Brazilian Protests Largest in 20 Years (Video)
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Brazil’s biggest cities on Monday over widespread anger at poor public services, police violence and government corruption.
The rallies brought together a wide coalition of people upset about the escalating costs and persistently poor quality of public services, lavish investment on international sporting events, low standards of healthcare, low wages and wider unease about inequality and corruption.
The protests are in their early stages, and it’s not clear what the government reaction will be, but the President Dilma Rousseff said that her government was listening to those protesting the high cost of hosting sporting events like the World Cup.
“These voices need to be heard,” she said in an address at the presidential palace. “My government is listening to these voices for change.”
Last week, 100 Brazilians were injured when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. This week, the protesters in Sao Paulo were allowed to walk unimpeded and there were no police on the streets.
26-year-old photographer Manoela Chiabai told the Associated Press,
“We’re a rich country with a lot of potential but the money doesn’t go to those who need it most.”
One mother who attended the Sao Paulo march with her daughter said, “We need better education, hospitals and security, not billions spent on the World Cup.”
People chanted that others should join the movement and that “the people have awakened”. They warned foreigners not to come to the World Cup – because of the billions of dollars being spent on stadiums.
According to the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo business group, Brazilian government loses more than $47 billion each year to undeclared tax revenue, vanished public money and other widespread corruption
Despite about 40 million Brazilians have moved into the middle class and they have begun to demand more from government within the last decade, many are angry that billions of dollars in public funds are being spent to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics while few improvements are made elsewhere.
Officially named the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: República Federativa do Brasil), the country is the largest in both South America and the Latin American region. It is the world’s fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 193 million people. It is the largest Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) country in the world, and the only one in the Americas.