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Scavenging the Carcass (by Alexandre Cruz Almeida)
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Everybody Wants a Piece of Sergio Vieira de Mello

People’s appetite for human flesh has no end. Everyone wanted a piece of Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The ex-wife and children dragged his body to France. Brazil sent the a big plane to pick him up in Iraq, gave a ride to the family, and is now selling Sergio Vieira de Mello as a great Brazilian. The UN stuck its flag unto the coffin of the guy, invented heroic last words for him and now, finally, has a martyr that is only their own.

Carolina Larriera    There was only one person whom I did not see in the queue scavenging the carcass, strangely the only one who would have the right to put and dispose of the body of Sergio Vieira de Mello: a 29-year-old Argentine named Carolina Larriera.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, A Great Brazilian    Self-glorification is bad. Any little thing and people are already thrilled, drums are beating and cannons are sounding, beloved homeland, salve, salve.

Brazil now cries for her best son. The savior of Kosovo. Our man in Timor. A hero. Sergio Vieira de Mello makes us all proud of being Brazilian. Blah blah blah (..)

His two sons, 23 and 25 years old, French mother, do not speak Portuguese. In fact, they had hardly had any contact with their father, who was an absentee – for good or bad reasons, this is another story. They probably not even know who Princess Isabel was.  Mention “Capitu” to them, and they will answer “Santé”! (..)

(..) Countries come and go. One day, Brazil will disappear, as did the Roman Empire. But the idea of ​​the UN, even though it never functioned right, or prevented a single conflict, is one of the few decent things to emerge in the twentieth century and is worth defending.

Brazil has no right, at this point in the championship, to demand Sergio Vieira de Mello for herself. In fact, most of the international coverage on Sergio Vieira de Mello’s death (except the more detailed reports) does not even mention that he was Brazilian. (..)

Dead, you control nothing

Sergio Vieira de Mello had a girlfriend. Carolina Larriera, 29, of Argentina, who worked with him on the UN mission in Iraq. The press was discreet, but implied that they lived together in Geneva when he accepted the new post. In any case, they had been serious about three years. Carolina had even come to Rio to meet his family. To friends, he said he was in love.

I even understand that the press has not spoken more about Carolina. If the courtship was discreet, it was because he and she did not want to see it on CNN.

Carolina Larriera, on the day of the tragedy

On the other hand, only the ex-wife was mentioned. That the plane of the FAB would fetch the ex-wife and the sons in France. That he would be buried near the city of the ex-wife. That the president gave the condolences to the ex-wife.

But in the end, is the wife, or rather, the ex-wife? This means that the guy separates from her, changes continent, meets another, lives and works with the other for three years and then, it’s only to be killed, that the doomed man is delivered in a tray (or rather, a coffin) back to the clutches of his ex?

Dead, really, does not control a thing

Ex is ex. If I wanted my ex deciding where I would be buried, or receiving condolences from the president if I died, I would not have separated from her. If I have separated, it is because she has nothing more to do with my life – or with my death. It’s finished. No use to continue making a fuss over it.

Carolina Larriera

Go see Annie is a wonderful person, but I cannot help myself from imagining her thinking: “I mean, you thought you were going to leave me like this and stay with that little Argentine, right? Well, you’ll remain here, on my feet, forever, for you to learn who’s boss. “

I imagine these things to be governed by a thousand protocols. In case of death, the president gives condolences to the widow. It does not matter if they were separated. Since there was no divorce, the legal wife was Annie, the widow is she.

But this is a very fifties interpretation of human relationships. If the man separated from one and lived for three years with another, then the wife is indeed the other. Screw the paper. Was it not a Stable Union?

Missing the wife (a separated wife is not a “wife”), that next in the line of succession was at least his mother, or his sister, or some cousin whom he liked as a teenager, or even that 90-year-old nanny who was crying at the wake. Anyone, except the ex.

Who must receive Kofi Annan’s condolences is Carolina. Who should decide where he would be buried is Carolina. If this were a world that gave more value to feelings and truth than to appearances and bureaucracies, Sergio Vieira de Mello would now be going to La Recoleta.

I only know that handing over a man’s dead body to his ex-wife is a f***** immorality.


Posted on the blog between August 27th and 28th, 2003, as Brigando por Carnica (Alexandre Cruz Almeida)