Protests in Brazil

Grand Potentate

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I figured I could update the thread title the next time one of these busts out. Cause its gonna be happening again soon. Here's some info coming out of Brazil:
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Protests in Brazil Explode as 100,000 Take to Streets

As many as 100,000 Brazilians took to the streets on Monday to protest the poor public services, violence, corruption and high-taxation in their country. Protests have been ongoing in Brazil since earlier this month, when a small demonstration broke out in Sao Paulo after authorities there increased bus and subway fares.
Word of that protest spread and soon there were demonstrations across Brazil, several of which ended in violent confrontations with police. At last Thursday's protest in Sao Paulo, for example, police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators, injuring over 100 people, including 15 journalists.

But Monday's protests, the Associated Press reports, were largely peaceful. Many of the estimated 65,000 protesters in Sao Paulo turned the demonstration into a Carnival-type atmosphere, with dancing, drumming and anti-corruption songs.
"This is a communal cry saying: 'We're not satisfied,'" Maria Claudia Cardoso said on a Sao Paulo avenue, taking turns waving a sign reading "#revolution" with her 16-year-old son, Fernando, as protesters streamed by.
"We're massacred by the government's taxes - yet when we leave home in the morning to go to work, we don't know if we'll make it home alive because of the violence," she added. "We don't have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife. These protests will make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that we're not taking it anymore!"​
Protests took place in at least eight different cities on Monday, including Brasilia, the capital, where hundreds of protesters climbed onto the roof of Brazil's Congress and danced. Several windows were damaged in the process, but police there didn't respond with force.
There was some violence Monday during proests in Rio de Janeiro, where a few protesters overturned a car and set it on fire, and threw rocks at police. A separate group of protesters stormed the state legislative assembly and threw objects at police, who responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. But compared to last week, the confrontations with police and damage to property were relatively minimal.
In addition to the increased costs and continued ineffectiveness of social services and issues with corruption and crime, many Brazilians are angry about the billions the government is spending to prepare for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"We shouldn't be spending public money on stadiums," said one protester in Sao Paulo who identified herself as Camila, a 32-year-old travel agent. "We don't want the Cup. We want education, hospitals, a better life for our children."​
UPDATE: The New York Times reports that, according to an independent estimate, there were 100,000 protesters in Rio de Janeiro alone.
 
From the Economist:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/06/protests-brazil
WITH stunning speed, protests that started on June 6th in São Paulo over a 20-centavo (nine-cent) hike in bus fares have morphed into the biggest street demonstrations Brazil has seen since more than 20 years ago, when citizens took to the streets to demand the impeachment of their president on corruption charges. The first protests were dismissed by paulistanos unsympathetic to the organisers, Movimento Passe Livre (The Movement for Free Travel), a radical group with the unrealistic aim of making public transport free at the point of use. Commuters were unimpressed by having already hellish journeys made even worse by road closures and outraged by the vandalism committed by a hard core. The city’s conservative newspapers called for the police to crack down.
All that changed on June 13th when the state’s unaccountable, ill-trained and brutal military police turned a mostly peaceful demonstration into a terrifying rout. Dozens of videos, some from journalists, others from participants and bystanders, show officers with their name tags removed firing stun grenades and rubber bullets indiscriminately at fleeing protesters and bystanders and hunting stragglers through the streets. Motorists trapped in the mayhem ended up breathing pepper spray and tear gas. Demonstrators found with vinegar (which can be used to lessen the effect of tear gas) were arrested. Several journalists were injured, two shot in the face with rubber bullets at close range. One has been told he is likely to lose his sight in one eye. The following day’s editorials took a markedly different tone.
By June 17th what has become dubbed the “V for Vinegar” movement or “Salad Revolution” had spread to a dozen state capitals as well as the federal capital, Brasília. The aims had also grown more diffuse, with marchers demanding less corruption, better public services and control of inflation. Many banners protested against the disgraceful cost of the stadiums being built for next year’s football World Cup. Brazil has already spent 3.3 billion reais, three times South Africa’s total four years earlier, and only half the stadiums are finished. “First-world stadiums; third-world schools and hospitals”, ran one placard.
The marchers too were more diverse. An estimated 65,000 participated in São Paulo, with many more women, families and middle-aged folk than at previous protests. The state security-chief, Fernando Grella Vieira, met organisers earlier in the day and agreed a route; he gave the military police orders not to use rubber bullets and to stand by unless the protest turned violent. The result was a mostly peaceful, even joyous event.
Most marches in other cities passed off without serious violence too, though in Rio de Janeiro protesters and police clashed outside the Maracanã stadium, refurbished at a cost of over 1 billion reais for the World Cup—just six years after its last pricey rebuild. It was no coincidence that violence broke out in Rio, whose police are trigger-happy and corrupt even by Brazilian standards. In Brasília a group of demonstrators managed to scale the roof of Congress, but the police there reacted with restraint.
Similar escalations after seemingly minor flash points in recent years in Britain, France, Sweden and Turkey have appeared to be linked to some or all of the following features: government repression, high youth-unemployment, racial conflict, falling living standards and anger over immigration. Brazil is a different story. Its democracy is stable. Youth unemployment is at a record low. Brazilian racism is an internalised reality, not a daily street battle—and anyway, most of the marchers were white. The past decade has seen the most marked sustained rise in living standards in the country’s history. As for immigrants, though Brazil was built by them it now has hardly any. Only 0.5% of the population was born abroad.
None of this is to say that Brazilians have nothing to complain about: they pay the highest taxes of any country outside the developed world (36% of GDP) and get appalling public services in return. Violent crime is endemic; crack cocaine is sold and consumed openly in every big city centre. A minimum-wage worker in São Paulo’s centre whose employer does not cover transport costs (an obligation for formal employees) will spend a fifth of gross pay to spend hours a day on hot, overcrowded buses that trundle in from the city’s periphery. But this is nothing new in a country of gaping inequality—and in fact economic growth in the past decade has brought the biggest gains to those at the bottom of the heap.
So, why now? One reason is surely a recent spike in inflation, which is starting to eat into the buying power of the great majority of Brazilians who are still getting by on modest incomes, just as a big ramp-up in consumer credit in recent years has left them painfully overstretched. Bus fares have not risen for 30 months (mayors routinely freeze fares in municipal-election years, such as 2012, and in January this year the mayors of Rio and São Paulo agreed to wait until June before hiking in order to help the federal government massage the inflation figures). In fact, the rise in São Paulo’s and Rio’s bus fares comes nowhere close to matching inflation over that 30-month period. But bus fares are under government control, unlike other fast-rising costs such as those for housing and food. Perhaps they were simply chosen as a scapegoat.
More broadly, the very middle class that Brazil has created in the past decade—40m people have escaped from absolute poverty, but are still only one paycheck from falling back into it, and 2009 was the first year in which more than half the population could be considered middle class—is developing an entirely new relationship with the government. They see further improvements in their living standards as their right and will fight tooth and nail not to fall back into poverty. And rather than being grateful for the occasional crumb thrown from rich Brazilians’ tables, they are waking up to the fact that they pay taxes and deserve something in return. Perhaps their government’s triumphalism over those shiny new stadiums was the final straw.
 
Still going, in case you're no longer paying attention:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/23/latest-brazil-protest-draws-streets
Latest Brazil protests bring 250,000 on to streets


Anger as legislation that ties federal prosecutors' hands when investigating crime is seen as a shield for corrupt politicians
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A man lies on the ground after police fired tear gas during a protest outside the Minerao stadium in Belo Horizonte while Japan was playing Mexico in the Confederations Cup. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

More than 250,000 anti-government protesters have again taken to the streets in several Brazilian cities and engaged police in isolated intense conflicts. Demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets until concrete steps are taken to reform the political system.
Across Brazil protesters gathered to denounce legislation known as PEC 37 that would limit the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes. Many fear the laws would hinder attempts to jail corrupt politicians.
Federal prosecutors were behind the investigation into the biggest corruption case in Brazil's history, the so-called "mensalão" cash-for-votes scheme that came to light in 2005 and involved top aides of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva buying off members of congress to vote for their legislation.
Last year the supreme court condemned two dozen people in connection to the case, which was hailed as a watershed moment in Brazil's fight against corruption. However those condemned have yet to be jailed because of appeals, a delay that has enraged Brazilians.
The protests continued despite a primetime speech the night before from President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was tortured during Brazil's military dictatorship. She tried to appease demonstrators by reiterating that peaceful protests were a welcome, democratic action and emphasising that she would not condone corruption in her government.

Link to video: Brazil protests: 'we will lose a lot through violence', says president
"Dilma is underestimating the resolve of the people on the corruption issue," said Mayara Fernandes, a medical student who took part in a march Saturday in São Paulo. "She talked and talked and said nothing. Nobody can take the corruption of this country any more."
The wave of protests began as opposition to transportation fare hikes, then became a laundry list of causes including anger at high taxes, poor services and high World Cup spending, before coalescing around the issue of rampant government corruption. They have become the largest public demonstrations that Latin America's biggest nation has seen in two decades.
Across Brazil police estimated that about 60,000 demonstrators gathered in a central square in the city of Belo Horizonte, 30,000 shut down a main business avenue in São Paulo and another 30,000 gathered in the city in southern Brazil where a nightclub fire killed over 240 mostly university students, deaths many argued could have been avoided with better government oversight of fire laws. Tens of thousands more protested in more than 100 Brazilian cities, bringing the nationwide total to 250,000, according to a police count published on the website of O Globo TV, Brazil's largest television network.
In Belo Horizonte police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to pass through a barrier and hurled rocks at a car dealership. Salvador also saw protests turn violent.
During her pre-recorded TV speech Rousseff promised that she would always battle corruption and that she would meet with peaceful protesters, governors and the mayors of big cities to create a national plan to improve urban transportation and use oil royalties for investments in education.
Many Brazilians, shocked by a week of protests and violence, hoped that Rousseff's words after several days of silence from the leader would soothe tensions and help avoid more violence, but not all were convinced by her promises of action. Victoria Villela, a 21-year-old university student in the São Paulo protest, said she was "frustrated and exhausted by the endless corruption of our government".
"It was good Dilma spoke but this movement has moved too far, there was not much she could really say. All my friends were talking on Facebook about how she said nothing that satisfied them. I think the protests are going to continue for a long time and the crowds will still be huge."
In the north-eastern city of Salvador, where Brazil's national football team played Italy and won 4-2 in a Confederations Cup match, about 5,000 protesters gathered three miles (5km) from the stadium, shouting demands for better schools and transportation and denouncing heavy spending on next year's World Cup.
They blocked a main road and clashed with riot police who moved in to clear the street. Protesters said police used rubber bullets and tossed teargas canisters from a helicopter hovering overhead. The protesters scattered and fled to a nearby shopping mall, where they tried to take shelter in an underground parking garage.
"We sat down and the police came and asked us to free up one lane for traffic. As we were organising our group to do just that, the police lost their patience and began to shoot at us and throw [tear gas] canisters," said Rodrigo Dorado.
That was exactly the type of conflict Rousseff said needed to end, not just so Brazilians could begin a peaceful national discussion about corruption but because much of the violence is taking place in cities hosting foreign tourists attending the Confederations Cup.
Brazil's news media, which had blasted Rousseff in recent days for her lack of response to the protests, seemed largely unimpressed with her careful speech but noted the difficult situation facing a government trying to understand a mass movement with no central leaders and a flood of demands. With "no objective information about the nature of the organisation of the protests", wrote Igor Gielow in a column for Brazil's biggest newspaper, Folha de S Paulo, "Dilma resorted to an innocuous speech to cool down spirits".
At the protests' height an estimated million anti-government demonstrators took to the streets nationwide on Thursday night with grievances ranging from public services to the billions of dollars spent preparing for international sports events.
Outside the stadium in Belo Horizonte where Mexico and Japan met in a Confederations Cup game, Dadiana Gamaleliel, a 32-year-old physiotherapist, held up a banner that read: "Not against the games, in favour of the nation."
"I am protesting on behalf of the whole nation because this must be a nation where people have a voice … we don't have a voice any more," she said.
She said Rousseff's speech would not change anything. "She spoke in a general way and didn't say what she would do," Gamaleliel said. "We will continue this until we are heard."
 

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