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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More

Ex-Guatemalan Drug Kingpin Pleads Guilty to US Charges

Waldemar Lorenzana Lima, linked by authorities to Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import more than 450 kilograms of Colombian cocaine into US
More

Landmark Brazil Poll Brings Good News for Rousseff

Facing tough road to re-election, Rousseff has seen sharp recovery in approval ratings, voter support
More

Video Mexico Opens Energy Sector, but Investors May Hesitate

Mexican President Pena Nieto has signed into law changes designed to open it to private investment, though foreign companies are taking cautious approach
More

Video Obama Expected to Take Executive Action on Undocumented Immigrants

Congress has adjourned for a five-week recess without boosting federal funds to house and process child migrants - or reforming US immigration law
More