Squatters, police clash in Rio de Janeiro; 5,000 evicted
April 20, 2014

Squatters in Rio de Janeiro clashed with police last week after a Brazilian court ordered the eviction of nearly 5,000 people from buildings they had occupied.

More than 1,000 police officers arrived on Friday to move people out of the buildings and parking lot owned by the telecommunications company Oi. The move came amid preparations for the World Cup from June 12 to July 13.

Some squatter families left peacefully, but many others fought police with rocks and Molotov cocktails and set fire to parts of a building, four buses and a police cruiser, police said. The vehicles of local TV stations were also attacked.

Officers used tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse the families.

"When the police arrived, some of them asked us to remain calm but others started pushing us around," squatter Drielo Almeida told TV Globo’s G1 internet news portal. "Now I am crying because I have nowhere to go to. I have no place to live."

Rodrigo Moreira said faced a choice of squatting or starving.

"With the money I earn I could either pay rent or eat. That is why I came here," he told G1.

Police spokesman Claudio Costa told the Globo TV network that the “eviction was successfully completed in three hours,” but that groups of people continued clashing with police in surrounding areas.

During the clash, five police officers, three children and four squatters were injured and taken to nearby hospitals where they were treated for bruises and smoke inhalation and discharged.

Costa said police detained more than 20 people, some for attacking police officers and others who tried to loot a supermarket and shops in nearby neighborhoods.

The O Globo newspaper said its reporter Bruno Amorim who was covering the eviction was taken into custody but released hours later.

Brazil correspondent Zoe Sullivan reported for Al Jazeera in January that 78 families’ homes in Camaragibe were appropriated by the municipal government to make way for an expanded urban transit hub set to serve international guests to the World Cup. Sustainable housing advocates around the globe have for decades blamed preparations for international sporting events for displacing locals, despite the promised — but often unrealized — economic benefits derived from injecting foreign capital into a local economy. China, by way of example, reportedly barred scores of Beijing residents from protesting land-grabs, and the resulting displacement, required to make way for new Olympic facilities.

Source
Photos via Reuters

Rio fare protesters seize main station & let commuters travel for freeFebruary 7, 2014
After street protests, station invasions and turnstile vandalism, Rio de Janeiro’s free public transport movement finally got what it wanted for a few hours on Thursday night with a takeover of the city’s main train and bus hub.
Thousands of commuters were shepherded through demolished ticket gates at the Central do Brasil station amid a violent confrontation over proposed fare rises that resulted in fires, arrests and disruption of transport networks.
The station in downtown Rio echoed with police percussion grenades and the protesters’ celebratory samba drumming as they seized control of the main bank of ticket machines.
Close to a thousand people joined the passe livre (free pass) march, sparked by the announcement by the city mayor, Eduardo Paes, that bus fires will rise from 2.75 reais to 3 reais (£0.75/US$1.25) on Saturday.
That may seem cheap compared with London or New York. But for a daily commuter on a minimum monthly wages of 724 reais a month it leaves transport costs at more than a sixth of income. Bus price rises were the spark for massive protests that expanded to cover dozens of other issues and brought more than a million people on to the streets of 80 cities in Brazil in June 2013. At the time the ticket hikes were postponed but the issue is once again on the agenda. 
Although Thursday’s protest was far smaller than last year’s it was more focussed and the organisers’ tactics appeared to take the large ranks of police by surprise.
After marching peacefully from the Candelaria area dozens of activists from the Black Block group sprinted off and entered the station before police could close the gates. They smashed turnstiles, waved flags and entreated commuters to enter the train system without paying.
Riot police and station security temporarily regained territory with pepper spray and percussion grenades, but after a brief hiatus the demonstrators regained control of the concourse and started drumming, dancing and singing as passengers – many clutching hankerchiefs to their faces because of the pungent police gas in the terminal – passed by without paying.
“I totally support this protest,” said Fabiana Aragon, a red-faced, teary-eyed health worker who was heading home after work. The 43-year-old said she spent almost a third of her 1,000 reais income on transport fares but still had to endure long delays, dirty trains and hot, crowded carriages without air conditioning. “The situation now is absurd.”
The clashes spread to the streets outside the station. Half a dozen fires burned in the streets of the neighbouring red-light district. Firemen were called in to extinguish a blaze that reduced a bus ticket booth to embers. Hundreds of panicked commuters stampeded through the main bus station after police fired percussion grenades despite no visible sign of protesters. Two young black men with face-masks cried as they were arrested, handcuffed and put inside an armoured police vehicle.
Participants in the demonstration said there would be more protests in the run up to the World Cup, which starts on 12 June.
“Public transport is slow, dirty, hot and expensive. The government shouldn’t be talking about raising fares, it should be working to improve services,“ said Yasmin Thayna, a 21-year-old student. “When the World Cup comes there will be more demonstrations. The World Cup is worsening inequality.”
It remains to be seen, however, whether the movement can return to the scale of the 2013 protests.
Source

Rio fare protesters seize main station & let commuters travel for free
February 7, 2014

After street protests, station invasions and turnstile vandalism, Rio de Janeiro’s free public transport movement finally got what it wanted for a few hours on Thursday night with a takeover of the city’s main train and bus hub.

Thousands of commuters were shepherded through demolished ticket gates at the Central do Brasil station amid a violent confrontation over proposed fare rises that resulted in fires, arrests and disruption of transport networks.

The station in downtown Rio echoed with police percussion grenades and the protesters’ celebratory samba drumming as they seized control of the main bank of ticket machines.

Close to a thousand people joined the passe livre (free pass) march, sparked by the announcement by the city mayor, Eduardo Paes, that bus fires will rise from 2.75 reais to 3 reais (£0.75/US$1.25) on Saturday.

That may seem cheap compared with London or New York. But for a daily commuter on a minimum monthly wages of 724 reais a month it leaves transport costs at more than a sixth of income. 
Bus price rises were the spark for massive protests that expanded to cover dozens of other issues and brought more than a million people on to the streets of 80 cities in Brazil in June 2013. At the time the ticket hikes were postponed but the issue is once again on the agenda

Although Thursday’s protest was far smaller than last year’s it was more focussed and the organisers’ tactics appeared to take the large ranks of police by surprise.

After marching peacefully from the Candelaria area dozens of activists from the Black Block group sprinted off and entered the station before police could close the gates. They smashed turnstiles, waved flags and entreated commuters to enter the train system without paying.

Riot police and station security temporarily regained territory with pepper spray and percussion grenades, but after a brief hiatus the demonstrators regained control of the concourse and started drumming, dancing and singing as passengers – many clutching hankerchiefs to their faces because of the pungent police gas in the terminal – passed by without paying.

“I totally support this protest,” said Fabiana Aragon, a red-faced, teary-eyed health worker who was heading home after work. The 43-year-old said she spent almost a third of her 1,000 reais income on transport fares but still had to endure long delays, dirty trains and hot, crowded carriages without air conditioning. “The situation now is absurd.”

The clashes spread to the streets outside the station. Half a dozen fires burned in the streets of the neighbouring red-light district. Firemen were called in to extinguish a blaze that reduced a bus ticket booth to embers. Hundreds of panicked commuters stampeded through the main bus station after police fired percussion grenades despite no visible sign of protesters. Two young black men with face-masks cried as they were arrested, handcuffed and put inside an armoured police vehicle.

Participants in the demonstration said there would be more protests in the run up to the World Cup, which starts on 12 June.

“Public transport is slow, dirty, hot and expensive. The government shouldn’t be talking about raising fares, it should be working to improve services,“ said Yasmin Thayna, a 21-year-old student. “When the World Cup comes there will be more demonstrations. The World Cup is worsening inequality.”

It remains to be seen, however, whether the movement can return to the scale of the 2013 protests.

Source

Brazil creates 10,000-strong security force to deal with FIFA protestsJanuary 21, 2014

Brazil has created a special 10,000-strong elite security force to help police control demonstrations expected during the World Cup, which starts in June.
The Confederations Cup in the country last year was marred by public demonstrations.



Colonel Alexandre Augusto Aragon, who heads the elite National Security Force, was quoted in local news on Friday as saying that the riot troops selected from state police forces throughout Brazil will be deployed in the 12 cities hosting game in the competition.
"We’ve have been concerned with the security during the World Cup before the protests that took place earlier this year, because we don’t wait around for things to happen," he said. "The violence of recent protests is what scared us."
Representatives for the Justice Ministry, which oversees the National Security Force, could not be immediately reached for comment.
At the peak of last year’s protests, one million people took to the streets across Brazil in a single day, complaining initially of higher bus fares, corruption and poor public services, and then extending to the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said recently that the tournament would have “the highest level of security you can imagine” to contain any violence.
Source

Brazil creates 10,000-strong security force to deal with FIFA protests
January 21, 2014

Brazil has created a special 10,000-strong elite security force to help police control demonstrations expected during the World Cup, which starts in June.

The Confederations Cup in the country last year was marred by public demonstrations.

Colonel Alexandre Augusto Aragon, who heads the elite National Security Force, was quoted in local news on Friday as saying that the riot troops selected from state police forces throughout Brazil will be deployed in the 12 cities hosting game in the competition.

"We’ve have been concerned with the security during the World Cup before the protests that took place earlier this year, because we don’t wait around for things to happen," he said. "The violence of recent protests is what scared us."

Representatives for the Justice Ministry, which oversees the National Security Force, could not be immediately reached for comment.

At the peak of last year’s protests, one million people took to the streets across Brazil in a single day, complaining initially of higher bus fares, corruption and poor public services, and then extending to the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, said recently that the tournament would have “the highest level of security you can imagine” to contain any violence.

Source

chingona-y-que

occupiedmuslim:


From the series
 Aldeia Maracana : Indiians VS FIFA

by Kim Badaw

(2013) In 1978, the Rio de Janeiro Museum of the Indian moved out of its home in the city’s Maracanã neighborhood. The historic building sat abandoned for nearly three decades until 2006, when real Brazilian Indians started moving in. Today, dozens of indigenous Brazilians from distant corners of the country call the museum grounds home, where they make traditional crafts, grow food and tobacco, and invite Cariocas to learn about their cultures. They call their community Aldeia Maracanã, or Maracanã Village.

Recently, local authorities proposed new residents for Aldeia Maracanã: thousands of soccer fans. The neighboring Maracanã Stadium, which will host major events in the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, needs a new entryway and expanded parking, according to administrators. Under this plan, the Indians would be evicted and the building and its grounds would be demolished to make way for new construction.

The conflict escalated throughout last year until January 12, 2013, when police surrounded the museum grounds. They were met by Indians brandishing bows and arrows, and by local activists bearing posters and pamphlets. Faced with this protest, the police decided to leave the area as authorities awaited a court order to evict the Indians. The fate of the building is now in limbo, although administrators insist on evicting the Indians.

Read the captions and interviews here.

Brazil: FIFA forces evictions for World Cup parking lot, police brutality rages
January 9, 2014

A dozen houses in the Mangueira slums of Rio de Janeiro have been demolished, and residents have been removed at gun point by the government of Brazil in order to build a parking lot for the upcoming World Cup.

People who were living in these homes were targeted by militarized riot cops, sent in by the government to push them into the streets. They were not even allowed to gather their personal belongings.

Impoverished residents were forcefully evicted in large numbers by the government: the riot cops even threatened to kill children in their mothers’ arms.

This video shows even more brutality: cops teargassing women for simply passing by; riot cops repeatedly attacking locals, throwing teargas grenades into their homes or aiming straight at them, and terrorizing and bullying defenseless people on the streets.

Riot cops are an occupying force, while people from Brazil fight FIFA and their government for targeted attacks on indigenous people, pregnant women and black people.

Faced with another episode of brutal oppression in the name of the World Cup and FIFA (an organisation which has kept silent about crimes, and racist/social abuses committed by the government of Brazil), activists from Rio de Janeiro organised to help people in the slums resist the governments violent gentrification attack.

Source
Photos

Rain forest warriors: How indigenous tribes protect the AmazonDecember 24, 2013
The destruction of the Amazon in Brazil can be seen by satellite: Where logging roads have spread their tentacles and ranchers have expanded their grazing, all is brown.
Beginning in the early 1980s, these photos from space lost more and more green, so that by 2004 the destruction seemed unstoppable. Brazil’s deforestation rate had reached an alarming 27,000 square kilometers (nearly 17,000 square miles) per year.
But stop it did—not everywhere, but at the borders of what appears from space to be a green island the size of a small country. The brown spreads around this protected zone in the southern Xingu river basin of Brazil, but doesn’t penetrate.
These are the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes.
A Lesson for Environmentalists
The massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). The forest is home to roughly 7,000 Kayapo Indians and, to the south, another 5,500 Indians from 14 different groups
For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest?
Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.)
But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough.
Understanding the Enemy
Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Some have also formed alliances with environmental and indigenous-rights organizations, which have helped them to form their own nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), enabling them to enlist further outside backing.
One example: Overflights of Kayapo territory in recent years, funded by outside NGOs, spotted gold miners in a remote area. After government inaction, the outside partners equipped a Kayapo expedition with boats, motors, fuel, GPS, and radio.
In July, several dozen Kayapo warriors traveled more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) by boat and on foot to strike at the illegal mining camps. They destroyed the mining equipment and pressured the government to send helicopters to take the captured miners away.
NGOs have also supported initiatives to help the Kayapo become economically more self-sufficient. These include a program to harvest and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Brazil nuts, giving families needed income and reducing pressure to allow in loggers and miners in return for cash.
New Threats
The Amazon rain forest is the greatest expression of life on Earth. It is home to about a third of our planet’s terrestrial life forms, cycles about one-quarter of the Earth’s freshwater, and plays a key role in absorbing carbon and moderating climate.
The need to remain vigilant and engaged is constant. Destruction of rain forest continues, and the powerful agriculture, mining, and logging lobbies in Brazil are proposing amendments to the 1988 constitution that would, in effect, remove legal protections from indigenous lands.
More outside assistance and deeper alliances with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are urgently needed.
Source

Rain forest warriors: How indigenous tribes protect the Amazon
December 24, 2013

The destruction of the Amazon in Brazil can be seen by satellite: Where logging roads have spread their tentacles and ranchers have expanded their grazing, all is brown.

Beginning in the early 1980s, these photos from space lost more and more green, so that by 2004 the destruction seemed unstoppable. Brazil’s deforestation rate had reached an alarming 27,000 square kilometers (nearly 17,000 square miles) per year.

But stop it did—not everywhere, but at the borders of what appears from space to be a green island the size of a small country. The brown spreads around this protected zone in the southern Xingu river basin of Brazil, but doesn’t penetrate.

These are the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes.

A Lesson for Environmentalists

The massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). The forest is home to roughly 7,000 Kayapo Indians and, to the south, another 5,500 Indians from 14 different groups

For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest?

Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.)

But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough.

Understanding the Enemy

Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Some have also formed alliances with environmental and indigenous-rights organizations, which have helped them to form their own nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), enabling them to enlist further outside backing.

One example: Overflights of Kayapo territory in recent years, funded by outside NGOs, spotted gold miners in a remote area. After government inaction, the outside partners equipped a Kayapo expedition with boats, motors, fuel, GPS, and radio.

In July, several dozen Kayapo warriors traveled more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) by boat and on foot to strike at the illegal mining camps. They destroyed the mining equipment and pressured the government to send helicopters to take the captured miners away.

NGOs have also supported initiatives to help the Kayapo become economically more self-sufficient. These include a program to harvest and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Brazil nuts, giving families needed income and reducing pressure to allow in loggers and miners in return for cash.

New Threats

The Amazon rain forest is the greatest expression of life on Earth. It is home to about a third of our planet’s terrestrial life forms, cycles about one-quarter of the Earth’s freshwater, and plays a key role in absorbing carbon and moderating climate.

The need to remain vigilant and engaged is constant. Destruction of rain forest continues, and the powerful agriculture, mining, and logging lobbies in Brazil are proposing amendments to the 1988 constitution that would, in effect, remove legal protections from indigenous lands.

More outside assistance and deeper alliances with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon are urgently needed.

Source

Brazilian activists liberate beagles from pharmaceutical testing lab
October 30, 2013

Animal rights activists in Brazil rescued nearly 200 beagles last week from a laboratory that was experimenting on the dogs for the pharmaceutical industry.

According to one activist I spoke with in Brazil, the protest began with about 40 people outside of Instituto Royal in San Roque because the lab had been accused of animal cruelty. As the crowd grew to about 150 people, they could hear the cries of the dogs. Some activists entered the building, opened the cages, and began rescuing them.

Nearly 200 dogs were immediately taken to veterinary clinics in the area. They were found in filthy conditions. Some of them were mutilated and other had tumors. One dog had no eyes.

Since the rescue, Instituto Royal has been shut down pending a government investigation. The lab says that even if police recapture stolen beagles, they will be put up for adoption.

Yet, following the lead of the U.S. animal testing industry, the lab is also saying saying that the open rescue was an act of terrorism.

Source

Tens-to-hundreds of thousands join teachers’ protest in Rio de Janeiro
October 8, 2013

Rio de Janeiro was once again racked by violent protest on Tuesday night as a teachers strike became the latest rallying point for public discontent over public services and police brutality.

Several tens of thousands joined a demonstration in support of teachers, who are opposed to an austerity salary and benefit package proposed by Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes.

The turnout, despite a torrential downpour, was among the biggest since a nationwide wave of protests in June that overshadowed preparations for next year’s World Cup.

Anarchist groups smashed banks and burnt a bus, while “black bloc” protesters threw firebombs at the police, who were assaulting the protesters with teargas, rubber bullets and percussion grenades.

The scenes outside the city hall will resurrect fears about social stability that had abated in recent months. After the million-strong protests three months ago, the president, Dilma Rousseff, tried to assuage public anger with a promise to divert more revenue to education and health.

But scepticism remains. Brazil spends a similar amount of its GDP on education as the UK, but the returns on this public investment are poor. With short school hours, high truancy rates and comparatively poor academic results, many suspect the system is mired in corruption and excessive bureaucracy.

In Rio, the teachers’ union says the mayor’s pay offer is too low. Many feel that the public education system is failing the nation and needs major reform. They have been on strike for 46 days.

Among the protesters was Gisela Ferreira, who earns 1,000 reais (£280) for a 64-hour month of teaching in a secondary school in Paraty. She said she joined the demonstration because the education system in Rio was being privatised by stealth.

While contracts were extended to private companies for classroom air conditioner rentals and other basic services, she said, there was less money for teachers, some of whom were expected to teach more than 10 subjects. “I’ve been a teacher for six years and in that time, conditions have got worse and worse. Every year we have less autonomy.”

"We want to show our solidarity with the teachers," said Isabel Mansur. "Their conditions are terrible. And when they protested last week, there was an unacceptably violent response from the police."

Many on the march wore crash helmets and masks in preparation for conflict with the police. Black Bloc protesters carried banners depicting molotov cocktails and slogans reading "The people’s rebellion is justified". They handed out leaflets outlining their position, which said: "Relax people. It’s us, the Black Bloc. What you can’t do, we can. We don’t just attack, we defend people against police abuse and defend our right to protest."

When crowds gathered outside the city council building amid a downpour, the sporadic clashes intensified. One group of Black Bloc anarchists smashed a gate to the city hall, while others broke into shops and set fire to banks and buses. Police fired volleys of teargas and percussion grenades to disperse the crowds, who responded with firebombs.

Another teacher at the protest, Aline de Luca, said that despite the violence of last week’s demonstration, she had come back because the education system needed to be changed.

"I want our classes to be better resourced. At present we can’t function properly as a school because there is no money even for a janitor or a secretary," she said.

She was heartened by the increased turnout. “We have support from the people. Many of those who are here are not education professionals”, she said. “I am hopeful things will improve because we have never seen society as mobilized as it is now.”

Source

neoliberalismkills

fotojournalismus:

Brazil, “National Day Of Struggle” | July 11, 2013 

1. Members of various labour unions take part in a demonstration in front National Congress in Brasilia on July 11, 2013 during a day of strikes and demonstrations called by the country’s five leading labour federations to demand better public services and an end to endemic corruption. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Striking workers march in Sao Paulo on July 11, 2013. (Andre Penner/AP)

3. Members of various labour unions block a street, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 11, 2013 during a protest to lower public transport rates, to increase public investments in health and education, to reduce working hours and land reform, among other claims. (Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Brazilian Indian Hunikui Ninawa participates in the National Day of Struggle, a march by unionists, in Brasilia on July 11, 2013. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

5. Brazilian workers march in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013. (Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)

6. Riot police officers stand guard outside the National Theatre in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013 as Brazilian workers march. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

7. Masks of Guy Fawkes are sold in the streets of Rio de Janeiro as Brazilian workers march on July 11, 2013. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

8. Protesters clash with riot police during the “National Day of Strikes, Stoppages and Protests” in downtown of Rio de Janeiro July 11, 2013. (Sergio Moraes/Reuters)

9. A riot police stands next to a fire after clashing with demonstrator during the “National Day of Strikes, Stoppages and Protests” in front of Rio de Janeiro Government Guanabara Palace July 11, 2013. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

10. A man inside a store watches demonstrators set a fire in the street in Rio de Janeiro on July 11, 2013. (Nicolas Tanner/AP)

Brazilian movement takes inspiration from Zapatistas
June 24, 2013

“Abajo y a la izquierda está el corazón” — “the heart lies below and to the left”. This sentence by Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in Mexico was used in an opening speech by the Free Fare Movement (MPL), which initiated protests across Brazil by forcing a drop in public transport fares. “Below” refers to the marginalized groups and minorities, which MPL calls “the bottom”, and “the left” refers to the anti-capitalist discourse. Formed by students of the University of São Paulo (USP) and by workers from the periphery, the movement defines itself as anti-capitalist, non-partisan, peaceful, autonomous and horizontal.

Some MPL activists, including 19-year-old Luiza Calagian from São Paulo, have crossed the continent to meet with Zapatista communities in Chiapas, who gained worldwide attention in 1994 when the Zapatistas lowered their weapons to negotiate their indigenous rights with the Mexican government. They soon became an example for the new social movements organized against the effects of globalization. Like the Zapatistas, the MPL differs from traditional political parties in its horizontal form of organization, where all decisions are made collectively. There are no positions or leaders. All speak on behalf of the movement. On the streets, one cannot hear the sound of car radios promoting election rallies, as they want to avoid dictating the discourse to “the bottom”.

“Marcos is gay in San Francisco, a black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Isidro, an anarchist in Spain…”. In the ’90s, Subcomandante Marcos, the intellectual from the Autonomous University of Mexico who plunged into the jungle of Chiapas to fight alongside the indigenous community, basically became a legend. When asked who the Subcomandante was — the “sub” refers to the fact that the true leaders are the indigenous people, the Zapatistas, who cover their faces with masks — they respond: “We are all Marcos”.

In Brazil, the MPL tries to follow a similar line: “We could be anyone of you,” says 23-year-old Mayara Vivian, a member of the movement. Activists avoid talking about their personal lives, such as where they work and study. During the past two weeks of protests, a great deal were students of Humanities at USP, aged between 19 and 23-years-old. 19-year-old Philosophy student Marcelo Hotimsky explains: “The Zapatistas have greatly influenced the alter-globalization movement. They are part of a historical process of which we are the fruit.”

At Avenida Paulista on Thursday, despite being virtually expelled from the very demonstration they called after they expressed support for the presence of left-wing parties and social movements’ flags, the activists at MPL still claim to be non-partisan. Traditional parties and social movements work together with the MPL on specific causes, but the activists do not make concessions when they run into conflicts. The Mayor Fernando Haddad from the Workers’ Party (PT) was harshly criticized by the youth even after lowering the fare price. Moreover, they claim not to be the ones responsible for the mobilizations on the streets: “The population is able to organize itself,” Mayara advocates.

The EZLN was born in 1983 and until 1994 operated clandestinely in the Lacandon Jungle in South-East Mexico. After a bloody war against the state military, which lasted 12 days, the Zapatistas kept their weapons. Marcos’ speeches have been resonating across cyberspace ever since and aroused worldwide attention by stirring a wave of anti-globalization movements. Meanwhile, the struggle of the Zapatistas in Chiapas continues.

Source
Photo 1, 2

Brazil hit by largest protests yet as hundreds of thousands march
June 21, 2013

Brazil’s biggest protests in two decades intensified on Thursday despite government concessions meant to quell the demonstrations, as 300,000 people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and hundreds of thousands more flooded other cities.

Undeterred by the reversal of transport fare hikes that sparked the protests, and promises of better public services, marchers demonstrated around two international soccer matches and in locales as diverse as the Amazon capital of Manaus and the prosperous southern city of Florianopolis.

"Twenty cents was just the start," read signs held by many converging along the Avenida Paulista, the broad avenue in central Sao Paulo, referring to the bus fare reductions.

In the capital, Brasilia, tens of thousands of protesters by early evening marched around the landmark modernist buildings that house Congress, the Supreme Court and presidential offices.

The swelling tide of protests prompted President Dilma Rousseff to cancel a trip next week to Japan, her office said.

The targets of the protests, now in their second week, have broadened to include high taxes, inflation, corruption and poor public services ranging from hospitals and schools to roads and police forces.

With an international soccer tournament as a backdrop, demonstrators are also denouncing the more than $26 billion of public money that will be spent on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, two events meant to showcase a modern, developed Brazil.

After the concession on transport fares on Wednesday, activist groups differed over what their next priority should be. But the competing demands of demonstrators appeared to add to the intensity of Thursday’s protests.

Inside the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, soccer fans sang protest songs and showed support for the throngs of demonstrators gathering in the city. In Salvador, a northeastern city hosting another game of the soccer tournament that serves as a World Cup test run, protesters clashed with police, who fired teargas to disperse crowds.

The unrest comes six months before an election year and at a time when Brazil, after nearly a decade-long economic boom in which the country’s profile soared on the global stage, enters a period of uncertainty. Economic growth of less than 1 percent last year, annual inflation of 6.5 percent and a loss of appetite for Brazilian assets among international investors have clouded what had been a feel-good era for Brazil.

Brazil’s currency, the real, dropped to a four-year low on Thursday, trading as weak as 2.275 per U.S. dollar. The country’s benchmark stock market index, the Bovespa, also hit a four-year low.

Changing political landscape

The protests have shaken the once solid ground under Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party, a bloc that itself grew out of convulsive demonstrations by Brazil’s labor movement 30 years ago. Until inflation and other economic woes began eroding her poll numbers in recent weeks, Rousseff enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings of any elected leader worldwide.

The demonstrations have been largely non-violent and comprised mostly middle-class, well-educated voters who do not form the bulk of Rousseff’s electoral base.

But she and her party have sought to get ahead of the complaints and embrace them as their own - a shift that contrasts sharply with a playbook that long relied on telling Brazilians that they had never had it so good.

With little more than a year to go before presidential and gubernatorial elections, the unrest is forcing incumbents and traditional political parties to reconsider their strategies.

The decision to cut transportation fares illustrates what many analysts consider a reactive and contradictory response by a ruling class caught off guard.

"Were they wrong before or are they wrong now?" asked Carlos Melo, a political scientist at Insper, a business school in Sao Paulo, noting what had been a steadfast refusal to reverse a fare hike.

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Enough is enough! Hundreds of thousands flood streets in cities across Brazil
June 18, 2013

In some of the biggest protests since the end of Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship, demonstrations have spread across this continent-sized country and united people from all walks of life behind frustrations over poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden.

More than 100,000 people were in the streets Monday for largely peaceful protests in at least eight big cities. They were in large part motivated by widespread images of Sao Paulo police last week beating demonstrators and firing rubber bullets into groups during a march that drew 5,000.

There was some violence, with police and protesters clashing in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. The newspaper O Globo, citing Rio state security officials, said at least 20 officers and 10 protesters were injured there.

Monday’s protests come after the opening matches of soccer’s Confederations Cup over the weekend, just one month before a papal visit, a year before the World Cup and three years ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The unrest is raising some security concerns, especially after the earlier protests produced injury-causing clashes with police.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic hub, at least 65,000 protesters gathered Monday at a small, treeless plaza then broke into three directions in a Carnival atmosphere, with drummers beating out samba rhythms as people chanted anti-corruption jingles. They also railed against the matter that sparked the first protests last week — a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares.

Thousands of protesters in the capital, Brasilia, peacefully marched on Congress. Dozens scrambled up a ramp to a low-lying roof, clasping hands and raising their arms, the light from below sending their elongated shadows onto the structure’s large, hallmark upward-turned bowl designed by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer. Some congressional windows were broken, but police did not use force to contain the damage.

"This is a communal cry saying: ‘We’re not satisfied,’" Maria Claudia Cardoso said on a Sao Paulo avenue, taking turns waving a sign reading "#revolution" with her 16-year-old son, Fernando, as protesters streamed by.

"We’re massacred by the government’s taxes — yet when we leave home in the morning to go to work, we don’t know if we’ll make it home alive because of the violence," she added. "We don’t have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife. These protests will make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that we’re not taking it anymore!"

Protest leaders went to pains to tell marchers that damaging public or private property would only hurt their cause. In Sao Paulo, sentiments were at first against the protests last week after windows were broken and buildings spray painted during the demonstrations.

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