Cartório literally translated means “notary or registers office”, but what it means in reality is blood sucking thieves! In my attempt to get my resident card here in Brazil, I’ve already had to visit the cartório at least ten times and each time pay a lovely fee. Yesterday I paid a whopping R$114 for the authentication of some documents.
So why is this system so frustrating? It’s because in Brazil your signature is virtually useless unless it is authenticated at one of these cartórios. That means these people get to charge you every time you need something signed or copied. The worst part of this all is that these places are not government owned; they are owned by private citizens who are typically among the same families of the rich and elite.
The history of cartórios began with Brazil’s monarchy system, the king paid private (rich) citizens to administer government services to the people. Today the majority of this has faded away with the Republic but still the cartórios remain. Recently the Brazilian government created a test for people who want to open a new cartório; this was to level the playing field and to allow the non-rich to have the opportunity to own a cartório. However, speculation thinks that this is just a ruse and that the same families who have owned the cartórios for years are the ones who pass the test.
So why have this system in the first place? It is because cartório lobbyists are too powerful against the government. I think that Brazilians need stand up and protest against this system! Yes, maybe they need to start an Ocupar Cartório (Occupy Cartorio) and see if they can make a change. No, on second thought I think the fight is futile because we have seen how well it has worked out for the Americans.