sexta-feira, 14 de junho de 2013

The bus fare is our Taksim square

[As we are not receiving the proper attention from the local media corporations, I will try to summarize what happens at this moment with these protests on the main Brazilian cities to my foreigner friends, aiming that this kind of information would be spread and with international consideration, our concerns could be heard.]

Brazil is facing the biggest main public demonstrations since 1990s. At that time, we have had a popular clamour for the at that time president impeachment. And we did it. Collor was sacked. Now, thousand of protesters from all social classes are going to the streets to claim for a better transport system. The recent bus-fare increase was just the cherry on the top, our Taksim square: people cannot stand inflation again [we had hyperinflation until mid-1990s] and will not tolerate be treated like animals when using buses or any other transport.

This is the idea [by Sandro Menezes]

To contextualize, let's see São Paulo example. It's the sixth or seventh biggest city in the world, and it's part of the second [or fourth] more populous metropolitan area. There are more than 30 million people living there and in its surrounds. But its public transportation is supported mainly by bus and private cars. There is one car for every each one citizen. Who is überrich buys a helicopter: the city has the biggest chopper fleet of globe. Who cannot afford this extravagance faces a two hours traffic jams every single journey. At average.

All the transport system in Brazil is a public concession, which means that they are managed by private companies whose objectives are not having a better transport for its commuters, but to make more money. Metro [underground or subway] is only 74,3 kilometres long [London underground is more than 400 kilometre long, besides Overground, DLR, etc.] and is considered the busiest in the world. Worst than Tokyo's.

The bus business follows a Mafia method throughout the country. The same companies owns the privilege to transport the population since its beginning. Sometimes, there isn't any kind of regulation for this. In Rio, for instance, more than half of population [4 million of the 8 million people] uses buses everyday. And frequently we heard informations about how they corrupt politicians and how bus companies are the strongest lobby against any other kind of transportation. There is a strong rumour that says these companies pay a monthly bribery of R$ 100,000 [around £ 30,000 or US$ 50,000] for every each of the 71 state deputies in Rio.

They are the biggest supporters for mayors and even governors all over the country in elections. Then it was not a surprise to see that all the government spheres [national, the state and the city] were against the protesters, in São Paulo or in Rio. Even if they are supposed to be from different political ideologies. Even if they are from the apparently left wing to the certain right one. It seems they are all under the Mafia influence.

While this, passengers keep getting overloaded buses that were constructed over truck bodies. Buses that does not have air conditioner, even in 40 degrees Celsius and 100% humidity summer Rio. Buses that are never - ever, ever - on time. Buses whose conductors think they are pilots, and drive like crazy - or they are forced to it, as they have to deliver its commodities on time, and make its machine as profitable as possible.

To show how the transport system is getting worst and worst everyday, and is not only a bus or metro problem, yesterday, the day when the biggest protest until now happened, the train workers stopped in São Paulo. They asked for better salaries. In Rio, passengers from the boat system destroyed one of its stations because it was completely crowded. More than twice its limits.

Police breaks its own car glass to blame on the protesters

Besides all of that, our media companies seem that the only problem that exist is the havoc. They call Turkish groups in Taksim square as demonstrators, protesters, those who are fighting for their freedom. In Brazil, the same people are vandals, wreckers, those who want just to create chaos. It seems they are also under the Mafia influence. The irony of the destiny: yesterday, "Folha de S. Paulo", maybe the most influential paper in Brazil, says seven of its journalist were injured by the police.

Giuliana Vallone, a "Folha de S. Paulo" reporter, who was
wounded by a rubber bullet shot by policemen
Yesterday, apparently things were worst. Official informations talk about 235 people held in custody by the police. Among those, there is at least one journalist, from the leftist magazine "Carta capital", who was arrested only for having vinegar - it is said that is good to use it against the gas bombs. Besides that, they used pepper sprays and sticks to beat who were unlucky enough to be close to the City centre. In Facebook and others social media, there are tons of posts about how police was violent. Sometimes, with no reason. A couple who were just drink a beer and was spanked. A student who was leaving the university at the same moment the protesters were passing by and was hit by sticks. A mother who were at the hospital with her daughter and witnessed a group of youngster injured being chased in the corridors. All of them by policemen.

Does this need a subtitle?
The curious thing about all of that is that Brazil is accused for not having the tradition to protest - which, I think, is just bullshit. Every day papers show corruptions scandals and there is not any organized and strong public manifestation. This can mean that the transport system is a common thread in the country. One of the most significant point about these protests is that it gathered rich and poor people, black and white, PhDs and almost illiterates. Maybe because they see that this rise of the fare is not what matters, or does not matters alone. That it is just a sign of how the politicians treat people, without any care, regard, consideration. That we will not again accept this quotidian violence against our lives. Put yourself in our shoes: what would you do if you lose four hours of your everyday life in a totally uncomfortable bus?

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