Friday, September 07, 2007
Brazilian Independence Day. September 7th 1822 is the date formerly recognised as when Brazil became independent from their colonial masters Portugal, although it seems the historical reading needs to be a bit more nuanced than just remembering that one date. (See Wikipedia entry here). My students spoke about Independence day to me yesterday. One lad pointed out: "We gained our political independence on this date, but we still have not gained our economic independence from the USA and other wealthy nations". Even if this is another simplification of a very complex discussion, he is not the only young Brazilian I've met to voice this opinion.
So, today was (another!) public holiday and the three of us went off with Mariano, Babi and family to watch the Brazilian Independence Day parade. This involved all the armed forces, volunteer forces and essentially anybody who wears a uniform marching by through the morning. There was also a brief show of strength from the air (see pic) - Natal has an airbase which trains Brazilian pilots. We all had a great time, including Nelson, who loved the noise, the military vehicles and probably would've enjoyed the dogs and horses if he had been awake to see them.
With such a big crowd closely packed around us we were careful to keep a close eye on our cameras and wallets. But, I comforted myself with the fact that if anything should happen we could call on any number of uniformed agents to come to our aid: be it the police, the traffic police, the military police, the riot police, the lifeguards, the dog trainers, the Calvary, the parachute regiment, the veterans, the girl scouts, the boy cubs, firefighters, the Seventh Day Adventist marching band or the quad-bike-riding sand dune force of the environmental police... the list goes on.