Today the Guardian (UK) published an article begging the question: What does Brazil have that the UK doesn’t?

The ‘cheeky’ answer would be ‘bananas pra dar e vender’ drawn from the old carnaval song: ‘Yes, nós temos bananas’. Here is a bit of what experience has taught me:

As a Brazilian living in London for the past 4 years, the question raised in this article has crossed my mind too many times for me not to comment.

I’m a little disappointed with this piece. I think that Jon tries to make light of a potentially great discussion topic, by quoting a few facts and making some not so clever jokes and overused clichés.

To me, white sandy beaches will always be better than a cup of earl grey, Brazilians play the best football in the world (even though not so much lately) and I am incredibly proud of how far the country has grown, from being subject to a dictatorship a little over 30 years ago to competing with the world’s most powerful economies.

On the other hand, I have not yet boarded the delusional boat, like some of my compatriots who have long forgot the troubles of living there. The main reasons I left Brazil were that I was tired of living in fear of violence, facing the small-minded attitude of my peers and dealing with the sickly governmental corruption.

My hometown is Florianopolis, one of Brazil’s most beautiful and safe cities, vacationed by the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio and Ronaldinho. By contrast, I now live in Hackney, reputed as one of London’s most violent boroughs and known in Brazil by headlines following last year’s riots.  There are infinite comparisons I can make between the two, but when it comes to safety, Brazil has a long way to go when if it wants to reach the level of security benefited by Londoners and throughout the UK.

As for public transportation, although I rant daily about the underground, London’s public transport is years ahead of anything you might find in Brazil, including Sao Paulo and Rio.

Lastly, it is not all roses in the UK. Here I am still surrounded by corruption, xenophobia and many other flaws I fled from in Brazil. They may not be as evident as back home, after all, the Brits are far more reserved, but it is here and it is an issue.

I would love to hear more comparisons by Jon Henley on broad subjects on broad subjects such as education (university fee, illiteracy rates, or fluency in second languages), social issues like smoking, drinking, obesity or sexual health. There are far too many to go on, and I doubt this post will get any attention. But if anyone, including Jon, is up for a smart discussion and a real comparison between Brazil and England, I welcome the debate. Perhaps, after so many years of comparing the two countries myself, I might help to reach a conclusion.

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