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Articles tagged brazil

It's Not About 20¢ — The Struggle In Brazil

Posted 10 years ago on July 11, 2013, 1:53 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: direct action, brazil, mass demonstration

editor's note: Tonight at 7PM, the group ‘Brazilian Support NYC’ will hold a rally in Union Square in coordination with a General Strike called in Brazil by several major Unions that same day. Outraged at the brutality shown by the Military Police in various cities in Brazil during the most recent massive protests since early June, the group will focus their message against repression and will connect to local struggles, having the rally in solidarity with Ramarley’s Call, a group that works to bring justice to the Graham and other families who have lost their loved ones at the hands of a brutal and racist New York Police Department. At 7:30 pm there will be a joint speak-out together with the families of victims of the NYPD, to connect between global and local struggles against police brutality: from NYC to Brazil: No More Police Brutality!

Although not isolated from the uprisings that have been taking place around the world, the protests that have been taking place in Brazil are not merely a reflection of the global mood. In addition to the battles in the streets, there is a contest of stories taking place. Various forces across a diverse political landscape are locked in their attempts to manipulate and transform the narrative of this historic upheaval in their own image.

As is now very known, the spark that led to the protests was the increase of 20 cents in Brazilian reals on public transportation fares in São Paulo and other cities. The group that led the demonstrations from the beginning was the Free Fare Movement, known as MPL. It was formed after the World Social Forum in 2005, in the city of Porto Alegre. MPL defines itself as an horizontal, autonomous, nonviolent and non-partisan organization with a clear agenda: free and decent public transportation. In response to the most recent hike, starting on June 6, thousands responded to MPL’s calls and barricaded highways and avenues.

The marches were met with extreme brutality. A paramilitary police force used tear gas, rubber bullets and other so-called “non-lethal weapons” against peaceful protesters. There were hundreds of arrests. Over the course of one week, several more marches were organized, and their size grew. The repression from police escalated, and so did the protesters’ response. Buses, train stations and banks were looted. The numbers on the streets only increased, and the scope of political dissent expanded from just transportation to a much wider range of issues.

Meanwhile, the mass media played a role in trying to diminish the significance of the protests. “There is maybe the influence from the struggle in Turkey, where the fight is just and important,” political commentator Arnaldo Jabor said on national TV. “But this revolted middle class here isn’t worth even 20 cents.” Protesters were called “vandals” and “barbarians.” The São Paulo newspaper Folha published an editorial on June 13 claiming that “the few protesters that have something in their heads besides their hoodies justify the looting as a response to the supposed police violence.” But that night, Giuliana Vallone, a young reporter from the same newspaper, was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet by a military police officer. A photo of her injured face spread around the world.

As the protesters gained support from a large part of the population, a change came over the discourse of the Brazilian media. Jabor apologized publicly, saying that he actually wanted to see the youth in the streets. One day, the news was deeming the protesters vandals, and the next they became heroes. Pundits began calling on the youth to go to the streets wearing white, to ask for peace, and to fight for a “better country” and against “corruption.” Many activists blame this media endorsement for the increasingly nationalistic tone that subsequently came over the protests.

On June 17 there was a nationwide demonstration. Each city had its own way of participating. Demands relating to a variety of issues were on display, from transportation to education to the expense of preparing for the World Cup. But the overall tone was a very nationalist one. People were singing Brazil’s national anthem in the streets, and the country’s flag was everywhere.

In the capital city of Brasília, demonstrators take to the roof of the National Congress on June 17 during the largest mass demonstration in Brazil’s history.\ (NINJA Media)

“The march felt like a celebration of a World Cup victory,” wrote blogger, activist and sociologist Marilia Moschovich on the website Medium. “Ironic, right?”

It began to appear as if the demonstrations had been steered by the establishment media and its language of “corruption” as a nationalist uprising against the current president, Dilma Roussef, and her left-wing Worker’s Party. The next day was especially confusing for the leftists who had worked to organize the movement in the first place.

“Everything is so weird,” wrote Moschovich.

Despite the proliferation of agendas, MPL was clear about its aims from the beginning. Pedro Brandão, one of MPL’s organizers, said the morning of June 18, “We will keep pushing to revoke the hike. That’s what we went to the streets for.” He added, “Once we achieve the revocation of the hike, we will be an example of how autonomous, horizontal movements can achieve concrete victories with clear demands.”

Sure enough, by the end of the day, the fare hikes in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro had been cancelled.

The next day, MPL went to the streets of São Paulo to celebrate its victory, but protests continued across the majority of the country. Narratives became confusing as initially non-partisan messages were replaced with opposition to one party or another. Left-wing partisans were attacked by members of the extreme right and neo-Nazi groups. While the mainstream media kept pushing the conversation against corruption, blaming the Worker’s Party for all the country’s problems, some began to fear for a mobilization of the extreme right and even the possibility of a military coup.

As more time passes, however, no such coup seems likely. Moschovich wrote, “In the current moment, I think it is more likely to have a public opinion coup that will support authoritarian conservative politics within a democratic state.”

Countering that narrative, in turn, Brazil’s government took steps to address more of the protesters’ demands that it wanted to highlight. President Dilma proposed that all oil revenue should go to education and health care; this proposal has already undergone many changes, however, and it is still being debated by the legislature.

“The giant woke up” has been the slogan used by media. And, like the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, there was enough unity about demands to compel prompt action from those in power. But the question remains of how the breadth of discontent in Brazil will be channelled by those in the streets and those with access to the media.

University of São Paulo professor Pablo Ortellado believes that the strategy of concrete demands should continue to guide the narrative. “The comrades from the popular committees against the World Cup need to find the ‘20 cents’ of their campaigns,” he wrote on his Facebook page, “so that we can articulate the struggle throughout the country on a strategy of effective achievements.”


Saturday, Zuccotti: Solidarity Action for Brazil, Turkey, and Greece

Posted 10 years ago on June 21, 2013, 2:24 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: greece, turkey, brazil, solidarity, nyc

take the streets!

The plan of the Turkish state to demolish Taksim Gezi Park, one of the few green and non-commercial spaces in the capital, sparked protests all over the country.

The rise in public transportation fares in Brazil was soon followed by mobilizations in the country’s biggest cities. This served as the spark for a protest over the destruction of public services, like health care, education and transportation, high costs of 2014 World Cup and political scandals like PEC 37, a proposed amendment to the constitution of Brazil that gives impunity to politicians.

The closure of the National Radio & Television Broadcaster in Greece, was followed by the occupation of its headquarters in Athens and protests all over the country. This decision by the government, with the support of the nazi extremist party of Golden Dawn, has been in line with the harsh austerity measures set by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

These global uprisings are not reduced to a reactionary response of the privileged. They are characterized by a multiplicity of participants, ideologies, political views and forms of action.

During the last weeks people of various descents supported the actions initiated from the Turkish, Brazilian and Greek communities in NY. This co-presence addressed the similarities and what is shared with other struggles from different parts of the world: the criminalization of protests, human rights violation and media control, the ties between the weakening of labor rights and real estate speculation in the US as well as how police brutality and structural violence mark the everyday experience of the NY neighborhoods, from the Lower East East side and East Village to the Bronx, Flatbush, Bedstuy and Brownsville.

This call is not only a symbolic solidarity action, but aims to create a common space of resistance.

Saturday, 6/22/13, 2pm AT LIBERTY SQUARE (x zuccotti park)

#NYCSOL #VemPraRua #occupygezi #geziparki #passelivre #brazilianspring



What Do Bosnia, Bulgaria, And Brazil Have In Common?

Posted 10 years ago on June 18, 2013, 2:31 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: greece, turkey, brazil, #changebrazil, bulgaria, bosnia, chicago, #occupygezi

by Jerome Roos
Originally published at roarmag.org

Once again, it’s kicking off everywhere: from Turkey to Bosnia, Bulgaria and Brazil, the endless struggle for real democracy resonates around the globe.

Brazilians take to the streets

What do a park in Istanbul, a baby in Sarajevo, a security chief in Sofia, a TV station in Athens and bus tickets in Sao Paulo have in common? However random the sequence may seem at first, a common theme runs through and connects all of them. Each reveals, in its own particular way, the deepening crisis of representative democracy at the heart of the modern nation state. And each has, as a result, given rise to popular protests that have in turn sparked nationwide demonstrations, occupations and confrontations between the people and the state.

In Turkey, protesters have been taking to the streets and clashing with riot police for over two weeks in response to government attempts to tear down the trees and resurrect an old Ottoman-era barracks at the location of Istanbul’s beloved Gezi Park. But, as I indicated in a lengthy analysis of the protests, the violent police crackdown on #OccupyGezi was just the spark that lit the prairie, allowing a wide range of grievances to tumble in, ultimately exposing the crisis of representation at the heart of Erdogan’s authoritarian neoliberal government.

Gezi aerial

Now, protests over similar seemingly “trivial” local grievances are sparking mass demonstrations elsewhere. In Brazil, small-scale protests against a hike in transportation fees in Sao Paulo revealed the extreme brutality of the police force, which violently assaulted protesters — even pepper spraying a camera man, shooting a photographer in the eye with a rubber bullet, and arresting those carrying vinegar to protect themselves from the tear gas. After four nights of violent repression this week, the protests now appear to be gaining momentum.

Fed up with increasing inflation, crumbling infrastructure and stubbornly high inequality and crime rates, many Brazilians are simply outraged that the government is willing to invest billions into pharaonic projects that do not only ignore the people’s plight but actively undermine it. The militarization and bulldozing of the poor favelas and indigenous villages ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics are a case in point. As usual, the ruling Workers’ Party seems more concerned about pleasing capital than helping workers.

[OccupyWallSt.org Editor's note: Here in Chicago, USA, we feel a particular affinity for those tens of thousands who fight to #ChangeBrazil and have courageously taken to the streets in cities across their country because we, too, are being hit with similar austerity measures. Here, our authoritarian "Mayor 1%" Rahm Emmanuel is forcing through imminent closures of 50 public schools in spite of spirited community resistance (including mass demonstrations, strikes, occupations, lawsuits, and more) from unions, public school teachers, students, and families, Occupiers, and community members. These school closures are almost entirely located in people of color-majority neighborhoods that are already dealing with disinvestment, widespread poverty, lack of opportunity, and violence. We are told the schools must be closed because we supposedly "cannot afford" to keep them open. At the very same time, the city has pledged $100 million to build a new, and unnecessary, basketball stadium for a private university. Here, as in Brazil and across the world, these struggles reveal the true nature of austerity: It is not a question of lack of funding, but of priorities. The 1% is more interested in expensive entertainment for the ruling classes than education for poor and working peoples. Our struggles are connected, and our movements are united!]

Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, the inability of a family to obtain travel ID for their sick baby — who needs urgent medical attention that she cannot receive in Bosnia-Herzegovina — exposed the fundamental flaws at the heart of the nominally democratic post-Yugoslavian state. On June 5, while the government was busy negotiating with foreign bankers to attract new investment, thousands of people occupied parliament square, temporarily locking the nation’s politicians up inside and forcing the prime minister to escape through a window.

While competing ethnic fractions vie for political power, the Bosnian people continue to suffer. By playing the race and religion cards, Bosnian politicians hope to keep the people divided while retaining the financial spoils of foreign investment and World Bank and EU development loans for themselves. But in a sign that most ethnic divisions are politically rather than socially constructed, the Occupy Sarajevo protesters now have a simple message for their politicians: “you are all disgusting, no matter what ethnicity you belong to.”

Sarajevo protests

On Friday, Bulgaria joined the budding wave of struggles that began in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011 and that was recently revived through the Turkish uprising. After the appointment of media (and mafia) mogul Delyan Peevski as head of the State Agency for National Security, tens of thousands took to the streets of Sofia and other cities throughout the country to protest his appointment, which was approved by parliament without any debate and with a mere 15 minutes between his nomination and his (pre-guaranteed) election.

Chanting “Mafia” and calling upon Peevski to resign, the Bulgarians are warning their politicians that a limit has been reached. Ever since the transition from state communism to democratic capitalism empowered a tiny minority of oligarchs to enrich themselves by feeding off the state’s public possessions, Bulgaria has been effectively ruled by a Mafia kleptocracy. As in any capitalist state, political and business elites have become one, undermining the promise of democracy the Bulgarians were made at the so-called End of History.


Greece, in the meantime, finally appears to have been waken up from its austerity-induced slumber. Following the decision of the Troika’s neoliberal handmaiden, Antonis Samaras, to shut down the state’s public broadcaster ERT overnight and to fire its 2,700 workers without any warning whatsoever, the workers of ERT simply occupied the TV and radio stations and continued to emit their programs through livestreaming, making ERT the first worker-run public broadcaster in Europe. ERT workers have since been joined by tens of thousands of protesters and workers, who on Thursday held a nationwide general strike to protest the ERT’s closure.

At first sight, it may seem like these protests are all simply responses to local grievances and should be read as such. But while each context has its own specificities that must be taken into account, it would be naive to discard the common themes uniting them. As my friend, colleague and fellow ROAR contributor Leonidas Oikonomakis just pointed out in a new opinion piece, the Turkish uprising may have started over a couple of trees, but we shouldn’t let that blind us to the forest: the obvious structural dimension at play in this new wave of struggles.

If we take a closer look at each of the protests, we find that they are not so local after all. In fact, each of them in one way or another deals with the increasing encroachment of financial interests and business power on traditional democratic processes, and the profound crisis of representation that this has wrought. Furthermore, the protests show a dawning awareness that the divide-and-rule practices of the ruling class everywhere — pitching the religious against the secular, Bosnians against Serbs, blacks against indigenous against whites, poor against slightly-less-poor, and ‘natives’ against immigrants — are just part of a strategy to keep us from realizing our own power.

In a word, what we are witnessing is what Leonidas Oikonomakis and I have called the resonance of resistance: social struggles in one place in the world transcending their local boundaries and inspiring protesters elsewhere to take matters into their own hands and defy their governments in order to bring about genuine freedom, social justice and real democracy. The resonance of these struggles across national, ethnic and religious boundaries tells us that three decades of neoliberal peace since the End of History were not really “peace” at all; they were merely the temporary victory of other side in a hidden global class war.


Now that has come to an end. A new Left has risen, inspired by a fresh autonomous spirit that has long since cleansed itself of the stale ideological legacies and collective self-delusions that animated the political conflicts of the Cold War and beyond. One chant of the protesters in Sao Paulo revealed it all: “Peace is over, Turkey is here!” And so are Bulgaria, Bosnia and Greece — as well as Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Chile, Mexico, Québec and every other place in the world where the people have risen up in the global struggle for real democracy.

The ominous bottom-line for those in power is simple: we are everywhere. And this global occupation thing? It’s only just getting started.

for freedom