Brazilians Love Their Catastrophes

Dilma RousseffThis was the headline of a report from the Rio correspondent of Die Zeit, Thomas Fischermann, on Wednesday, July 9. The disastrous World Cup defeat by Germany on Brazil’s home ground – 7-1 – was a truly “Brazilian moment,” he writes. It will be dissected in the media for years to come, at great length. 200 million Brazilians relish their disasters far more than their many accomplishments, which get much less space. And should Argentina – their arch-rival – defeat Germany on Sunday and emerge as the ultimate victor, the humiliation will be complete.

But that hasn’t happened yet. In any case, the political repercussions of the defeat last Tuesday will be enormous. The president’s, Dilma Rousseff’s, poll numbers had already sunk because of the enormous financial over-run of the event. This defeat, he writes, after the protracted euphoria, will have grave consequences for her in her campaign, which will begin immediately after the Cup is over.

The president is an extraordinary personality. Born of Bulgarian parents – her father was a successful entrepreneur – she became a socialist activist early in life and fought the military dictatorship, ending up in prison for two years (1970– 1972) where she was tortured. In due course, she became chief of staff for her predecessor, Lula da Silva.

It is generally expected, Die Zeit’s correspondent writes, that, in spite of the catastrophe, she will be re-elected in October.


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