Upsurge in Brazil

The country-wide protests and demonstrations in Brazil are the latest in the series of popular protests against government actions and policies in many parts of the world.

For over week millions of people have come  out on the streets in over a hundred cities and towns, including the capital Brasilia and  Rio de Janeiro, to protest against increase in bus fares and public utility charges, corruption in government and the use of large funds for construction and other activities connected with the holding of  the  world football cup tournament and Olympics in the country in the near future. What started as a protest against an increase in bus fares in a small town later spread to other places, took on other issues, involved people from many walks of life and became a mass movement.

Brazil had a good run of economic prosperity in the recent past and is one of the emerging BRICS group of emerging countries. But the momentum has slowed down now. It also has had a stable political system with a democratic government in place. But the government of President Dilma Roussof is now facing criticism for increasing corruption in the system and for going after showpieces of national glory like the staging world sports events  rather than for spending on social welfare programmes for the people. The demand articulated by the protesters is for more schools and hospitals than for stadia. There has been violence also as part of the protests. At  least one person has died and many have been injured in clashes between the police and the protesters. There were also attempts to occupy the parliament  building in Brasilia and legislature houses in the regions.

The protests have been called Brazil spring,  as in the case of some other recent spontaneous mass upsurges in other parts of the world. The agitation in Turkey is still continuing.  The upsurge in Brazil has not quietened even after Dilma Roussof’s announcement that many demands would be accepted. Though the issues in different parts of the world are different,  the common strand that runs through them is the demand for responsive and upright government. They are unstructured and disorganised but have helped to identify issues of importance to people and expose the failures of governments. Governments everywhere will have to take note of them.

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