Monday, May 07, 2007


Brazil, like the United States, is full of discourses of equal opportunity and affirmation of diversity. Only the buzzwords are different: "inclusão" for one.

One of the major goals of now ex-governor Jorge Viana's "Government of the Forest" was to get Acreans to feel pride in being from the state, to turn the tables on the feelings of inferiority imagined to reside in the hearts of riverine peoples, rubber tappers, and city slum dwellers alike. For some critics this is a knock against Viana, whose actions are occasionally dismissed as mainly cosmetic.

But who knows the deeper effects of a t-shirt?

Now, I'm not saying these are government issue, but I think of this campaign to boost Acrean self-esteem when I see these shirts, and I know that the government did put out a t-shirt toward the end of the year, when Viana left office. The shirt said, like these, "Acre" on the front, but it also had an indigenous feather-crown radiating from the collar out. It turned out to be highly sought after, mainly because only the well-connected got one.

Anyway, it is basically impossible to go anywhere in Acre, or at least in Rio Branco, without running into multiple wearers of shirts like these. The ones in the photo in fact are Evangelical spin-offs of the trend: under the state's name is written "Aqui Cristo Reina Eternamente," making "ACRE" an acronym for "Here Christ Reigns Eternally." Acre is, in fact, one of the states where Protestant churches have made the most inroads in the 'battle for souls' with the Catholic Church; perhaps as many as one-quarter of its residents are "crente."
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