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The Virada Sustentável Festival is being held in Porto Alegre and bluevision launches a series of profiles about those people participating in the event that will be held in other cities during the year too

At that time, I’ve done what I could do with my political collaboration, but with journalism I think I can move even forward. I am very demanding about my work. I have a project for the next three years which is about improvements, about developing technical quality and choosing my themes properly. This is a special issue in journalism: you work with limited resources and time. The disadvantage of journalism is that you never reach perfection, there is always something wrong, but the advantage is that you never look back. Therefore, the way I deal with my imperfection is always to look ahead and try to correct it. I think that, despite the crisis, the journalist profession is still worthwhile because, with the crisis, possibilities also open up. The internet has opened up new possibilities, websites and other initiatives have emerged. What we are experiencing is not a journalism crisis; it is a crisis of transition to other platforms.

At 77, the journalist and former congressman Fernando Gabeira says that several reasons motivated him to leave politics after four consecutive terms between 1995 and 2011. He thought about the obstacles that made public service impossible as he imagined. But he also considered how much he missed living outdoors. For Gabeira, Brasilia is a city in which one lives in the underground, almost like the survivor of a nuclear accident. “Being outdoors is fundamental to seeing that time is passing,” he says. “I wake up early and, every now and then, I see the sunset as I am still working as a photographer. At other times, seeing the sunset is very important. It feels so good to see the beginning and the end of the day.”

Originally from Minas Gerais, but settled in Rio de Janeiro, Gabeira is known for his role in the Brazilian Green Political Party (Partido Verde), for being a founding member and for being a defender of environmental issues. “The subject came into my life when I became aware of some international demonstrations, such as the Club of Rome document in the late 1960s, which found that natural resources were limited and that the way of producing and consuming had to be changed”, he affirms.

“When I was living in Sweden, I had the opportunity to learn about some initiatives that led me to the sustainability idea. There were concerns about food, about reducing traffic downtown and the creation of exclusive pedestrian streets – all of which led me to understand the importance of ecology. When I returned to Brazil in the 1980s, I started to address the issue and proposed to create a Green Political Party,” he says.

In his speech at the opening of the Virada Sustentável Festival in Porto Alegre (April 6th to 8th) – the first of a series that will take place throughout the year across Brazil – Gabeira recalled that the subjects that have recently caught his attention are the water and sanitation issues. “This is a problem that has already been solved by some countries in the 19th century,” he says, adding that economic growth is still a country’s great successful metric. However, such metric does not consider essential issues such as access to water and basic sanitation.

“This is a highly important public service, which is strong enough to improve the quality of life as a whole. So, today, when we talk about increasing consumption, economic growth, we need to make a turn to include, in this account, the access to fundamental public services like this.” Gabeira also remembered that the lack of basic sanitation is not a matter of poor education, but it is a matter of public politics. “Basic sanitation is the great failure of the current generation of politicians in Brazil, and the growth of the country depends on accessing this service.”

In order to contribute to the debate on the subject, Gabeira says that he has tried to focus his production of articles and videos on the water issue. “In some places, I deal with water contamination, in others, with water abundance, and in others, with the dispute over water. These have been my main themes,” he states.

“In 1990, I had the opportunity to attend a Greenpeace conference to set what they considered vital issues. And I said, back then, that the big issue was water. Water is life, it is fundamentally important, and Brazil, due to lack of basic sanitation and other issues, permanently destroys its water heritage,” he says. “I am concerned about whether we will be able to defend and preserve this heritage. We have 12% of the world’s fresh water, however, it is badly distributed in such a way that we are experiencing such a great water stress in the great Brazilian metropolises,” claims the journalist.

Gabeira, one of the most famous political exiled people from the military dictatorship time, lived abroad for 10 years. Today, he believes that the military is convinced of the importance of defending and valuing democracy and the Constitution. “The dictatorship taught me and teaches everyone the value of freedom. It represented a moment in the history of Brazil that, for me, seems to be over. So, I have already overcome everything I felt at that moment, such as lack of freedom of speech. Nowadays, freedom in Brazil is great. We haven’t used it properly, but this is not a problem of the country’s system, it is a problem of those who do not use it properly,” he says. “The dialogue of the deaf was created in Brazil. I insist it is a battle of ideas, not of people,” he added.

In addition to being a journalist and writer, the author of “O que é isso companheiro? (1979)” – possible English translation: What’s up, man? – says he feels productive despite of his age, and he likes the technology techniques for being practical. “Trash cans are no longer filled with papers like in the era of typewriters,” he says. And he recognizes that much of his physical force at the age of 77 comes from a better diet and a good relationship with his own body.

“This is a fight that we are going to lose.” Death is a reality and you know it is approaching, but I also think that today the idea of old age has changed a lot. In the past, people of my age were retired or didn’t get out of their homes very often. Today, it is the opposite. We can have an active life until much later. You can be productive until the

“Since I came back from exile, I introduced a series of themes in Brazil. I sought to develop the ecological issue, the gender issue, the fight against racial discrimination and the tolerance of different sexual options. I brought all that I could bring from my life experience and the suffering I had while being exiled. Now, I don’t know what’s going to remain. But the truth is that for those who will, it doesn’t matter that much.”

Content published in April 8, 2018

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