Protests have been sweeping throughout Brazil recently with movements in almost every major city. What started as small protests against bus fares going up by R$0.20 cents has turned into a revolution against the country’s high crime rates, high costs of living and billion dollar expenses of hosting the World Cup in 2014. Demonstrators in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Brasilia, and even here in Fortaleza have come out in the tens of thousands to march their way across city streets and to the steps of the Brazilian Congress. While some images have surfaced showing violence in cities like São Paulo, in Fortaleza the protests have been peaceful and not nearly as large.
Fortaleza is the first city to complete the rebuilding of a new stadium, Castelão, for the 2014 World Cup. The stadium was originally built in the late 60s and work began in 2011 to rebuild it at an estimated cost of R$ 520 million. Multiply that by two and you’ve got the number in US dollars. Meanwhile in the city roads are left unrepaired, buildings are tagged in graffiti and without maintenance, the wealth gap is shockingly obvious with children begging for money in the streets, and crime rates go up.
Last week Fortaleza held it’s own protest, dubbed Fortaleza Apavorada, that brought out thousands of people to publicize their wishes to stop the violence in the city. Symbolized by a red hand, the protest was organized by four ordinary women with no political aims. The event was created on Facebook and was repeatedly blocked and deleted by an unknown source. I went with my host family and got to experience the incredible demonstration of peace and unity. We walked from one end of the Beira Mar, the main street by the ocean, to the other holding signs and chanting phrases that called for the government to do something to end the violence.It was an unbelievable experience and I wish with highest hope that peace will come to this country.
Note: These photos were not taken by me, but by Brazilian photographer Pedro Vidal. View more here. My host family advised me not to bring my camera just in case of any theft. I got cell phone pictures but Pedro’s are much prettier. 🙂