Alejandro Chacoff at n+1:
FROM A DISTANCE, the causes of the Brazilian crisis seem obvious. A corrupt government, after fourteen years in power, begins to suffer the consequences of erratic policies: a deep recession follows, and protesters then take to the streets to overthrow the government. This explanation isn’t so much unfounded as insufficient. The government is corrupt, but so are all the other parties. The economy is in recession, but there have been other periods of turbulence in the past, and not all of them led to a coup. Protesters are on the streets, yet they make up a small demographic, and are unrepresentative of the larger population. To state that a couple of organs in a body have failed says little of the disease that overtook it. I’m not sure, though, that watching the corpse decompose from up close yields any kind of special explanatory power. It may well be that those farther away are better equipped to explain things.
To watch the maggots scuffle and reproduce on the body—think of them as various members of the executive, legislative, and judiciary—is less revolting than it is profoundly boring. And yet none of us here are able to look away. In Rio, where I live and write for a monthly magazine, the crisis often seems to be the only topic of conversation. Once a week, I head to the magazine’s offices in Ipanema. There, for about twenty or thirty minutes, my colleagues and I exchange pleasantries and drink coffee. Then someone will pull up a video of the latest outrage: a right-wing congressman justifying his vote to oust President Dilma Rousseff by paying homage to a deceased torturer from the military dictatorship; a lawyer, responsible for filing the impeachment request against the President, waving the Brazilian flag in her hand as she shouts incantations against the “republic of the snake”; the popular leftist musician and supporter of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) Chico Buarque confessing that he didn’t in fact write his own songs, but rather bought the lyrics and melodies off the street from a guy named Ahmed.