Brazil protest that began over increasing cost of public transportation continues to draw tens of thousands to the streets
OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: Many imagine Brazil as a country of tourism and wonderful soccer or–jogo bonito, as it’s known around the world. Yesterday, on Wednesday, June 19, the world saw a different face of this great country, one of confrontation and social struggle, and it was broadcasted on live TV to the world.
In Fortaleza, Brazil, an estimate of 25,000 people protested outside the Confederations Cup Brazil vs. Mexico game, with chants like “a teacher is worth more than Neymar” (Brazil’s new soccer star). They made their prescience being felt both inside and outside the international soccer game, where president Dilma Rousseff and Joseph Blatter, FIFA’s chairman, were in attendance. They where booed on the ceremony before the game when the president was introduced.
Outside the stadium, police finally broke their ranks and started repressing the protesters. Many of them were left out of the stadium, in some cases with a ticket in their hands, trapped in the middle of the violence. Instead of enjoying the soccer game, they ended up smelling tear gas and running from menacing policeman pursuing the crowd.
This was enough for the Rousseff administration which had been doing a real effort to use the Olympic games and specially the FIFA soccer World Cup to showcase Brazil as one of the new powerhouses in today’s world. A few hours after the incident, on a especial announcement broadcast to all TV networks, it was announced that the bus fares will be reduced from $1.45 to $1.36, their original level before the protest started, because of that precise reason.
And while the public transport fare was the trigger, the reasons behind such mobilizations seem to go much deeper than that.
The Real News Network spoke with some activists to understand their opinion about this victory.
THIAGO, PROTESTER: Yeah. Well, I think the motto of this protest, of this march are it’s not only $0.20. So we are talking about education, we’re talking about how politics [incompr.] and health problems and security problems, and we have the inflation problem again. And this is something that really makes Brazilians really, really crazy, because it’s–we hope that we have passed that. But this is just not supposed to be happening anymore. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, definitely. And although the mayors of the biggest towns in Brazil, like Rio and São Paulo, have decided to step back and bring the prices of the bus fares down, this is something that–this is definitely something that’s not going to stop.
VINICIUS, PROTESTER: We have poor infrastructure. We have a lot of taxes. And we have to pay everything double. We have to pay taxes, but we have also to pay for–to have medical assistance. We pay taxes, but we also pay to have roads. We pay taxes, but we also have to pay for particular security. It seems that our taxes are not used for anything except for providing the politicians some kind of luxury.
NERITA, PROTESTER: People like soccer. We are in Brazil, right? So, yeah. I mean, the fact that people like soccer, it doesn’t justify major, huge, and enormous investments, over-budgeting, all of the constructions that we have been doing and building for the World Cup. I mean, the fact that we like football, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a World Cup here and only invest–. If we had an infrastructure like the health system would work well and the educational system would work well, then, well, welcome. We’re going to invest $30 billion on the World Cup because everything is working. So, yeah. But it’s not the case. Nothing is working here. Public transportation’s not working. Education is not working. People are literally every day in the news dying on the hallways of public hospitals.
[incompr.] called on Facebook on June 6 to protest for the increasing bus fare and the bad service, in return every day thousands of people keep joining the protest that has triggered anger over many other issues, especially abuse of power and police violence, with almost every game in the Confederations Cup boycotted by thousands of activists. Joseph Platter declared, Brazil chose to organize the World Cup, we didn’t impose it on you, not really happy about the demonstrations and the police violence that soon followed every time.
The protest movement that on Monday, June 17 got more than 250,000 people in the streets of more than 12 of Brazil’s main cities and that in Brazilia effectively occupied the Congress building, while the police could only helplessly witness how 5,000 people took the building by storm.
NERITA: So first of all I’d like to say that I’m a person, I’m just a person going out in the streets like 1 million persons in Brazil at this moment. We are 40 cities, approximately 15 capitals here in Brazil. And I’m not representing any movement, because–any official movement, because our self-organized movement itself is rooted in the basis that we people are taking the streets, and we are claiming changes, and we are trying to not be involved with any political party or any official position. Left is not something that we feel part of. Left is something my parents would feel part of, you know, these left and right thing, it’s not my generation, it’s not us. It is something else that’s not working anymore.
VINICIUS: We have been using in Brazil the Congress, the politicians are using for a long time the strategies of [incompr.] We do not accept it anymore. So soccer has been used to disfocus people on real problems, the same way that the Carnaval is used. It’s the same same thing, soccer, Carnival. These kinds of party are used to make people don’t think about the real problem.
THIAGO: Well, I would say this is something that–I think it’s not new to me, but new to Brazilians. I was born in the era of dictatorship, at the end of the dictatorship peiod in Brazil. But I was able to see it–I was very, very young–people going to streets to protest. And of course that had been repressed since 1964–that’s when the dictatorship started in Brazil. And I don’t know if that time of, I would say, that calm period made Brazil very pacifist. But we can still see some of the characteristics or some of the ideas of how politics really embedded in today’s politics as the same way they were in a dictatorship period.
LEÓN: A great march have been called today in many cities to demonstrate and decide whether the protest will continue despite having forced the government to step back. One thing is for sure: the people in the street now knows that until June 30, when the Confederations Cup finally is played, the eyes of the world are poised on Brazilian soccer, that gives them some leverage to work with in pursuit of their demands.
Reporting for The Real News, this is Oscar León.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.