The yellow jersey is a symbol of the “new left” in Brazil

How a yellow jersey is dividing Brazil fans

By Sam Webb 10 August 2014

Brazilians are divided in response to the sight of the first of five, sometimes even six, yellow jerseys of the 2014 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. In some sectors of society, such as the country’s radical far-right, it is an inspiration to see one of the symbols of the country’s progressive left being used to celebrate, and, to a certain extent, to celebrate the country’s first modern and highly successful dictatorship. This is the view held by far-right Senator Sergio Moro, who has been dubbed a “mafioso by the press”, after the nickname coined by the media after the former head of the Brazilian Federal Police, who was responsible for the persecution of political and social opponents, most notably the black professor, Jânio Quadros.

With this view, the use of a yellow jersey symbolises the triumph of the political and social forces of the left: workers and youth. However, some commentators are more circumspect and argue not that the yellow jersey is a manifestation of a “new dictatorship” in Brazil, but that it is, in fact, a symbol of the “new left” in Brazil.

One of these commentators is Eduardo Cunha, the former president of Brazil. In a commentary published by the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo on 21 May 2010, that is now the front-page headline of the magazine, he expressed the hope that “the first yellow jersey will inspire the next generations”. The article was the first of a series of similar works on Cunha by the magazine. “I don’t believe in dictatorship”, he wrote, and added: “I don’t believe that you cannot have two [leaderships]. And there is too much freedom.” In the same article he made reference to the concept of the people, of the masses, saying that “the people decide, but they have not always agreed on [their] direction”.

However, in what has become an increasingly common occurrence in Brazil, the

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