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At the Moment, Our Hopes Are Smaller Than Our Worries, Says Caetano Veloso

10/30/2017 - 13h40

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MARCOS AUGUSTO GONÇALVES
FROM SÃO PAULO

Caetano Veloso is back on the scene. The Brazilian singer, songwriter and writer will launch a new edition of his book, "Verdade Tropical" (published by Companhia das Letras, R$ 69.90 [US$ 22], 512 pages), originally launched in 1997 and will sing on his tour accompanied by his sons Moreno, Zeca and Tom.

And that is not all: Veloso has participated in campaigns on social networks and recently reacted to attacks of ultraconservative groups against art exhibitions and museums - and was heavily targeted by critics and adversaries.

Caetano, 75, is already used to being the target of attacks.

Fernando Young/Divulgação
Singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso
Singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso

He was booed by leftist students in 1968 - in the same year, a judge was outraged by the presence of artist Hélio Oiticica's flag that read "Seja Marginal, Seja Herói" ("Be a Marginal, Be a Hero") in Sucata nightclub in São Paulo, where Veloso was performing with Mutantes.

The moralist reaction led to the suspension of the concert and the nightclub was closed - later, Veloso was arrested and exiled along with another artist, Gilberto Gil.

In the interview below, Veloso comments on the book, the show and Brazil's political situation.

He says everything seems "very complex" and that "at the moment our worries are bigger than our hopes."

He says he was never been a member of the PT and that he saw the Lava Jato operation "very similar to a new prosecution against leftist politicians" and an attempt to "destroy the PT."

He comments on the new rightists on the scene, the risks of an electoral polarization with congressman Jair Bolsonaro, and declares his support for pre-candidate Ciro Gomes (PDT).

Folha - You have always insisted on the idea, which can even be considered willful to a certain degree, that Brazil has the potential to offer the world an original civilizing contribution. How do you see this question in the light of the new major crisis the country is going through?

Caetano Veloso - At the moment, our worries are bigger than our hopes. The fact is that it is not enough for Brazil to be original: it has to work. We already have some experiences in that point, although they have been quite sporadic. We need to create the conditions for the Brazilian people's creative energy to find its riverbed and the rhythm of the current. A crisis could be a good opportunity.

Brazil should create something new. We went through the disillusion with real socialism and must now face the disillusion with real liberalism. And we must do that without losing the essence of these projects. China is a challenge to the liberal-democrat model. And the liberal democracies are rotting from the inside. However, the liberal and socialist principles have an intrinsic value to me.

You have been quite active in protesting and have participated in discussions on our political future. What is your opinion on former President Rousseff's ousting, the consequences that followed and the perspectives for 2018? Who are you supporting?

Everything seems very complex to me. I was not a fan of Rousseff as a politician. She showed that she does not have much talent for that activity. I have never been a member of the PT. Lula is a major historical figure, regardless of whatever happens to him.

However, the Lava Jato operation seemed a lot like a new form of hunting leftist parties. The suspicion that it was all done to break the PT was in the minds of the leftists, who correctly thought that our number one problem is inequality, as well in the minds of people like congressmen Romero Jucá and Aécio Neves and even Temer himself, who want to take advantage of the situation and act in a way as not to interfere with the maintenance of this inequality. That means that the leftists feared that the task force of Lava Jato operation was only a scheme to destroy Lula and the PT, while the corrupt conservatives expected exactly that from the operation.

And whose side are you on?

Especially because I want to compensate the clear boycott the major newspapers are holding against him, I am with Ciro Gomes. He incorporates the image of the politician who believes in politics, who shows clear plans for the country and can make it strong, especially to fight the destruction of our environment.

What are your thoughts on the persistency of Lula's prestige? A polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro seems likely to you?

I think that the persistency of Lula's prestige is only natural. With his personal background, the consequences of his two administrations, his talent to speak to crowds, it would be very strange if he didn't have the popular power that he has.

The Lula versus Bolsonaro polarization is in the air. However, it would be better if this scene were not the main act in the election.

In your record Araçá Azul" (1973) there is a song in which you say that you are a "mulatto born on the coast." You also wrote and made songs about the issue of race. How do you see this debate in Brazil today?

I like to see myself as a mulatto. I don't like it when the word is said in a pejorative way. The American experience of racial political activism has been very useful to us. But I never thought that we should hold on to it.

We have to be harder on the alleged beauty of our situation than Paul Beatty [the author of "the Sellout"] is with the post civil rights U.S. But we have to do it in our own way, taking responsibility for what we have done historically. There are ideas in Antônio Risério's book on race in Brazil that cast a light on the details that Lázaro Ramos tells in his memoirs.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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