Brazil: In a Protest of Rising Bus Fares, a Youthful Rebellion Inspired by Turkey

Police fire rubber bullets at demonstrators protesting a price increase for public transportation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 13, 2013. Thousands of protesters are taking to the streets in Brazil's two biggest cities, protesting against 10-cent hikes in bus and subway fares. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)  From UltimoSegundo (Brazil):  The demand is to reduce the price of the bus pass. The inspirations are the revolutions in the Arab world in recent years, and now, with the protests in Turkey on May 31 of thousands of people challenging the government’s attack on opponents of a shopping center in Taksim Square in Istanbul.…In Brazil, demonstrations which have occurred since January have grown in May and June, and now have brought about 10 thousand people  to the streets of Sao Paulo, according to estimates of the protesters, and 5000, according to police figures….As in Istanbul, the most enthusiastic Brazilian demonstrators were wearing scarves and masks over their mouths (of the protagonist of “V for Vendetta” comic), which tells the story of a revolutionary  in London. “We use the mask because there is a particular claim: The message is that we are all one,” said a protester who attended Tuesday’s protest….The political scientist and professor at PUC-SP Pedro Arruda says the Arab Spring and the events in Turkey stimulate the imagination of young people who took to the streets and called for the departure of Fernando Collor de Mello of the Presidency. He says, however, that the demonstrations here “do not challenge the power structure.” “What we’re seeing are protests for the right to ride a bicycle, or against the construction of Belo Monte dam, or the legalization of marijuana. These marches are sectoral”….


Protests against Sao Paulo bus fare hike turn violent

police fire rubber bulletsBy Vincent Bevin, Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2013

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Police used tear gas and rubber bullets Thursday night to disperse thousands of protesters in Sao Paulo who had been chanting, “The love is over — Turkey is right here” before fleeing the law enforcement onslaught.

At least 55 people were injured and 60 arrested during the fourth  demonstration in a week. The protests were originally aimed at a hike in the city’s bus fares, but diverse groups came together after serious clashes with police Tuesday.

In Thursday’s violence, two journalists from Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil’s highest-circulation newspaper, were struck in the face with rubber bullets, the paper reported. Two other journalists were imprisoned and then released.

tarifaSocial networks in Brazil were abuzz with denunciations of police excess.

The crowd that formed earlier Thursday outside the Municipal Theater in South America’s largest city drew together a combination of students, citizens protesting police violence, representatives from various left-leaning parties and supporters of the original protest, which called for better and more equitable access to public transportation.

The original slogan of the “Free Pass Movement” was “If the fare doesn’t come down, the city will be stopped.” But when a demonstration  Tuesday was marred by injuries and vandalism, both of Sao Paulo’s major newspapers — which are right-of-center — called for police to crack down.

Law enforcement authorities announced they would do just that.confronting the police

Many of the protesters marching on the city’s main streets were shocked by the speed and force of Thursday’s police operation.

“The police will say there were ‘confrontations’ between protesters and them today,” said Eduardo Rosa, a 45-year-old mail carrier who opposes the fare increase.  “But a ‘confrontation’ is when both sides choose it and the conflict is equal. This isn’t a ‘confrontation,’ it’s a massacre.”

Sao Paulo is plagued by grindingly slow traffic and poor public transportation, so its low-income residents often face long, dreary  commutes. Bus fare was recently raised from about $1.40 to about $1.50. Minimum wage is just over $350 a month.

“The transportation system is horrible, and the price is going up and up without improving,” said Hector Cortez, a 23-year-old computer programmer, before Thursday’s march began.

many joinedAt first, the crowd moved peacefully through the streets, with some waving Turkish flags in recognition of the protests there. A small minority wore masks. Workers and residents cheered from windows; others complained of traffic jams caused by the protest.

When the group neared Roosevelt Square, police began to fire tear gas…..As the crowd fragmented and fled, broken windows, smoke, graffiti and acrid gas were left in its wake.


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