Brazilians Don’t Want Solidarity from their Rulers. They Want Action

Protest in the streets of BrazilSalvador da Bahia. The city is burning. Campo Grande, Rótula do Abacaxi, Iguatemi. Everywhere people are getting excited. People want to prevent the soccer teams of Italy and Brazil to get to the stadium for the Confederation Cup’s game today.

But Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff made crystal clear that there will be no tolerance for the rioters. The game will go on. We all hope that there will be no confrontation but nobody knows.

There have been some statements from some police officers of the Elite troop that “we have to break (quebrar o pau, descer a madeira) the protesters.”

The video showing that has even been posted on YouTube:

The images should be sent worldwide to show that the tension is up in the sky in Salvador de Bahia.

We have seen it before last year with the strike of the military police. The situation is out of control.

Welcome to the new Brazil, the country which is growing, as it has been sold to the local and international community.

The problem is that while the country has indeed been growing and fast, large part of the Brazilian population has not been benefited.

The rich have become richer while the poor have improved their wealth. However the gap has widened a lot.

The middle class has been squeezed by an increase in prices, which makes Brazil a country with living costs of Europe or USA but incomes of developing countries.

The minimum wage (678 reais) in Brazil is about US$ 300. But costs for a family of 4 people (husband, wife and two kids who go to private school and rent an apartment) is of more than 5000 reais (US$ 2500).

How do you come up with this number? Simple. The rent for a two-bedroom apartment is about 1400 reais in Barra, Salvador. The school for the kids is at least 800 reais each per month. Then the food, which costs approximately 300 reais per week (1200 per month). The sum is 1400+1600+1200=4200 reais plus some little things  make up for 2000 per month.

How do you go about that? You have two jobs, your wife too. You work long hours, never see the kids during the week. You leave them with nannies and grandparents. Still you are cash-strapped.

And then the crisis finally came to Brazil, prices soared and people got fed up. Why? Because you see government throwing billions of dollars to organize sport events which will not really benefit the people. Yes the tourism will benefit, but not probably as much as expected.

Shop sales will increase. But school, health and public services will continue to go from bad to worse.

The Brazilian people are fed up. They want this vicious circle to be stopped.

The Workers Party, the PT, took control to change things. We were all excited. But then, after 10 years, we work like dogs and barely get to the end of the month.

And people are also fed up with the statements made by politicians and from the president herself when they say: “We express our solidarity to the protesters.” What? People are asking. We protest against you and you express solidarity to us? Are you pulling our leg?

Today the game will be played. And probably Brazil will win. But Brazil will lose too. Why? Because a country that does not take care of its people clamoring against the status quo is losing the game with its own people.

Max Bono is an investigative journalist traveling in Brazil.  You can contact him at


  • Show Comments (3)

  • ased

    So nice to be here)) Thanks for such useful article! Well

  • João da Silva

    Ric M

    Great comments. I wonder if PRC & Mother England managed to get their ROI after staging the Olympics. As far as I know, Montreal took almost 30 years to pay back the money loaned by the banks.

    Oh, you forgot another thing: “The Cup” in 2014. Did the lives of the citizens of S.A. improve since 2010???

  • Rick M

    As a frequent visitor to Rio, I was there the day it was awarded the 2016 Olympics, which had been declared a holiday beforehand. I attended the massive viewing party and pre planned celebration in Copacabana where they had a gigantic screen set up on the beach, right across from the Copacabana Palace. The plan was to enable the thousands who attended to witness firsthand, the announcement being made as to who was being awarded the 2016 Olympics. (Never found out what Plan B was supposed to have been in the event Rio wasn’t awarded the Olympics. A national day of mourning maybe?). When the announcement was made that it was Rio and the confetti started raining down as bedlam broke out, I looked around and noticed that the very people who were there cheering and celebrating, were the ones who would least benefit by Rio hosting the 2016 Olympics. It was a Friday and there was no doubt in my mind that all of the people who would in fact benefit from the Olympics (politicians, businessmen, merchants, speculators and the sort), were already safely tucked away in Buzios, Cabo Frio or Angras, enjoying the 3 day weekend and toasting one another, while contemplating their good fortune. While the most that those who were there in attendance could hope for, was a temporary job (at minimum or near minimum wage), for however long the Olympics lasted.

    During dinner in Ipanema that evening with some Brasilian friends I mentioned this and they accused me of being very negative and cynical. And then went on to talk about what a great event the Olympics was going to be for both Rio and Brasil. These were the same friends who a week earlier couldn’t comprehend why such large crowds in Chicago (which was also one of the finalist cities for the 2016 Olympics), were protesting against Chicago being awarded the Olympics. Despite my efforts to explain to them that many people in Chicago felt that the money would be better spent on education, health care, public transportation and services, rather than on stadiums, arenas and housing for Olympic athletes. Especially when all of the afore mentioned needs were already in such bad shape, due to a supposed lack of funds. And also explained to them that historically, Chicago was the most corrupt city in the United States (similar to Rio), and that people didn’t trust the politicians when they claimed that revenues derived from the Olympic games would be used to fund all of the above needs. When one of them said that she couldn’t wait for me to see what a great event the Olympics would be for Rio and Brasil, I then told her that I couldn’t wait until after the Olympics was over, so that her and everyone else in Rio and throughout Brazil, who felt that that way, could better understand why so many people in Chicago were protesting against hosting the Olympics.

    So congratulations, Brasil. It looks like you finally woke the hell up, a lot sooner than I thought you would. Maybe now a lot more of us cynical Gringos will take you more seriously when you talk about Brasil finally entering the first world.

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