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

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More

Raul Castro Steps Out of Brother's Shadow With US Deal

Cuban president scores diplomatic triumph, surge in support with this week's deal that ends decades of hostility with United States
More

US Report: Immigration Officials' Apprehensions Rose in 2014

Apprehensions of Mexicans fall 14 percent; those of individuals from other countries, predominantly in Central America, rise 68 percent
More

Strife, Mutual Interests Mark Cuba-US Ties

Island nation was once a vacation destination for Americans; over years, many Cubans sought refuge across the Florida Straits
More

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change
More