Brazil: stuck between investors and protesters

Thalita Carrico – Financial Times, 06/21/2013

When protests broke out on São Paulo’s streets two weeks ago the city’s mayor, Fernando Haddad, and its governor, Geraldo Alckmin, were in Paris, lobbying for the Expo 2020 international exhibition to be held in the city. At that point, the protests probably just seemed to be demonstrations over bus fares by a small group of students with nothing better to do, so why worry?

But as the protests back home have grown, attracting more than 1m people on Thursday night, the government has increasingly found itself torn between pleasing international investors and its own people.

Dilma Rousseff cancelled a trip to Salvador in Brazil and Japan next week as she figures out a way to contain the demonstrations. Brazil’s central bank president Alexandre Tombini also scrapped a trip to London on Monday, according to local media.

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The real reason Brazilians are outraged: the world’s fair bid

Ryan Kearney – New Republic, 06/20/2013

The New York Times’s Brazil bureau chief, Simon Romero, opens his latest dispatch from São Paolo with an anecdote whose symbolism no newspaper reporter could have resisted: While the protests swelled on his city’s streets last week, Mayor Fernando Haddad was not home. He was not even in Brazil. “He had left for Paris to try to land the 2020 World’s Fair—exactly the kind of expensive, international mega-event that demonstrators nationwide have scorned.”

Romero is nodding to the other international events that Brazil has already landed: The 2013 Confederations Cup, now underway and under siege; the 2014 World Cup; and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. In other words, in the span of three years Brazil is hosting the second-biggest international soccer tournament; the biggest international soccer tournament, which also happens to be the most popular sporting event in the world; and the better of the two Olympics.

So why does Brazil need the World’s Fair, too? How can greedy can this ascendant country be?

Protests in Brazil burst bubble: everything is not fine

Rasheed Abou-Alsamh – International Business Times, 06/20/2013

The mass street protests that broke out last week in Sao Paulo, and have since spread to other major cities in Brazil, caught many by surprise. Investors and politicians who thought the economic miracle of South America’s biggest country — the headliner of the BRIC group with Russia, India and China — would never end were especially surprised. So were many observers who had bemoaned the passivity of Brazilians in seemingly accepting corruption and overtaxing by their government. The past week’s events have shown that the Brazilian giant, sleeping for so long, has awoken again.

The protests began last week with a demonstration organized by the Passe Livre (Free Pass) movement, a leftist group that wants free public transportation in all of Brazil as its ultimate goal. The announcement that bus fares were being hiked from R$3 (US$1.37) to R$3.20 (US$1.47) was the spark for the march on Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo’s largest boulevard.

The city’s mayor and the governor of Sao Paulo state, Fernando Haddad and Geraldo Alckmin, both said they would not budge on the price hike and promptly flew off together to Paris to pitch their city as a candidate host of the 2020 World Expo. As the demonstrations grew and continued, they quickly returned home. But it was not until violent clashes between protesters and riot police, using rubber bullets and tear gas on June 13, which left 105 protesters and 12 policemen wounded, that they started to pay attention and soften their stance. On Thursday, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the country’s two largest cities, both decided to backtrack and cancel the fare hike.

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Brazilians continue to violently protest higher transport cost in the main cities

MercoPress 06/14/2013

Shops, public telephone booths, banks and some metro stations were also vandalized in the third outbreak of violence since last Thursday over a 7% hike in bus, metro and train ticket prices from the equivalent of 1.5 to 1.6 dollar.

“I think it was the most violent protest judging by the intensity and the rage of the demonstrators,” police Lieutenant Colonel Marcelo Pignatari told the G1 news website.

He added that 20 protesters were arrested while three police officers were hurt in the clashes, which erupted as Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad and State Governor Geraldo Alckmin were in Paris to promote the city’s bid to host World Expo 2020.

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