The harsh reality of Brazil

When the Brazilian government imposed a raise of 20 centavos (approximately 10 cents) on the bus fares last June, it marked the start of the greatest social unrest in Brazil since 1992, when the masses demanded the impeachment of President Collor.

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

However, the raise in bus fares was only the tipping point. The main reasons for the demonstrations were the dissatisfaction with the ruling party over the inadequate provision of social services in the country.

The government has spent R$ 32 million (approximately $15.3 million) on the World Cup in order to please the international community. This figure is three times as much as South Africa spent in 2010.

Meanwhile, corruption, embezzlement and lack of transparency continue to be an issue and the population’s needs continue to be neglected.

Currently, almost half of the income of an average Brazilian citizen is spent on taxes. In return for their taxes, citizens get inadequate welfare benefits, low quality of education and poor healthcare.

Moreover, the prices of basic consumer goods, such as clothing and food, have continued to increase, thereby increasing the cost of living.

The first protest happened last June in the city of São Paulo. It quickly exploded in size as it gained attention from mainstream press, TV networks and social media. In a matter of days, millions of people — mostly students or university educated — gathered in hundreds of Brazilian cities and demanded change and greater equality.

The peaceful demonstrations quickly became violent when the military and the police, both of which are known to be corrupt, began to attack the demonstrators. As a result, grenades, rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas injured journalists, participants and bystanders.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff publicly condemned the acts of violence and proposed a political reform to support the demonstrators and meet their demands. A year later, little improvements have been made, and Brazilians continue to be dissatisfied.

Now that the World Cup has begun, many cities continue to be affected by the public’s dissatisfaction with the government. For instance, Rio de Janeiro has recently faced a variety of strikes, ranging from teachers to bus drivers.

These strikes serve to show the international community that even though the number of protests have decreased, the population continues to be dissatisfied with the government’s performance.

On the other hand, FIFA has also expressed dissatisfaction with the government as a majority of promised facilities have not yet been finished.

Only 12 of the initially proposed 17 venues will be hosting the matches. Some venues, along with airports and roads, do not meet the requirements established by FIFA.

The problems have persisted, and Brazilians are slowly realizing that the only way to change the dire circumstances they face is by voting on the right candidate during the upcoming October elections.

 

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