Brazilian Protests 2013

‘Come to the street’

I don’t know much…

Before I start I need to explain the fact that I’m not a political person. However, I believe (or I like to believe) the protests that happened, and are still happening, in Brazil in the last months are an important step in making this country a better place (not only for its citizens but for tourists and investors as well).

I am also, at this moment, living abroad. So, I’m not ‘part of the action’. However I believe this can give me a different perspective on what is happening without being influenced by a side or idea. So what I’m about to write is a collection of everything I managed to gather about the events – from Facebook posts, newspaper articles and YouTube videos.

The fact is that the media sometimes ‘embellishes’ the truth. In this case making the protests look like riots, when they are not. Most protests were and are trying to be peaceful. Perhaps a handful of individuals that show up at the protest to vandalise and take advantage of the situation. This is something you cannot stop when hundreds of thousands take to the streets for common goals.

So, What IS happening?

In the beginning of 2013, a rise on the bus and public transport fares was announced. That is where everything began.

Mass public transportation in Brazil has low quality, high prices and can’t cope with demand. Brazilians are treated like tuna every day during rush hour to be able to get to and back from work. Therefore, with the announcement of the fare rise, a group called ‘Movimento Passe Livre’ (Free Fare Movement), which fights for free bus and public transport fares, decided to march against the raise.

This first movement was what sent the red alerts. ‘Movimento Passe Livre’ is organized, and march towards the same, concrete goal. Their protests are not violent and they hold demonstrations regularly.  However, this particular protest was met by the police who in turn used tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters.

NO, they didn’t use it against violent protesters, AND they didn’t do it for any reason other than a command from the top.

After millions marched all over Brazil ‘because of R$0,20’, the president Dilma Rousseff, made an announcement saying she was proud of the fighting spirit of the people and that she would meet with leaders of the peaceful protesters and talk to governors and mayors about reducing the bus fare back to what it was.

Great. The people won their R$0,20. However, that was never the problem.

‘It is not about R$0,20’

The R$0,20 increase in the bus fare was only the final drop for the Brazilians patience to come to an end. The Brazilian people was tired of being treated like rubbish while paying huge amounts of tax, all so their hard earned money could end up on some dirty politician’s wallet.

People were tired of the lack of public health,  education, infrastructure and security and tired of the amount of corruption. All that and even then the government is spending millions building new football stadiums.

The protests went on even though the transportation fares went back to their previous prices, and a huge manifestation was held in front of stadiums where the Confederations Cup was being held. Again, protesters were attacked by tear gas, however this time they countered with molotov cocktails…

The tear gas could be felt inside the stadium and even hit apartments in the area affecting people that had nothing to do with the movement.

The difference now is that the protesters did not have the ‘Movimento Passe Livre’ organization. They withdrew from the protests after the reduction of the fares, after all that was what they wanted.

So now, protesters went to the street without being united by a banner. Some wanted better education; others better heath; others less corruption and so on… There was no longer a focus, but the Giant had awakened, as they say, and now it wanted change. And some nice words from the president were not going to change that…

Police Reaction

I know Brazil needs changing, fast. The way things are the country has nowhere to grow. The main reason Brazil did so well over the last few years was because of government initiatives that took millions out of the poverty line and the creation of a new middle class in Brazil. A middle class that spent a lot of money to improve their way of life and now wants more. However, the government now lacks the infrastructure to move forward; and that is mainly due to the huge amount of cash that is stolen from public coffers.

Now, what really shocked me was the police reaction to the protests. It is not the first time Brazilians go to the streets demanding their rights, but (correct me if I’m wrong) it was never repressed by the police this way.

          Brazil is still under a Dictatorship.

We all thought it ended in the 80’s. But it’s still here.

“Brazil doesn’t have a right party, or a left party, or any kind of party, it has a group of thieves that gets united to steal together.”

The way peaceful protests were met by the police, is only one proof of that. MPs in Brazil approve laws according to who made the bill, and not according to what it says. Politicians and big companies, like the mass transport companies and the media, are all part of a big MAFIA, which profits on public money. Any law, bill or amendments created are to benefit the rich, not the country and never the people. This may seem like a harsh statement, but it is one that most Brazilians agree with.

Now you go to jail for protesting using masks, for carrying vinegar during a protest, or for filming or taking pictures of police acts during protests. You go to jail ‘just because’. You are oppressed ‘just because’. It is completely arbitrary.

And now?

 Please understand, what I wrote here only scratches the surface of what is happening.

The protests continue. September 7th was Brazil’s Independence Day. People once again went to the streets, all with masks, to protest for better public services and the end of corruption.

The violent reaction from the police encouraged groups like the ‘Black Block’, that is now protesting in Brazil, to start acting. And the number of people acting violently against the police is increasing.

However, police repression will not contain the giant. People will continue to go to the streets, still fighting for what is their right.

Protest moments before the police attacked. Five protesters ended hospitalized. One for being sick because of the effects of tear gas, two with rubber bullet wounds, one with wounds caused by moral effect bomb, and one for being hit on the head.
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