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In Sao Paulo, It Begins to Stink

From one of those who first occupied Liberty Square: a series of raw impressions of the uprising in Sao Paulo. He works as a doctor in his home country, Brazil, and he happens to be based in Sao Paulo.

June 19

Dear friends;

Brasil wakes up with a strange vibration in the air, as uncertainty remains as to what will come about in the next few days. The struggle for the hikes will celebrate its victory at around 5pm in Avenida Paulista, the huge financial strip of Sao Paulo.

The police have been preparing in silence, with MSM focusing broadcasts on the "anarchist vandals" (note the similarity/patterns). The stage is being set for repression to rain. Liberals and moderates start to witch hunt and return to their normalcy, and the movement searches for a new demand able to galvanize the public yet again.

Yesterday in the afternoon a man waiting for ER care burnt down a car in the parking lot of the hospital after hours of neglect and monstruous lines. The fare decrease gave a positive feedback response to the popular revolt, implying that to GSD, it's necessary to make some noise and smash/burn some treats. Government officials fear that now people will be more inclined to riot to get what they want, which can be good or bad.

June 20

After the surge of the past couple weeks and the riots happening yesterday, the mayor gathered with his special advisers and decided that it was better to NOT increase the price of the bus rides.

This is an interesting time for OWS to learn regarding pros and cons of focusing on a specific demand. The "victory" is achieved here in Sao Paulo, but does this mean that people will now go back to their homes, turn on the television and disappear? Only time will tell.

Comrades... it has been too long indeed... For so long my people brought their bodies to the streets in a surge of orgasmic people power. The US/CIA backed military dictatorship that began in 1964 and formally ended in 1986 left an aftermath of political nihilism. A whole people excluded from the political process and subdued with panis et circensis. Lately, however, the bread grew mold and the entertainment began to feel like lies. Torturers are still on the loose, parents still scream for justice, inequality and profound alienation was the gloom future ahead. whoever grew up in Latin America in the last three decades understands what I'm saying. ... Until yesterday, or the week before, when the police once again did us a favor, showing Empire's true colors. Just as a sidenote. If it hits Sao Paulo, the potential to spread to Latin America AND the global South is significant.
Fire and love, Atchu

June 22

A year ago I left everything that I loved, built and cherished, when I left New York City. My US visa was expired and I had to forcibly go back to Brasil to nothing waiting for me.
Then in late 2012, months after the Occupies of Brasil and the USA were ejected from their communal squares, my shoes brought me back to Sao Paulo, a city of concrete, disparity, rain and gray. The speed and violence/the uncertainty of going and coming back/the neoliberal shrine...
Rio was still on my mind. And New York. But now all I had was Sao Paulo, working on the frontlines of our precarious public hospitals.
Working as a physician with homeless populations and the poor city elderly gave me a clear view how much the city was in severe pain. Nobody on top or on the mainstream media seemed aware or cared; then, in early 2013 a streak of violent [random] assassinations took the city by assault amidst the climate of municipal elections; everybody in Sao Paulo was terrorized. Whether we kept quiet or fragmented, we would be fucked.
The .20 cent fare raise attempted by the elected Workers Party (our "Democrats") on the price of public transportation was the last drop, the same way Obama disilusioned the American middle class in 2008.
The bus fare spark ignited the powder keg to its ultimate consequences - a popular revolt.
Now, an interesting phenomenon lurks. The radical left-wing messages of the beginning have been flooded among manyfold OTHER messages, mostly moderate or conservative. Brasilian society is still very conservative culturally. Appropriating the democratic moment, the right wing media now pumps the entire telecomm apparatus to maneuver the message to its interests.
Nonetheless, all flags are out now, EXCHANGING on the streets: The multitude parades the avenues like carnival samba schools in the sambodromo. Every bloc in the march feels like a different political inclination, from right wing to anarchist. It appears that we discovered a latent talent to insurrect. It appears that the soccer field suddenly became bigger to emcompass democracy and urban cities. The way people chant here feels like crowds cheering in soccer stadiums: after all, this had to be Brasilian.
Everybody has an opinion and wants to be heard. The diversity of messages flooding the streets and frontpages sends a clear message to politicians that things wont ever be the same again.
Brasil has finally remembered how to riot, and the powers that be are a little afraid: the social contract has been broken, and as one chant goes,


"the people woke up!"


June 24

Went out to the supermarket to buy some groceries. Decided to go through Avenida Paulista to check what was happening in the streets. If anything was going on, sure as hell it was happening in Avenida Paulista. Lucky we live so close. after all, Paulista has been the battleground where our collective will manifests, for about three weeks now. Indeed, people were occupying it, each person holding a homemade sign, some giving passionate public speeches, while others (usually from the lower classes) were selling popcorn or boiled corn to increase the family income for the month. the middle class was proud and parading, and yes also 1%ers parading their Gucci + Louis Vuitton fashion for a change. 

Like the sordid Che Guevara T-shirt, protesting has become an experience for mass consumption.  

This tendency became evident on Thursday, 06/20. Paulista Avenue was flooded with moderate and conservative messages that were far from the original keynote of social justice. The discourse now seemed to align with values and causes that the right-wing media and military support. The message that has started to emerge is in abstract opposition to "corruption and violence"; many in the right-wing media are blaming PT, Lula or Dilma. After the .20 cent one demand victory, the box of pandora has been opened, and everybody has decided to go out and broadcast their opinion, with no regard for consistency, dialogue or strategical analysis. 

It begins to stink.

Yesterday, each bloc showed more yellow and green popping up, national anthems, and abstract call for an end to "corruption", as if corruption weren't part of Brasilian politics since its beginning. Voices defending the restoration of fundamental values such as family, property, morals and nation. Tradition. Values. I started to feel a bit dizzy. Was this really happening? The tide was rapidly changing in Brasil. the conservative media - actually the only one we have - operated swiftly, maneuvering to push the issue of corruption and violence up on the priorities through their unrestricted control of television networks and big circulation print magazines. The fact that we spent decades in political submission and consumerist alienation in the wake of our military dicatorship helped: people were embracing any cause, even the ones pushed by right-wingnuts.

I had to talk to a real person. A panic attack was coming. That's when finding a corner, taking a deep breath, and a encountering a homeless man preparing his sleep grounds, changed everything for me.

His name was Chico and he had a productive cough and one eye taken by massive cataracts. We talked a lot, about politics, food and our healthcare system, and of course about the crazy past weeks... he told me some mean people "threw five bombs" at him just for shit and giggles... He was an alcoholic that never robbed or stole from anybody, "why would they do that?"

Went home and tried to sleep. Woke up this Sunday to a chilly morning and an internet meme invoking soldiers, police, and firefighters to side "with the people" against the corrupt government of PT and Dilma (?!). Similar rhetoric as in 1992, when Collor was impeached; I freaked out a little bit, because we do have a recent history of coup-d'etats and manufactured consent orchestrated by MSM. Did more research, and finally ended up ruining my day: found an open letter dated 06/22/13 published in the Military Society Magazine {source:} co-signed by 300,000 active and reformed members of the Armed Forces suggesting they would "side with the people" to fight "vandals", "corruption" and the deterioration of moral values in our society. A subtle warning that if the crooks that always existed in Congress continued their ways, the military might be forced to "legally intervene". Their rethoric is supported by polls from respected institutes whose numbers show that a significant number of people [19%] want the armed forces to come back, 20% don't care, and 8 % don't know {source: Datafolha}. The letter is transcribed below (in Portuguese).

What is clear now is that the next few weeks are uncertain. The narrative has taken a wild swing to the right and co-optation is a reality. The struggle for social and economic justice needs to think and act strategically or suffer the consequences. 



Rumo a 2014. Precisamos impedir a destruição de valores fundamentais como família, honestidade e honra.

Militares entrevistados pela Revista Sociedade Militar em Copacabana, na passeata pelo reajuste de salários, manifestaram enorme decepção com administração do Partido dos Trabalhadores, marcada por escândalos como Mensalão e Cachoeira. "Pensávamos que seria um governo de um homem do povo para o povo, mas tudo indica que se transformou no governo dos escândalos e favorecimentos ilícitos", disse um dos militares.

"No Brasil a família esta ruindo, no Rio a criminalidade só está sendo transferida para a Baixada e Niterói e a política de pão e circo só aumenta a cada dia... nos próximos anos vai ser só festa, e a roubalheira continua". Diz outro militar, reformado.

Os militares das Forças Armadas somam mais de 600.000 entre os que estão em atividade e os da reserva. Somados com seus dependentes e círculos de influência esse quantitativo pode passar de 5 milhões de pessoas. Um número que definitivamente pode mudar os rumos de qualquer eleição.

Ainda que alguns pensem em criar um novo partido, para as próximas eleições a maioria parece ja estar se articulando para se candidatar dentro de legendas ja existentes, quase todos optam por partidos de direita. 

Militares estaduais também estão muito insatisfeitos com o governo federal, que até hoje não facilitou para que as negociações sobre a PEC 300 prosseguissem. Na passeata em Copacabana verificou-se a presença de lideranças dos policiais e bombeiros do Rio de Janeiro, e isso acena para uma possível união de militares federais e estaduais.  Se isso se concretizar e chegar às urnas certamente será um problema a mais para os políticos vermelhos.

Militares das Forças Armadas e auxiliares, comumente, são homens de conduta ilibada e bem relacionados, é freqüente assumirem cargos populares, como síndicos em seus edifícios, diáconos em igrejas católicas e evangélicas, pastores e líderes comunitários. Mencionamos ainda os milhares de militares reformados que atuam como professores em escolas particulares e cursos pré-concursos. Homens acostumados a liderar e aptos para discursar diante de pequenos e médios grupos, eles representam realmente um perigo em potencial para o partido da situação, principalmente se, unidos, resolverem usar sua influência para um objetivo comum.

Pesquisas demonstram que as Forças Armadas são as instituições com maior credibilidade no Brasil, o que confirma que os militares brasileiros gozam de boa reputação junto à sociedade.

Nos últimos meses há freqüente divergência entre militares das Forças Armadas e o governo. Manifesto Interclubes, abaixo-assinado dos oficias e marcha virtual, são exemplos de grandes questões surgidas redentemente, sem contar o reajuste de salários que não cobriu sequer a inflação.

Essa queda de braço com os militares pode causar bastante prejuízo político, já a curtíssimo prazo. A conquista de mais de 300 mil adesões em um abaixo assinado no Senado mostra que os militares de hoje já aprenderam a se mobilizar politicamente, e podem utilizar eu status moral para conquistar a população, em sites e revistas militares abundam as solicitações para que as forças armadas assumam uma postura diante do mar de corrupção que assola o país.

Temos certeza que nas proximas eleições, junto com os Militares federais e estaduais, os cidadãos honestos e conscientes expressarão sua insatisfação com a falta de perspectivas e a corrupção generalizada que assola o Brasil. A esmagadora maioria não acredita que qualquer tipo de autoritarismo seja a solução para o Brasil, mas se parcela significativa da sociedade tem falado nisso, é um indício de que ha muitos cidadãos insatisfeitos com a forma que tem sido conduzido o nosso país, e pode haver uma guinada à direita por parte do eleitorado, portanto, uma grande oportunidade para oferecer a opção de mudança. O momento é bastante oportuno.

Algumas pessoas parecem estar assustadas porque uma parcela da população resolveu se mobilizar legalmente contra o partido que quer se eternizar no poder, veja abaixo. Foram centenas de twitters e postagens desse tipo em blogs. Eles forçam a barra na interpretação e dizem que os militares pretendem dar dar um golpe!


Brazilian-Holi festivity at Liberty Square. The author's send-off at Liberty, as he headed back to Brazil.

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The writer's going-away party at Liberty Square