Another Brazilian cultural characteristic is the jeito, a "knack" or "fix," the way in which citizens cope with the often-unyielding formal legal system. Some use personal connections--relatives or other members of their panelinhas (networks)--to see that a rule is bent or not applied. Others, mostly less well placed in the power structure, hire professional expediters (despachantes) to cut through red tape to obtain permits, passports, official documents, and the like. The unwitting foreigner who does not understand the jeito system may spend hours or days waiting in line, mired in a bureaucracy that seems to have been created simply to provide sinecures.

Often, moreover, the Brazilian "way," requires tips or small gifts, whether or not a despachante has been used. Doing business in Brazil often requires these payments, although this rule is unwritten. When the United States consulate prior to President Bill Clinton's visit in October 1997 issued a pamphlet describing the country's business climate as "generally corrupt," Brazilians yelled in protest and the Americans apologized--although both sides knew that the description was not incorrect, at least from the American perspective.

The fact that local and state bureaucracies frequently lack mechanisms for enforcement has resulted in a kind of jeito mentality that rewards insiders. After Congress passed the Eloy Chaves Law in 1923 for railroad workers--the first to provide benefits and pensions for skilled workers-- records show that many retired railroad men married on their deathbeds, so that their "widows" could continue to collect their pensions. Another example of official laxity occurred during the 1980s and 1990s, when tens of thousands of public employees opted for retirement at full pay only to take new jobs as soon as the paperwork was completed.


NOTES
1.
Ronald M. Schneider, Brazil: Culture and Politics in a New Industrial Powerhouse ( Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996), 4.
2.
Anthony W. Marx, "Race-Making and the Nation State," World Politics 48 ( January 1996), 181.
3.
For quotation, ibid., 182.
4.
Norman A. Bailey, "Brazil as a Monetary Model," paper published by the Committee for Monetary Research and Education, New York, 1975, 2.
5.
Fernando de Azevedo, A Cultura Brasileira, 5th ed. ( São Paulo: Mel

-29-

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The History of Brazil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Advisory Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Timeline of Historical Events xv
  • 1 - An Earthly Paradise 1
  • Notes 29
  • 2 - Early Brazil (1500-1822) 31
  • Notes 52
  • 3 - Independence and Empire (1822-1889) 55
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - The Republic (1889-1930) 77
  • Note 96
  • 5 - The Vargas Era (1930-1954) 97
  • Notes 119
  • 6 - Dictatorship and Democracy (1954-1998) 121
  • Notes 144
  • 7 - Political Culture 147
  • Notes 166
  • 8 - Social and Economic Realities 167
  • Notes 183
  • Notable People in the History of Brazil 185
  • Bibliographic Essay 195
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 209
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