Brazil

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.
Despite pre-election poll predictions, the centre-left Workers Party (PT) presidential candidate failed to win outright in the first round of Brazil’s October 3 presidential elections. PT candidate Dilma Rousseff, who won 46.7% of the vote, is seeking to succeed President Ignacio “Lula” da Silva. Lula was the first PT president and was elected in 2002. He still enjoys a record-high 80% popularity rating. Dilma, a former guerrilla and Lula’s cabinet chief, will face off on October 31 against right-wing Brazilian Social Democratic Party candidate, Jose Serra who scored 33%.
Venezuela’s decision to re-establish diplomatic, political and economic relations with Colombia on August 10 was only possible thanks to a range of circumstances and actions. Venezuela cut ties on July 22 in the face of allegations made by Colombia at the Organisation of American States (OAS) of alleged Venezuelan support for left-wing Colombian guerrillas. The Venezuelan government said the allegations were part of an attempt, backed by the US, to spark a war between the two nations.
Months out from the September national elections, the eyes of football-crazy Brazil have been focused on the World Cup. Discussions have centred on the performance (or lack thereof) of the men in the national football team. But it is three women who have been making the biggest impact on politics — especially on the left.

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