Brazil comes to Zuccotti Park

New York's Zuccotti Park, which three weeks ago was filled with Turkish protesters in solidarity with the Istanbul uprising, today filled up with Brazilians gathering in support of the protests that have for days been shaking São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and other cities. One banner reflected the multi-issue scope of the protests: "PRES. ROUSSEFF: HANDS OFF PROTESTERS! TAX THE RICH, BUILD SCHOOLS! BRAZILIAN TROOPS OUT OF HAITI!" Many wore matching t-shirts reading "Não é só por 20 centavos" (It isn't just 20 cents)—a popular slogan of the movement, referring to the transit fare hikes that sparked the protest wave. Protesters are demanding an investigation into corruption around the $15 billion that has been spent in preparation for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, with new stadiums going up in several cities and poor residents being evicted to make way for them. (See The Guardian, June 18) New York area Brazilians plan to return to Zuccotti tomorrow and march on the United Nations on Tuesday June 25. The gathering drew some support from Occupy Wall Street activists; one sported a sign reading: "BRAZIL, TURKEY, GREECE—IT'S YOUR TURN, AMERICA!" The New York protests are being coordinated through the Facebook page Democracia não tem Fronteiras/ Democracy without Borders.  

A protester by the name of Oliveira from Minas Gerais said, "When New Yorkers hear 'Brazil,' they think about Carnival and beautiful women. They don't know about the poverty and corruption." He noted that the one fatality in the protests so far came when a wealthy motorist in an SUV intentionally ploughed into the crowd at Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, on June 20. (See video at LiveLeak) At least 12 were injured in the car attack. Brazil's reports that the driver has been arrested.