The Brazilian Protests and the Football Way of Life 

The Brazilian Protests  and the Football Way of Life……By Rosane Rodrigues, Contributing Reporter for THE OSLO TIMES

The street demonstrations have been watered down by football passion

RIO DE JANEIRO,BRAZIL- Ana is a typical Brazilian teenager and she used to shout: “FIFA go home”. Now, she crowds the stadiums: “ Go Brazil, Go Brazil”. One year ago, a wave of protests took the country over with very genuine, lawful and legitimate claims: the hike of bus fares, corruption, inflation and the cost of the stadiums for the World Cup 2014. Protests still take place, however, there are not millions in the streets anymore. In fact, a protest last week brought together less than 50 people near Estádio do Maracanã (Maracanã Stadium). What changed? Rodrigo Armstrong is a master´s degree student who lives in Rio de Janeiro. He took part in street demonstrations, but now he is less engaged. “I did go to the streets last year, because my generation, the first one in Brazil to have grown up in a stable democracy, is at the forefront of our country’s awakening of its political consciousness. Our country has changed a lot in the past 20 years, nonetheless, we very aware much more needs to be done. What actually seems to have happened is that protests have gone back to specific issues, such as teachers’ salaries.“1929877_32452925034_3975_n

 Rodrigo ( on the right) cheers for Brazilian team with friends                                    photo by Rodrigo Armstrong

In the majority of Brazilian cities, the protests started peacefully, but as time passed, they became violent, riddled with wounded people and scenes of destruction. The worst case was the murder of Santiago Andrade, a cameraman who was hit in the head by a flare. Two young men were arrested, and are now in detention awaiting for trial. Another point worth considering is the participation of Black Blocks in the riots.  It is a tactic which began in the late 1970s in Germany and its members wear black clothing and violent methods. “I think the Black Blocks did contribute to turning people off the protest mood. We have to remember that, at some point, people who weren’t involved in specific issues felt the point had been made and they needed to get back to their lives. ” said Rodrigo.

The police’s response to the wave of protests for many people was abusive. “Military police units used tear gas indiscriminately against protesters – in one case even inside a hospital – fired rubber bullets at people who posed no threat and beat people with hand-held batons. Hundreds were injured, including a photographer who lost his eye after being hit by a rubber bullet,” said Nop Duys, the coordinator in Brazil for Amnesty International.

Complaints aside, the Word Cup has started and it has been an extraordinary success. On account of FIFA, more than three million of tickets have been sold and the event represents about US$3.03 billion to country´s economy.  “I know that we must be aware about Brazil ́s issues, but I just love football”, added Ana.

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 Protesters against the World Cup  put fire in a FIFA Trophy replica                                                                                                              photo by Agência Brasil

Furthermore, Brazil will hold presidential elections in 2014. By law, the right to free demonstration is guaranteed. “In contravention of Brazilian law and international standards Brazil has signed, which guarantee the right to free demonstration and freedom of speech, military police have arrested protesters even when lacking evidence of their involvement incriminal activity. So on paper yes, in practice,not always,” affirmed Duys.

For further information about Amnesty Internacional in Brazil, please go to http://anistia.org.br/

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  • The views and opinions published in this interview belong solely to the interviewee do not represent any view or opinion held by The Oslo Times International News Network. The Oslo Times practices, defends and promotes freedom of expression. The published interview is in accordance with Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.