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Unrest in Brazil 2015
Democracy Sprouting Up
BRAZIL PROTESTS--The thing that sparked these recent protests all over Brazil was the upcoming World Cup in Brazil in 2014, in combination with the longstanding, well-known fact among Brazilians that most of the people in that country are poor, despite the fact that they have socialized medicine (although with crowded clinics and terrible access to adequate care) and a liberal attitude toward government's role in providing for people (although with corruption making a mockery of liberal lip-service to ideals).
Life is unstable there in Brazil. There aren't enough good job opportunities. The country is basically poor. The law enforcement is way too insufficient. In most Brazilian towns, Americans rubbing shoulders with everyday people would be like celebrities walking among the homeless, although that may be a little exaggerated. The point is that speaking English too loudly can get someone in trouble if a criminal is nearby. Brazilians are desperate for money, but the vast majority are good God-fearing folk, thank God.
There's a lot of crime and plenty of violence. Scams and petty thieves are everywhere because of the poverty. The roads are filled with potholes. Traffic is horrible. Frustrated drivers are full of road rage. No one stops at a stop sign. This is their normal life of defiance and chance-taking. It's why the average Brazilian man is an alcoholic addicted to beer, which may be understandable in the near 100-degree heat that surfaces year round, even in the winter.
The catalyst in the recent wave of protests was the outrage of learning that billions of dollars were being spent on improvements to existing soccer stadiums and the building of new ones all across Brazil in preparation for 2014's World Cup championships held there. The students throughout Brazil on Facebook coordinated an incredibly massive (and peaceful) protest effort that spread to every city in Brazil. The "manifestations" as they are called are questioning the government and requesting better healthcare, decent protection from crime, more money for education from kindergarten to universities, better city services like buses (which are atrociously uncomfortable), and all the other things that could remedy the sad circumstances that stem from corruption.
While those things always were wrong with Brazil, which never was a wealthy country by US standards, the expenditure of billions for the World Cup accounts for why the protests occurred at this point in time. It was simple outrage.
The federal government that made these expenditures, possibly hoping that it would be a wise move to increase the national economy overall by showcasing the World Cup in Brazil, instead had made a very tactless blunder because this monumental expenditure of almost a trillion dollars on soccer stadiums was, to the average person living on a subsistence-level, low income, an atrocity.
The end result, as is usual in all countries that host international sporting extravaganzas, was that the World Cup eventually cost and lost a lot of money for Brazil. Some soccer stadiums stand like white elephants, practically useless, while unemployed Brazilians couldn't afford a ticket to a major soccer game anyway.
OLYMPICS 2016 AMID CORRUPTION--Now the Olympics are coming up in 2016. Brazil has toned down the spending on the stadium and other buildings, limiting it to a mere 200 billion dollars or so for a fancy arena and pavilions in Rio.
The popular image of Brazil is the beachfront in Rio, the Copacabana. But the other 99.9% is where the average Brazilian lives. Still, the average Brazilian is not an activist or protester, although more and more ordinary people are joining the protests continuously as they grow and spread across the country.
Outsiders all over the world are grateful to the young people who organized these protests. President Dilma Rousseff, herself an agitator who was jailed during her radical youth, congratulated the protesters until at one point in 2014 they damaged her offices in Brasilia and started getting destructive in Rio, San Paulo, Goiania, and a few other cities. She has asked them to cool it down and remain peaceful and patient. But the marchers are continuing. Hopefully there will be a very peaceful and productive end to all this.
While corruption exists all over the world, the corruption on the state and local government level in Brazil is really bad. Money comes down to them from the feds, but it gets siphoned off for personal use of the politicians. The poor uneducated people don't dare to challenge the politicians personally. Therefore, this is one more reason why the protests are a great help to the nation.
In the last 3 years, the protests have grown larger and larger, spreading to more and more cities, until now about once or sometimes twice a month, there are nationwide protests filling the streets of every city in every state in Brazil.
The protests now are fueled by scandals being uncovered in the government, especially the scandal of government officials skimming money from the government-run oil company, Petrogas. Even the highest federal officials have been indicted.
Now there's a call for impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. With the Olympics coming from all corners of the world, it would be embarrassing. The nearly all-male congress (practically all-male) may have been behind the rampant building of soccer stadiums and the current impeachment drive against the lady president. Brazil is a very macho country centered on beer-drinking and militant soccer-fan allegiances to specific teams.
While Brazil is amazingly socialist (even the communist party is very overt there) the country has not taken care of her working-class people very well. They live downtrodden lives while the rich, especially the politicians, live in luxury, often hiding their money in bank accounts in foreign nations like the USA and European countries.
When one flies over the capitol, Brasilia, you can look down and see mansions lining the lakes and parks, with swimming pools in the back yard. But 99% of the country are crowded together typically in 2-bedroom little houses with up to 6 family members living there, most of whom are unemployed, not for want of trying, but for lack of opportunity.
President Rousseff was opposed in the recent election by Aecio Neves, a man who wished to increase business participation of Brazil in the international market, and stimulate domestic production and business activities within Brazil. He almost won the election. If he had, a new Brazil may be in the future awakening, but there's always the danger that any politician can succumb to corruption as many have already.
Therefore, in Brazil, in her many protests and manifestations of injustice, democracy nevertheless is sprouting up through the weeds and mire of corruption, which are being targeted by the protesters and exposed to the public on national TV nightly. Brazil is truly developing and evolving.