Oh man, here we go again with Brazil getting all offended because some foreigner has said something it doesn't like.
Now, please excuse me for saying so, but personal experience tells me that Brazil has a mighty exalted opinion of its "national honor" -- for a country that was a nasty military dictatorship till as recently as 1985, and which can't to this day keep its skies sufficiently safe for aviation.
Now Brazilian officials are escalating an ongoing fight with officials of international World Cup federation (FIFA), which has scheduled the annual World Cup tournament for Brazil in 2014.
The issue is over booze (this time). For arguably legitimate reasons, Brazil doesn't allow booze to be served at soccer games, because of drunken fans. The World Cup insists that booze is a part of the festivities. Interestingly, the World Cup does not much address the fact that money from the big booze contracts is involved.
Last Friday, the World Cup federation's top official, Jerome Valcke, got the Brazilian authorities and amen-chorus media all in another dither when he suggested that Brazil isn't fully with the program yet, World Cup-wise.
"You have to push yourself, get a kick up the backside and just deliver this World Cup," Valcke said, with some exasperation.
Valcke's remarks, feverishly denounced by the usual suspects in Brazil, followed a furor last month over the booze sales at the World Cup, when he said of Brazil's refusal to allow alcohol: "Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate."
Did reason and moderation prevail in a dispute with foreigners? Uh ...
Down the rabbit hole again we merrily went! Suddenly, it seems to have got all personal.
Sounding to me quite a lot, in my opinion, like the famous fulminating former defense minister "Wonderful Waldir" Pires, Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo harrumphed on Saturday that Valcke is now persona non grata. "The Brazilian government ... no longer accepts Secretary-General Valcke as an interlocutor."
Then "Brazilian presidential adviser Marco Aurelio Garcia added fuel to the fire Sunday, calling Valcke a loudmouth and a bum ('boquirroto' and 'vagabundo')," according to this report in eTN eTurbonews.com
A "loudmouth" and a "bum"?
Happily, to my knowledge, no one has yet used the terms "banana" or "most idiot of all idiots," which is what the Brazilians falsely accused me of saying in my reporting and commentary their malfeasance in covering up grave lapses in air safety, following the horrific 2006 mid-air collision that killed 154 over the Amazon. I also was falsely accused (and convicted) of calling Brazil the following: "country of carnival, football, bananas, thieves and prostitutes" and "land of tupiniquins." (Whatever the hell that means.)
I was, as you know, actually convicted of those risible charges (with the conviction recently upheld by an appeals court) in a Brazilian court, which agreed that I had insulted the entire nation in my reporting about the Brazilian coverup of the real causes of the Amazon disaster. (I was one of seven survivors in the crash).
From day one, my concern had been a lack of adequate attention to serious air--safety issues in Brazil and, of course, the squalid cover-up and hysterical anti-Americanism in the aftermath of the Amazon crash.
And as I reported here the other day, the number of aviation accidents in Brazil jumped more than 40 percent in 2011, according to the Brazilian air force. There were 156 accidents, compared to 110 in 2010. The air force said that 90 people died in last year’s accidents.
I'll continue to keep you posted on Brazil's battles with the outside world. It's going to become interesting when hordes of foreign reporters, some of whom may discover some criticisms to express, descend on Brazil for the World Cup and, in 2016, the Summer Olympics.