I've been instructed to post this here. This post was written on Thursday night.
I'm writing to you because I really can't think of anyone else to write, and I (and my country) really need help. Right now, on the front page, there is a post with 3000+ upvotes glorifying the protests occurring in Brazil today. I need to tell someone, anyone, who's not in this country, the real story behind what's really happening here.
I'm not sure if you have been following international news in the last two weeks, so I'll summarise the facts. About two weeks ago, the major cities in the country raised the bus and train fares to a value too high for the average Brazilian (which does not speak English, does not visit Reddit and in many cases doesn't even have Internet access) to afford. The rate of this last increase was below inflation, but the accumulated rates of increases in the last 10 to 15 years easily surpasses it.
MPL (Movimento Passe Livre, Free Fare Movement), an organization which exists since the mid-2000s, and which is not affiliated to any political party (although it does maintain communication with minority left-wing parties), started calling for protests against the fare raise. The first two protests didn't garner much mainstream media attention, but when the third protest took over Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue), which is to São Paulo what the Times Square is to New York, the newspapers started to complain, painting protesters and the MPL as vandals and hooligans which only were interested in destroying the city. They had, in fact, used public trash bins as barricades against our violent PM (Polícia Militar or Military Police, a direct heritage from our military dictatorship period), which was using tear gas bombs, pepper spray and rubber ammunition on protesters indiscriminately.
This third protest occurred on Tuesday the 18th. On Thursday, the day scheduled for the fourth protest, two of the biggest newspapers in the country printed heavily opinionated editorials calling for the PM to "take action" and not be so "soft" on the protesters, and to defend the (mostly middle-class's) right to cars to run on the city's streets. What happened, then, was a massacre: the elite squad of the PM, Tropa de Choque, transformed the fourth protest in a reign of terror. I wasn't there, but I had close friends who were, and it was scary. The Tropa de Choque officers managed to split the protest into various small groups, and established a perimeter around the area so that no one could leave. They would surround any small group they could and relentlessly throw tear gas bombs. A journalist (and acquaintance of mine) was arrested on charges of carrying VINEGAR (since it can be used to alleviate the effects of tear gas and pepper spray). Two journalists were hit with rubber ammunition squarely on their eyes, and one of them, a photographer, lost his vision (and most likely his profession). Several journalists were arrested and injured, and the mainstream media, mostly because some of their own were injured, changed their discourse.
Since the disastrous procedure of the PM couldn't be buried under the rug (mostly because the noise on social media was too high), the mainstream media gave great exposure to this, instead. Throughout the weekend, anticipation started to mount for the next protest, scheduled for this last Monday. And that's when things started to get weird.
On Monday, the biggest (so far) protest occurred. At least 65 thousand people were on the streets of São Paulo alone, although people who were there were talking about figures of 200, 300 thousand. But it wasn't the people, it was the middle/upper classes, and right-wing extremists. Militants for small left-wing parties, who hold no political power whatsoever, were openly harassed by "protesters". The protest agenda was shifted right, mostly dropping the bus fare complaint to instead focus on "corruption" (which, in Brazil, is a right-wing demand, since the party holding the power is center-leftist), "high taxes", the "exploitation of the middle-class", the excessive public spending for next year's World Cup etc. The MPL and its demands were still present, but they were silenced by the elitists' demands. The newspapers suddenly stared glorifying the protests, and in the social networks memes like "O gigante acodou (the giant has awakened)" started popping up, implying there has been no social justice movement in Brazil before, which is a rampant lie - I can attest to that, since I am part of left-wing and feminist movements myself.
On Tuesday, there was another protest. This time, people destroyed the entrance to the City Hall in São Paulo. What's weird is that MPL, which called for the protest, scheduled the date and set the rendezvous point, did not go the City Hall's way. The rendezvous point was close to the City Hall, but the route MPL set for the protest was exactly opposite of the City Hall, and still a rather large group of people with national flags (which, in Brazil, is usually a sign of far-right fascist movements) and anti-taxes banners went that way. The PM, which was so ready to intervene before, stood and watched as the same people who destroyed the City Hall set a TV station van on fire on the middle of the street, according to people I know personally and who were there. Less trustworthy, but trustworthy (to me) nonetheless, rumours circulated on the social networks implying the state governor (which holds authority over the PM) had instructed the police -not to act- on any circumstances. The right-wing agenda instead continued being broadcast by the mainstream media, specially regarding the "impeachment" (lawful deposition, according to our Constitution) of the legally elected president - who is herself hated by the middle and upper classes, and adored by the lower classes. The nationalism on this protest was so thick you could smell it, as the fascism of it. On Wednesday, São Paulo's mayor and the state governor (who are from rival political parties) went on TV together to announce the bus fare increased had been cancelled. The MPL scheduled another protest today, to celebrate the decision, but is has been another disaster.
This time, there was confront between the protester themselves. Left-wing protesters have been harassed. There are reports of anti-racism, feminist and anti-homophobia activists being beaten by right-wing protesters. Fascist skinheads have been spotted on the general surroundings of the protests, looking for victims. And the media is now reporting all the protests have been PEACEFUL, which is an absurd lie. And the social justice people, on the social networks, have been conjuring a theory that actually makes sense, regarding our recent history.
In 1964, our country has suffered a coup d'état perpetrated by the military and the establishment forces together. In the days preceding the coup, there was uprising and political instability on the country, just as today. There was a big protest, aptly named "Walk of the Family With God For Liberty", which took place a mere two weeks before the coup, and on which about half a million middle and upper class people took the streets to protest against the center-left president João Goulart. What I mean is, we have been there, we know the feeling in the air, and the anger of the middle class against a president who has some pretty left wing policies is boiling and ready to explode.
From what I've seen, today's protest was very much akin to this 1964's Walk. The MPL's protests have been hijacked by the right, and since the left won't leave the streets to them, conflicts and confrontations are sure to take place. And, what's more dangerous, the police is now ignoring it, waiting for the popular clamor to call them back into action, so they can take over, possibly together with the military. There are rumours of a state of siege being prepared on the government dark corners.
I'm very worried, because these people who have "awakened" and who are now on the streets are people who look back to a time when they had unlimited and unchecked privileged, and who are so upset because that privilege has been slowly being taken away from them. They are people who hates on minorities. And, mostly worrying, they have the full cooperation of the mainstream media, who had already shifted the protests' focus away from the bus fare and towards their demands since Monday.
Their discourse is becoming hegemonic, and if that happens, it spells a very dark future for my country. And that is happening on the mainstream media on Brazil, and now, as I see, on Reddit too.
I'm sorry for my bad English and for wasting you time with our 3rd world problems, but again, this is one of the only places I think I could be heard on Reddit.
Thanks in advance.