direction from his destination, India, perhaps this jinx has remained.
The Encyclopedia Britannica says that in the quarter of a century after the first Portuguese landings Brazil was virtually neglected and other Europeans started arriving to cut down brazilwood.
“Brazil became a sort of no man’s land over which the Portuguese crown wielded only a shadowy control.” Five hundred years later we can still say the country is a mental no man`s land beyond any control.

Sex Appeal

One of the reasons why Brazil appeals to the foreigner is the sexual element. For most foreigners Brazil is associated with the carnival and football.
Every year people all over the world see pictures of thousands of almost naked girls of all colors dancing in the streets. Unlike the po-faced, waif-like superstar models who strut around on catwalks these Brazilian girls look happy and sexy.
There is no political correctness about them or their society. Brazil may be the largest Roman Catholic country in the world but the church obviously rules with a light hand.
Compare the Brazilian carnival with the Fassnacht celebrated in Germany and Switzerland. Compare the noise and heat of Rio de Janeiro, where people are dancing to the vibrancy of the drums in temperatures of 30 degree Celsius, to a carnival in Basle where brass bands wheeze out oompah music and everyone is red-nosed and wrapped up to keep out the cold.
I have attended both kinds of carnival and can assure you the Brazilian version comes out well ahead in every way.
Knowing this, thousands of European and American men head for Brazil at carnival time in the hope of finding some sex and adventure, and good luck to them.
Brazil`s main sex magazine is called simply “Brazil”. Presumably the English word is to make local buyers feel sophisticated and attract foreign buyers through its very name, which promises sexual delight.
There is nothing new about this sexual attraction. The first Portuguese sailors were astonished at the nudity and beauty of the Indian women they met.
The Indian men did not seem to object to the visitors pawing their women, since the Indians themselves stole or traded women from other tribes. As for the women they seem to have gone along.
As Joseph Page puts it in “The Brazilians”: “The sight of naked painted bodies in the midst of lush vegetation had a hypnotic effect on men who had just survived the rigors of a transatlantic crossing.
The willingness with which Indian women gave themselves to the white strangers no doubt contributed heavily to the enthusiastic response of the Europeans to the native people.”
John Hemmimg in “Red Gold: The Conquest of the Brazilian Indians” writes: “Much of the appeal of the Brazilian natives was the fantasy of a naked handsome people governed only by natural instincts, an adolescent’s dream world where carefree single women had complete sexual liberty.
The Italian Antonio Pigafetta, who sailed with Magellan, described how naked Indian women climbed aboard the ships and surrendered to the white men with natural innocence.” Hemming also quotes Amerigo Vespucci, the man who gave his name to the New World, as writing: “When they (the Indian women) have relations with us Christians they show no trace of modesty…They have another extravagant custom which seems incredible.
Being libidinous, the women make their husbands members swell so much that they look like animals; they do this by the artifice of the bite of certain poisonous insects. As a result many men lose them altogether and are left as eunuchs.”
Readers who saw the Brazilian film “Caramuru”, released last year, will recall a scene in which the young Indian girl describes this primitive aphrodisiac to the stranded young Portuguese traveler, Diogo Alvares Correa, who ends up having a cozy mnage trios with her and her sister.
It is interesting that even to this day if a man wants to buy sex with two prostitutes at the same time, the term used is “sexo ao indio”. To further the erotic element, in time these Indian women were joined by African women and, since there were not enough white women around, the men were encouraged to have Indian or black wives and mistresses to people this new land.
With the mass immigration which began in the 19th century the Brazilian fantasist was able to add women from all over western and eastern Europe, the Middle East, Armenia, Japan, China, Korea and other South American countries to his heated imagination.

Look Out – Brazilian Women on the Loose

This openness and freedom which Brazilian women show compared with European or American women is one of the reasons why foreign men are drawn to them.
Just read some of the posts on the forum of by (usually) American contributors to see the effects a meeting with a Brazilian girl has had on some of them.
The posts read like the kind of idiotic letters you find in magazines for adolescent girls e.g. “Do Brazilians girls like blond guys?” One writer described how, during a trip to Foz de Iguaa, a Brazilian girl of Japanese descent had once looked at him in a way that no woman had ever looked at him before.
This man genuinely thought the girl found him incredibly attractive although she was probably wondering why he was wearing socks with his sandals. Years later, in another country far away, the poor fool dreams on.
Naãve foreigners should take care of Brazilian women. The jungle may be full of colour and excitement but it is also full of dangers. Remember the long-term effects of the Indian womens’ aphrodisiacs on their menfolk. Brazilian women should come with the kind of health warning found on cigarette packets.
In a way it would be better if these foreigners were to remain in the Brazil of their dreams where they have total freedom to think as they please. Since the Brazilians do not seem to mind having their country used as a mental escape zone the dreamers should keep on dreaming.
Otherwise, grim reality might enter, as happened with the English bank robber, Ronald Biggs, who spent over 20 years in Brazil living a life which would have made most middle-aged failures envious. However, a couple of years ago Biggs, by then a sick old man, left his mulattas and caipirinhas and opted to go back home to drizzly old England where he is now a guest in one of Her Majesty`s prisons.

John Fitzpatrick 2003
John Fitzpatrick is a Scotsman who writes on Brazilian politics and culture for sites, including and, and magazines. He runs his own São Paulo-based company, Celtic Comunicaes, which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. He can be contacted at