June 18th 2013
Over the last week or two, there have been a series of protests gathering momentum in each of the largest cities in Brazil — coincidentally each the home of one of the new soccer stadiums being built for the Copa do Mundo 2014 [2014 FIFA World Cup] to be held in Brazil.
Ostensibly, the protests in São Paulo started because the price of a city bus ticket rose from R$3,00 to R$3,20, but it so, so much more.
The protestors have specifically cited the lack of medical care and hospitals that do not support the population, the lack of affordable public transportation, an underfunded and poorly-ranked educational system — and ultimately, the exorbitant price tag* for the new soccer stadiums.
The first couple of protests happened a block from my hotel last week — while I was there. I heard explosions, chanting, singing, helicopters hovering and lots and lots of noise.
The early protests were accompanied by extreme police action, but after a huge backlash (and video surfacing that belied the “facts” as reported by both the government and the government-pressured press corps), the police have backed down and are merely accompanying the largely non-violent protests.
As my puny show of solidarity far from Brazil right now, I posted this on Facebook this morning:
For all of my American (and other friends) who are wondering why I am posting so much about the protests in Brazil, just know this:
The people of Brazil are its real beauty and its real power — and they are finally beginning to realize that themselves — and that is a beautiful and a powerful thing.
Para todos os meus amigos brasileiros — saibam que todas as minhas forças mentais e emocionais são atrás de vocês.
“Pão e circos” [bread and circuses] suddenly isn’t flying any more.
- Brasília’s new stadium was projected to cost R$750 Million and has been completed at more than double that at some R$1.5 Billion (currently, about USD 800 Million)
- It will be used for exactly three games during the World Cup in 2014
- Brasília does not have its own soccer team.