On Monday Brazilians took to the streets for another night of protests against government corruption and poor services. São Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janiero have been sites of protests and some violent police reactions over the past week. Headlines in the United States have described the protests as a fight against a 10-cent increase in bus fares. Anyone present in Brazil can attest that there is way more at play than just small change.
Since I arrived in Rio a week ago, I have been surrounded by Confederations Cup and World Cup hype, as well as concerned cariocas who believe preparations for the soccer events have been prioritized over their own well-being. Tonight in Rio a mass of protesters, consisting mostly of students and young professionals, chanted “Copa eu abro mão, quero dinheiro para saúde e educação” (I don’t need the Cup; I want money for health and education). The rise in bus and metro fares is merely the tipping point. Brazilians are ready for a government that provides more for its people, instead of greedy contractors.
Yet as I chanted, “Sem violência!” (without violence), along with the crowd, other, more radical citizens took advantage of the public eye. A few blocks away from our post in Cinelândia Square, a car was lit on fire. My poor mother will be distraught by the news report that follows, despite my insistence that on the ground the city is peaceful and the protestors are benign. Are the Brazilian demonstrations bound to be dismissed due to the actions of a minority radical group? Will I witness another flash in the pan attempt to fight for government reform, or will the world stand with the Brazilian people? I choose to support health and education over soccer. E você?