The Brazilian Street: Powers of Change

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This article was originally published on Fair Observer.

The FIFA World Cup will draw to a close on July 13, while Brazilians feel a mixture of emotions. What I see today on social media is that many, many Brazilians are still angry. No, they are not only upset that Brazil was humiliated by Germany in the semi-finals. Rather, Brazilians are still against the World Cup and they hold President Dilma Rousseff and her government to account.

Some may say we need to stop protesting as the World Cup will not suddenly be stopped, while others argue we should “fix the situation” in the next elections. I don’t agree with either of these options and here’s why.

First, to solely blame the incumbent government is to blame ourselves. I would like to stress here that any Brazilian political party in power would have agreed to host the World Cup at the blink of an eye. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a right- or left-wing party in office as year after year, election after election, nothing really changes — apart from modest reforms to mask rampant corruption.

Indeed, some parties are less corrupt than others but, at the end of the day, they are all the same. I don’t believe our vote will change anything; as a Brazilian, I stopped voting a long time ago. I do believe there are politicians who genuinely want to make a change and work for the people, as they are supposed to. However, these same politicians often get wrapped up in corruption and don’t last in office for very long — if they even manage to get there.

Most, if not all, political parties in Brazil have only one goal: to get rich and not die trying. They make terrible decisions and the people have to bear the brunt — decisions that only a handful benefit from, including companies and politicians. Corruption is still a major problem in Brazil and the World Cup has showed to what extent.

So here is a little food for thought for those who say we need to “fix the situation” in the next election: nothing will be solved. The Olympics will be held in Brazil in 2016 and we might have a new government by then. But do you really think this “new” government will stop or cancel the games? Will it be any different to governments of the past? With so much to gain amid endless corruption at the state level, there is a near zero chance of such an outcome.

Second, for those who want protests to stop as they believe Brazil’s image will suffer on the international stage, I must say: What will be bad for our country is to accept in silence the government’s corruption and mishandling of state funds. It will look bad for us, as a nation, to be apolitical.

Yes, I believe protests can make a change all over the world. There are protests daily across the planet. Why? Because, with enough passion and struggle, they work. Whichever way you look at it, protesting is still an effective tool of holding a government to account and Brazil is no different. Marching down the street, holding banners and chanting for what we see as a government that misleads its people is our right as Brazilians. Taking a leaf out of the Arab world, the proverbial Brazilian street is where the true power of change lies. We are the powers of change.

If we, the Brazilian people, believe in the amount of power that we hold when united by the same goal, we could be the power that changes our society. However, if we continue to be divided, then successive governments will carry on with what they know best: deceit and corruption.

I work with social media and use it in my personal life, and what I see is that Brazilians are more divided than ever before. Not just in their thoughts but also in their feelings. Some are proud that Brazil is hosting the World Cup and want to be part of it, even if this means working as volunteers for the corruption-plagued FIFA. Others are ashamed. They are embarrassed by our half-built stadiums, chaotic traffic and poor public transport, and that hundreds of thousands of tourists have seen the real Brazil.

Aside from spiraling crime rates, poor wages and high inflation, tourists will undoubtedly have seen children who are too poor to attend school. They will have seen hospitals with a severe lack of equipment, including basic necessities such as beds. Moreover, tourists will have driven on unfinished roads, which often see pothole after pothole. Yes, the government can spend $11.5 billion on the World Cup, but they must had an empty wallet when it came to spending money on education, health care and transport.

If we really want to hold mega sporting events, we must start by giving our people what they need and deserve. We must respect each other, help one another and work together. Only then can we showcase what Brazil has to offer to the world.

   

This article was originally published on Fair Observer.

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