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President Rousseff, have mercy on us, Brazilians.

Roberto Henry Ebelt


President Rousseff, have mercy on us, Brazilians.

Thought for the last day of the double term of our Lord Lulla da Silva:
President Rousseff, we humbly beg you to have mercy on us, Brazilians, and please, eliminate PIS and COFINS from our earthly existence. We beg you this in the name of our Lord Lulla da Silva. Amen.

Venezuela tries to beat Cuba in a contest that aims to point out which country has the oldest American cars on its streets. If this is not absolutely true, at least it is what it seems to be.
It will be a tough job, because Cubans, instead of waiting a couple of months more to enjoy the passing away of Fulgencio Batista and start a new era for Cuba, supported the terrorists of Sierra Maestra who established in 1959 the basis for one of the worst, cruelest and longest lasting dictatorships in Latin America (exactly what the Brazilian Military avoided in 1964). Consequently, now we have the “privilege” of having a leftist government, without fearing the possibility of becoming a leftist dictatorship (the worst kind of dictatorship because they tend to last, at least, the double of a rightist ditabranda. Our anti-communist revolution established a system that lasted 21 years (and we were allowed to have two political parties, namely MDB and ARENA). In Cuba, they have only one political party and the commies have been in power since 1959 (almost 52 years). Hence, it will be very difficult for the Venezuelan “tough sergeant” to beat the Castros, in terms of antiquity of their cars. Take your time and read the article below published in the New York Times on December 13, 2010.

Detroit’s Monsters Thrive on a Diet of Cheap Gas

Julio Navas, a taxi driver, in his 1973 Dodge Coronet in Caracas, Venezuela.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Ascending the narrow streets that wind through this city’s hillside slums, the graffiti steadily gets more radical and anti-American, repeatedly proclaiming “Yankees go home!” amid murals denouncing President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Vintage American Cars in Venezuela


The dashboard of José Pereira’s 1974 Lincoln Continental.

In Venezuela, where gasoline is inexpensive and used cars retain their value, big American cars can be economical. More Photos »

But at the same time, the cars get bigger — as in ’70s-style, gas-guzzling, Starsky-and-Hutch, Ford-Gran-Torino big — and American.

“We like our cars to be like tanks in this country, meaning they should be huge, comfortable and preferably manufactured in the United States,” said Miguel Delgado, 52, a mechanic in Los Frailes, a slum on this city’s western fringe, where he was working on a 1976 Dodge Coronet and a 1979 Chevrolet Impala.

The survival here of so many retro-chic American gas hogs, from Plymouth Valiants to Dodge Aspens and Chrysler New Yorkers, owes partly to the vagaries of Venezuela’s recent history and partly to its oil wealth. Motorists say that they drive these cars simply because they can. They smile when they hear that gasoline prices in the United States average about $3 a gallon, and much higher in parts of Europe.

Venezuela provides what might be the most generous fuel subsidy anywhere. Gasoline, currently less than 10 cents a gallon, is the cheapest in the world, undercutting even Saudi Arabia and Iran, other top oil-exporting nations, according to a study of global fuel prices by the German aid agency GTZ.

While Venezuela is a major oil producer, the subsidy still costs the government more than $9 billion a year. For all his populism, President Hugo Chávez has lamented its drain on public finances, calling gasoline prices “disgusting.”

But he has not touched the subsidy, which many Venezuelans consider a birthright. An increase in fuel prices in 1989 helped set off riots in which hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed.

Today filling the tank of a 1974 Lincoln Continental, a 19-foot-long monster with a V-8 engine and mileage in the low teens, costs about $1, including a small tip for the gas-station attendant. “It’s a super-economical car,” said José Pereira, 41, the proud owner of one such model.

Many of the vintage land yachts tooling around Caracas today were imported during the heyday of “Venezuela Saudita,” Saudi Venezuela, in the early 1970s, when oil prices quadrupled and this developing nation became flush with petrodollars.

A sort of proto-Chávez populist president, Carlos Andrés Pérez, nationalized the oil industry, sent aid to Bolivia and tried to turn Venezuela into a player in the developing world. A Concorde flight linked Caracas to Paris. So many Venezuelan shoppers flocked to Miami that they were called “dame dos,” Spanish for “give me two.”

“My car reminds me of the era when Venezuela was the envy of Latin America,” said Jesús Regalado, 68, a taxi driver who still cruises the city in his 1975 Dodge Dart, which he bought new thanks to a government financing program.

Much has changed since then. Oil prices plunged in the 1980s, and in the ensuing tumult, Mr. Chávez, then an obscure military officer, led an unsuccessful 1992 coup attempt against Mr. Pérez. After his release from prison, Mr. Chávez had better luck with electoral politics, winning the presidency in 1998 and turning Venezuela from a country where the United States wielded (To wield = exert, exercise influence, power, etc.); handle with skill (e.g. a weapon); brandish) hold considerable influence to a thorn (thorn = espinho) in Washington’s side.

His new political alliances and another roaring oil boom, which ended abruptly in 2008, lined the roads with newer cars. An Iranian venture now manufactures a four-door sedan here called the Turpial. Officials have begun importing thousands of Russian Ladas.

In the capital’s wealthier districts, S.U.V.’s like Jeep Cherokees, Ford Expeditions, even the occasional Hummer, vie (to vie [vai] = to contend, to compete) for space in clogged thoroughfares with smaller Toyotas, Daewoos, Hondas and Hyundais. Thousands of motorbike couriers weave through the gridlock (gridlock = total stoppage of traffic at an intersection), adding to the chaos.

Despite the newer cars, the low growl (growl = low guttural sound made by an animal; grumble, complaint) of American guzzlers (guzzler = voracious eater, glutton; one who drinks to excess) still cuts through the din (din = noise) of traffic, evoking in some ways the love affair that people in Cuba, Venezuela’s top ally, have with pre-1960 American automobiles.

Some motorists say they buy the cars because spare parts are easily available. Others buy them to hedge (to hedge = proteger-se) against Venezuela’s high inflation. Used cars hold their value remarkably well here: a 1979 Ford LTD Landau, for instance, sells for about $5,200 here compared with about $1,500 in the United States.

Still, the eight-cylinder workhorses remain cheaper than newer models, explaining their prevalence in some poor districts of Caracas and other cities. But the affection for the aging American giants that saves so many of them from the crushers cannot be explained by economics alone.

“I love my Fairlane precisely because it is American,” said Freddy Gómez, 54, a deliveryman in this city’s gritty (gritty = showing courage and resolve. >tough and uncompromising) Boleita district who drives a red 1974 Ford Fairlane. Grinning (to grin = to smile broadly and
grotesquely in a way that reveals the teeth. GRIN (noun) a broad smile
) with a hint of mischief, he pointed to a decal on the Fairlane’s rear window, which showed a mathematical equation involving the Ford logo plus a bottle of spirits plus a female figure. The sum: a couple in an amorous embrace.

“When people see me driving my Fairlane, they know I’m a man of style,” he said. “This car is the F-16 of the highways, friend,” he added, referring to the American warplanes, acquired before diplomatic relations soured (to sour = azedar) with Washington and still flown by Venezuela’s Air Force.

But many of the aging American fleet seem more like rusting turboprops than sleek (sleek = shining, glossy; carefully groomed; well-fed; cunning, clever) fighter jets.

A 1975 Chevrolet Nova parked in the Pedregal slum (slum = favela) had its hood (hood = capô de um automóvel) tied down with string (string = cordão, barbante) and Yosemite Sam (personagem de desenhos animados da Warner Bros, da turma do Pernalonga, o qual está sempre brabo com todo o mundo) mats (mat = capacho) on the floor. Its paint job, in hues (hue = tom de cor) of brown, looked like the work of a would-be Mark Rothko, punctured with dings and dents.

“Yeah, my Nova has about 30 of them,” said its owner, Marcelino Rojas, 50, a house painter.
The rubber-burning days of some of these cars might be nearing an end. News reaching here from Detroit these days speaks of exotic new electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The announcement that General Motors was pulling the plug on Pontiac, the 84-year-old brand whose sales peaked in 1973, drew gasps among some Venezuelans.

“I find it hard to believe that the Americans would let Pontiac expire like that,” said Oswaldo Valdes, 21, a university student who owns a 1970 Pontiac Grand Prix. “In this country, this great automobile has decades of life ahead of it.”

María Eugenia Díaz contributed reporting.



Tags: Roberto Henry Ebelt, ensino, inglês

Roberto Henry Ebelt é professor, escritor, escreveu uma coluna semanal para o Jornal do Comércio de Porto Alegre entre 2001 e 2013, e é diretor do curso HENRY'S BUSINESS ENGLISH desde 1971.

Seu mais recente livro, O QUE VOCÊ DEVE SABER ANTES DE ESTUDAR INGLÊS, pode ser encontrado nas livrarias Disal, Cultura e SBS ou à rua Hoffmann, 728 em Porto Alegre.

E-mail: roberto@henrys.com.br
Fone (51) 3222-3144
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