Brazil Protests: Why Are Protesters Flooding Brazil's Largest Cities?


An estimated 200,000 protesters filled the streets of Brazil's largest cities on Monday, showing endurance behind a recent movement that mushroomed from small protests against rising transportation costs.

Protesters showed up in masses across the country — from Brazil’s largest metropolis of São Paulo to the nation's capital of Brasília, where protesters marched on the roof of Congress, dancing and singing.

Similar to Turkey, protests intensified last weeks after a police stunned citizens with a harsh crackdown. Videos and images from local media organization stirred anger as evidence of police brutality went viral. Police brutality is described in a video viewed nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube, narrated by a reporter from the local newspaper who was shot in the eye by police. Images from protesters and journalists show police firing rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds as well as beating unarmed demonstrators with batons.

In São Paulo, transportation authorities recently increased bus fares by the equivalent of about 9 cents, from 3 reais to 3.20 reais. But the country's wave of demonstration has broadened to encompass an array of decrees that mirror recent anti-government protests around the world.

The protests seem to be fueled in large part by the estimated $30 billion in government funding allotted for the World Cup and other international festivities.

"In a country where illiteracy can reach 21% ... a country that ranks 85 in the human development index, in a country where 13 million people are underfed ... does that country need more stadiums?" asks filmmaker and Brazilian native, Carla Dauden, in a video opposing the World Cup.

"We've been paying taxes all these years, for what?" she asks. 

In Brazil, soccer is deeply woven into the nation's cultural fabric, but the legacy of the world's largest soccer competition in Brazil is questionable. An AP report revealed that hundred of families have been removed from their homes as part of a nationwide "revitalization" process meant to prepare the country for the influx of foreigners. 

In the 12 cities hosting World Cup games, an estimated 170,000 people face threats to housing or have already been removed. In Rio, residents — often of shantytowns — are being pushed out in dozens to make room for new roads, venues, and other preparation projects. City housing authorities and organizing committees assert that the process is legal, but many citizens, activists, and lawyers disagree.

In one of the most powerful moments of dissent since the end of the nation's military dictatorship in 1985, the recent wave of protests reveal a deep frustration in a country with burgeoning inequality and pervasive poverty.