Brazil

One has to hark back to 1968 in Mexico City, when thousands of students and workers marched against the Olympics, to find a sports-related demonstration that compares to the size and militancy of the mass anti-World Cup/Olympic protests taking place in Brazil.

As in Mexico City, thousands of people in Brazil took to the streets — and outside of stadiums hosting Confederations Cup matches — raising slogans that connect the spending and austerity that surround these mega-events to a much deeper rot in the nation’s democratic institutions.

The Unified Workers Central (CUT), other trade union confederations and the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) decided on June 25, to jointly organise a protest on July 11 across the entire country.

They also decided on the items to present to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The planned strikes and demonstrations will aim to unleash the agenda of the working class in Congress and in ministries, as well as building on and promoting the agenda that has emerged from the recent street protests.

Brazil is in revolt. What started as a protest about a R$0.20 rise (about $0.10) in bus fares has turned into a mass nationwide movement against corruption, the rising cost of living, starved public services and money squandered on sporting mega-events.

Events are moving fast with protests growing and spreading to new cities each day, and it is far from clear when or how it will end.

I travelled to Brazil last September to investigate preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. It was painfully evident that the social disruption of hosting two mega-events in rapid succession would be profound.

Everyone with whom I spoke in the community of social movements agreed that these sports extravaganzas were going to leave major collateral damage.

Everyone agreed that the spending priorities for stadiums, security, and all attendant infrastructure were monstrous given the health and education needs of the Brazilian people.

Huge, angry protests have broken out in Brazil over public transport fare rises and poor services. The largest protests in years in Brazil come as large amounts of money is spent in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, which is helping drive up prices and causing wide spread anger

An increasingly vocal movement against fare rises on public transport has swept Brazil in the past two weeks, resulting in street demonstrations in several cities and angry confrontations between protestors and police.

In Sao Paulo, the night of June 13 was marked by the fourth demonstration in the space of a week, drawing a crowd of almost 10,000 people. Nearly 130 people were arrested and 105 people were injured, according to march organisers, the Movimento Passe Livre (MPL).

Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of 21st Century Socialism
By Roger Burbach, Michael Fox & Federico Fuentes
Zed Books, 2013
www.futuresocialism.org

In a quirk of history, Margaret Thatcher died a little more than one month after Hugo Chavez. Thatcher was a figurehead for the global class war in the 1980s and '90s known as “neoliberalism”. Chavez was a figurehead for the struggle against it and the alternative starting to be built in Latin America over the past decade.

Everywhere you look these days, things are turning green. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous farmers are being paid to protect the last vast stretch of rainforest in Mesoamerica. In the Brazilian Amazon, peasant families are given a monthly “green basket” of basic food staples to allow them to get by without cutting down trees. In Kenya, small farmers who plant climate-hardy trees and protect green zones are promised payment for their part in the fight to reduce global warming.

If you talk to the people in-the-know at the United Nations and other related agencies, they will tell you that our system of governance is not working well enough to solve the crises the world is facing.

I guess this explains why the final lead document “The Future We Want” from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from June 13-22, was described by Yolanda Kakabadse, International Director of WWF, as “a weak text without bones and without soul.”

Before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, that took place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil over June 20-22, the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life launched a declaration on June 15 opposing the summit's “solutions” to the environmental crisis.

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