Sunday, August 16, witnessed a third round of protests against Brazil’s embattled president Dilma Rousseff. As at previous demonstrations in March and April, crowds of overwhelmingly white middle- and upper-class Brazilians draped in the colors of the national flag descended on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasília, and streets and squares across 13 other states to demand the Rousseff’s resignation or impeachment.
Like the previous protests, these were noteworthy mainly for their absurdity, as protesters brandished signs lamenting that the former leftist guerrilla had not been tortured to death during her imprisonment under the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. Other signs called for a military coup, or even the return of Brazil’s 19th-century monarchy. Still others proclaimed that if Brazil were only run by the rich, corruption wouldn’t be a problem, since wealthy people don’t need to steal.
Although foreign media outlets like the Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported that Sunday’s protest was the second-largest in São Paulo since March, they forgot to mention that this was only the second round of protests since March. Indeed, across the country, the protests were noticeably smaller than the ones that preceded them; the national media assiduously avoided sweeping aerial shots that would have revealed crowds made up largely of empty space.