Open Phones: Massive Protests in Brazil

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Protesting a bus fare hike in Brazil (dfactory/flickr)

Brazil is seeing the biggest protests in 20 years, but it's hard to get a sense of what is really going on. Reports are that the "Occupy"-style unrest is about the World Cup preparations, or transit fares, or inequality, or some combination of all of these factors. Brazilians, Brazilian-Americans: What do US listeners need to know about the protests in your country? What are you hearing from your contacts in Brazil? Call 212-433-9692 or post below. Brian Winter, Thompson-Reuters Sao Paolo bureau chief, helps take your calls.

Comments [10]

Marcelo Maia from NYC

After almost 30 years of an authoritarian regime, Brazilians are experiencing a democratic government, for the last decade or so. The political scene is still riddle with corrupt politicians, some of whom have seen jail time, impeachments and are still (re)elected. I believe a lot has to do with communications in Brazil and mainly the "Rede Globo", which always advertized values of the reigning oligarchies and successfully alienates the population with a soap opera after another. Matters of national interest are never related with peoples needs and the progress made with eradication of hunger, for instance, which doesn't affect the middle class directly, are generally overseen. Yes Brazil has Universal health care but from what I hear, it sucks. Even people with private insurance, have to pay out of pocket to see specialists. There are many wrong things besides increasing the tariff on a decrepit public transportation system. People are on the street for justice, for government ethics, for education and health care, things they actually value more than soccer or the world cup, specially when looking at cities which housed the tournament before.

Jun. 19 2013 12:44 PM

The caller who mentioned people being swept-up in the fantasy and illusions of Carnival reminded me...

"A felicidade do pobre parece
A grande ilusão do carnaval
A gente trabalha o ano inteiro
Por um momento de sonho
Pra fazer a fantasia
De rei ou de pirata ou jardineira
Pra tudo se acabar na quarta feira
Tristeza não tem fim"

"It seems the happiness of all poor innocence

Is something like the dream of carnival

The puppets work all year

To have a time to dance

To have their special moment

to pretend they have a chance

To be a king or queen or just a jack

All ending on the Holy Day of Ash"

Lyrics from Antonio Carlos Jobim's 'A Felicidade'.

(Portugese from )

(English from )

Much of the music of Brazil is certainly conducive to that kind of thing...

Jun. 19 2013 12:19 PM
Cinthia Madero from São Paulo

What's happening now is the insurgeance of a very VERY unsatisfied population. We took a little to wake up, but it has finally happended.

For years, the population has been stolen by corrupt and arrogant rulers that manipulate and bend the law to the side that only favors them. These last months we've been seeing the religion to gain power in government, and Brazilian State is supposed to be secular. These people are instilling prejudice against homosexuals and blacks, this is a step backwards!

Deputies have exorbitant salaries while teachers suffer in the classroom with no structure, a shameful salary and a lot of terrible violence. Public schools are not an option for the entire population. Even those who cannot pay, seek a way to put their children in a private school where it will be safer.

The same thing happens in hospitals. If you can afford a health insurance, you’ll have a little less trouble. If you depend on public health, it is very likely to die in the corridors. This not happen once in a while, this happens everyday!

Public transportation is awful, and many people choose to buy cars, which increases the debt and transit in cities becomes unbearable. São Paulo has 16 million inhabitants and 5 subway lines!! ! And some still think R $ 0.20 is nothing.

The government has very contradictory public assistance programs. The money that could be invested in these areas is intended to "welfare benefits" that stimulates non-work and State dependency.

We pay very high taxes. Quarter of our salary is destined to them. The middle class works only to pay the bills, that's all, it's the Rat Race. There is no way to prosper. Also in São Paulo, in recent years the price of services and products soared. São Paulo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The price of a property here is equivalent to a property in a European capital.

In all this, we have an exorbitant spending with the World Cup and the Olympics. 64 billion reais that could have been invested in improving the basic structure. It's inadmissible!

We are not happy! We deserve better!!!
We don’t want to think that there is only a good life in other countries. We want Brazil to be the best place to live!

P.s.: There's a lot more... Indian rights, Forest exploitation... I could keep going...

Jun. 19 2013 12:18 PM
N H from new iguaçu

Re traffic in RIO, IVE been there 10+ times...
The amount of cars in brazil has been growing very quickly. There are too many cars in rio!!
But taking the bus is even worse!
BRAZILIans genrrally buy a car as soon as they can afford it. NOT having a car is generally equated with being poor,

Brazils big cities need a MASSIVE investment in subways/rails. Until then rush hour will be a nightmare. Unfortunately such a massive investment will involve waste and corruption.

Jun. 19 2013 12:06 PM

Wonder if anyone is familiar with Gregory Smith's CARF:

"CARF Brazil was established by Gregory J. Smith in São Paulo, in 1993. Gregory had already established The Children At Risk Foundation – CARF Norway in 1992, determined to benefit the street children of Brazil by defending their rights and offering them a dignified and definitive solution so that they could live and grow within a family-oriented context and healthy social environment."

Jun. 19 2013 12:06 PM
uscdadnyc from Queens NY

I suppose Time will Tell. Will we hear about Brasil in the same terms that we hear about the Greek Austerity Situation now. Over-extension by a Country that could not afford it?

Jun. 19 2013 12:02 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Might I point out that each of the most recent Olympic venues has had the same problems. The cities are so concerned with the Games and the tourists that they seem to forget that their own people have problems that need to be resolved, not to mention the fact that in many Olympic cities, denizens are displaced in order to build the venues. Brazil: Welcome to the Club!

Jun. 19 2013 11:58 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Brazilians live and breathe soccer but hosting the Confederations' Cup, the World Cup, and the Olympics in a two year span will put a strain on any country, especially a developing one, especially when public services have always been a low priority.

Jun. 19 2013 11:52 AM
Renata De Oliveira from Plainview

I am so happy brazilians are finally standing up for their rights! It's about time! I have lived in this country since 1984, I tried to move back to Brazil in 2004 and I was filled with hope that things had changed for the better, at least that's what all the propaganda told me so. Things are bad in Brazil, but we do a dam good job "faking" it to the rest of the world. I could not raise my kids in Brazil, where crime runs wild, corruption is king, status quo is accepted because god wants it that way, so let's all gather and pray...

Change takes effort and strength, not prayers. Pray all you want, but if you don't get out of the church, nothing will change.

I really hope this civil movement last and delivers a strong message to our very corrupt government that "A Change is Gonna Come! That should be the anthem for this movement:

Oh there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will


Jun. 19 2013 11:16 AM
Melissa - a New Yorker from Curitiba from NYC

For far too long, Brazilians have put up with a country that has made us shrug our shoulders in unavoidable defeatism. I guess now, with all the spending on flashy new World Cup stadiums, it all became too much. We pay some of the highest taxes in the world, yet the infra-structure is decrepit and public services laughable. Public education is untouchable for those who can avoid it, and sorely lacking for those who need to use it. Universal health is a myth. Public safety is something that we can only dream of - urban crime is rampant, and not just in the larger cities. Income inequality, impunity, ill-prepared police, all contribute to it. I would love to be able to hope that my country can change in my life time, but the problems are too ingrained and broad.

Jun. 19 2013 10:59 AM

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