“Hey Beautiful, This Is The Soldier You Met Yesterday”

Posted: May 4, 2011 by ellensluis in Conflict, Culture, South America
Tags: , , , , ,

“Hey beautiful, this is the soldier you met yesterday. I saw you and even dreamt about you. I really want to get to know you, talk to you, but my phone’s battery died. I will be waiting for the day I will be face to face with you. A thousand kisses.”

This message I received yesterday from an unknown number. Lately I have been talking a couple of times with a girl working in a shop near a street corner that uses to be occupied by the army. She told me that she is dating one of the soldiers. She likes their uniforms, their arms, their status. When they’ve a day off they come back to the community to go out with the girls. She tells me that she really likes her soldier, but that he doesn’t love her. He’s married. She pushed me to go talk with the soldiers. “Go, talk with them!” When I got back, she asked: “And, what did you think of him?” I realized that she thought that I would be interested in one of those soldiers… Unfortunately for this soldier sending me a thousand kisses I have changed my mind about the romantic illusion of dating one long ago.

Gender is a serious issue. The armed forces have come to occupy the community, causing a lot of (positive as well as negative) changes in the daily life of the residents. On top of that, all soldiers are men. This causes a lot of problems for many women. I have heard reports on abuse and disrespect, and, as I mentioned above, soldiers dating women and girls in the community. While they have come to protect the residents, women in some cases feel very unsafe. Especially at night, and some prefer to stay at home. Other women are attracted by the soldier’s power and authority, which the latter use for their benefit. This creates some very confusing situations.I wonder whether the girls dating soldiers used to be interested in gang leaders. Do girls care about status, power and arms, or about legality?

In relation to this issue it’s very easy to blame the soldiers for their abusive behavior. However, when talking to those boys – they really are boys, most of them I must be around 18-22 years old – I realize that they find themselves in a very strange situation. They aren’t actually trained to serve the people. They don’t know how to interact with citizens. In fact, they aren’t allowed to interact with people. One day I offered one of the soldiers (it’s very well possible that it’s this guy who sent me this message) a pão de queijo (cheese bread) but he told me he wasn’t allowed to accept it. “Order”.

My roommate made a very interesting comment about the situation. Most of the soldiers themselves are born in favelas or periphery. The pacification now “opposes” those people that have a similar background and live in similar circumstances. Soldiers and the military police both receive very low salaries, just like most of the people living in the pacified communities. It’s striking how these people with a similar background misunderstand and disrespect each other, as the pacification process puts both of them in a difficult situation.

I haven’t replied yet the soldier’s message. I was shocked but the situation also got my interest. Not sure yet whether I will go into this. Obviously, for research purposes only 🙂 .

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Comments
  1. Fei An says:

    Sure, research…

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