Thursday, June 27, 2013

8. Small victories (24-26 June)

As the Brazilian national team advances to the finals of the Confederations Cup, President Dilma led the Congress's strong effort to vote a long list of laws, some of which were the subject of major dissatisfaction from the part of protesters. Among these, the Brazilian Congress rejected the PEC 37, a controversial proposal that limited the powers of prosecutors to investigate officials, and approved a bill that strengths the penalties for corruption. In another unprecedented move, the Supreme Court convicted a congressman during his office term. While these efforts had a strong positive impact in the public opinion and served to calm protests, it did not prevent that groups of protesters confronted the police in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Brasilia.       

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Analysis: The football in the protests

As a host for next year’s World Cup, Brazil has been building the stadiums and infrastructure necessary for the event. While football is a big passion in the country and citizens are proud to host such event, there is a general concern that the government is spending too much money and effort in its preparation, and citizens fear that hosting the World Cup will not bring any direct benefits to the country.

Many view FIFA’s relation with the government as troublesome and the resignation of theformer president of the Brazilian Football Confederation in 2012 is still on people's mind, contributing to a growing distrust of football moguls.

As the main test for the World Cup, the Confederations Cup is viewed as an ideal occasion for protesters to be taken seriously as the stakes for politicians of different levels (ie. federal government, States and host cities administrations) are very high. While FIFA is not the main target, the lack of tact of its leaders has upset more than one.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

(continued) 7. The hangover (21-24 June)

After a weekend of football matches and relative calm, citizens were discussing some controversial points of the presidential speech that was given on Friday. On Monday, 24 June, Dilma Rousseff calls for a coalition leading to the adoption of a referendum for a political reform on the points raised during the protest (ie. public health, public transports, education, corruption). In the meantime, there are rumors that protests will continue on Wednesday, 26 June, when Brazil plays Uruguay for the semifinals of the Confederations Cup in  Belo Horizonte.

Monday, June 24, 2013

FAQ: Are the protests in Brazil different than the ArabSpring?

Yes. With all its problems, Brazil is a consolidated democracy which is a very different scenario than what happened in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia in 2011. The situation in Brazil is also different than the protests in Turkey, since President Dilma defended the right to protest and already expressed the intention to dialogue with the protesters. For a fair analogy, think about the OccupyWall Street meets a football tournament (The Confederations Cup).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Analysis: Different sides in the protests

While 75% of the population supports the protests after the first week, this is done for different reasons:

The youngsters relying on non-partisan, occupy-movement inspired protests, find their voice over Anonymous. This approach is criticized by many who view this as over idealistic and without focus and those supporting it risks to be named "coxinhas" (newbies).

In the opposite of the spectrum you find more experienced protesters, mostly from the left wing movements, supporting a place for political parties - mainly PT (labour party, currently in power at the federal government) - at the protests. Their power comes from the protests in the 90s and they fear a nationalist movement leading to a right wing coup d'Etat.

Even if some of those supporting the protests are targeting the president Dilma Rousseff, the ordinary citizen prefers to target the national congress. With a number of scandals and poorly chosen representatives the congress has been the subject of growing insatisfaction since the mensalão (and even before).

To complete this equation, the governors of the biggest States in Brazil: São PauloRio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais are leaders of the opposition holding big expectations that the World Cup 2014 will give them an important chance to beat the re-election of president Dilma or to be re-elected as governors in the elections next year. That said, accusations of mismanagement in the construction of the stadiums were not doing them a favor.   

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chronology of events

1. A small movement becomes big (10-14 June)
Around two weeks ago a relatively small group of people start protesting in relation to a small increase in the public transport fares (0,20 reais) in major cities. The police of São Paulo uses force against the small movement while the local press portrays the movement as vandals. Different people start sharing videos on the excesses of the police which, added to a general insatisfaction with local politicians and parliamentarians, is the beginning of larger non-party protests in different capitals.

2. Dilma is booed in the opening of the confederations cup (15 June).
While the movement causes were yet to be clear, during the inauguration speech for the FIFA confederations cup president Dilma is booed by the crowd. While the gesture can be viewed as expressing insatisfaction with the way the organization of the 2014 World Cup is being handled, this was disseminated to the whole country passing a clear message of insatisfaction to the entire country.

3. The causes for the protest start to become clear (17-19 June).
From big causes like corruption, more hospitals, better transport system and mismanagement related to the events, some consensus is brought to (more) specific areas while protests continued to increase in gathering millions of people in different cities in Brazil and abroad.

4. Absence of leadership (17-20 June)
While the press widely portrays the protests as riots, public places and shops were vandalized by a minority and governmental buildings were occupied in different cities. There is a general tension among politicians which until then have not expressed any reaction to the protests, other than canceling the increase in the price of the public transports, and see them as jeopardizing their big show - The world cup - and their stakes in the elections next year.

5. Police excess continues (20-21 June)
In cities, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Salvador where football matches for the FIFA Confederations Cup were taking place, the police uses excessive force in containing protesters. Videos showing armored cars, rubber and real bullets fired against peaceful and disarmed protesters circulated on the internet. Tear gaz was widely used including inside one of the biggest hospitals in Rio. For many these videos brings back painful memories of tactics of repression used during the dictatorship (1964-1985). The local press decides to ignore the police abuses and decides to focus on (relatively) smaller riots and violent protests. For some these riots look suspicious and manipulative as no one really knows what is behind these and how they cannot be halted by a police that seemed to have no problem using the force.

6. The president speaks (21 June)
After a meeting with the former president Lula and her image advisor, President Dilma addresses the country in a speech calling for calm and generally addressing many of the points raised at the protests. For many this is enough to bring a halt to the movement, while for others she fails to show true leadership, continuing to ignore the excesses of the police, the many cases of corruption and lack of representativity that calls for a greater reform in to the political system.

to be continued...