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Brazil’s Protests: Street Scenes from a ‘Tropical Spring’

A Personal Perspective of Brazil's Recent Protests: By Paulo Capiotti

There I was in São Paulo, at the biggest airport in the country, ready to fly to my home city of Porto Alegre, but there was one problem: people were gathered en masse outside as part of Brazil’s protests, and so were both the Federal and Special Operations Police. Inside the airport it was business as usual, while outside, thousands of protestors held signs and voiced their discontent with recent corruption and bus fair hikes. Conditions were ripe for a ‘Tropical Spring’.

Many passengers could not get to the airport, either by car or bus, because all of the roads were filled with people. Even crew members had to be flown in from other cities so that the airlines could continue their flights. The police impeded many people from leaving, and yet lots of travelers were arriving by foot and carrying their bags, having abandoned taxi cabs and buses on the road. Some of those carried brazilian flags themselves, serving as both passengers and sympathetic supporters of the crowds.

In my opinion, what we are seeing here is a credibility crisis. The people’s belief in the institutions has been low. But if one takes the time to observe these protests, what you will find is a lot of humor, sometimes with a party feel to it, and often including music and chants. Ironically, a lot of us feel very happy because we finally see action from this collective. One can look around and feel relieved, knowing that this feeling we have all carried for so long is shared, and that there’s someone to trust right there amongst us. There is hope, and it just feels good to be heard and understood.

By: Paulo Capiotti

Street Chanting © Paulo Capiotti

On the evening of Monday, July 17th, people took to the streets of São Paulo, protesting the raising of local fares. This, the fifth of such protests, gained momentum because of reported police brutality during a protest just days earlier. It was on this evening that protestors turned their attention onto the federal government.

A Different Approach © Paulo Capiotti

On June 17th, a protester climbed a wall dressed as a holy figure to make his point: “When your kid is sick, take him to a stadium”. The irony here is that stadiums are compliant to a FIFA standard, while hospitals reportedly have few standards, if at all.

Posters on Paulista Avenue © Paulo Capiotti

Protesters pass by Paulista Avenue on June 18th, where the signs state: “Democracy is not a crime” and “Lower the fare, put it on FIFA’s bill”.

Paulista Avenue is São Paulo’s highest point and at one time was the most expensive square meter of real estate in Latin America. Paulistas (someone born in the State of São Paulo) celebrate just about everything along Paulista Avenue.

Air of Support © Paulo Capiotti

On June 17th, a protester along Paulista Avenue takes advantage of the underground’s cooling system to show off the Brazilian flag.

Praça da Sé @ Paulo Capiotti

​In front of Sé Cathedral, center of São Paulo, where protesters gathered on June 18th for yet another night of walking through the city, people hold a sign that says “The big look as such because we’re on our knees! STAND UP.”

Praça da Sé © Paulo Capiotti

As the protesters walked through Consolação Street on June 20th, one man waved and held both São Paulo’s and Brazil’s flag. The City and State had just announced that they were revoking the rises on both buses and the metro. People were celebrating and demanding more.