Estimates suggest over a million Brazilians — outraged about everything from high taxes and government corruption to the wasting of taxpayer money on sports tournaments — participated in massive nationwide protests over the last week. The wave of demonstrations, some of which became violent, were supposedly triggered by a small fare increase for public transportation that boiled over into general unrest about a wide range of other issues related to government. Some well-informed analysts, however, say there is more to the apparent uprising than meets the eye.
News reports said a series of protests on Thursday involving over a million people total, reportedly the largest so far, had taken place in over 100 cities. The efforts have broad support among Brazilians who are not participating, too. According to a recent poll cited by the Associated Press, 75 percent of citizens said they supported the demonstrations. While there are countless grievances being aired in the streets, the common denominator appears to be disillusionment with government.
Most of the protests have reportedly been peaceful so far, though more than a few violent incidents were documented across the country. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, where hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, police reportedly used pepper spray and tear gas to keep unruly protesters in check amid violent clashes. Dozens were injured, according to news reports. Some sporadic looting has also been reported, and protesters reportedly attacked multiple government buildings. At least four people have been killed.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a former communist terrorist who rose to power with the backing of her predecessor through the statist “Workers’ Party” (PT), praised what she claimed was the “democratic spirit” of the protests. She added, however, that authorities planned to crackdown on the violent minority. Following more than a week of demonstrations, the president also proposed a series of reforms supposedly aimed at satisfying public demands.
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Photo of protestors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 24: AP Images