I was talking about the Brazil protests in Silvio Canto’s podcast. Here are a few articles and links on the subject:
Shaken by the biggest challenge to their authority in years, Brazil’s leaders made conciliatory gestures on Tuesday to try to defuse the protests engulfing the nation’s cities. But the demonstrators have remained defiant, pouring into the streets by the thousands and venting their anger over political corruption, the high cost of living, and huge public spending for the World Cup and the Olympics.
Protesters denounced their leaders as dedicating excessive resources to cultivating Brazil’s global image by building stadiums for international events, when basic services like education and health care remained woefully inadequate.
The Rio Times: Economic Worries Stoke Brazil Protests
The Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) and its sympathizers continue to call for the increase to be reversed and for free public transport to be implemented, which has been achieved in some cities and discussions have progressed in others.
Now however, the protests have taken a much wider form, allowing Brazilians to vent their anger and frustration at the state of the country, from the country’s multi-billion-dollar hosting of the World Cup and poor public services, particularly health and education, to rampant political corruption and police brutality.
Yet despite the disparity in slogans, many have been united by a common concern for Brazil’s economy: even though incomes have gone up, Brazil’s new middle class has been demanding more from public services, and the rising cost of living, particularly food and services, has hit Brazilians hard.
American expatriate and Rio’s Gringo Café owner Sam Flowers says that food and labor costs have skyrocketed in just the last six months: “One product jumped forty percent in a week, many others are up 12 to 20 percent. Rent, food, transportation are all rising. Everyone is changing their spending habits and using credit cards more, some are even moving,” he tells The Rio Times.
A survey of families by O Globo newspaper also reported many seeing expenses go up forty percent in the last year, despite the government’s official annual inflation figure of 6.5 percent. Given Brazil’s economic track record in the 1980s and early 1990s, some have pointed to concerns over inflation as the main problem to be debated.
WSJ: Middle-Class Brazil Finds Its Voice in Protests
Protest leaders sought to turn Monday’s venting of national frustration into a long-term movement, and a wary political class searched for footing in a country that has voiced a powerful call for change.
There is no single voice for the protest movement. But there are plenty of glaring examples of what is bothering middle class sensibilities. Take political corruption. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court convicted around two-dozen politicians in a vast vote buying scheme. None are in jail—and several are back in congress making laws.
The common thread is a young middle class that is unemployed or watching their salaries shrink from taxes and inflation, affected directly by the high crime rate, and who see the corrupt government bureaucrats squander billions (while pocketing fortunes) and get away with it, scot-free, in a political system that has rules left over from the dictatorship and its aftermath 25 years ago and make the Congress distinctly unrepresentative. (h/t Mr. Bingley)
You may want to check out the Twitter hashtag #changebrazil.