In Brazil, Clouds of Bombs Fill Skies of Sao Paolo




Fourth protest against the raise of public transportation fares, which was adjusted to approximately US$ 1,50, gathered 15000 people in front of the Municipal Theatre, in the centre of the Capital. As a result, 250 people were arrested; repression was leveraged to the point of calling national media attention through shots of rubber baton rounds against journalists. In spite of these scenes of war, representatives of State and Municipal Government did not back down: they will maintain the fare and the “order”

2prIt was 5 pm. Workers, students, senior citizens and families conquered the streets, little by little, in a manifestation of their civil rights to protest freely, acting against the raise of public transportation fares in São Paulo. All together, there were 15000 people – something quite rare in a country not used to expressing on the street, legacy from its 21 years of civil-military dictatorship.  The mass media tried delegitimizing the mobilization from its beginning, calling protestors “vandals” and “barbarians”. In response, on Wednesday, June 13th, people claimed for no violence and, instead, were shot with rubber bullets, bombed with tearing gas and hit violently with batons by the MP – Military Police and Rota, special police subordinated to the MP. The result of police action accounts for more than 250 people arrested, 10 journalists among them.

A few hours earlier, when the protests begin, MP  Major Lidio Costa Junior,  from the traffic patrol, confessed the situation was getting out of control and said: “We’re not going to be responsible for what might happen”. His words became reality soon after: the MP started searching  young people and detaining them for “illegal carrying” of VINEGAR. Yes, in Brazil, walking around with vinegar can get you arrested now. Not even journalists are safe. Piero Locatelli, reporter for Brazilian magazine Carta Capital, had his “artifact” confiscated and was headed for prison (READ HERE). Reports says people were arrested for illicit association and conspiracy for committing crimes (crimes with no bail) and now registered as criminals without legal advising or proper legal judgment (READ HERE) and with an unbelievable R$ 20000 (US$10000) bail. Anyone can find, through a fast internet research, that this guarantee is incompatible with such crimes as “hit and run” or illegal firearm carrying in Brazil.

Rooted in Brazil’s history, authoritarianism demonstrated in São Paulo is not limited to the police force and is, above all, endorsed by state and municipal government authority and the mass media, also shared by a wide range of the middle class. A day before the protests (June 12th), São Paulo Governor, Geraldo Alckmin, praised MP’s work, while São Paulo Mayor, Fernando Haddad, opted for “not starting dialogue in situations of violence”. Although allegedly working on opposite political parties, both saw their speeches converge at a common spot: defending fare raise and “maintaining order” during protests in which people occupy the streets.

Editorial titles on two of the main daily newspapers in Brazil, published on the same day, were clear about their opinion; Folha de São Paulo: “Tacking back Paulista (São Paulo’s biggest avenue)” and O Estado de São Paulo: “We’ve had enough”, all against the public demonstrations.

4prThe disapproval of the mass media, which was offering tacit supporting to police actions of repression of the protesters, was seen and spread throughout social media all day. However, it was only when the bullets hit the body and faces of journalists working for them, that the horror was printed on their first pages. Since then, there was no more manipulating public opinion.

Videos and images made by protesters and other citizens spread virally through the web and news of aggression against journalist came to light. A collection of them can be found at Feridos no Protesto em São Paulo Tumblr. The most emblematic was a picture of Giuliana Vallone, reporter of Folha de São Paulo, shot in the eye by a Rota policeman while she was providing first aid to a woman at the barricades (READ HERE).

Economic motives: inflation rates, true fees and applied fees

In Brazil, public transportation services mainly the middle and lower social classes. That makes its fares an important instrument for political strategies of social inclusion and urban mobility administration. According to inflation rates, with price correction by IPCA (National Price Index), bus fares that cost R$ 0,50 (US$ 0,25) in 1994, should be at a price of R$ 2,16 (US$1,08), by may 2013. In this period, inflation was 332,22%. According to the same figures, subway fares should be R$ 2,59. Both were R$ 3,00, at the beginning of this year (5 times the price practiced in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and 4 times compared to Mexico City).

3prIn consonance to a report by IPEA (Institute of Economics Applied Research), published in 2011, from 1995 and 2008, bus fares in nine Brazilian cities – Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paolo – increased 60% above inflation measured by IPCA. The study also shows this continuing accession of public transportation price as cause of the loss of purchase power of minimum wage, from 1995 to 2003. Finally, it concludes: the leverage of buying power happening since 2003 by itself cannot keep a sustainable growth of the number of passengers able to keep the systems costs. In another words, part of the Brazilian population is still shut down from access to public transportation n Brazil.

Still, the protest will keep happening. The next act, scheduled for Monday, june 17th, is expected to be joined by more than 70000 people, as shown in Facebook – 40000 more than the last one.

Photos From June 13 By Drago/SELVASP

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