Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Analysis of Brazil Protests by Paulo Sotero, Director of Brazil Institute

Source: NYTimes
Although US news coverage of the protests in Brazil has been underwhelming, the Director of the Brazil Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has posted a thoughtful analysis of the situation. 

While the rate hike in transit fares may strike some foreign observers as not that big a deal, Sotero puts it into context:

"They (the people) are asking: if Brazil is the sixth or seventh world economy, as the country‘s politicians like to proclaim, why do they still have to endure two to three hours each way of overcrowded public transportation in terrible traffic?"

He also writes about the impact that these protests are having on political leaders, noting that the two immediate past Presidents of Brazil are urging politicians to pay attention to the protesters:

"Cardoso and Lula, the two most competent and accomplished Brazilians politicians of the last quarter century, have cautioned leaders to listen to the protesters and understand what they are saying. President Dilma Rousseff seems to have got the message. On Tuesday, she stated that Brazil woke up stronger because of the protests."

Cardoso and Lula, once political allies, ran against each other twice for the office of President. Cardoso won both times, but Lula won the election which selected Cardoso's successor, and served for two terms. Cardoso has been critical of both Lula and Dilma, at times sounding as if he feels that they have unfairly received credit for things that were actually the result of his terms in office, so it is significant that the two men have issued similar warnings. 

As for Dilma, the comment that Sotero quotes is much more empathetic (and less condescending) than an earlier statement she made, which stated that the protests were "legitimate" and that it's "natural for young people" to protest. Perhaps she has had time to recognize in these protests some of the same fervor that prompted her own involved in fighting against the dictatorship. 

Source: Brazil Portal

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