Sunday, March 14, 2010

Glauco is Dead

Glauco Villas Boas was a cartoonist, as known and beloved in Brazil as Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts.
In the early morning of Friday, the 13th, Glauco, and his son, Raoni, were shot to death. I’m not going to dwell on the senseless act of violence, or the grief of the family, or the sad story of the young man who’s been apprehended for the crime. I’d prefer, instead, to share a little of Glauco's work.

To know there isn’t going to be any more of it fills me with a profound sense of loss. 


Many of Glauco's cartoons were made for humor alone, but some had a political or social underpinning. The examples I'm showing you are all of the latter type. 

To appreciate the one above, you have to be aware of this: most Brazilians know it doesn't do much good to complain to the authorities about anything. And those who do often find it backfires. Prefeitura means city hall. Reclamações is complaints. The guard is saying "Next!"


Brazil's prisons are terribly overcrowded. The guard, arriving with a new convict, is saying "Everybody take a step back!"

The sign on the side of the ambulance reads "Leeches". The people tumbling out are politicians.

Glauco often used cigars to identify politicians. A lion, in Brazil, is widely recognized as the symbol for the tax authorities. There was an instance in which a certain politician was accused of cheating on his tax statement. (Nothing came of it.)

Parlamentares are congressmen. And the Brazilian congress has a long history of corruption.
When several lawmakers vote together on an issue it's called a "bloquinho". The guy on the 'phone is talking to his wife, as if he's reporting from the supermarket:
"Honey, they were so cheap I bought several."

This politician's wife is asking, "Isn't there some other place you can hide the money?"
This last one is a commentary on the government's response to a popular demand to lower juros, interest rates: The guy (representing an official) has just cut off a paper-thin slice and is saying, "Is that okay, Madam?"

I'm going to miss Glauco. I truly am.

Leighton - Monday


  1. A talent. A loss. A corrupt system.

    Thank you, Leighton.


  2. Leighton, it is interesting that so many of the cartoons apply to life in the United States, too.

    Our prisons are overcrowded leading to short sentences for people who should be in jail a long time. Early release is being given to people who shouldn't be released at all. A man was released after serving relatively little time for a rape and was arrested less than a week later for the same crime.

    In the US, it would be politicians and lobbyists who would be branded leeches. The man in the supermarket could be the lobbyist who bought several congressmen.

    We definitely know what happens when interest rates are lowered on mortgages.

    My favorite is the bed on top of the safe. That kind of money isn't what people usually think of when they talk about stuffing money under the mattress.

    The human experience translates so well.


  3. Beth,

    I'm sure the same societal ills exist in many places, and that the United States is not immune.

    But in Brazil, unfortunately, some of those ills exist to an unconscionable degree.

    Take just one issue, prison overcrowding:

    One of the stories on the eight o'clock news, here in São Paulo this evening, dealt with the problem in the State of Espirito Santo.

    There, many of the jails have signs outside with two numbers. The number on the left is the capacity. The number on the right is the actual number of prisoners being held at the moment.

    Four times capacity seems to be the most common ratio.

    They've been buying metal containers, the kind used to ship goods, putting locks on the doors and swinging hammocks inside to resolve the problem.

    No windows. Dark. No air conditioning. Hell in the heat of midsummer.

    That practice was discussed today in a UN Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva.
    I doubt that it will do any good.