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Brazilian Dialogue

Proud Brazilian heritage is Celebrated

At the mass of farewell of the 10 Brazilian ambassadors to Saskatoon Diocese this past fall, Carmen Miranda, a Pernambucana doing her doctorate in soils analysis at the University of Saskatchewan, addressed to them these memorable words: "I ask permission of the other Brazilians present to address myself particularly to our Nordestino visitors: Dino, Edivani, Eliane, Erasmo, Fatima, Heleno, Helia, Lira, Paulo and Reginaldo.

"I share with you all, my pride in being from our dear Northeast, and more specifically, from the Sertao (the semi-arid interior). I carry this proudly in my heart, it shows in my accent, it is present in everything that is my 'I.' "This pride in our Northeast origins hasn't sprung from nothing. Quite the contrary! "The mangueira (a school of samba) in its 2002 publication describes how samba enchants the people and recounts their heroic deeds, especially showing the whole nation the valour of the people of the sertao, their struggles, their eternally young dreams.

"The valiant sertao is reflected in the bravery of its people, a people that have never acquiesced passively to domination. We have in our history great examples of resistance such as Zumbi, Antonio Conselheiro and others. In spite of the superior might of oppressors and thanks to numberless struggles of resistance, the dream of justice and equality has never died among us. It is perpetuated in each one of us.

"Many are the current representatives of those who struggle to realize justice and equality. Let us look at a few examples: Luiza Erundina from Paraiba overcame the triple handicap of woman, member of the workers' party, and from the (despised) Northeast to become elected mayor of Sao Paulo.

"Then there's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He was born to a poor family in Pernambuco, so poor, in fact, that he was eight years old before he ever saw and ate bread! Today he is campaigning for the presidency of Brazil and has good chances of winning. He shows promise to change Brazil's history of corruption and social injustice."

(Lula, we all know, was elected president of Brazil in October. The hope is that the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund will allow him some room to manoeuvre. -- AG)

"Let me mention too Heloisa Helena, senator for Alagoas, and Maria Josť Viana (former) secretary of education in Alagoas. Also Joao Paulo, mayor of Recife.

"But it's not necessary to go on talking about people from far away who know how to make things happen. We have 10 such people right here, you ambassadors of goodwill. Beyond your professional activities, you dedicate a part of your lives to the common good of your communities. Your dedication overcomes all obstacles. For example, you are now in Canada whose language you cannot understand. You are reduced to gestures or to looking for an interpreter. But your dreams for the common good do not falter.

"It's in our blood, the blood we inherited from our black and Indian ancestors, as well as from the enterprising Portuguese. This blood coursing through our veins nourishes our joy, our generous spirits. May we never lose those qualities. Long live the Northeast and its people!"

(People from the middle class, professionals and other leaders need to come forward in large numbers to stand in solidarity with the poor. Had that happened in the Russia of the early 20th century, she would not have sold her soul to the Lenins, Trotskys and Stalins that brought her so much suffering. -- AG)

Al Gerwing