Carla Toledo Dauden has contributed to explain Brazil’s social complexity beyond soccer, exotic girls, carnivals, samba and violence in the favelas. Months away from the World Cup, her camera caught the social turmoil of her country that millions of people have been able to see through a 6 minute video thanks to the Internet.

Carla Dauden

She sits in front of a computer in Los Angeles, in the United States, thousands of miles away from Sao Paulo, where she was born. At the age of 12, she moved with her family to Florianopolis in the South after a violent incident where his father could have lost his life.

She now enjoys the city where she studied and fulfils her dreams of working on film and photography. She says Los Angeles offers a fun-driven life, diversity and endless opportunities for people who work in the film industry. Her intention is to work in the United States and in Brazil, going back and forth. “I really miss Brazil,” she says.

Carla Toledo Dauden has contributed to explain Brazil’s social complexity beyond soccer, exotic girls, carnivals, samba and violence in the favelas. Months away from the World Cup, her camera caught the social turmoil of her country that millions of people have been able to see through a 6 minute video thanks to the Internet.

Her light hair, white skin, green eyes and American flawless accent while speaking English have also contributed to breaking stereotypes about a country that can’t be detached from its racial and cultural diversity: indigenous, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, African and Asian. That diversity provides a cultural heritage as big as its territory, which takes almost as much land as the whole of Continental Europe, although it has also divided, discriminated and excluded the poor.

The interview takes place via Skype. It’s not easy to arrange an encounter with a 9 hour difference in the watch.

When did you decide to produce a video opposing the World Cup?
It was way before the protest became intense. So the fact that I was doing it at the time of the protest was just a “happy coincidence”. I first thought about the video in May and I shot it in the beginning of June and got ready when the protests became intense. It was funny because at the time so much information was going out that I thought the video was going to get buried. But it was actually the opposite.

What about the other two videos?
They didn’t have as many shares and views. I don’t know why, it’s kind of frustrating. In the first one I explain what’s going on, I expose the problem. The second one gives people concrete ways in which they can get involved and participate. After the first video, many people had sent me messages asking how they could help. I guess it is because it’s more political, it’s more boring and people have less patience and a short attention span. Maybe it was the timing of the release, few days before the Pope arrived to Brazil. The important thing is I positioned myself. If it’s shared, great and if not, at least I’ve done my part. With the first video I feel that we changed the way people see events like the World Cup and it has helped fight stereotypes.

Does the World Cup reinforce inequality in Brazil?
The fact that our government wanted to bring the World Cup is not necessarily going to make things worse. It’s already horrible. It’s just nonsense. We have so much inequality that why would we bring it? Imagine I have a really poor family, I can’t afford food for my kinds, my house is a mess, my shower doesn’t work and I then say: “I’m going to throw a party”. It doesn’t cause inequality, but it reinforces it and makes it more evident. The fact that they are kicking people out for so little money is so disrespectful. And then the way they are doing it violates Human Rights. I wouldn’t say it’s only FIFA’s responsibility. It’s the government’s fault mainly and then FIFA’s for not making sure that these events are done in the proper way and for looking the other way. They are doing the same thing in Qatar.

Has money for hospitals, schools and transportation been used for building stadiums?
It’s not “instead”. The government keeps arguing that they spend enough money on hospitals and schools; “the budget is this…” Then I ask: “Have you seen our public schools? Where is the money?”  It is not being reflected in our reality. So it’s not that they are using money that could be used for effective transportation, school and hospitals. But we are in such a bad state that every penny counts and it’s almost disrespectful. We can go back to our example of the house. We could have trains connecting Brazil from North to South. It’s more expensive to travel inside Brazil than to go from Brazil to other countries. Apart of being disrespectful, it shows a big lack of priorities.

Is social discontent in Brazil so great that people leave football aside in favor of other priorities or is it that football is really not that important for Brazilians?
It is very important. Brazilians are soccer driven, it is really part of our culture but people are starting to set their priorities straight. Many people have told me they love soccer but that they understand my arguments. The fact people protest doesn’t mean they don’t like soccer. The fact that players are so easily sold, the World Cup has so little meaning, superstars play in other countries… nothing makes sense anymore because sport is so globalized.

Have you gained enemies with your videos? How do you cope with the attacks?
Yes. But I was expecting that. I read the comments the first night and then just stopped. I don’t mind, I thought it was going to be way worse. In fact, most responses were positive. What was scarier was to see that many people said that my video was part of an extreme right wing movement. They said my video pushed for a coup d’etat. My ideals could be situated at the left but that doesn’t mean I agree with the government. I don’t. So people said I was attached to the CIA… The problem is that some right wing people used my video because it was against the government and they posted it in their web pages. It was creepy because those ideas do not represent me. They put words in my mouth that I didn’t say. That was the worst of it.

Why was Brazil chosen to host the World Cup? Has there been corruption of public officials in the process?
It would be too much of a statement for me to say that without the proper research. I can only say Brazil pushed really hard to get the World Cup. That comes together with the package that Lula wanted to sell. FIFA has been choosing impoverished countries that they can exploit more and make more money out of the World Cup. It’s easier to change the rules in these countries.

How would you assess international media coverage of what is happening in Brazil?
They hadn’t been focusing on evictions and working conditions until the protests. The media were very condescending with the World Cup until that moment. It was interesting to see that they media were sensitive to what the people who are part of this movement were trying to say. Big channels reached after me: Al Jazeera, BBC, The Discovery Channel; I was in Le Monde… I didn’t expect it. A lot of people are going to Brazil to make documentaries to tell the story and show the other side. I don’t know if this will happen during the event, but it is sad to see the media tend to go with what it’s hot.

Do you think the protests will grow in number and become more violent?
It’s very hard to say and it’s such a delicate moment because there is a lot of violence going on and that scares people off. It’s frustrating to have thousands of people protesting and then only one person can delegitimize the whole of it. But it’s hard to know where all this is going. Either people will forget about it because they are overwhelmed by the celebration and the party, which would be sad, or it will become more intense. What scares me is that if violence persists fewer people will be interested in taking part of it.

Carlos Miguélez Monroy
International journalist
Twitter: @cmiguelez

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