So why are Brazilians protesting?

This is a question I am often asked. Answering is not difficult, but meeting the expectations of the question definitely is. The simple answer is demeaning of the protests. Corruption. It envelops everything, which can in turn answer nothing. The people of Brazil have realised they have the capability for better services, but these are not being met.

It started with the bus fare hike of 20 cents (AUS 10 cents), but within days the signs held by the protesters began to display “It’s not about 20 cents”, followed by the hash-tag “come to the streets”.


Even Obama, among other celebrities and Mark Zuckerberg showed their support

This was an invitation for Brazilians take to the streets their discontentment of public matters. This involves transport, facilities, education, health, government actions and management within. It sounds like the country needs a makeover, but they don’t want superficial changes, as it has been done in preparation to the world cup to exhibit the beautiful face of the country; they want fundamental changes.

The people want a transformation within the system of governing. This includes local, state and federal law alterations for a kind of management that gives priority to the people. This is a long process, but one thing is sure, the streets have allowed a direct contact between the authorities and the population.

The demands range from city to city and state to state, but their focus isn’t lost and response isn’t impossible. In fact, the president proposed early last week five commitments regarding transport, health, education, the economy and a government reform.  However, this is just the beginning of answering their demands.

In the past week, in over ten states the protesters have organised themselves to request for a number of specific and plausible requests, starting with the immediate retraction of the bus fare hike in the states that haven’t withdrawn.

Over three councils are occupied by protesters demanding  to be heard by the city mayor. In the third capital city of Belo Horizonte, they have planned out proposals range from a municipal level to federal requests.

State wide proposals include a ‘free fare’ in the metropolitan with amplification and the end of privatisation of the metro system; rejection of the unconstitutional prohibition of demonstrations during the FIFA World Cup; and the exclusion of the code that allows Military Police action against street sellers and the homeless, among others.

Nation-wide requests include support for the numerous people expelled from their homes to make way for development; direct and immediate transparency of public resources used for the World Cup; repudiation of Military Police violence to stop demonstrators and stimulate aggression from protestors, among the rejection of other laws and constitutional amendments.

In the south, people are asking for political reform and better ethics in politics, while in DF Brasilia they say ‘Out Renan’, referring to the president of the federal congress who was accused early this year for embezzlement and falsification of documents to deviate cabinet funds to pay his son’s accommodation.

Brazilians are finally going out to the streets demanding their rights to better public services and a clean governing with transparency where politicians also follow the law. It may be a long way away, but slowly they are making the right changes. This week the mayor of Belo Horizonte met with the protesters occupying the council. Change is bound to happen.

This isn’t your ordinary protest – this is a revolution.

Over one million people have taken the streets of Brasil in all the major cities of Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio, Belem, Salvador, and Belo Horizonte. Protests have been a common occurrence in Brasil, but for the past two weeks, the number of protests and people in the streets has been increasing phenomenally. Last time the streets of Brasil were this full for a political cause was for the impeachment of president Collor in 1992. That was twenty years ago. This isn’t your ordinary protest – this is a revolution.

So what is it about? The international media understands the gist of it, but they don’t see it as game changing as brazilians all over the world have come to recognise.

CNN reports “they complain that corruption is driving up the World Cup expenses at the cost of the poor.”

The New York Times reports they are “venting their anger over political corruption.”

Aljazeera reports they want ‘hospitals not stadiums’, and questions this is beyond the fare hikes.

BBC reports “the unrest was sparked by transport price hikes in Sao Paulo but it has now grown into broader discontent over poor public services and corruption.”

The international media doesn’t realise yet the gravity of this upheaval. Let me explain, Brazilians have always had too many reasons the people have for being in the streets but it was unlikely they would go.


The truth is, Brasil is a self-centered country. The only portuguese speaking country in Latin America, yet you will be hard pressed to someone who speaks spanish. And even with only a year left for the World Cup, foreigners will be sure to struggle. The Brazilians who went go through private schools, learned English all throughout the school and still have a poor grasp of the basics.

Comedy within a nation say a lot about how a nation sees itself: Americans enjoy one-liners portraying the comedian as someone smart, in a heroic position; the British celebrate their failures, portraying the comedian as someone who wants to be taken seriously, but their dignity is continuously compromised; Australians joke of their acceptance in who they are – they have no dignity and are not trying for it; whereas Brazilians make jokes of their misery, they take the edge of their hard lives by changing the title from ‘news’ to ‘joke’. They don’t even have to try hard for comedy.

It is a country where corruption is so common that when it enrages one person it is met with indifference from others who experience the same injustice. People are desensitized. And this is the most surprising element of these protests – over half of the people in the streets are in their 20s. This is the generation that grew up with entertainment at their finger tips, the most distracted generation, so much that they are telling each other to ‘leave Facebook’ and ‘leave Candy Crush’ to join the cause.

This is why they are hashtagging ‘the giant has awoken’; for years they have experienced the same misery and not given a second thought. The country has awoken from its apathy and is asking to #ChangeBrasil.