I’m rather desensitised to the horror of football (two teams I was waving for go out on penalties, the other underperforming horribly, as always) , but my senses were understandably pricked by a heartening story on that warmest of topics for any english liberal: right-on footie.
The beautiful game – real football, Brazilian style – is coming to Haiti , and a gun amnesty is being combined with ticket distribution to make “I’ll see you in the stands” shift from a dark threat into an expression of peace.
I wonder if they scale it: an Uzi for a single seat, bazooka gets a family ticket and so on; the team could take a bullet back as a grave memento. Guns are a serious problem for Haiti (I wonder, where it is in the world where guns do not constitute a problem), and it’s heartening to hear the current PM Gerard Latortue say:
“A few Brazilian soccer stars could do more to disarm warring militias than thousands of peacekeeping troops”
I’ve written before, a little, about the problems Brazil faces, especially with regard to its urban poor, a problem too long ignored – now a third of Brazilians live on less than $1 per day, and there are mixed signals about President Lula – popular with investors but criticized at home for slowing reform. My limited knowledge yields me a limited faith in him – I think a huge country with huge problems has to be treated carefully, and those who I met in Brazil who were most hopeful for the future seemed the most grounded – the middle-aged aerospace engineer I met on the plane back, the family we stayed with – so we might see slow, but real improvement on the ground (the eternal optimist in me shines bright today). Regardless, when you scout around a little more, to countries like Haiti, Honduras in the Americas, or Sierra Leone, Guinea (priority countries on the Hunger Map) you realize there’s bad, and then there’s bad. Even if it seems largely tokenistic, it’s warming when a country with plenty problems of its own puts out a hand to another.