Sunday, June 5, 2011

Governor of Rio Drinks Champagne and Firefighters sit in Jail

You've got to love some of America's news coverage of happenings in Brazil. I think they google translate some articles, get a couple of names, and write a simple blurb.

People, the news is not straight forward in this country! Hell, going to the supermarket is not straight forward here.

So when I read about how the firefighters are guilty of breaking an entering and creating a dangerous situation by bringing in children, I get annoyed. That Sérgio Cabral deemed them irresponsible vandals makes me pissed. I get even more pissed when I read about him saying that he does not negotiate with vandals.

Nope, to negotiate with Mr. Cabral you have to be a rich criminal. Hard workers need not apply. Ok, maybe I can't call all the firemen hard workers but would you be with their salary!

The thing is, they had an old fashion sit-in, but knowing they are in Rio de Janeiro, they brought the women and children for safety. Smartest move? Maybe not, but what options did they have left? I ran into a peaceful protest weeks ago. Their pleads for a decent salary is nothing new.

But to have them referred to and treated like criminals boils my blood. Of course, obviously, it's the underpaid workers that are criminals who are guilty of insubordination because they challenged unfair work conditions. Yeah, that makes sense.

So Mr. Governor, when you say that what they did was a crime, let me point something out to you. I think that you having posh birthday parties for your nephew in your "palace" with a full Bob's (Brazilian McDonalds) built on your property for the occasion is a crime. The fact that you served, for example, imported caviar and champagne and yet you couldn't give a rats ass that these guys have to find money in a R$950 a month salary for transportation is a crime.

With all due respect, your lavish lifestyle is insubordination. Do you really need people flying into your place on helicopters a couple of times a week? And the rounds of motorcycles that leave your property to escort 1 car burns plenty of money that could be given to this cause.

But now, in true 60s American hippie style, these firemen are facing a possible 10 years in jail. I'm sure you'll lose sleep over it. Oh wait, maybe not.

Governor Cabral, please just cut your losses. Come out and say that you will be the bigger man. You could even do a lame speech saying that while the firefighters actions were wrong, you understand their plight. It is important to take care of your people and you are going to take care of them. Blah blah blah. The international presses would eat that stuff up like, well, imported caviar and champagne.

I think I should be a speech writer...

So what do you guys think of this situation? Who's handling what well? What should the government do?
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  1. Rachel,

    Did you watch Tropa de Elite II? Ok, Governor Cabral sounds and acts just like the THUG Governor from the movie, I wonder if the movie writers were on to something, connecting reality to fantasy.
    I could be wrong, but he totally comes across as a THUG with no respect for the people, just for the "elite" portion of the people, off course.
    The problem that complicated the "firefighters" situation is that in Brazil they are under the MILITARY, they are sort of a branch of the Military Police, so they don't go by the civil codes, they don't have civil laws, they go according to the military codes and they are saying that to invade and take over the Fire "Battalion" they belong to is considered "mutiny", and the punishment for mutiny is 10 years in jail.
    CRAZY TALK if you ask me! I am totally on the side of the firemen, it would make no sense now for the state to spend millions ( Millions they say they don't have to give them raises ) to prosecute all of the 600 arrested firemen.
    I think this whole incident should at least open the discussion if the firemen even need to be considered branch of the military, perhaps this incident will open a possibility for them to detach the whole organization from the military and became a civil entity.
    The whole thing stinks too bad, they DO HAVE the money to give them raises and the governor is playing tough, but it is totally back firing if you ask me.
    This story will certainly cause severe damage to his image and it is a well deserved damage in my opinion.


  2. I guess politicians respond to voters in the end. Perhaps if voters were mnore inclined to value and come out for firefighters then legislation would increase their benefits.

  3. Hey folks, Rachel knows what she's talking about -- she can see the Governor's palace out her front window!

    People wonder why Rio has more than 400 favela communities -- shit, where are you going to live when your gross wage, working for the government, is less than R$1,000 a month!?

    Low wages are the main driver of corruption among police, if you ask me...

    We're being asked to wear red shirts in solidarity with the fire fighters. Put 'em on, folks.

  4. When I read that firefighters here make less than R$1000 a month, my jaw dropped. I can't believe that people with such a difficult and important(not to mention dangerous)job are paid so little. This is an absolute disgrace! From what I understand, there are some garbage collectors that make more than that. Those guys have an important job too, but come on, you won't ever need a garbageman to maybe one day save your life and / or your these guys what they deserve, Governor! Way more than R$950 a month!

  5. Por que o ato dos bombeiros cria um precedente perigoso

    Os bombeiros assim como qualquer categoria têm o direito de pedir melhoria salarial, ocorre que por servirem junto com a PM, sob regime militar, lhes é vetado o direto à greve. Nos últimos dias o que tenho visto no Rio é um circo. Uma categoria que vem sendo “doutrinada” por políticos faz meses, chega ao ponto de rasgar sua lei militar, invadir um quartel, ocupar e inutilizar viaturas.
    Ora, isso é inadmissível em um estado de direito. Imaginemos se médicos decidem fazer greve, invadir hospitais, furar pneu das ambulâncias e trancar as portas; E se um dia policiais em greve ocuparem os presídios e ameaçarem soltar os presos? Não obstante, teríamos ainda a possibilidade de Soldados do exército em greve, colocarem tanques para obstruir vias. Pergunto: Onde a sociedade vai parar? É esse o precedente que a sociedade deseja abrir com os bombeiros?
    Para que não corramos esse risco há uma legislação militar que rege as FFA, Bombeiros e a PM. Independente de qualquer pleito salarial, ela tem de ser respeitada. No momento em que a sociedade permitir que essa lei seja ignorada, estará pondo em risco sua própria ordem.

  6. I agree that while they took over the headquarters, they should not have blocked the doors for the firetrucks. Should there be an emergency, the trucks should be available.

    However, they are GROSSLY underpaid. Unlike public doctors who can also work in the private sector, these people have little options.

    If you want a society of proper order, you pay the people who, for example, went into the mudslides to save survivors what they should be paid. And while firefighters in my country also deserve a raise, Rio de Janeiro should be ashamed at what they call a salary for people who's job is to literally put their life at risk. Same goes for cops. A lot of police men in this city get paid crap! No wonder some find other means to make their money