The demonstrations at the 11th Shout of the Excluded March, with this year’s theme of Brazil, Change is in our Hands, convoked society to organize, denounce and pressure the government to change the political, economic and social system of the country, which throughout history, has produced inequality and exclusion.
The march was held on September 7, commemorated as Independence Day in Brazil. Thousands of people including the unemployed, youth, children who live on the street, migrants, farm workers, indigenous peoples, senior citizens, and workers in the informal economy occupied the streets and plazas in many cities in the country.
The Shout was for a new economic model that creates jobs, distributes income, and increases public investments in social areas; a profound political reform that returns the right to decide to the people; and national policies that guarantee the interests of the Brazilian people regarding the economy, territory, resources and biodiversity.
The participants of the 11th Shout of the Excluded March and the 18th Pilgrimage of Workers included more than 60.000 pilgrims in the interior of São Paulo, Thousands of people with slogans written on enormous hands in a symbolic gesture, cried out: Stop the Corruption; Punish Those Responsible; We Want Ethics and Transparency; Enough of Indifference and Competition; We Want Agrarian Reform and Social Policies.
The creativity of the demonstrators was also present in other parts of Brazil. At the Monument to Independence in the city of São Paulo, more than 8,000 people participated in the Shout of the Excluded; in Salvador, Bahia more than 30,000; Manaus, Amazonas, 10,000; Aracaju, Sergipe, 6,000 and over 15,000 in Fortaleza, Ceará.
This year, the Brazilian people are experiencing a mixture of desperation and sadness, mainly because of disappointment that their dreams and hopes for changes in society have not occurred. Brazil is still hostage to high interest rates and an absurd external debt.
The government has doubled its international demands in face of neo-liberal reforms, becoming incapable to implement public policies like agrarian reform, and investments in health, education, transportation, housing, human rights, and environment.
Brazilian society is torn apart by unemployment, poverty, hunger, violence, corruption and impunity. This has generated the revolt and disbelief of the people regarding politicians. The message of the 11th Shout of the Excluded strives to renew the hope of people to organize and demand profound changes in the structures.
The Shout of the Excluded began in 1995 in 170 Brazilian cities and immediately after became an important annual event for pastoral and social movements. In the last years, it has taken place in more than 1,500 locations in Brazil.
Beginning in 1999, it spread to other countries in Central and Latin America and the Caribbean. On October 12, the date that commemorates the resistance and struggle of the Latin American people to the Spanish colonization, more than 23 countries will demonstrate in their Shout of the Excluded with the theme, For Work, Justice and Life.
In Aparecida, São Paulo the Continental Declaration of the Shout of the Excluded was launched. The declaration documents the reality of exclusion, but also shows how the resistance of peoples is growing.
The many faces of exclusion include the millions of small farmers in the world without access to productive land, millions of women and men without jobs or in precarious work, women who suffer profound inequalities and injustices around the world, the more than 200 million migrants who are denied their fundamental rights, indigenous people plundered and massacred throughout history; ethnic, sexual and religious minorities whose rights are violated, the youth who do not find work, do not have access to education, and are exposed to violence and drugs. These people are the faces of struggle and social resistance.
The Shout of the Excluded presented concrete proposals for change: pressure that the government sponsor a public audience regarding the external debt and an official plebiscite regarding the Free Trade Act of the America; replace compensatory policies with effective public policies; support the Referendum on Disarmament on October 23; struggle against war and the advance of imperial power; work for the removal of Brazilian troops from Haiti; and stimulate environmental polices that work for the health of our planet so that in its soil and waters, new forms of life can thrive based on the just and correct use of natural resources.
The reality of the current political crisis in the country involving corruption and lack of trust in the government was very evident in the Shout of the Excluded.
The call was to construct new forms of direct democracy, where people can not only choose their representatives, but be guaranteed the right to implement, influence, and control public policies.