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Rio, The Happiest City? No Surprise There

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“My Soul Sings/I See Rio de Janeiro I miss it so much/ Rio, your sea, endless beaches/Rio, you were made for me” Antonio Carlos Jobim,


I can't say that I was surprised when I heard that Rio de Janeiro was voted “the world's happiest city” by Forbes Magazine earlier this week (runner-ups including Sydney, Barcelona and San Francisco). From what I've seen from my various visits to the former Brazilian capital, there is a certain feeling of happiness that comes from that town. It is little wonder that Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote so fondly about it in songs like “Corcovado” and “Samba do Aviao.” Rio de Janeiro is really a wondrous city, not only because of its natural beauty, but also due to their friendly, amiable inhabitants.

Just last May, my wife and I took a two-week vacation to Brazil, and spent the first half of that in Rio. In addition to checking out the usual tourists spots, we were also able to check out some of the music spots there, and also made a few friends at a boteco (corner bar) close to our hotel , where between several glasses of beer we were able to chat with the locals about life there.

Through those conversations, we could feel that in spite of the crime, poverty and political corruption and other problems that afflict the nation, Cariocas (as we call the people from Rio) are really content with their lives in a way that is unimaginable to Americans.

The first thing you get there is the weather: temperatures are always mild, and unlike Florida, there are no hurricanes or any other natural disasters to speak of. And the city has a pretty reliable public transportation system. And of course there are the miles and miles of beautiful beaches. I remember that on our first day there, we went on a stroll after drinking cafezinho (espresso-like coffee) at a nearby food stand. We walked about half of the extension of Copacabana beach, stopping every now and then for a chopp (draft beer) at one of the many food kiosks located near the sand.

There is also the Carnaval, when for four days revelers throw their cares to the wind and enjoy the never-ending samba parties, lazy mornings and pretty much everything else the city has to offer.

Who wouldn't be happy with that?

Comments

Ernest Barteldes 4 years, 7 months ago

Here is the piece, which appeared on the Cleveland Scene. I had posted it on Facebook earlier.

http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/still-arguing-over-slavery/Content?oid=1628983

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Ernest Barteldes 4 years, 7 months ago

Did anyone see the link I posted about child trafficking... in the US?

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Roland Gunslinger 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Marion... I guess Rush Limbaugh knows where he is taking his next vacation.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0706062rush1.html

Somewhere between 30,000 and 57,200 sex tourists use child prostitutes in the Dominican Republic each year. http://www.childtrafficking.com/Docs/o_connell_1996__child_prost3.pdf

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Ernest Barteldes 4 years, 7 months ago

This is not about social issues. When I was in Rio, I met people from across the board - poor, middle class and well-to-do... and they all seemed to be content with living there.

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Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, Marion for this comment. I was thinking the same thing, having read it in the National Geographic. If you interview people of means who live in a lovely environment they are going to say they are happy. As for everyone else, you can't eat the scenery.

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Marion Lynn 4 years, 7 months ago

FACTS:

Brazil is considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record after Thailand. According to the recently released Protection Project report, various official sources agree that from 250,000 to 500,000 child live as child prostitutes. Other sources in Brazil put the number at up to 2,000,000 children.

"Prostitution - it is illegal in Brazil to exploit a child for purposes of prostitution. ARBRAPIA, the Brazilian Interprofessional Association for the Protection of Children and Adolescents states that approximately 2 million children aged between 10 and 15 years have been forced into prostitution." - from Jubilee Action:

http://www.jubileeaction.demon.co.uk/jubileeaction/reports/brazil.html

The recently released Protection Project Report takes note of Brazil’s frontier mining town of Fortaleza. According to June Kane's book, Sold of Sex, an estimated 2,000 child prostitutes are exploited in Fortaleza. Their ages are:

15 to 16 years old 20% approx. 400 girls 13 to 14 years old 31% approx. 620 girls 8 to 10 years old 17% approx. 340 girls Younger than 8 1% approx. 20 girls

In the mining regions of the North Brazilian Amazon basin, most of this type of open exploitation affects indigenous children. The Portuguese conquistadors were often given gifts (peace offerings) by the indigenous tribes they warred with. These gifts, of pre-pubescent girls, began a tradition of exploitation that still exists. The open sexual exploitation of indigenous women and children is a legacy of 500 years of the conquest of indigenous societies by the dominant Spanish and Portuguese derived cultures of the region.

http://www.libertadlatina.org/LA_Brazils_Child_Prostitution_Crisis.htm

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