News / Americas

Brazil Protests Spark Concern Over World Cup, Political Stability

A man stands between bonfires lit by demonstrators as they clashed with police during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2013.
A man stands between bonfires lit by demonstrators as they clashed with police during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 20, 2013.
Brian Padden
In Brazil, anti-government demonstrations continue to grow in numbers and intensity as one million protesters took to the streets in over 80 cities, some clashing violently with police. Concern about the safety of the upcoming World Cup games is growing and the government’s options to resolve the crisis are limited.

The Brazilian government’s reversal of the transport fare hikes that sparked nationwide demonstrations has done little to appease the protesters.

While the demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, there have been incidents of violence and vandalism in some cities. In central Rio de Janeiro, 300,000 people marched and police afterwards chased looters and dispersed people crowding into surrounding areas.

The ongoing unrest is raising concerns about the political stability of the government led by President Dilma Rousseff and her Workers Party, known as the PT.  There is also growing concern about Brazil’s ability to ensure safety and security at the international sporting events it will host - the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
 
Riordan Roett is director of the Latin American Studies Program at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He says the protests are being fueled by a middle class which has grown to 40 million people, and business centers in the south of the country that resent being heavily taxed to pay for government handouts to the poor.

“There has been a sense that the people who really run the country financially - the south and southeast - are getting the short end of the stick with lousy schools, terrible transportation, terrible medical care and a growing sense that Brasilia and the PT really don’t care about Sao Paulo, the south and the southeast of the country,” Roett said.

Carl Meacham, the director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, says there is little the government can do in the short term to address the protesters’ demands.

“The difficult thing is that in any democracy change is incremental. So it’s not like the government’s going to be able to have a solution for all of these problems from one day to the next,” Meacham said.

Roett says the socialist-leaning government of President Rousseff may be unable or unwilling to cut programs for the poor to appease the middle class, and this issue will be at the center of the 2014 presidential election.

“This provides a superb opening for the opposition after twelve years of PT government to come forward and say, ‘See we told you so. They don’t know how to govern. We are the opposition, we know do know how to govern. We did govern from 1994 to 2000s,’” Roett said.

Meacham says the $26 billion the government is spending on the World Cup and the Olympics will continue to be a source of anger. He expects major demonstrations to take place during the games.

“I think it’s very possible that these protests will be sort of a - not a sideshow, but they will definitely be part of the narrative of the World Cup,” Meacham said.

Brazil's economic uncertainty is also limiting the government’s options. After nearly a decade-long economic boom, the country's economy grew less than one percent last year and the annual inflation rate has climbed to 6.5 percent.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Former El Salvador President to Await Graft Trial in Jail, Not at Home

Francisco Flores, who had been on the run until early Sept. before turning himself in, accused of misappropriating $15M in 2001 earthquake relief donations
More

US Won't Impede Venezuela's UN Security Council Bid

Washington is clearly unhappy, however, with idea of country joining the Council, which has the task of overseeing international peace and security
More

Video Dehydration Is Top Killer of Southern Arizona's Migrants

US Border Patrol's search and rescue unit launches 'blue blinking light of life program' - a series of poles strategically placed throughout desert that emit high-intensity blue light
More

US Steps Up Pressure on Guatemala Over Labor Rights

Trade representative says Obama administration will push ahead with legal action under free trade agreement to make country meet international standards
More

Video US Attempts Crackdown on Trafficking Along Southern Border

Nogales, Arizona, notoriously known as 'tunnel city,' used by traffickers to smuggle humans, narcotics into US and Border Patrol responds with new technologies
More

Video Arizona Non-Profit Helps Keep Dehydrated Migrants Alive

The Sonoran Desert, a common crossing point for illegal immigrants, is one of North America's hottest places
More