Last week, Turkey took center stage as protests erupted across the country's cities and its social media sites.
But while Turkey was heating up, so was Brazil, which has become increasingly unstable under the weight of its own violent social protests that have gripped cities all over the South American country. What started two weeks ago as a protest against fare hikes has turned into a battle for fairness and equality.
If you're just joining the melee, here's a rundown of what you need to know.
- Protests initially started because of a 20 centavos (10 cents) fare hike for public buses and trains, which was considered unfair and outrageous in light of two important factors: Brazil’s public services have long been considered atrocious by its heavily taxed citizens, and yet the country is happily paying out over $16 billion in preparation to host the 2014 World Cup.
- In a matter of days, the students protesting were joined by hundreds of thousands of other citizens, and their grievances grew to include larger issues of government corruption, police brutality, skyrocketing inflation, and the ethical fortitude of a country that according to its critics is invested in fattening the wallets of the already-rich at the expense of the rest of its people.
- The World Cup is more than a symbol of inequality; it’s also a facilitator of it. Much of the revenue gained from the games will go to those building the stadiums—the construction companies, who also happen to be the main financiers of Brazil’s political campaigns.
- Reportedly, over 170,000 of Brazil’s impoverished have been evicted from their homes—many of them forcibly removed—when it was determined they lived too close to future World Cup stadiums. Of the few who were compensated for the loss of their houses, they were paid the equivalent of $300 USD.
- Every major city in the country has witnessed demonstrations, a good portion of which have been characterized as violent, due to intense clashes with military police.
- To understand what that looks like in action, watch the video below.
Where Do We Go From Here?
President Dilma Rousseff says she wants to instate major reforms. In a broadcast address on June 21, she finally broke her silence and stated in a public address that she plans to meet with protest leaders, city mayors and government officials to improve public services and battle corrupt practices. But what that will look like in practical terms remains to be seen.
Do Brazil’s demonstrations strike you as similar to the U.S. Occupy movement? Let us know what you think in the Comments.