Millions of middle-class Brazilians are taking to the streets in Brazil’s biggest cities. They began protesting in Sao Paulo over a ten-cent increase in bus fares. Protests spread to other cities and over many issues such as poor public service and crime.
Many are protesting spending billions of dollars for the Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. They also site inefficient public services, lagging education, public safety, corrupt officials, miserable traffic conditions and poor health care.
The Brazilian government seems at a loss over how to deal with the protestors and their growing list of demands. The new slogan by the protestors is “The Giant has awakened.”
President Dilma Rousseff says she supports the right to protest. However she has not offered new ideas on what to do. The president is now meeting with the former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the mayor of Sao Paulo. They are trying to do something before the visit next month of the new Pope.
The protests, which began in Sao Paulo, spread to other cities after a police crackdown on demonstrators. They have become a cry of dismay from a newly expanded middle class. People now expect more for their taxes and from the democratically elected left-of-center government.
Observers say the government does not understand how deeply the middle-class feels its needs have been ignored. An expert said, “As Brazil has gotten richer, the political demands begin to change. They start asking for something else, for improved public services.”
The protests were expected to quiet down. However, it may be heating up. Brazil’s economy, which was the envy of the world two years ago, is now heading south. Discontent with the government is growing rapidly.
The coming week will be important in seeing if the government can fashion a response to the unrest,