Week five of school. The whole student part of exchange student is starting to sink in.
Today Dilma Rousseff was impeached as president of Brazil and Michel Temer was sworn into office. Life here seems to be continuing as normal. Many people including my host dad, both of my history teachers, and many students I’ve spoken with, believe the the impeachment to be a parliamentary coup orchestrated by the opposing PMDB party. The senators who started the impeachment proceeding are PMDB members and the former VP turned P also just happens to be PMDB. Meanwhile, none of the people I’ve spoken to support Dilma or her PT party either. They see Rousseff as a failed leader who handed an impeachment opportunity to the PMDB. At the same time, her budgetary misdemeanors seem hardly worth a legitimate impeachment.
My host dad Mauro once took to the streets in support of Lula and the PT workers party. Now he says the PT’s mask of political purity has been removed. They are now just as corrupt as everyone else in the Brazilian government.
My host mom believes that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a founding member of the PT and former president of Brazil, will succeed in retaking the presidency after Temer serves out the two remaining years of Dilma’s term. You heard it here first. Suzana, my host mom, thinks it’s time for change, not a return to blatant populism. Many believe Lula to be at fault for Brazil’s economic crisis, blaming his fiscally irresponsible socialist policies. They say his policies are about votes, not the economy. On the other hand, the fiscally irresponsible handout program of Bolsa Familia cut dire poverty by 28% in a decade. Everything is complicated.
The ideal leader would be someone who can look after the poor and make intelligent economic decisions at the same time. This someone also shouldn’t be corrupt. This is a far fetched idea at the moment.
As much as my host dad thoroughly despises Michel Temer and the PMDB, he believes that the economy will improve under Temer and foreign investment will return. He also says that while the Brazilian economy may slowly rise out of crisis, the cycle of extremely divisive and corrupt politics, present on all sides of the aisle, will continue unchecked.
Last weekend I attended a reunion for all of the exchange students in my region of northeast Brazil. Interacting with kids from around the globe made out to be an experience I won’t forget. The Mexicans were the loudest, the Scandinavians the blondest, The Taiwanese the easiest to identify, the Indians the darkest, the French the most elegant, and the North Americans the most familiar. Just to name a few. All of these differences ended up being entirely meaningless and no one seemed to care about them. Instead of focusing on what separated us, we shared our love for dancing to trashy music and sucking at volleyball. Everyone hung out in groups of people from who knows where, despite people from the same nations being inevitably drawn towards each other at some points. Not surprisingly, English ended up as the common language of the group. This works out for me, but one kid from Taiwan has to learn English and Portuguese at the same time.
My philosophy class presents an interesting clash of philosophy. First we say an Our Father prayer to God, then we read from our textbook about the philosophical ideas of people like Friedrich Nietzsche. Hmmm…
Sociology class turned out to be a sociological case study in addition to my favorite 45 minutes of the week. Feminism was the subject our last discussion. A clear divide emerged between those who were paying attention and taking the class seriously, and those who were talking and cracking jokes. One of those groups was made up of women, the other of boys. You know which was which.