Hello, Mathieu here!
On Wednesday, I had the chance to go to King’s College in London with Orivaldo, my supervisor, to attend a conference: “Brazil, what’s next? From the turmoil to the near future”. The lecture was opened by the ambassador of Brazil in the United Kingdom, Eduardo dos Santos, who then let room for a round table discussion, with three guests in addition to the chairman.
The first person to speak was Jan Rocha, a journalist that worked for the BBC in Brazil, and who got to be there while many changes were happening. She came when the dictatorship was in place, and witnessed the evolutions to a democratic government, while she was reporting on Human Rights. Her vision about Human Rights in Brazil today was really pessimistic, with still a lot of improvements to be made. Then Maurício Dieter, a Professor from the University of São Paulo, had a lecture about crimes and the justice system in general. What was interesting, is that for him, crimes are not the only reason of insecurity, but the justice system is as well. Indeed, it is inadequate to the challenges that the country is facing. The country tries to criminalise more and more offences –more than 1000 different crimes are currently listed as so– despite 90% of the prison population is here due to 5 different charges. Then, Professor Anthony Pereira was painting a more positive picture of the situation, with some improvements of the system, although he admitted that it was far from perfect and that big structural problems still lie.
The keynote speaker, Jean Wyllys, Human Rights and LGBT activist, journalist and member of the Brazilian parliament then talked about the place of democracy and its possible evolutions. He is part of a project named Alerta Democrática, which aims to depict the possibilities of evolution of democracy in Latin America. Four different scenarios are considered. The democracy in tension is about having a centralised power, with executive power eroding the Constitution and checks and balances; the democracy in transformation pictures a renewal of the democracy, with healthy institution at the service of the citizens; democracy in mobilisation shows a distrust of the population towards the governments, and the development of smaller, community scaled schemes; while democracy in agony depicts a powerless government, that cannot stop organised crime to take power. It is very interesting to see the different possibilities, which may be devastating but may also be the beginning of a complete renewal. As a member of the Brazilian parliament, his insight was really valuable and interesting, whether we agree or not with his political stance. However, given the round of applause made by the audience –before and after his speech, I highly doubt that anyone that attended this conference did not agree with his ideas!
Overall a truly great conference, from all the lecturers, that pointed out some of the major problems of this big country, that does not get the attention it deserves. Indeed, it appears quite shocking to me: Brazil is a vast, rich and populated country, which is in the top ten of the biggest economies in the world –and the second one in the whole American continent– and is facing numerous and dangerous problems, yet no or not much attention is given through the medias outside of the country.
More content coming soon!