Episode 2: Culture is a Political Force
Cleidiana Ramos covering the first mass of the Santa Dulce of the Poor in the Salvador Fonte Nova Arena
Cleidiana Yeah, we had an election, a municipal election, and it is very complicated here because people are doing some analyses, which is to say that there was a victory from the center-right. Here it is very complicated how people use these classifications and go vote. My colleagues from political corporate media often have a difficult time precisely because of this. They don’t know Brazil, the Brazil I call “Brazilzão” [Big Brazil], the Brazil within. So, it’s very complicated for you to say it like this, as you already saw a few kinds of readings that the PT, the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) ended because it didn’t win any capital cities. The left couldn’t unite. The same pool on the left insists on supporting the PDT, which is the Democratic Labor Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista), led by Ciro Gomes. Ciro Gomes is a politician from Ceará. He has already been through almost every party you can imagine. And here...there in the United States, Ciro Gomes could possibly be a Republican. Maybe even a Democrat because your guys’ system is very interesting, oddly enough, because perhaps he can handle it better than he can here in Brazil. Brazil has many parties, and these parties don’t have anything to do with the ideological platform. So, we see… it’s a joke to me, the PR the Republican Party (Partido Republicano) ...The Republican Party belonged to the Universal Church. How can you imagine the religious party defending republican ideas that are based on the Secular State, right? So, the very PT (Workers’ Party) to me...I’m not a political scientist, but from what we observe, the PT, the Workers’ Party, if we paid the administrations that they had, Lula Luiz Inácio da Silva’s 2 administrations and Dilma Rousseff’s administration and a half...When we look at it, it’s a party that perhaps...it’s a center-left party, or a social democracy because from an economic point of view, the PT didn’t stray far from the liberal model. The Central Bank had autonomy. We can see differences in PT’s politics in relation to PSDB’s politics, which came first and were said to be neoliberal. You imagine that their acronym PSDB (which was Senator Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s party, he was the president of the 2 administrations, and he invented the re-election model here) -- The Brazilian Social Democracy Party. There isn’t anything more conversative, mainly in regard to policies of inclusion. What makes the PT different from the PSDB is this: The PT centered itself, and mainly because of Lula’s initiative. The PT fixated on policies of inclusion because this country is a ticking time bomb. The poverty is unbelievable. You know? The people often in the capital cities have a hard time understanding what it’s like to go hungry. The interior of Brazil is hungry. And hunger, as we are saying, is hunger indeed. In my region, for example, I never, thank God, my family...we always had...we never had a need like this, but I knew people that went through it. I knew families. And there was a—so you can get an idea, going hungry is so undignified that people didn’t say they were hungry. My father was mayor in my city, a progressive political leader just as well, that was 16 years ago. So, he was still talking about political negotiations. And in this kind of game that we have at home, we received...there was a lot of contact with people from the rural area. My mom had many godchildren, we have this here, this heritage from slavery. You hand your children over to baptize to people that you know in your absence will be there, in the place of the father and mother. It was this, which was handing a daughter or a son over for someone to baptize them. And if the godfather was missing, the godmother, who would be the mother, would take on the child, mainly in Black families, whose kinships were often formed in friendship. I remember a period in my mom’s life, during my entire childhood, which was the following: When she received visits from various godmothers, in fact, it was because of friendship, she would very discreetly arrive in the kitchen and say: “Godmother, you look hungry. What shall I do?” And my mom would go there, because you couldn’t...and they took with them whatever they had at home to give as a gift. So, they would come with a pumpkin. They’d come with a hen, with eggs, and she’d feel anguished because she knew that this is what there was to eat. But they brought it because they had to keep etiquette in their relationships. And my mom would often prepare a little bag with canned goods and things like that, and she’d give it to them. And to not offend them, to not embarrass them, she’d say: “This is for my godchild.” Or she’d get some money and say: “For the child to get a snack this week.” “No, godmother, you don’t need to.” “Please, please, I’ll be upset if you don’t take it.” During the holidays, Holy Week, Good Friday, there was the habit of making a lot of food, food with dendê (palm oil), caruru, fish, etc. I already knew that. Around noon...and there was a list of people my mom sent and took food to, she shared and took it to people who she knew didn’t have anything to eat that day. So, she gave them fish. So, when you look at this, there isn’t much for you to need because the DEM [democrats] who won, I don’t know, I’ll pick a random city, this isn’t something that happened, but the DEM who won in the city X aren’t the same Democrats from Eduardo Paes in Rio de Janeiro. Because often in the interior, people stick to a political party because of the political system. You can’t run if you aren’t affiliated with a party. So often people don’t have any kind of...this is for better or for worse, they don’t have any proximity to the party’s ideological banner. So, it’s hard to imagine these elections mirroring 2022, when the presidential elections will take place. They give a few clues.
It’s very complicated here. We have a republic, a republic system that began...we are the last--we are the last in almost everything--Brasil was the last in abolishing slavery, Brasil was one of the last ones to become a republic.
Olodum band on the launch of the 20th of November (Black Consciousness Day) issue of the A Tarde newspaper in Salvador.
"So then, you’re in a country that denies these communities the right to exist, they are rendered totally invisible. It’s another type of racism, which is why I say that Brazilian racisms, the Brazilian racism is very efficient, because it protects itself in silence—in negation, who I speak of silence, it is negation."
J Here, Cleidiana explains how the king of Portugal tells Tomé de Souza, the first governor of Brazil based in the capital, Salvador, of Bahia, to only prioritize the groups who accept the terms of the Portuguese colonization: go to the villages; don’t go to war. Whoever does not accept these terms should be punished as an example to discourage revolts. The example of this was put into practice in the following:
C It is to exemplify the king. The leaders. To discourage others. He tied the bodies [of the revolt leaders] into the canyon, where the Elevador Lacerda is today, and ordered them to fire it in the direction of the 3 villages, sending them a message: “I will treat you like this.” These indigenous peoples went to the Sertão, escaping from the repression, and those who stayed fought. There are various tales of how they broke the sugar plantation’s equipment. You can imagine what it was to bring equipment from Lisbon in the 16th and 17th centuries...and those guys arrived at night, broke everything. They set fire to the sugar plantations. So it wasn’t an easy war. And they were paid, after they hired people from São Paulo, the so-called Sertanists arrived in the Sertões to destroy the villages, confrontation policy, but these peoples survived.
Cleidiana Ramos and Isabelle Sanches at the march against Religious Intolerance in the Engenho Velho neighborhood of Salvador, Brazil.