Why Are Brazilians Protesting the World Cup?

Source: The Nation

Most Brazilians feel that the biggest football festival in the world, along with the foundation of their country, is being stolen from them.

On Wednesday, days after massive protests took over the streets, officials in 14 cities in Brazil—including the capitals Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and Recife—announced they were reducing public transport fares. It was a historic popular win over the unilateral way transportation, and urban policies in general, are decided in Brazil.

The protesters, however, have announced they will not stop, and further marches are scheduled for the coming days. “We want to discuss the transportation policy,” said a member of the “Free Pass” movement in a press conference.

In many cities, the protests are increasingly directed against the World Cup. In Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza, hundreds of policemen armed with “non-lethal” devices (made by the same Brazilian manufacturer, Condor, that supplies the Turkish police) fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs as protesters tried to get inside FIFA’s established “exclusion zones” around stadiums that are hosting the Confederations’ Cup. The police admitted that they  opened fire only to protect FIFA’s strict rules about circulation in these areas.

Like the urban crisis that presses on in every major city in Brazil, this is a discontent that will not go away easily. Indeed, the skyrocketing investments in the World Cup—to be hosted by twelve Brazilian cities—are only making the poor quality of public services more visible, and a greater source of outrage. In many ways, the protests prove that FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke spoke the truth in a press conference in April. “Less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup,” he said. He also said he expected fewer problems in Russia in 2018 with President Vladimir Putin.

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