I subscribe to something called thelistserve. One person is chosen every day to send out a message to the rest of the list, over 20,000 people. This was today’s message.
Hello, I’m from Brazil. You probably don’t know much about us now, but you probably will during the next World Cup. I was unsure what to write about, until I saw, last night, June 13, 2013, all hell break loose in the city of São Paulo. It started as a protest against raising bus taxes - described in an apologetic way by politicians as ‘under inflation margin’, as if they had nothing to do with that. But after 3 days of protest, it became much more than that. It was a protest against the government priorities, and how the people still go hungry while over-budgeted, unfinished World Cup construction sites that have become an excuse to steal the people’s money - I mean literally steal.
And the protesters said that. In signs, on the internet, in interviews. The peaceful protest was met with an unjustified attack of tear gas and rubber bullets. And it made me cringe to watch what was happening live, while listening to the reporters saying that the opposite was going on. People had been arrested before manifestations started - for possession of vinegar. Vinegar is used to minimize effects from tear gas. Which means people were being arrested for trying to protect themselves against the police. Did they expect them to receive the violence with open arms? The manifestation became then, also for the right of speaking out against the government, and against unnecessary violent police repression. It was a protest for our right to protest.
The manifestation was violently disrupted. Police closed entire streets with the excuse that they didn’t want the protest to close streets (?) and then called themselves successful for reopening such streets. Legislation is being made to qualify public manifestations such as this as terrorism (PL 728/2011) and in my city, public manifestations were FORBIDDEN during the international soccer championships. A civil right, forbidden, in order to make us look good. For you.
Now this might seem to you like a horrible isolated event. It’s not. It’s commonplace, really. Our police military forces are a leftover organization from the dictatorial far right military government that took over our country from 1964 to 1985. For 21 years, we were stripped of all individual rights, silently tortured and killed, and forced to live in fear. And considering public manifestations of citizens as terrorism was one of their excuses for it.
So I’m writing because you need to know, that if you see a peaceful country during the World Cup, you are being lied to. Governors will state that things like the recent rape of an American tourist is rare, when it is actually epidemic and rising. Two Brazilian women had already been raped by the same gang and the police did nothing. They would have stayed that way if they hadn’t made the horrible mistake of raping a foreign woman.
We are angry, but also afraid. How to fight against this? And the answer is: You. The one thing our government fears is to look bad in front of international entrepreneurs and investors. So search for this online. Find our videos and statements. Spread it out. Put our real reasons for protesting in the news. Help us achieve our right to protest, our right to speak out against oppression, the right to live without fear of the government. We have an unique opportunity to make ourselves visible to the whole world, during the World Cup of 2014. Make it count.