The land of broken hearts

With the country facing myriad crises and a potentially paradigm-shifting election on the horizon, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has developed quite the knack for diverting the public attention to the frivolous and trivial.

In the latest example, the Bolsonaro government gave much pomp and circumstance to the embalmed heart of Dom Pedro I, Brazil’s first emperor. As part of the country’s 200th anniversary from Portugal, the government was able to transfer the preserved organ from Brazil’s former colonial masters.
Patriotic symbolism aside, the repatriation of Dom Pedro I’s now misshapen and yellowed heart was hardly at the top of Brazilians’ priority lists. With a sweeping hunger crisis, falling entry-level wages, mass deindustrialization, and punishing inflation, an embalmed organ of a historical figure does nothing to solve the country’s problems.

Furthermore, it is perhaps rich that Mr. Bolsonaro would go to such lengths and expense to return the object to Brazil. A significant slice of his time in office has been spent vilifying his predecessors, who he claims wasted state money on useless ceremonies and projects. One can only imagine what he would have said were one of his opponents to have welcomed a 200-year-old organ with such ceremony.

In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, hunger, violence, employment, salaries, and inflation are more urgent necessities than a post-colonial celebration. For most Brazilians living in despair, Dom Pedro I is nothing more than a name in history books. And they might well remember that fact when it comes time to vote for their new president.

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