Margay found hanging around in POA

“PORTO ALEGRE – Threatened by extinction, the margay – also known as the gato-maracajá – appeared on Avenida Bento Gonçalves, one of the main throroughfares of Porto Alegre (POA), and quickly became a celebrity. Scared by the gathering of people, the animal was rescued by fire department, although soon enough it should be sent back to its habitat.” – Source

This is just the first little paragraph and already they slipped in little words to guide our perception. In the last sentence, we see the word ‘rescued’ and the phrase ‘sent back to its habitat’ yet no one wonders if where it was found is/was its natural habitat. I wouldn’t go as far as to say we are the ones who should be in trees hiding from the animals but I do think it’s a shame to kill off any species. I just wanted to give a mini-rant for this mini-animal.

The Margay, or Gato-Maracajá as it’s known in Portuguese, is a spotted cat native to Central and South America. It is a solitary and nocturnal animal that prefers remote sections of the rainforest. Although it was once believed to  be vulnerable to extinction, the IUCN now lists it as “Near Threatened”. It roams the rainforests from Mexico to Argentina.

Physical Characteristics

The Margay can weigh about 6.6–20 lbs, have a body length of 18 to 32 in and a tail length of 13 to 20 in. It is very similar to the larger Ocelot, although the head is a bit shorter, the tail and legs are longer, and the spotted pattern on the tail is different. Most notably the Margay is a much more skillful climber than its relative, and it is sometimes called the Tree Ocelot because of this skill. Whereas the Ocelot mostly pursues prey on the ground, the Margay may spend its entire life in the trees, leaping after and chasing birds and monkeys through the treetops. Indeed, it is one of only two cat species with the ankle flexibility necessary to climb head-first down trees (the other being the Clouded Leopard). Its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees, it can grasp branches equally well with its fore and hind paws, and it is able to jump considerable distances. The Margay has been observed to hang from branches with only one foot. The Margay can jump vertically 18 feet and jump horizontally 23 feet.

Here’s a video of a Margay ‘doing Parkour‘ as one commentor stated.

Participatory Budgeting in ‘POA’

“How would you like to distribute 200 million dollars to your fellow citizens? That’s the amount of money the city of Porto Alegre spends in an average year for construction and services—money not committed to fixed expenses like debt service and pensions.

Fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre—poor and middle class, women and men, leftist and centrist—now take part in the participatory budgeting process for this city of a million and a half people, and the numbers involved have grown each year since its start in 1989. Then, only 75 percent of homes had running water.”

Read the rest at Yes Magazine.

Outcome

A World Bank paper suggests that participatory budgeting has led to direct improvements in facilities in Porto Alegre. For example, sewer and water connections increased from 75% of households in 1988 to 98% in 1997. The number of schools quadrupled since 1986.

The high number of participants, after more than a decade, suggests that participatory budgeting encourages increasing citizen involvement, according to the paper. Also, Porto Alegre’s health and education budget increased from 13% (1985) to almost 40% (1996), and the share of the participatory budget in the total budget increased from 17% (1992) to 21% (1999).

The paper concludes that participatory budgeting can lead to improved conditions for the poor. Although it cannot overcome wider problems such as unemployment, it leads to “noticeable improvement in the accessibility and quality of various public welfare amenities”.

Based on the success in Porto Alegre, more than 140 (about 2.5%) of the 5,571 municipalities in Brazil have adopted participatory budgeting.

JourneyMan Pictures has a short doc. on Youtube which mainly deals with the subject. By the way, POA is shorthand for Porto Alegre.

My Take

The great thing about this is that its democracy in action. Someone wise once told me that if the average person can’t understand the goings-on of a particular activity or idea, then that activity or idea is most likely BS. I don’t believe the US is a true democracy and therefore I don’t believe one’s vote really counts. In a true democracy, the government fears its people…not the other way around. What Porto Alegre has done is nothing short of amazing as far as both what they have accomplished and the empowerment created within its people. As a whole, Brazil could use this method to change the entire country for the better.

Hístoria das Cidades Brasileiras

Achei alguns videos que mostram a hístoria de varias cidades brasileiras então vou colocar todas aqui abaixo para você escolher! (I found some videos about the history of various Brazilian cities, which I’ll post below)

Salvador da Bahia

Recife, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, e Porto Alegre.