Salvador 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0vFIkuDSe3Q#at=70
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.