Mass protests forced major concessions from Brazil’s government last week.
More than a million people took part in victory demonstrations on Thursday after city governments reduced bus fares—the issue that sparked the protests.
President Dilma Rousseff announced more concessions the following day.
They included diverting all the state’s income from oil towards education spending.
Mass protests exploded two weeks ago following police violence against a smaller demonstration in Sao Paolo.
They struck a chord with ordinary Brazilians who resent the billions being spent on international football tournaments and the Olympics while they are in poverty.
Sean Purdey is an activist in the PSOL socialist party in Sao Paolo.
He told Socialist Worker, “These tensions have been building for a long time over a number of issues.
“There are lots of parallels with Turkey. Turkey has seen relative prosperity for 20 years and living standards have improved.
“But that raises people’s expectations too.
“People have started asking why babies are dying in underfunded hospitals while billions are spent on new stadiums.”
Sean added that footballers are backing the movement on TV—in a country where football enjoys mass support. “It means things are really serious,” he said.
The corrupt New Labour-type Workers’ Party (PT) has run Brazil’s government for decades.
It has used revenues from exports to try and develop Brazil as a regional superpower.
Building new roads and dams, and expanding agriculture in rainforest regions has led to brutal conflict between the state and its indigenous population.
But much of the left is seen as close to the government.
Some protesters even attacked delegations of left parties and trade unions on victory demonstrations in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.
Sean said, “Right wing parties and fascists had an organised presence, but they didn’t lead this.
“There were huge numbers of young people who attacked simply because they identify ‘politics’, the left and the unions with the PT
government. The PT betrayals have created a political vacuum”.
Organisers of the Free Fares movement against bus fare increases said they would stop
calling protests to avoid being hijacked by the right.
This has given government supporters an opening to attack the left for backing protests.
But the anger isn’t going away. Last week saw a small wave of strikes, including 1,000 metal workers in Sao Paolo. And militant demonstrations around local demands continued into this week.
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