From my friends in Brazil:
I sincerely hope that in the past few months, the blockade of our Brazilian media has weakened, and that some notion of the current state of affairs in Brazil has reached you. Certainly we have all read about the World Cup, the Olympics and the relative ‘ease’ with which Brazil has crossed the murky waters of the international crisis, a feat which is only enlarged by the common notion that this seems to be the first time in which Brazil has succeeded in fulfilling its potential. Even if this is marred by the occasional “violence in Rio” or “death at protest in the Amazon”, there still seems to be some manner of optimism in the way Brazil is currently seen by the world.
I believe this trend to be at an end. At least I SINCERELY HOPE it is. The recent protests against the rise in bus and subway fares in São Paulo are what triggered this post, but there have been many similar protests in other cities for the same reason. If you look at all the recent unrest surrounding environmental issues public life and politics, minorities’ rights and unsavory religious figures, you will see that clearly this image of the “New Country” of the “future” is a blatant lie. Brazil is worse than ever, not because of this or that government, not because of this or that issue.
The World Cup and Olympics must serve to show the world that Brazil is far from the wonderland its more recent governments (OF BOTH PARTIES) have tried to depict it as. The lack of organisation, the bold-faced thievery that accounts for the delays, the problems in construction and especially the senselessness of investing so much to gain so little in a country with severe structural issues, the total lack of investment in education and healthcare… The problems are endless seem endless.
It simply is, because, as it enters a ‘new age’ of participation in the scheme of worldwide capitalism, its people are being systematically plundered of its riches, taught that there is only one way to live well, which is to own five different microwave ovens and three cars. Its cities are being sold to the highest bidder, there is absolutely no planning of anything other than the conditions that allow this inhuman marketplace to continue. What we call public is in fact state-owned. No one seems to care much for what ‘everybody’ owns. It isn’t the people’s, it’s the State’s. The state has its owners, just like everywhere else. Here, they’re much less interested in letting the crumbs fall off the table – what they want is to fight each other for control of EVERYTHING. No less than EVERYTHING is sufficient. The people are left to feel sorry for themselves, always complaining, always mistrusting the politicians and yet always their unwilling victims.
This is why a protest over bus fares gains such huge dimensions. It is the first step of a people who have lost faith in their own ability to change anything. It is the first time in some time where the common reaction to seeing buses burning seems to lean in favor of “well, the people have a right to be angry” instead of “well, just bomb the fuck out of these idiots, please, I need to go home without being stuck in traffic, thanks”. It is a step towards ensuring that the wanton sale of our cities is stopped, that everyone is free to come and go in these cities – many of which were designed, or un-designed, so to speak – to enable stiff control, discourage protests, foster little care towards public space and make you feel as though you have to lock yourself inside some air-conditioned, sanitised, mirror-sided cube to feel ‘safe’.
I beg of you all to share this and help our voices be heard. Like in Turkey, our media imposes a brutal blackout – with the added twist that here, since the protests aren’t as great, or even directly against the government, they get to paint us all like vandals and vagrants. I must use the strongest language possible to say this: fuck this World Cup and Olympic games, they are not what this country needs. But if they’re gonna give them to us, we’ll make sure we use the spotlight to let the world know what’s going on.
written by Piero Chiaretti