Major Protests Across Brazil and in Bulgaria

Category: Peaceful Resistance   Tags: 

A protester waves the Brazilian flag in a protest in the capital, Brasilia, against the Confederation Cup. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino /Reuters

A protester waves the Brazilian flag in a protest in the capital, Brasilia, against the Confederation Cup. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino /Reuters

Stephen: There’s a lot stirring beneath our everyday existences around the world. In many countries, this undercurrent of change is evident in the sheer numbers of people – of all ages; no matter the country – who are prepared to peacefully walk the streets of their countries to show their distaste for the way things have been – and what they won’t out up with any more. This is a true indication of the mass awakening in action.

The featured video from Brazil (below) most capably demonstrates (pun intended) how important effecting change is to so very, very many of us.

Protests Erupt Across Brazil Over High Costs and Poor Services

Some of country’s biggest ever rallies sweep major cities as bus fare rise is last straw in spiral of high costs and poor services

By Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro, The Guardian – June 18, 2013

Brazil experienced one of its biggest nights of protest in decades on Monday as more than 100,000 people took to the streets nationwide to express their frustration at heavyhanded policing, poor public services and high costs for the World Cup.

The major demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Belem, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and elsewhere started peacefully but several led to clashes with police and arson attacks on cars and buses.

The large turnout and geographic spread marked a rapid escalation after smaller protests last week against bus price increases led to complaints that police responded disproportionately with rubber bullets, tear gas and violent beatings.

Coinciding with the start of the Confederations Cup – a World Cup test event – the rallies brought together a wide coalition of people frustrated with the escalating costs and persistently poor quality of public services, lavish investment on international sporting events, low standards of healthcare and wider unease about inequality and corruption.

In Rio images and video posted online showed vast crowds.

While the vast majority of demonstrations were peaceful, several police were injured in clashes at the city’s legislative assembly, at least one car was overturned and burned and windows were smashed in the offices of banks and notary offices.

The unrest escalated during the night as a large crowd set several fires outside the legislative assembly, smashed the building’s windows and daubed graffiti on the walls proclaiming “Revolution”, “Down with Paes, down with Cabral [the mayor and state governor]” and “Hate police”. Police inside responded with pepper spray and perhaps more – the Guardian saw one protester passed out and bleeding heavily from a wound in the upper arm.

The causes pursued by the protesters varied widely. “We are here because we hate the government. They do nothing for us,” said Oscar José Santos, a 19-year-old who was with a group of hooded youths from the Rocinha favela.

“I’m an architect but I have been unemployed for six months. There must be something wrong with this country,” said Nadia al Husin, holding up a banner calling on the government to do more for education.

At a far smaller rally in Brasilia demonstrators broke through police lines to enter the high-security area of the national congress. Several climbed on to the roof.

In Belo Horizonte police clashed with protesters who tried to break through a cordon around a football stadium hosting a Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Tahiti.

In Port Alegre demonstrators set fire to a bus and in Curitiba protesters attempted to force their way into the office of the state governor. There were also rallies in Belem, Salvador and elsewhere.

In São Paulo, which had seen the fiercest clashes last week and the main allegations of police violence, large crowds gathered once again but initial reports suggested the marches passed peacefully.

Reflecting the importance of social networks in spreading the message about the protests, some in São Paulo – where numbers were estimated at between 30,000 and 100,000 – carried banners declaring “We come from Facebook”.

Most protesters were young and for many it was their first experience of such a giant rally. “My generation has never experienced this,” said Thiago Firbida, a student. “Since the dictatorship Brazilians never bothered to take over the streets. They did not believe they had a reason to. But now Brazil is once again in crisis, with a constant rise in prices, so people are finally reacting.”

Comparisons have been drawn with rallies in Turkey and elsewhere by a more networked society with a long catalogue of grievances. Another global link was the evident in the handful of demonstrators who wore Guy Fawkes masks associated with Anonymous and the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Brazil’s demonstrations are being referred to as the “vinegar revolution” (after police arrested people for carrying vinegar to counter tear gas) as well as the “20-cent revolution” (due to the bus price rise) and the Passe Livre (after the demand for free public transport).

Some said the protests felt un-Brazilian but liberating. “Our politicians need to see the strength we have as one people. Brazilians tend to be too nice sometimes, they enjoy partying rather than protesting, but something is changing,” said Deli Borsari, a 53-year-old yoga instructor.

Following widespread coverage of the costs of new and refurbished stadiums, the football tournament has been one of the focuses of the protests. Before Saturday’s opening match in Brasilia crowds of demonstrators were dispersed by riot police. Footage showed frightened Japanese supporters rushing from the area holding their children as the sound of shots – perhaps rubber bullets or tear gas – was heard.

On Sunday another protest march near Rio’s Maracana stadium was met with a similarly heavy police response.

Most of the rallies appeared to start peacefully until they confronted the security forces, who are largely organised at a regional level.

President Dilma Rousseff condones the protests, according to her aides. “The president believes peaceful protests are legitimate and proper for a democracy and that it is natural for young people to demonstrate,” said Helena Chagas of the president’s office.

However Dilma was booed at the opening ceremony for the Confederations Cup. With the economy in the doldrums and social unrest on the rise she faces a serious political challenge both now and in 2014, when Brazil will not only host the World Cup but also have a presidential election.

Additional reporting by Helena Alves in São Paulo

bulgaria protestsThis story from sage:

More Anti-Government Protests Occur in Bulgaria

By Veselin Toshkov, AP – June 17, 2013

Bulgaria’s prime minister said Monday that Parliament’s appointment of a media mogul as the nation’s security chief was a mistake, but that his government will not resign over it.

Several thousand people took to the streets of Sofia, the capital, and other cities on Monday, the fourth day of demonstrations demanding that the government resign over the appointment of Delyan Peevski, who has no experience in security, as the head of Bulgaria’s national security agency.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, whose government came to power two weeks ago, said the legislature’s appointment, made on Friday after no debate, was a mistake, and that he will consult with the public before a new security chief is appointed.

Citing the protests, Peevski announced Saturday that he will resign. Oresharski said Monday that he has accepted that, but the final decision is Parliament’s.

Peevski’s mother, Irena Krasteva, owns several dailies, weeklies and television stations in Bulgaria, but he is believed to have a strong influence over their editorial policies.

Street protests in February against high energy bills, poverty and corruption brought down the previous center-right government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov.

The current government, backed by the Socialists and a smaller ethnic Turkish party, was formed after a May 12 election. Together the two groups have 120 seats in the 240-member Parliament, which makes it difficult for them to reform the country’s ailing economy.

On Monday, several thousand people rallied in front of government headquarters in Sofia to demand the government step down. Police stepped-up security, cordoning off the building with metal barriers, but the demonstrations have been peaceful.

Blowing whistles and waving the national flag, the protesters shouted slogans such as “Red Garbage!” ”Mafia!” and “Resignation!” They demanded more transparency from government.

Many of the protesters said they have had enough of the “behind-the-scenes” deals involving politicians and powerful businessmen they accuse of corruption. The demonstrators demanded early elections now.

President Rosen Plevneliev said he will convene the national security council on Thursday and called on all parties to come up with solutions to end the political crisis.


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