The Truly Greater Loss

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsThe fire which consumed most of the National Museum of Brazil was not only tragic but could have been prevented. It is estimated that 90 percent of all the priceless treasures in that institution’s exhibits and archives were destroyed. What was most damning was the fact that there was no working sprinkler system, no special fire prevention doors, no special rooms to keep the exhibits separated so that if one hall was consumed then the others would be saved, and no fire retardant materials used to prevent fire from spreading. To compound the problem was the fact that the fire hydrants did not work, and the fire department had to pump water from a lake to try and put out the fire. Essentially, the whole museum became an inferno. The miracle was that nobody was injured or killed.

It is still cold comfort for what was lost, and the museum’s problems were in fact there for everyone to see. According to reports before the fire, the plaster on the walls were peeling, exposing electrical wiring that could have easily started a fire. On top of that, the museum did NOT receive the necessary money to even run let alone improve the institution to protect its precious artifacts. While there are many museums in the United States that may not get the necessary funding to maintain the safety standards they need, a museum the size of Brazil’s National Museum should have had the best government funding possible. Sadly, it did not. In fact, not even remotely. It is a supreme irony that the Brazilian government had put in way more money for the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro than for the museum which defines the history, culture and very character of the country.

There is no question that corruption, mismanagement at the highest level, and a total waste of funds are to blame for why this world class institution not only went bad but in the end was destroyed by what should have been preventable. Now is a time for house cleaning if ever any need be done. Those past presidents and officials in government should be held accountable for what was lost, and Brazilians should know whatever money that was stolen and taken away that might have been used for upkeep of the museum should be accounted for. The truly greater loss is that one of Brazil’s finest institutions was not just destroyed—-it was pilfered by those who cared more for money than for their own people and those institutions that are the essence of Brazil the country and people.

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