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Although Brazil has just won the Confederations Cup and it is exactly one year away from hosting the FIFA World Cup, social protests are the main piece of news in the country. This fact may be critical in order to determine the future of Brazil, the largest country of South America in size and inequalities.
What is at stake in these massive marches that are causing the main cities of the country to collapse? Why is it that the claim for free fares has managed to gather so many people?
According to Fernando Campos (Friends of the Earth Brazil), protests have not really “sparked” the dissatisfaction of the majority of the population, but rather they have forced politicians to become aware of the population’s feeling.
This environmentalist and architect underlined the fact that citizens are out on the streets “showing what they do not want” and pointing the finger at the promiscuous relationship between transnational corporations and financial markets on one side, and the State on the other.
In this sense, public transportation is of utmost importance, since it takes dozens of hours for workers in peripheral regions to get to their workplaces. Furthermore, public transportation reaps a significant part of workers’ salaries.
Campos criticizes the position of the Brazilian government and that of the Workers’ Party, because, according to him, they have given the same importance to transnational companies and social movements, thus deepening inequalities in the country.
Some Brazilian social sectors have denounced that there have been acts of organized violence against those who support left-wing movements by open or undercover right-wing sectors in trade unions that managed to influence President Dilma Rousseff.
The environmentalist and activist noted that on the popular front they stay watchful for the possibility of extreme right-wing sectors trying to sabotage the protests, although he warned that this attention “must not stop us in our effort to fight for people’s minds, which is what we fight for on the streets”.
Fernando Costa has finally shown the way in which the organization work has been expressed in the Popular Committees of the Cup: “people have been empowered and resistance acts have been reinforced, and also the idea that we can resist”. He added that party politics in many sectors and in many government levels have contributed to new contradictions that do not allow the conclusion of the big constructions that are turning this world sports event into a huge global business.
“There are things we must talk about. If the government is afraid of right-wing parties taking over, it must listen to those affected and respect the process, because it has not done it up until now”, said Costa.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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