The Brazilian Slum Children Who Are Literally Swimming in Garbage
The Brazilian city of Recife is known for its majestic bridges, but in November a newspaper photo highlighted one of the metropolis’s uglier aspects. Published in the Jornal do Commercio, the picture showed a nine-year-old kid named Paulo Henrique submerged in a garbage-filled canal beneath one of those famous bridges, picking cans out of the filthy water so he could sell them.
According to government estimates, some 6,500 children live in the slums in the Arruda and Campina Barreto neighborhoods on Recife’s north side. Many of them wade through garbage to eke out a living just as Paulo does, but it was only after his image appeared in the press that the local government and international authorities took notice of their plight. In response to the photo and the accompanying article, the government promised to place Paulo, his mother, and his five siblings on welfare.
Rio’s Anarchists Rioted in Support of Teachers
The idea of anarchists rioting their angry hearts out on behalf of schoolteachers is a pretty weird one, but that’s exactly what happened in Rio on Monday. Educators working in the city’s municipal school system have been on strike since August 8, demanding improved career options and salaries. In response, Mayor Eduardo Paes formed a commission to discuss how to deal with the demands of the teachers, who said they’d remain on strike until the government announced their plans on October 1.
The city’s proposal was, of course, crap, and would only have benefited around seven percent of the city’s teachers. So, the day the bill was up for a vote, the teachers met at city hall—where the ballot was taking place behind closed doors—and tried to smash their way into the building.
Things got out of hand. In footage that made its way onto the internet afterward, riot police were seen attacking old ladies. Other cops were caught planting incriminating evidence. One member of Rio’s notoriously volatile law enforcement squad took to Facebook to post a picture of a broken police stick, with the caption “foi mal, fessor” (or “too bad, teach”).
The media, sympathizers on social networks, and the anarchist black blocs have not forgiven the mistakes the cops made that day, so a pro-teacher rally was called for this Monday. Setting off from Rio Branco Avenue in downtown Rio, an estimated 50,000 people made their way back to city hall. Again, protesters tried to break their way into the building and again the whole thing ended up in a huge violent confrontation with Rio police. Protesters used sticks, stones, and Molotov cocktails. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets. Though the march had started peacefully, by the time the dust had settled one officer was seriously injured, tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done, and 18 protesters were arrested.
And some buses were on fire. In Brazil, the buses always get it bad.
Weirdly, the city hall—which, along with local banks and consulates, bore the brunt of the damage—was undefended at the time the protest march reached it. This has sparked conspiratorial rumors that the city wanted the protesters to do as much damage as possible in order to get public opinion back on their side.
For now, the teachers remain on strike and it’s likely they’ll be back on to the streets sometime soon.
VICE Loves Magnum: David Alan Harvey
David Alan Harvey discovered his love for photography at an early age and was talented enough to turn that love into a career. He first received recognition for his 1967 black-and-white self-published book, Tell It Like It Is, which documented the life of a poor family in Norfolk, Virginia, and he followed that up by traveling the world for years, shooting forNational Geographic and picking up the Magazine Photographer of the Year award from the National Press Photographer’s Association in 1978. He became a full-time member of the Magnum family relatively late in his career, in 1997.
Since then, he has continued to photograph all over the place as well as highlight the work of others via his web magazine and publishing house, burn. His new book, (based on a true story), is a beguiling visual story that acts as a sort of Rubik’s cube with pictures that can be placed in different orders. I caught up with him to chat about his secrets on life and photography.
From the book Divided Soul
VICE: I’ve read that you started shooting at a really early age.
David Alan Harvey: Yes. Lightning kind of struck when I was a kid. I mean, I was 11 or 12 and light bulbs just went off. So yeah, that was a lucky break—not just for photography, but for life in general, right? I had something to focus on early, so it kind of kept me out of trouble. Although, not completely [laughs].
Do you remember what originally attracted you to photography?
Well, I had polio when I was a child, so I was in an isolation ward in a hospital at the age of six. I was seriously in, like, solitary confinement because polio was a greatly feared disease at that time. The only thing I had going for me was that my grandmother and my mother would send me books to read and magazines with pictures, so that was my escape—books, magazines, a combination of literature and pictures. Pictures were in my life in a very real way early on. At some point, I got a camera—probably like every other kid did—but I also got a darkroom and I realized that I could do anything with a camera.
Rio de Janeiro, from the book (based on a true story)
Were there specific photographers whose work you enjoyed at the time?
I actually started looking at the work of European artists. I wasn’t too interested in 99 percent of American photographers, but I really enjoyed European art—the French Impressionists, for example, and the Italian and Dutch painters. All of these people really influenced me early on, just in the way that I looked at stuff.
The people I liked were those who were able to do something with nothing—painters, writers, and photographers. I looked into photography and I saw that there were sports photographers who needed an Olympian, fashion photographers who needed a model, and war photographers who needed a war. [Henri] Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank, and [Marc] Riboud and those guys—they didn’t need anything. They would just look out the window or go to the garden.
In other words, the everyday life situation became a gold mine for these artists, and I gravitated towards the fact that you could take something right next to you and turn it into art or communication. I liked the integrity of journalism but I was always interested in photographs. Photographs didn’t have to communicate a great concept, they could just be.
Continue + More Photos
Brazilian Soldiers and Native Tribespeople Are Clashing in the Amazon
Although the Brazilian economy has hit a few speed bumps recently, the wheels of growth have been in motion for some time, and the country is desperate for renewable energy sources to keep its industrial and economic growth buoyant. This is why, for the past year, the Brazilian government has been constructing the new Belo Monte dam in the Amazon’s Xingu River. Unfortunately, the Xingu is one of the last remaining natural, uncorrupted rivers in the entire Amazon rainforest. This is both incredibly depressing—given that the Amazon covers almost half a continent—and the reason why the Brazilian government’s plans have faced such a large amount of international outrage.
Leading the charge against President Dilma Rousseff and her army of private contractors are a number of Amazonian tribes who live along the river, having done so for countless generations. As the collective group—who are just some of the 20,000 people at risk of being displaced by the dam—said in a statement, “We are the people who live in the rivers where you want to build dams. We are the fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities. We are Amazonian people and we want the forest to stand. We are Brazilians. The river and the forest are our supermarket. Our ancestors are older than Jesus Christ.”
More Chaos in Rio de Janeiro: Rubber Bullets Fly Outside the Confederations Cup Final
On Sunday, Brazil’s national men’s soccer team dismantled defending World Cup champions Spain 3–0 in the final of the Confederations Cup in Rio de Janeiro. In a soccer-crazed country like Brazil, you’d expect the buildup to such an event would be massive. And it was—but not for the love of the game. Thousands took to the streets adjacent to the soccer stadium where the match was played to continue to voice popular disdain for what protesters believe are the misplaced priorities of the national government: choosing to fund massive international sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics instead of investing in health care and human development.
Starting at noon on Sunday, the neighborhood of Tijuca was a fortified by around 6,000 police officers, members of the Federal Highway Police, National Force, Army, and Home Guard. A so-called FIFA perimeter was established, surrounding a two-mile radius around the stadium, only those who had tickets could pass, and locals could only enter after presenting proof of residence. The numbers were less significant than in the previous week’s demonstrations, and little more than 5,000 people were in the area until game time.
Continue + More Photos
Tropicalia: Once Upon a Time, Brazil Protested with Psychedelic Rock & Roll
On March 28, 1968, students in Rio de Janeiro began protesting against the high price of food in a student restaurant called the Calabouço. The military regime set up by an earlier coup d’état was in its fourth year of power and President Costa e Silva’s authoritarian rule had begun to take hold. During the protests, a Brazilian teenage student named Edson Luis was shot in the chest at point-blank range by the military police, who showed up to disperse the protesters. In the wake of his death, several antimilitary demonstrations were held across Brazil, the largest being the March of the One Hundred Thousand, which took place in Rio on June 26 of that year.
At the frontlines of the march were artists from the Brazilian intelligentsia, including two young musicians from Bahia in northeast Brazil, named Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who were at the vanguard of Tropicália—a counterculture arts and music movement that emerged in 1967 as a reaction to the dogmatic elitism of the left, the authoritarianism of the military, and the socially oblivious lyricism of bossa nova. Influenced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but creating an amalgam of rock ’n’ roll and the Brazilian folk of the northeast, Gil and Veloso, along with Tom Zé, Gal Costa and Os Mutantes, came up with a new avant-garde style that was highly inspired by cultural anthropophagy—the “eating” of others’ ideas.
The Battle of Consolação
Since June 2, when the price of public transportation in São Paulo, Brazil, rose from R$3 to R$3.20, the Free Pass Movement has initiated protests that have turned into a wave of revolt.
On June 13, protesters who had been marching peacefully from the Municipal Theater to Avenida Paulista, the city’s main avenue, were attacked by São Paulo’s military police. The attack took place in Rua da Consoloação in the center of the city; tear-gas bombs and rubber bullets were fired into the crowds. Students and journalists covering the events were cornered, beaten, and arrested. Several reporters were injured, and one photographer even lost an eye after being hit in the face with a rubber bullet.
The events were a chilling reminder of the violent protests against the military dictatorship in 1968, which took place in the same region and have shaped Brazil’s history. On one side of the protests were students who agreed with the military currently in power. On the other, young protesters called for an end to what they saw as oppression. The idealogical disagreement escalated into physical aggression, and with stones and pieces of wood and glass in hand, the two sides battled until the police intervened, killing a 20-year-old student.
Trash-Mouth Cinema Is Alive and Well in a Brazilian Prison
On February 25, 2013, federal police in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, arrested the director Sady Baby and his girlfriend, Patricia, at a routine traffic stop. Sady had been missing since 2008 when police accused him of hiring a minor, who was supposedly his daughter, to play a role in his latest movie, The Director’s Daughter.His arrest was a shock to many, not only because he had been missing for so long, but because there were rumors going around that he had committed suicide by throwing himself from a Uruguay River bridge.
Sady Baby is the stage name of Sady Plauth, the infamous actor and filmmaker who blew up during the decadent boca do lixo [“trash-mouth”] era of Brazilian cinema. The numerous low-budget productions from that time were almost entirely devoted to explicit sex, and Sady was at the forefront. In a twisted way, he represented an expression of Brazil’s deepest feelings. The best way I can describe the mantra of this movement is with a line from one of Sady’s films, Orgy Bus: “Working is for morons. If this country is fucked, then let’s fuck.” His work often pushed the boundaries of sexuality, exploring taboos and controversial subjects like zoophilia, rape, and necrophilia.
When I was around seven, I used to go to Balneario Camboriu in Santa Catarina for summer vacations with my family. Every day, at the edge of the beach, a guy with curly blond hair, a Viking hat, and a G-string thong would get on a megaphone and announce the beginning of an erotic play called Soltando a Franga, which, loosely translated, means “Release the Inhibitions.” Years later I realized that the strange man hosting sexy public theater on the beach was Sady Baby himself.
I wanted to speak to the father of Brazilian smut, so I visited Sady at the Caxias do Sul penitentiary.
Luana Scarlet holds a snake that will be shoved into one of the actors during Sexual Feelings of a Horse.
VICE: The majority of your work was done decades ago, but many of the themes remain taboo today. What’s the creative process surrounding work controversial enough to offend generations of people?
Sady Baby: I watched a lot of movies and always felt like something was missing. I noticed that everyone has a perversion, a fantasy, but they’re ashamed to expose it or talk about it. I started to put that in my work, and it went well. At the time people would stop me in the streets. Some would compliment me and others criticized me, but there has always been an audience for that, you know?
Did you know that you are something of a cult figure in pornography?
I had no idea.
Yes. A journalist in Sao Paulo is writing a book about my career. It will be released next year, but I never cared for any of that. I’m a simple guy. I’ve always respected people. One of the most important things to me is when someone stops me on the street and says, “Hey, I really like your work.”
I read somewhere that Gio Mendes is writing your biography and the title is Every Pussy Has a Price. Is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. But I don’t go anywhere with a title like that.
Sady doing sexy stuff with Marcia Scarpette near a waterfall in the city of Guararema.
Injustice in the Amazon: Brazil Lets An(other) Environmental Murderer Go Free
The city of Marabá was founded on April 6, 1913, in the southeastern edge of the Amazon rainforest on a narrow strip of land where the rivers Tocantins and Itacaiunas meet. For the first several decades of its existence, the city’s economy was dependent on the abundant Brazil nut trees in the surrounding forest, but starting in the 1960s, the forest was cut down to make way for pasture. Since then, Marabá’s main claim to fame has been as one of the most violent places in Brazil. Last week, as the town geared up to celebrate its centennial, it was also wrapping up the trial of the killers of environmental activist couple Zé Claudio and Maria do Espirito Santo, the case VICE covered in Toxic: Amazon. But instead of closing the book on this violent chapter of the region’s history, Marabá’s justice system has given the green light to those who think murder is the best way to solve a problem.
Zé Claudio and Maria came from generations of nut foragers, people who made a meager living selling Brazil nuts in Marabá while getting most of their food from the forest. In the late 90s, the couple settled in a newly created extractive reserve called Praia Alta-Piranheira. The reserve was made exclusively for extractivists like them; logging and ranching the land is illegal and its occupants are expected to make a living collecting rubber, nuts, fruits, and other forest products in a sustainable fashion. However, from its inception the reserve had been the target of loggers and ranchers hungry for one of the few remaining patches of forest in the region. As a result, Zé Claudio and Maria became increasingly active in protecting the area, constantly reporting illegal activities to the authorities, receiving threats from loggers, ranchers, and charcoal producers—and eventually being murdered for their defense of their land. Their deaths would have gone unnoticed had they not happened on the same day Brazil’s congress was voting on revisions to the country’s forest code, and the attention the case received led to unusually fast investigations by Brazilian standards.
In the days after Toxic: Amazon was made, investigators looked into the local loggers and charcoal producers who constantly threatened the couple, but found no evidence that they were responsible for the murders. Once those avenues had been exhausted, they started to investigate a rancher named Zé Rodrigues, who had recently moved into the settlement. Rodrigues had illegally acquired two plots of land in the area and forcibly removed the three families who had been living there. Those families came to Zé Claudio for help, and this is when the couple became the target of Zé Rodrigues’ rage.