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August 26, 2009


Maciel Grecco, Luciana Oliver

We disagree in some point. It's not necessary intimidation for Northeast politicians to have that amount of power you mention Rachel. Join in a same area a lot of very poor starving people that change their votes for some food and it's enough to those politicians to be reelected again an again. And you're mistaken. Corruption isn't an almost exclusive shame from North/Northeast areas from Brazil as may be you seem to tell. You almost behave like the prejudiced people from South Brazil who blame North/Northeast Brazil for the worst politicians ever and every other kind of misery. As Brazilians, it isn't hard for us to list a good number of corrupt politicians from south to north Brazilian states to show up that it's a general evil and plague, though the forgotten abandoned North/Northeast is always pointed out as a nobody's land once it's easier than in the rest of the country for some clearly corrupt politicians from that area to perpetuate their seats at Brasilia Congress House. But the question is why the national government itself doesn't act for ending up this shameless frame of North/Northeast giving their inhabitants a life with more dignity.

Sergio Gabe Arruda

I agree. Nowadays Brazil norhteast politicians don't need intimidation or fear to make people vote. Starving poor people change their votes even for a little amount of money or little gifts or some food. But corrupt politicians is a general problem from all Brazil, just not from North/Northeastern regions. What happens in those regions is that all becomes more evident, once their bad politicians are always reelected but nothing changes in some North/Northeast most poor areas, where their inhabitants continue starving and miserable. Those people use to be more discriminated along the country, once South Brazil (and when I say that I mean south, southeast and central west) concentrates more people of European descent whereas in North/Northeast most of people are mixed or black, what reminds me that the same occurs in other countries that perhaps I don't need to name them.

Ray Adkins


I agree with you and I would like to add to the discussion the what I have noticed and learnd from my own experiences living around the US.
I have lived in Texas and Oklahoma and noticed they have very little to no corruption scandals in the public sector, mainly because it's people mostly of German, English and northern European origin have very little tolerance for corruption.
I have also lived like in Massachusetts and Rhode Island where you find a disproportinatly high level of corruption scandals in the public sector and at the same time, coincidence or not, I noticed this places have high concentration of people originated in Italy and Portugal for example, both extremely complacent cultures when corruption is present.
I noticed the same thing in Brazil, places with higher Portuguese or Italian influence, more complacency, more corruption.
As you go south in Brazil, you find more Germans, Polish etc and the corruption get's more scarse.
Look at Argentina! Italians, Spanish...
Just my five cents!



I agree with you that northern european countries are less tolerant of corruption ,etc. but you also excluded the fact that it's not just the southern europeans that are complacent, look at eastern europe, asia, africa by far they are much more corrupt than southern europe.
But by the same token, southern europeans are/were more open/tolerant/of the acceptance towards race relations overall,etc.
On the contrary look at the norhtern europeans, cold/more brutal & practice & are the worst kind od racism/ts in the world.
We are all an imperfect world with imperfect people.


Previously an article on individualism on a brazil vs USA perspective.

Now one on corruption. Jolly cant resist...

Anyway I agree with Ray and strongly disagree with Regina. Im sick and

tired of northern europeans getting bashed because they are "cold" and

"racist". Cold? Respectful of individualism (meaning being quiet and

reserved) and inflexible moral code (meaning no bending over the law

for a friend)? If other regions of the world received the same level of

immigration as northern europe do i guarantee they would erupt into

genocide and enormous instability.

Although i agree with Regina that its not just southern europe. Its

basically spliting the world into two regions: a culture of progress

which encompasses nothern europe, north america, and some regions of

asia (australia/n zealand, japan and s. korea to some extent) and the

rest which are different degrees of a culture of repression (both

economically and socially).

However i must recognize that it must be very hurtful for a person of a

poor region to hear these things. I certainly understand how they might

feel its an attack on their identity and feel the need to fire back.

Its important that they understand this is constructive criticism and

that its not for the "joy of bashing" but in the hope of offering a

different perspective for them to use this new information in however

way they please to change their societies for the better.

And to get back on the article. I have noticed Rachel has great

interest in the cultural and historical explanations of how things are

the way they are and in comparing different societies. So id like to

recommend some reading. All of these books can be read online on the

links below although i would recommend buying them.

Jolly's picks:

Doing business in latin america.

the author explains how things work in l.america. He goes into the

difference in law, race relations, family vs community, individualism

vs collectivism, etc between USA and L. America from a cultural and

historical explanation.

link to the book:




Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress

Unfortunately this one is not avaiable to read online anymore. But this

is by far the best book for anyone interested in how culture can make a

society prosperous and free or poor and repressive. Its a collection of

essays from several authors. Lots of Latin America discussion. The last

essays are from people in consulting companies that write about

changing cultures instead of just describing them. Very cool.






Moral Basis of a Backward Society

And to finish the list a classic. Its about southern italy instead of

latin america but the cultures are identical. The author, a

socioligist, lived in a village in southern europe and described the

morals, ideology, behavior and the institutions of the place and

contrasted it with his home town in US to explain the differences in

wealth and well being. He coined the famous description "amoral

familism" to describe the mentality of the people from this society.

"Everything for the family, nothing for those outside the family". The

result? A total lack of morality and consequently distrust between

families which result in the inability to get together to solve common


free pdf of the book here:




There is a whole study on the historical roots of corruption in Brazil.

The way this country was colonized is completely different from the way the pilgrims settled in North America. Over here the main reason for portuguese men to come to this land was to take as much as possible and there was no intention of living here and creating a "society".

This concept only changed (a little) when the Portuguese Royal Family moved to Rio de Janeiro running from Napoleon's army.

And also there is evidence of corruption in lots of Brazilian companies, this bit is not very different from the US, big companies like Mesbla, Mappin, Banks like Boa Vista, Nacional and even food companies like Parmalat were involved in scandals. And don't even think about telephone companies and television networks.


There is a correlation between the level of corruption and the degree of economic freedom (bureaucracy and govt transparency), freedom of the press (and competition/plurality in the press), effectiveness of the rule of law (fast and fair), and a population that has a high level of civic participation.

Most people love to write/talk criticising those caught red handed in corruption schemes. But has anyone tried reading their replies and rationalizations? They probably reflect greater symptoms in their socitiey. Im guessing most corruption in poor countries is due to the rare opportunity to enrich yourself in the market by hard work and merit since what counts is having connections and being of a certain social level in the hierarchy. When it comes to employing family members then its about the strong loyalty to the family trumping the public servants service to his society.

Guilherme -

Did you check any of the links i posted above? Many of the problems in Brazil are not exclusive to Brazil. They are found in all societies and the poorer the society the more intense these anti-individual freedom beliefs are. Brazilians regualarly say things like "custo brasil" but that is also a problem in several poor countries!

Try reading about the culture and history of other societies. Try a book written by someone from that society instead of one written by a brazilian so you get to see how different their judgement and perspective is compared to the brazilian one.

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