Brazil – Milleniun Manifest

Brazil – Milleniun Manifest

Far beyond sheep and wolves

Sevendots’ Brazilian partners helping to understand what is happening in Brazil

Surprisingly, just when Brazil is perceived as one of the most promising economies, solving historical social problems, receiving huge foreign investments and hosting major international sporting events (including football/soccer, the national passion), hundreds of thousands of people go to the streets all over the country to protest.

The world is watching astonishing scenes of vandalism and violence through mainstream news channels, starring a population that has a reputation for being peaceful.

Let’s try to put it in local context.

First of all it is important to clarify that the news reports are focusing on the wild side. More than a million people went to the streets, but less than a hundred of them were vandals – most of them common criminals taking advantage of the situation, although there were also some “infiltrated” people interested in creating conflicts.

Even Gandhi would be proud of the Brazilians behaviour on the streets.  As is quite normal in this country, marches turn into festive events where people celebrate with their children the “political awakening”,

in a joyous atmosphere, to the despair of the initial organisers of the movement who wanted a little more sobriety.

The initial protest was organised by MPL – Movimento Passe Livre (Free Pass Movement), a group that stands for “free public transport” and have tried to revoke of a recent increase in public transport fares.

The first marches were not immediately supported by people, mainly due to the fact that there were some small acts of vandalism.  However, use of extreme violence by authorities at one of the marches held in São Paulo, shooting young peaceful protesters and students with rubber bullets and stun grenades, revolted the society.

This was the trigger for a unique reaction, difficult to understand because it is probably the first of its kind in history and people went to the street just to say “that’s enough”.

Although the organisers were still claiming for the reduction of public transport fares, hundreds of thousands of new protesters joined the marches alerted by social networks, with different goals and no common specific request.

They were asking for respect and attention from federal government.

Flags of political parties were banned.

Posters and banners were asking for the end of police violence against protesters, the punishment of corrupt politicians, the removal of a deputy – president of the human rights commission – seen as homophobic and racist, the resignation of Senate President accused of various crimes, among others recent dissatisfactions that the people came silently swallowing until that moment.

This is not a revolutionary movement. It is a peaceful and spontaneous manifestation of unknown nature, with no single leadership.  Brazilian politicians still do not know how to handle it.

Best way to understand it is to look at social trends. CIFS – Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies lists “democratisation” as one of the 14 most important megatrends that are ruling the world.

Sevendots local partners highlighted in 2011 what they see as the most important social trend of the decade: the rejection of institutional authorities.

CIFS megatrend explains the social network relevance for Brazilian events. Sevendots social trend explains the spontaneity of the participation and the diversity of claims.

If Brazilian politicians were aware of these trends, they could have been more careful in conducting important recent decisions, or at least in their communication.

Now they have the challenge of gathering this political energy and converting it into effective participatory governance.  This is a concrete opportunity for Brazil to strengthen its democracy and ask for government’s accountability.

The Brazilians are learning to express their dissatisfaction and expectations, but are also offering us the opportunity to learn about the behavior of future citizens.

By Paulo Carramenha, Mauricio Colonno and Flavio Ferrari


(note: as the primary request of the MPL group was attended they went home and there is nobody right now entitled to set the meeting points for manifestation – protests will reduce its intensity for a while giving time to government to find a good speech to the situation)

Feel the atmosphere:Brazil – protests – Jun 2013