Parallels
1:24 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

With Inspiration From Turkey, Brazil Discovers Mass Protests

Originally published on Tue June 18, 2013 1:40 pm

They are young, they are angry and they have drawn inspiration from protest movements a world away in places like Turkey and the Middle East.

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets across the country Monday night, and more demonstrations are slated for the coming week. Brazil doesn't have a history of this kind of mass dissent, but it seems to be catching on very quickly.

"The social movements in the world are learning from each other," said Marco Antônio Carvalho Teixeira, a professor at Fundacao Getulio Vargas in Sao Paulo. "This is a brand new way of protesting in Brazil."

The Brazilian protesters have a lot in common with their Turkish counterparts: They are leaderless, the message is a bit fuzzy, and the growth of the movement has been organic and organized on social media.

And like Turkey, Brazil is a vibrant democracy and a growing global power.

Unlike the protesters in the Arab Spring, Brazilians can take their grievances to the ballot box.

A Range Of Grievances

At the protest in Sao Paulo on Monday, demonstrators were holding signs opposing Brazil's hosting of the World Cup next year, while others decried corruption, high taxes and poor transportation services.

In Turkey, the security forces have cracked down on demonstrations several times, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that they stop.

In Brazil, the protests are in their early stages, and it's not clear what the government reaction will be.

Last week, 100 Brazilians were injured when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. This week, the protesters in Sao Paulo were allowed to walk unimpeded and there were no police on the streets.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said Tuesday that her government was listening to those protesting the high cost of hosting sporting events like the World Cup.

"These voices need to be heard," she said in an address at the presidential palace. "My government is listening to these voices for change."

The demonstrations are countrywide, and the protests in Rio de Janeiro have a very different flavor from those in Sao Paulo or Brasilia. No one city so far has emerged as the center of operations. According to organizers in Sao Paulo, there's been little coordination between cities other than to agree on the date and time of the protests.

Still, protesters say they are watching what is happening elsewhere and applying the lessons learned here.

"I don't know if you can say it is a model, but everyone saw what happened there [in Turkey] and was inspired by it," said Luiza Mandetta, one of the protest organizers in Sao Paulo.

And in this connected world, the place where groups in different countries can meet — at least virtually — is social media.

Meanwhile, Turks are expressing their solidarity on Twitter at #changebrazil and #occupybrazil

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