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Brazil protests: they are working!

27 June 2013

Dear LAB supporter and friend,

Brazil protests: they are working

The Brazil street demonstrations, which started in mid-June and are still continuing as we write, fascinate the LAB team just as, apparently, they are fascinating much of the world.  They seem to be something new, surprising, and exciting in what we have been encouraged to believe was one of the new generation of fairly stable economic superpowers, the ‘B’ in BRICS.

LAB has the advantage of a strong group of Brazilianists in our editorial team, both Brazilians and foreigners, some young and some who have many years of reporting and analysis behind them.  This enables us to contribute to the analysis of the protests and to share key reflections from Brazilian commentators.

‘The national anthem itself has become a protest song,’ notes long-time São Paulo resident and former BBC and Guardian correspondent Jan Rocha in her cultural and historical analysis of the protests (Read more).  A more recent São Paulo resident, Tom Gatehouse, starts his analysis with a discussion of the fare rises – now, of course, reversed – that sparked the protests:  it turns out that São Paulo’s public transport is among the most expensive in the world when fares are calculated in hours of work required to pay for them (Read more).  In a second piece, he asks why the protests are happening now, and why we they took the world by surprise (Read more). São Paulo exile and LAB editor Nayana Fernandez tells us that the tear gas used against the Brazilian demonstrators, made in Brazil, was exported to Turkey to use against protesters there;  she looks at the role which dissatisfaction with living standards has played in the protests (Read more).  Nayana also has a separate feature on the brutality of the police in dealing with the protesters (Read more).  We include a snapshot from Tatiana Farah of the Free Transport Movement, the group at the heart of the fare protests, and the first protest group President Rousseff met last week. Her article examines the core political values underlying the movement, influenced, among others, by Mexico’s Zapatistas (Read more).

Some of the main Brazilian social movements have written to President Dilma Rousseff in support of the protests, which they said were a sign of ‘the gradual renewal of the capacity for popular struggle’ and called for a national meeting of authorities and social movements (Read more).  From the team of investigative journalists at A Pública in São Paulo we have two reports.  Marina Amaral looks at the violence, corruption and vandalism associated with the preparations for the football World Cup in 2014 (Read more).  Her colleague Andrea Dip explores this further in interviews with victims of this process; her report includes video interviews by British journalist Andrew Jennings, who has spent many years investigating the international football federation, FIFA (Read more).

Finally – though it’s not an end but a beginning – a new series of blogs by Jan Rocha. Her first gives the flavour of ‘life in a world of protest’ (Read more) while her second, hot from the press to follow the fast-moving process, describes how the protests are already getting results (Read more).  With Jan and others, we shall be continuing to follow this story.  Sunday 30 June, when the Confederations Cup final is played in that expensively refurbished Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, is likely to be another flashpoint.  Keep an eye on our website.

And as this newsletter goes out we can celebrate another victory for the protesters:  Brazil’s Congress has rejected a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would have transferred investigation of crimes from the public prosecutors to the police, who are both less competent in the issue and often corrupt.  These protests are working!

With warm wishes

The LAB team