Over one million people have taken the streets of Brasil in all the major cities of Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio, Belem, Salvador, and Belo Horizonte. Protests have been a common occurrence in Brasil, but for the past two weeks, the number of protests and people in the streets has been increasing phenomenally. Last time the streets of Brasil were this full for a political cause was for the impeachment of president Collor in 1992. That was twenty years ago. This isn’t your ordinary protest – this is a revolution.
So what is it about? The international media understands the gist of it, but they don’t see it as game changing as brazilians all over the world have come to recognise.
CNN reports “they complain that corruption is driving up the World Cup expenses at the cost of the poor.”
The New York Times reports they are “venting their anger over political corruption.”
Aljazeera reports they want ‘hospitals not stadiums’, and questions this is beyond the fare hikes.
BBC reports “the unrest was sparked by transport price hikes in Sao Paulo but it has now grown into broader discontent over poor public services and corruption.”
The international media doesn’t realise yet the gravity of this upheaval. Let me explain, Brazilians have always had too many reasons the people have for being in the streets but it was unlikely they would go.
The truth is, Brasil is a self-centered country. The only portuguese speaking country in Latin America, yet you will be hard pressed to someone who speaks spanish. And even with only a year left for the World Cup, foreigners will be sure to struggle. The Brazilians who went go through private schools, learned English all throughout the school and still have a poor grasp of the basics.
Comedy within a nation say a lot about how a nation sees itself: Americans enjoy one-liners portraying the comedian as someone smart, in a heroic position; the British celebrate their failures, portraying the comedian as someone who wants to be taken seriously, but their dignity is continuously compromised; Australians joke of their acceptance in who they are – they have no dignity and are not trying for it; whereas Brazilians make jokes of their misery, they take the edge of their hard lives by changing the title from ‘news’ to ‘joke’. They don’t even have to try hard for comedy.
It is a country where corruption is so common that when it enrages one person it is met with indifference from others who experience the same injustice. People are desensitized. And this is the most surprising element of these protests – over half of the people in the streets are in their 20s. This is the generation that grew up with entertainment at their finger tips, the most distracted generation, so much that they are telling each other to ‘leave Facebook’ and ‘leave Candy Crush’ to join the cause.
This is why they are hashtagging ‘the giant has awoken’; for years they have experienced the same misery and not given a second thought. The country has awoken from its apathy and is asking to #ChangeBrasil.