Why Brazilians Don't Want you At The World Cup
By Megan Youngblood
In the past couple of weeks, Brazil has erupted into the largest protests the country has seen since it was under the dictatorial control in the early 1980s. An estimated 1.25 million people streamed through the streets of 80 different protest locations.
The initial spark for the protests was the increase in bus fare, however the protestors are upset over much more than just the 20 cent increase in public transportation fees.
"We've always known that the government is corrupt," says Flavia Val, a Brazilian who currently lives in New York, "we all thought nothing will change, so we'd complain and go the beach."
However the raise in bus fares seems to have sparked the interest of the youth, who now are not only upset about the fare hikes, but are willing to speak out against the corruption of the Brazilian government.
Their grievances are supported with numerous accounts of over-paid politicians and under funded hospitals. The average politician earns 17,000 Reais, whereas a school teacher makes about 800. Data from the past three decade supports that Brazil has one of the most unequal distributions of income in the world. In 2011, Brazil's GDP (gross domestic product) ranked 6th in the world by the United Nations, and yet they come in at 39 for on the quality of life index.
Similar to the Occupy Wall Street protests, the actual objectives of the youth weren't clear initially. However to help prevent the premature demise of the movement, many individuals over the internet have posted lists in various forms that state their 5 reasons for protesting. Another similarity is the use of social media as an inciting platform. Hundreds of Tweets at #changebrazil blare their support for the cause.
Their first reason is the cost of public transportation. The fares have risen twice in the past year, each time by a 10 cent increment. The protesters succeeded in achieving this goal, as the new tariff has now been repealed.
The costs of The World Cup and the Confederations Cup serve as the second cited reasons for the protests to continue. Not only has the country committed to building twelve stadiums, they have spent nearly twice what Germany spent in their preparations. For example, the stadium being created for the opening game in Morumbi was budgeted at $192 million, and has since nearly tripled.
These sort of inflated costs are what locals dub "Brazil cost," and citizens believe they are proof of the governments poor prioritization, and corruption. Ironically when students first began to swarm the streets of São Paulo, the mayor Fernando Haddad was in Paris, attempting to secure the 2020 World Fair.
"That's why we don't want anyone to go to the World Cup," Val explained, "We need schools and hospitals, not stadiums. We want them to feel it."
The last three goals of the movement are to incite a change toward the general police brutality, government corruption and the dismal state of the economy.
Although the economy in Brazil had a large boom, it has now reached a point of regression. Inflation has continued to rise at a disproportionate rate to minimum wage. Educational institutions and hospitals are still oftentimes underfunded; many protesters have posted stories of patients lying in the hospital hallways to wait for an available bed or citing Brazil's 10 percent illiteracy rate as an indication of the need for change.
One of the more concrete examples of corruption which the protestors would like to challenge is PEC 37. PEC 37 is an amendment that was proposed which would reserve the right to investigation for police and government officials only, taking this power away from prosecutors. The protestors hope to ensure that this does not go into effect.
Police brutality has been an issue as well, with photos of young protestors injured from the rubber bullets and pepper spray.
"Because Brazilians never protested before, no one knows how to protest. The police, the people, know one knows," explains Val, "but I think one good thing that will come from all this, is that we will learn."
However this brutality has worked to instill a sense of solidarity, with protestors using vinegar to counteract the effects of the pepper spray. One protestor tweeted "Pepper spray on one side and vinegar on the other: Salad Revolution." This name has since caught on, and many are referring to the movement as "The Salad Revolution," or "The Vinegar Revolution."
For those interested in showing support, a protest will be held Tomorrow, Saturday June 22, at 2 PM in Zuccotti Park.