By Sharone Birapaka:
After Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, and Claudia Leitte were done embarrassing themselves in their song/dance/twerk fiasco during the World Cup opening ceremony, three young Brazilians representing (part of) Brazil’s ethnic diversity came forward to release a few white doves. The official cameras showed the youngsters – an indigenous boy, black girl, and Caucasian boy, walk to the middle of the field with great solemnity, release the doves and walk off.
What they didn’t manage to catch, seeing as they only had 34 high definition cameras to capture the adolescents’ actions, was the small but significant act of defiance put on by 13 year old WerÃ¡ Jeguaka Mirim. As WerÃ¡, from the indigenous Guarani tribe, walked off the field he pulled out a large red banner with ‘DEMARCAÃ‡ÃƒO’ (demarcation) written on it in big, black, block letters and held it above his head in an effort to show the world that all was not well.
WerÃ¡’s political action had been planned in collaboration with Guarani leaders who state that while they are not against the World Cup, they wanted to use the moment to make their voice heard. About a third of indigenous lands still await demarcation and WerÃ¡’s own village currently faces the threat of repossession by the state at the end of the month. Even when land is demarcated, its ownership does not pass into the hands of indigenous communities but remains the property of the state.
Thanks to social media, many Brazilians are now aware of WerÃ¡’s act, but it took a couple of days for his political protest to come to the surface. As a result, the action lost some of the impact it would have had in the moment. It is sad that those responsible for transmitting the game collaborated to silence such an important demonstration.
A ticket to Brazil’s opening match cost between R$990 and R$160 (unless you were special enough to be invited). Over 60% of those at the game paid the former amount. A part of this richÂ ‘educated and refined’ Brazilian section of the crowd (invitees and R$990 ticket spenders) took a break from the game, several times, to collectively chant “go take it up your ass” (or ‘F*ck you) to the nation’s president.
Had the president in question been someone like George Bush, I would think chanting ‘take it up your ass’ to be quite a mild (and ineffective) reaction to being in the presence of a mass murderer. But Dilma Rousseff is a tried and tested activist and ‘freedom fighter’. While you and I entered our twenties wondering what to do with our lives, she was an undercover, on the run, militant by 21. Thanks to her subversive actions against the Brazilian military dictatorship, she was jailed for three years and repeatedly tortured. She’s also a woman who belongs to a party that has pulled 36 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty. I’m not saying Dilma or her party are perfect, but she’s hardly the person I would pick out of a crowd as deserving of slander and malice from people with more money to spare on a ticket than what over 20 million Brazilians make in a year. Anyways, when has slander and malice ever been a long-term solution to anything?