Sarasota demonstration to support mass protests in Brazil
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06/28/13 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

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This month hundreds of demonstrations across Brazil have attracted more than a million people protesting prices, government corruption and waste.

On Monday July 1 Brazilian ex-pats are holding their own demonstration in Sarasota to support the protesters and strikers.

It's at 6 p.m. at the corner of U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Ave.

We interviewed one of the organizers, Mica Martinelli.

"The protests starting in Brazil after one more public transit fare increase. The cost of public transportation in large cities in Brazil like Rio or San Paulo is proportionally higher than in New York or Paris and the service delivered is very bad. The police cracked down violently on protest demonstrations and then the protests grew to over 400 cities all over Brazil. They started on June 13th and didn't stop up to the present day. Almost all the protest had a violent police response. They fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters and then finally, after seven days, President Dilma Rousseff pushed governors and mayors to cancel the fare increases, but by then protesters were targeting a bunch of other issues that make Brazil an incredibly unjust country. There is gigantic income debt between most of it's population and a small elite that controls the country and the government through money and corruption. Soon, most of the demands focused on ending political corruption that is huge in Brazil. For example, many politicians have been investigated and sentenced from 2-40 years in prison, but none are actually behind bars yet and legal appeals continue year after year. Neither do we see the money they subtracted from public funds returned. So, over 220 million people went to the streets and it seems to have had an impact in the senate. Many projects stuffed in drawers for years were voted on with unprecedented urgency. Other important voting is taking place at an accelerated pace, meaning the protests have been successful."

Part of the protests are there are these major international sporting events that are coming to Brazil. Tell us about the World Cup and the Olympics and the spending on that. Has it taken away from social spending?

"Definitely. The thing is, besides political corruption, a key issue is that very big amounts have been spent in airports and soccer stadiums for the soccer World Cup in 2014. I think that if you plan to go, take a look at the news in Brazil. And if you still want to go, you need to show your awareness of the amount you're going to be spending at the World Cup with donations to serious NGO's that have programs to improve the quality of life for so many Brazilians that live below the poverty level.Brazilians are also very enraged that so much is being spent with these events when we need so many things urgently."

Are you satisfied with the response by President Rousseff?

"I think, for the most part, what I feel so far is that she's just gaining time. A lot of things that could be done already she is trying to postpone. Nevertheless, I think we have to wait a little more to see what she is really going to be doing. She proposed a five-point pact so that people would stop going to the streets and that's from fighting corruption to making transportation better and health and education, things that are really important and that Brazil needs. The problem is that it sounds like a lot of just gaining time. We already have laws for people not to steal, for politicians not to steal and the problem is that they are not put in to action.What it seems like to me so far is that she is just trying to gain time and get the protests to calm down."

And you're helping to organize a demonstration in Sarasota to support the workers and the people on strike and the people protesting in Brazil. Tell us about where that demonstration is, when it will be, and how people can find out more.

"For Brazilians who live in Sarasota and the Tampa Bay area, we will demonstrate on July 1st at 6 p.m.at the corner of US41 and Gulfstream in support of protests that are happening in Brazil. It will be very peaceful demonstration. We invite not only Brazilians, but all to come out and participate. I think it's important to understand that a lot of the issues being fought for in the streets of Brazil are common to many people in different parts of the world. This present time of globalization doesn't only mean international exchange of products, but also of ideas and support. We get inspired by movements that happen elsewhere, like in the Middle East, even though they all aren't necessarily going in the right direction. The thing is, what people are fighting for is their rights and against repression. One movement supports the other. It's important that us here show that we are aware and that we are helping to make the U.S. aware. So, our demonstration on July 1st is for everyone."



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