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22 June 2013 / leggypeggy

On the protest trail in Rio

Rio de Janeiro protest

Protesters near the Central Metro station.

I didn’t expect to be back on the protest trail during my holiday in South America, but you can’t let a worthy march go by without getting involved.

We’re staying with a former exchange student, and she and her mum were keen to be part of the history this march would represent. So off we went.

Protests began earlier this month in Brazil when bus fares were increased by 20 centavos (about 7 euro cents). Officials promptly lowered fares in response but, across the nation, the public’s voice has grown louder and louder with overall criticism against the power of the government.

Drink seller

Protests make for good business if you’re in the food-and-drink business

The list of complaints is long—some say it is so diverse that the message is diluted—but stems from dissatisfaction with the way money is being spent.

Placards in Rio on Thursday night called for less government corruption, and a withdrawal from hosting the World Cup and the Olympics, so money could be spent on improving education and health care.

Elections are coming in 2014 and one placard, which I wasn’t quick enough to photograph, suggested voting for Ali Baba because, ‘he only has 40 thieves’.

We joined the Rio march about 6pm near the Cinelândia Metro station and then walked for almost two hours with noisy, but peaceful throngs. Crowd estimates range from 240,000 to 2 million. There was plenty of flag waving, chanting, singing and clapping, but no violence or vandalism.

Rio de Janeiro protest

Plenty of Brazilian flags on display

Apparently that came later. We’ve heard that not long after we headed home, a car was set on fire and military police responded with tear gas and a strong arm. Metro stations were closed too. So we were lucky not to have a very long walk back to the flat.

Protests in some other parts of the country were more violent and more destructive.

Everything is quiet today in Rio. I’ll keep you posted. I promised our daughters that I wouldn’t do anything that got me arrested.

Update

We saw very disturbing footage on TV the night after this march. No wonder the officials had to move in with force. The destructive and malicious rampage was carried out by a few. Smashing windows, looting, overturning vehicles. But it was all just for the hell of it—a chance to be a destructive mob. I mean, if you’ve got an issue with transport services, why would you think a solution would be to break all the windows on a bus.

Memories of a much calmer protest

Going along to the march reminded me of a neighbourhood protest in 2000. Ruth promised her husband (who was going to be out of town) that she would organise something to express dissatisfaction with the local government’s plan to have a noisy and prolonged car race in the central part of Canberra.

She notified the weekly newspaper and asked neighbours to participate. I think we were to turn up about 10am on a Friday.

There wasn’t an overwhelming response. Ruth was there, along with Marion from around the corner. I went and made our first exchange student, Jean-Mi, come too.

Somewhere in my filing cabinet is a clipping of the four of us, plus my dog, having our say. Jean-Mi said the caption should have introduced us as a band—Jean-Mi and the Protesters.

Rio de Janeiro

Where we joined the protest

8 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Jun 22 2013 12:27 am

    oh, you are out there already and getting involved in the local politics, COOL !

    See you Sunday

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 22 2013 3:41 am

      We’re heading to Curitiba this afternoon. Back Monday, so see you then.

      Like

  2. Joanne T Ferguson (@mickeydownunder) / Jun 22 2013 11:41 am

    Oh my goodness…please stay safe…hugs from the Land Down Under!

    Like

  3. artandkitchen / Jun 24 2013 1:43 pm

    Thanks a lot for reporting the news to us! That^s the best, real and no manipulation of the facts!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Jun 24 2013 9:02 pm

      It is interesting to see the news playing out around you. I was surprised to hear from someone in the US that the news there hasn’t even covered this. These have been the biggest demonstrations in Brazil in 20 years.

      Like

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