In chapter 9 of Assault on Paradise Kottak discusses the different political changes that Arembepe went through as well as how it affected the villager’s everyday life, and how it could possibly change the way Arembepeiros live in the future and effect their future generations. Throughout the chapter Kottak discusses many things, but he hits on about 4 main topics, Welfare and Education, Public Health, Marriage and the State, and the sex Ratio and Female status. In the beginning of the Chapter Kottak describes that the Arembepian government lowered the age that people needed to be to be eligible for government pensions.
They lowered the age from 65 to 60. This may seem like a small change but it actually can have a large effect on the government’s ability to pay for it. When looked at in comparison to the United States’ social security, one could see that 5 years could add a large amount of people taking away from the “pot” essentially.
This could cause serious problems in the United States, so this is surprising to see this type of change in such a small and not so wealthy ethnic group.
This is an example of Arembepe becoming a larger, more contributing society, or it even becoming a state of its own. The second political change that Arembepe went through was a national census. This was something that was very big for Arembepe; this pretty much solidified it as a state. Kottak explained that “the head of statistical services for the municipality told [him] about the plans for the national census. Scheduled to begin in September 1980.” (Kottak 130) In the early 1960s Arembepe was just a small tribe it seemed like, they had come so far. They now had town centers, one-way and two-way streets, supermarkets, a commercial center, several pharmacies, doctors’ offices, labs, and even other medical services! This was a completely different place than it had been just a few decades earlier. Another political change that occurred was that people now had to pay licensing fees to the municipality for their stores, bars, and restaurants.
This was also a big deal, it seemed that all of the things Kottak states in the chapter up to this point all solidify the validity of Arembepe as a state, and even a nation. This new licensing was also a big contrast from the 1960s when only the owners of the two largest stores had to pay those fees. “Municipal officials inspected weights and measures, and there was regular mail delivery. The streets had formal names, street signs, and house numbers.” (Kottak 131) All of these are examples of just how much Arembepe had grown and how legitimized it was becoming. Now the rest of Brazil was seeing it in a different light. They were “pulling their own weight” now, essentially. They were being a contributing member, or a contributing band, to a much larger state. Documents that were never required before were, and are not required. “Full names were used in legal documents, and people were more familiar with the last names of fellow villagers. Most adults now had identity papers.” (Kottak 131)
They were becoming a much more organized and legitimate society. Kottak even explained in the chapter that once they started using these documents that you could in fact be penalized, and even jailed if they were stopped by police and did not have a valid ID. Another pattern that the Arembepe people were doing was joining the armed forces. It was almost like “the thing to do,” or at least it was becoming that. Kottak explained that “after junior high school, many local boys now presented themselves to the army, air force, or navy.” (Kottak 131) He also explained that joining the military was almost something that was just done, almost an unsaid thing. Like getting married, or wearing socks. You just do it because your parents did it, and your friends do it. It is just part of their culture. It is almost like a diffusion of American culture.
Or at least how American culture used to be. Kottak also explains that when you do join the armed forces in Arembepe and you are released, or leave. You have a better chance of getting a job, sometimes even a better job than those who weren’t in the armed forces. The fourth, and possibly the most important political change Arembepe went through was the Basic Education Reform Law of 1971. This law was extremely important to Arembepe because it mandated 8 years of education (in primary and junior high school). “The new law also set a national core curriculum of general studies, including practical courses to determine vocational aptitudes in grades five through eight,” Kottak explained on page 131. Kottak also describes that the main reason that they instituted this because they wanted to prepare these children, or young adults, for the workforce and employment.
They had a new junior high school and two elementary schools, which had five competent teachers. By 1980, Arembepe had really buckled down on education. It was taken much more seriously and was given much more money. By this time they had to wear uniforms, pay fees, and buy books and supplies. Public health is the fifth political change Arembepe went through. They had improved a little bit but not by much. There was a clinic that was set up in Arembepe but the practicing doctor was only there 2 days a week.
There were 2 nurses that were staffed. If there was an emergency the Arembepe people had to go to the Tibras, the city hospital. Sanitation problems still existed although they were trying to make it better. Arembepe was just very far behind in many things, but still had come a long way. Overall they were becoming a much more valid city, and state. From reading the beginning chapters to what they had changed they have been successful in many things. Although they still had a long way to go, they had come a long way from where they had started. When the government became more involved in Arembepe it really did a lot for the people there.