Friday, June 21, 2013

Notes from the South: Protests

Another night another impressive turnout across Brazil including, here in São Paulo, a massive demonstration on Avenida Paulista three blocks from my apartment.

Though there was more violence and vandalism elsewhere, São Paulo was generally very peaceful.  The interesting evolution was the arrival of a number of competing political party activists that showed up in T-shirts and carrying flags and started fighting between themselves.  Equally interesting is the anger at the Workers Party folks that showed up the crowd jeered them and called them "oportunistas" and "mensaleiros". Traditionally the populist party, they now represent the entrenched politicians and have been badly tarnished by the Mensalão, a massive corruption scandal that has reached up into the highest echelons of Lula's government.  (Lula himself has escaped indictment largely - my cynical friends say - due to his talent at filtering all of the proceeds of his corruption to family members, never directly to him).  

The best english language coverage I have read has been the spot-on reporting of the New York Times who captures the amorphous spirit of the demonstrations perfectly and the Guardian who downplay the vandalism and violence.  It should be noted that there is anger directed at mainstream media (especially TV) here who folks believe are part of the corruption and cronyism and who have, in their view, unfairly focused on violence and vandalism.  I am not sure about the last - TV news has always been about fires and car crashes rather than context - this is the same with the protests.

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