Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) to the Wall Street Journal

Antonio Regalado wrote an article for today's (9/9/2009) Wall Street Journal, titled "On Sao Paulo's Mean Streets, the Rich Roll in Armored Splendor". The article is all about the high tech industry of adding armor to cars. This doubles the price of the car, but keeps the wealthy clientele safer than a non-armored car. About 30,000 cars in Brazil are armored and about 120 companies provide armoring services. One of the featured young ladies in the article has a pink VW beetle that is armored.

This is not the story. Antonio Regalado, and/or his editors, have blown it big time. The real story is that Sao Paulo is a very densely populated city with 11 million people, and a huge gap between rich and poor. It is more effective and easier in Sao Paulo to kidnap a wealthy person, cut off their ear as proof that you have them, and send the ear with a demand letter to their family. You can get $20,000 - $50,000 this way. This is more profitable and gets better results than robbing a bank.

Why have the poor and destitute taken this path? To truly understand the dynamics of life in Sao Paulo, one should see the documentary film, "Manda Bala (send a bullet)".

To write a story for the Wall Street Journal describing armored cars in Sao Paulo as a new status symbol is completely irresponsible. It does not address the terrible fear of possible kidnapping by the wealthy. It does not address the political system in Brazil that fails to address the desperate poverty of the majority of Brazilian people.

This is the real story.

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