Riots in Brazil: updates and discussion

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Davi
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Jun 14 2013 23:06
Riots in Brazil: updates and discussion

I'm not sure if it might of interest for other people, and I unfortunately don't have much time to post updates and research about this particular issue, but the city of São Paulo, in Brazil, is going through some major riots these past few days. At first I didn't think it deserved much attention, because rioting like this happens every year when the public transportation fares are adjusted in many cities of the country, but somehow this time things grew to such an extent that public demonstrations were being aired live on TV yesterday.

It all started with the increase in public transportation fares a few days ago, with the price going to R$3.20, roughly about 1.20 euros. Then, as usual, people went to the streets, closed big avenues, and were strongly repressed. However, police brutality is so evident and indiscriminate that things are getting bigger every day, especially since yesterday's demos, when lots of journalists were targeted by the police, even those from the more conservative media. As São Paulo is such a huge city and the economic heart of Brazil, what happens in there hits the headlines with great magnitude, and right now the whole country is talking about it. I'm not sure whether this struggle will manage to hold on its feet or whether it can bring improvements to our lives, but the thing is: just like in Turkey the park was not the only cause, in here a 20 cents increase in prices is probably just the spark as well. Truth is, living in Brazil is getting extremely expensive, especially for those in the main cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, and especially if you take into consideration the fact that half the population earns only up to a minimum wage, roughly 250 euros. Besides, the fact that the Confederations Cup is right ahead, the World Cup is next year, with all the huge amounts of money being spent on stadiums while the economy is not growing and things are not getting better, all of this accounts for a generalized feeling of "things must change". This brief text from CNN international says it better than me, I guess:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-988431

So far we've had, besides the usual repression, a very interesting case of a policeman breaking his own car to blame demonstrators, caught on video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9cZt9CX72s

Then there were also arrests of people because they carried vinegar with them to cope with the effects of tear gas, which the police said could be used to fabricate explosives. A justification like this is so surreal that some call the current riots "The Salad Uprising". Good overall information in English can be seen on the tumblr bellow:

http://saladuprising.tumblr.com/

Well, I can't write more about the subject right now, and it would be great if someone from São Paulo could give a better account on the situation as a whole, but I just thought it would be interesting at least to let people know that another emergent market is going to the streets these days.

Mark.
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Jun 15 2013 00:56

Fear and loathing in São Paulo

Quote:
Claire Rigby describes the nightmare scenes she lived through in last night’s protest, as well as a society grappling with the idea of protest itself...

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Wiggleston
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Jun 17 2013 13:48

https://www.facebook.com/events/183382041822867/

Solidarity demo tomorrow in London

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Alf
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Jun 17 2013 20:25

If anyone reads Portuguese, our comrades in Brazil have produced this. We will get it translated soon.
http://pt.internationalism.org/node/339

Davi
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Jun 18 2013 00:21

Today was a big day for the current wave of protests in Brazil. A good number of smaller cities joined the protests, including mine, and there were some very symbolic actions so far, like the invasion of the national congress by a part of the crowd in Brasília. I just got back from the local march and it was nice to see about ten thousand people taking an avenue and crossing bridges to try and reach the governor's house. I'm really enjoying to ride the bus on the way to work listening to people talking about the protests with excitement, but I myself couldn't understand very well what was the purpose of what we did today, as it's not clear what we should strive for at the moment. I guess an honest explosion of anger is healthy on its own, though, especially when its timed so well with an international event like the Confederations Cup.

Anyway, a few pictures before I go to bed. I guess tomorrow there will be better images and videos for those who are interested.

Rio de Janeiro:

Brasília's National Congress occupied:

My city, Vitória:

rooieravotr
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Jun 18 2013 00:59

Some general remarks on what's happening, just posted as blog piece here: http://libcom.org/blog/double-struggle-brazil-18062013

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Ed
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Jun 18 2013 07:36

Great stuff, guys! Cheers for all the info!

woooo
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Jun 18 2013 08:25

R people linking to turkey ? Greece ?

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Alf
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Jun 18 2013 11:09

I've posted the article here: http://libcom.org/news/brazil-demonstrations-against-transport-price-inc...

There is a passage which says:
Without any doubt the movements which have exploded around the world in the last few years, with the strong participation of young people, are proof that capitalism has no future to offer humanity other than inhumanity. This is why the recent mobilisation in Turkey had such a strong echo in the protests against fare increases.

wojtek
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Jun 18 2013 12:03

just went weak at the knees

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Ed
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Jun 18 2013 14:16

Seriously can't get enough of the gif above..

Davi
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Jun 18 2013 16:38

I couldn't find decent footage yesterday of what happened in Rio de Janeiro, the place where some of the most disturbing images took place. It was nothing of serious consequences, although it did seem a bit violent, but it was surprising to see people trying to burn the legislative chamber and then chasing police officers. The video bellow shows a bit of this less peaceful part:

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 18 2013 17:15

Porto Alegre fare is reduced from the planned R3.05 to R2.80 (5 cents lower than current rate) following protests! http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/cidades/fortunati-anuncia-reducao-na...

EDIT: trying to keep on top of this at @latinlibnews [/plug] wink

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Steven.
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Jun 18 2013 17:18

Davi, many thanks for these posts please keep us updated!

Great videos as well, it's so good when the cops have to leg it!

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fingers malone
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Jun 18 2013 17:18

Used to be massive fare protests in Porto Alegre years ago, unless it was Florianopolis? One of the southern cities anyway. Round about 2006?

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 18 2013 18:09

Some questions for Davi:

What can you tell us about the demographics of the demonstrators? Looking at the Rio video you posted, they seem to be young, not subcultural, unmasked, etc. There's a distinct lack of party/organisational icons (banners, flags, etc) and I couldn't spot any gas masks. Are they students, unemployed, commuters, etc? What relationship does this have to the favela pacification programme (especially in Rio)? Why hasn't there been more opposition to the pacification programme (or is this it, in part)?

Lurch
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Jun 18 2013 18:12

"R people linking to turkey ?"

Yes, according to Reuters, Friday June 14:

"Some said they were inspired by protests in Istanbul - "Peace is over, Turkey is here!" was one chant on Thursday night. Others said they opposed the notion of bus and subway fares at all, arguing public transportation should be free."

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/14/uk-brazil-protests-idUKBRE95D0J...

Davi
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Jun 18 2013 20:05

Caiman del Barrio, I'll try my best to answer your questions with my own perceptions of these issues, although I can't really provide deep arguments about anything, as I confess being lost in all the constant turmoils around Brazil.

These protests started the way they do every year: when transportation fares are adjusted because of inflation, etc., a crowd of mostly university and high school students go to the streets and try to pressure for a reduction of the adjustment. It happens in most cities, including mine, and sometimes it's successful. Like Fingers Malone mentioned, the Florianópolis campaign became a reference a few years ago, and with it my own city followed the same path with success. It's the one kind of protest you're sure to have every year. There's a social movement always helping to organize these protests, called Free Fare Movement (Movimento Passe Livre), and they try to defend current prices while pushing for a free public transportation agenda.

For what I understand, this year was about to be the same as every year. A few thousand people go to the streets, we have a few days of protests, some police confrontation takes place, and then life quickly goes back to normal without further consequences. I don't have enough knowledge of the situation to explain why things grew so much as to become the biggest social upheavel in Brazil in 30 years, but it's certainly because it extrapolated the 20 cents issue.

The first protests, like I said, were headed mostly by students, with the usual small group of anarchists and extreme left-wing parties. Then it grew, maybe because of the general indignation to police brutality, maybe because of the well orchestrated campaign in social media, or maybe because of many other things. Working people don't like when the bus gets more expensive, of course, but it's hard to hear someone go beyond the "It's bad, but there's no solution, so we have to take it quietly". In the video bellow you can have a sense of how things escalated (although it's quite long and poorly translated)

http://www.copaemcuiaba.com.br/

So now what it seems is that these initial protests worked as a catalyst to all sorts of problems that accumulated during these last years. There were protests, but now they're all together, and therefore they become massive, even though there's not always much common ground between all causes. And you'll see very little party flags indeed, as the overall feeling is one of disgust over the current political system, and protesters chant "Parties don't represent me" and boo those holding flags. This is good because it opened way for a very diverse public, but it seems hard to explain why, after all, people are on the streets. Some are simply expressing frustration at poverty and at the money spent on entertainment instead of important services, some are protesting against the current wave of Christian fundamentalism in politics, some want to pay less taxes, etc. People are making an effort to remmind everybody that the main issue is definitelly the fare hike, and as it seems to be on a path of success, everybody is enjoying the chance to discuss about other ideas too. And it's really, really interesting to see how there's simply no space for professional political figures, not only because politicians are oddly quiet, but also because they're not being allowed to hijack the causes.

Anyway, I have no idea of what's this going to bring us. I'm quite confident that the fare hikes will be suspended in São Paulo, as they were in other cities already, but asides from this, I guess the rest will be just a peaceful explosion of anger. Perhaps things could become more interesting with more interventions around the stadiums of the Confederations Cup, and there are more protests scheduled this week. There will be one in my city on Thursday, and the people in São Paulo said they'll only stop until they get what they want.

As for the pacification program in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, it's not very much related to the current wave of protests, but it's certainly one of those things that add to the layer of overall mess. There was resistance to it, of course, as poor people know very well that the police is not really a saving force, but on the other hand being controlled by drug lords is even worse, so it's one of those things that are seem as necessary intermediate steps. Violence and corruption, though, are major action triggers for many people protesting these days.

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Steven.
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Jun 18 2013 20:39

Very helpful further info, thanks

rooieravotr
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Jun 18 2013 21:25

A Dutch newspaper in touch with a reporter on the ground suggest that people are linking tio Turkey - and vice versa! http://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/06/18/nee-ik-ga-niet-naar-het-wk-waarom-honderdduizenden-brazilianen-in-opstand-komen/ A quote of the reporter, translated from Dutch:

Quote:
On Twitter, many comparisons with Turkey are appearing, messages of support are flying back and forth.

.

Mark.
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Jun 18 2013 23:54
woooo wrote:
R people linking to turkey ? Greece ?

Quote:
The marchers gleefully chanted “Não é Turquía, não é Grécia, é o Brasil saindo da inércia” (“It’s not Turkey, it’s not Greece, it’s Brazil leaving its inertia”)

Reflections and photos from last night’s protest in Rio
.
.

Davi
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Jun 19 2013 00:06

I liked the text, Mark! Thank you for the link.

There's an interesting video shot yesterday at the brief occupation of the national congress in Brasília, the capital, of a message being repeated by the crowd that gives a good feeling of what's going on in the collective aspirations these days. It's a pity all this desire of more control over our lives is being channeled without resistance to "vote better" slogans or talks of political reform, but I guess this is standard in these times of weak workers' movements.

http://fbcdn-video-a.akamaihd.net/hvideo-ak-frc1/v/854436_10201556530138...

Translation:

Guys... pay attention! Our act was victorious... but the movement... has just started! We are a part... of a national struggle... of a world struggle! We can't stop here. Therefore... it's important... that everybody here... will be... at 6 o'clock... on thursday... in front... of the stairway... from the subway... at the bus station. We will continue the movement... because our fight is much bigger than this!! We will only stop... when we put... one million... two million... three million... twenty million... here... to tell them... that it's not right... what they do... with our money, with our health, with our education!! "Tomorrow will be bigger!!"

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 19 2013 07:02
woooo wrote:
R people linking to turkey ? Greece ?

Spotted on a Turkish friend's profile:

Davi, thanks for your answers, very thorough. Could you tell us something about the background of Passe Livre? Do they ACTUALLY campaign for free transport? What prospects are there for a fare strike/autoreduzione, which would seem to be one of the most logical ways of bringing this forward.

FYI the state's deploying the military now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-22964785

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 19 2013 10:01

Devi, thanks for all the updates.

Woj, that gif is great. This is what happens when one of the greatest football countries in the world has to battle the police. I f*cking love it.

Randomly, I saw images of the protests on the bbc and there just happened to be a whole bunch of red and black flags within the protests. I don't know if that's widespread (or even if the bbc intentionally chose a shot with flags to make the protests seem more confined to organised groups), but it brought a smile to my face in any case.

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Jun 19 2013 12:59

Re the Movimento Passe Livre - MPL (Free Pass Movement). There's a personal recollection cum historical piece on the movement at Anarkismo.net

Quote:
[...]On the way home, I was seized by a whirlwind of memories that forced me to write (you know what I mean?). It was then that I began to remember the first meeting of the "Free Pass São Paulo" that I participated in at the headquarters of the JOC (Working-Class Catholic Youth) in March 2005, even before that group formally joined the Free Pass Movement, which came about between June and July of that year, shortly before the 2nd ENMPL (National Meeting of the Free Pass Movement). I also remembered that tumultuous and fateful meeting in Campinas: after the "Public Transportation and Free Passes - the de-commodization of public transport" seminar, again in October of that year, when I first had contact with the guy who came to "change everything", Lúcio Gregori, who introduced the idea of the Zero Tariff to us. Then came the National Week of the Fight for Free Passes at the end of the same month, with events where the movement had its local committees and which for me was marked by the first appearance of the MPL Drum Circle and the launch of the first and only issue of the MPL's magazine.
[...]
After that, it is impossible to list everything that followed: the fight against the increase in 2006, when for the first time the demonstrators exceeded the hundreds and we gathered thousands of people in the demonstrations that we called, and many, many more activities. I remember how hard it was to speak about Zero Fares at that time - we were simply labelled as crazy by everyone and it took a huge job of training, preparation and discussion, seminars, lectures, and a myriad of activities until the proposal began to be understood and minimally accepted by different sectors of society, including within even the left.[...]

Anarkismo: We are writing History!

(and, yes, yes, before you instinctively roll your eyes at "drum circle", remember this is Brazil - these guys and gals actually can play drums, samba etc - rather like the footie skills demo'ed by the gas volleyer above)

There's a good number of other related articles from the CAB (Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira) and a number of its various constituents (FARJ, FASP, Coletivo Anarquista Bandeira Negra, etc), but most of them have yet to be translated to English.

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 19 2013 14:51

@KetyDC is reporting (and rather comically denouncing) looting in Sao Paulo:

Davi
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Jun 19 2013 19:26

Caiman del Barrio, I'm afraid I can't provide more information than what was already indicated by ocelot, as I'm not involved in the Free Pass Movement and have very short time to get to know their ideas deeply.

I'm not so excited about these protests as I wanted to be, but I'm glad enough to know that the fare hikes are probably going to be suspended (like they already were in seven Brazilian capitals this week). That's a victory, not matter how small.

What's mostly fascinating about all this, though, is that the Confederations Cup became a mere secondary or tertiary subject on the news these days, which is something huge considering how obsessed with football people in here are.

And I found this short set of graphs that help illustrating the overall rise in prices in Brazil in these past years:

Caiman del Barrio
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Jun 19 2013 20:45

Thanks Davi, that graph explains more than a thousand word. Someone tell Choccy... wink

Protests outside Brazil-Mexico in Fortaleza attacked with tear gas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljhshXH9NNQ

People on Twitter are claiming members of Brazil's refused to sing the national anthem in protest, but this seems rather dubious. Scolari isn't singing it for example. David Luiz is, having presumably realised that he'd already sold his soul by joining Chelsea. wink Decide for yourselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P89pP4ZaQ08

Also hearing that Sao Paulo looks like being the latest city to drop the rises. How far are people willing to take this?

Davi
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Jun 19 2013 22:35
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Also hearing that Sao Paulo looks like being the latest city to drop the rises. How far are people willing to take this?

Actually the suspension of the fare rises in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro was just announced minutes ago smile Tomorrow's march will be one of celebration, now that the main demand was answered. It remains to be seen whether all this energy is going to be dissipated quickly or if people will use to push for other projects. There's no lack of reasons to protest in here!

However, next year there will be new rises, like always, and I wonder if we will see the same kind of mobilizations again. One thing the government learned is that they will certainly not do it during the World Cup tongue

wojtek
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Jun 20 2013 17:23

Occupy Santa Fe: Brazilian boy hit in face by a rubber bullet at protest, luckily the mask took most the impact.


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=647734521920971

slothjabber
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Jun 21 2013 08:55

Fucking bastard cops.

Nothing more political to say than that really. Fucking bastard privilege-protecting cop scum.