5 Reasons Why Brazil Is Protesting


Demonstrators point out that no one is quite sure about what will happen with the stadiums once the competitions are over.

3. Police Brutality

As most Latin Americans know, violence, or the threat of violence, hardly prevents further protests. In fact, police brutality is often viewed as a valid reason to protest more. Certainly, the Brazil demonstrations have been rife with the kind of incidents that encourage indignation.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested, and more than 55 were wounded just last Thursday in Sao Paulo. Brazil's defense minister has acknowledged that the police have acted "arbitrarily and violently," and there are countless YouTube videos that show officers in riot gear using tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful demonstrators. Protesters have vowed to increase rallies in response to this.

4. Corruption

Brazil is ranked 69 out of 176 in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. Though that is relatively good when compared with the rest of Latin America, Brazil still has significant corruption problems, as demonstrated by the recent shooting of a newspaper director in a town outside of Rio.

There have also been massive scandals involving prominent businessmen and influential government employees (Lula's chief of staff, for instance). More worrying is that politicians have considerable discretionary spending benefits when they are elected. Elected officials can spend thousands of dollars on airline tickets, housing expenses and several other perks.

"The recent uprising that is spurring in Brazil is not an act of unwarranted violence and it is not gratuitous vandalism," according to the leaders of the #ChangeBrazil movement "It is what happens when a society is forced to put up with the ludicrous, nonsensical laws that are created exclusively to benefit the lawmakers themselves."

5. The Economy, Stupid

In effect, it all arguably boils down to Brazil's recent economic slowdown. In the past year, inflation has steadily climbed to 6.5 percent, affecting mostly poor families.

More than the slow growth in income, poor families also lack decent access to education and employment, according to the Brazilian government's Family Development Index.

Brazil's economy grew 1.9 percent in this year's first quarter, 0.5 percent below last year's predictions. The government raised the minimum wage by nearly 9 percent this year, but the price of transportation and other basic services remain disproportionately high.

All of these factors have contributed to Dilma Roussef's first popularity debacle. Her approval ratings have fallen for the first time since she took office, and the booing during her stadium visit stadium shows just how fed up people are.

Economic turmoil coupled with social unrest tends to breed more social disturbances, and Brazilian authorities will continue to be faced with a massive challenge as the World Cup puts a spotlight on more than this country's hosting efforts.

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