HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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28 June 2013

A quick scratch for a big itch

The ongoing protests in Brazil may appear to have come out of nowhere, but the grievances have been building for some time. Despite the co-optation Brazil`s historically strong labor and social movements into the framework of the ruling Worker`s Party, issues such as public transportation, health, education, police violence and public transportation have been kept in the public consciousness by smaller groups of activists and a growing alternative media. There are Popular Committees for the World Cup in all of the host cities that have kept the embers of discontent burning in public consciousness. The deteriorating condition of urban infrastructure and services has been exacerbated by the spending of public billions to create a heard of shiny white elephants. The World Cup was part of a larger promise of continued economic growth that would raise consumer capacity and living standards for all Brazilians. Only the first part of this promise was completed. The decision to raise bus fares on the eve of the Confederations Cup was the spark that lit a larger fire.

Brazil is an overwhelmingly urban country that has a fascination with the car. This is a bad combination. One of the federal government’s principal development strategies has been to stimulate the automobile industry to the detriment of public transportation. There are no rail networks connecting any major cities in Brazil. The Metro systems of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have a combined length of 120.4 km that have to service more than 30 million people. The city buses are dangerous, expensive, and uncomfortable and are the only mobility option for those who live outside of city centers. The increase in fares that set off the larger protests throughout the country have to do with issues of urban governance, corruption, collusion, incompetence in urban management and the fundamentals of the Brazilian democratic system. When people take to the streets to voice their grievances it is a sign that they have exhausted their democratic channels. The violent police reaction to these protests signals a series of other problems with Brazilian democracy.

The Brazilian president has tried to calm nerves by announcing a series of “reforms”. Among these are a R$25 billion urban mobility proposal and a willingness to meet with social movements. The announcement of these measures as “new” is an indication of their previous absence. Wasn’t urban mobility at the very core of the World Cup and Olympic spending? Weren’t these events supposed to open paths of social inclusion for all Brazilians? Clearly the president’s move in this direction is welcome, but tells us that the opportunity to use the World Cup and Olympics to attend to the basic infrastructure needs of Brazilian cities has been wasted. It is a tacit acknowledgement that the government has failed to communicate with its nominal base and is now scrambling to explain why. With the slowing of Brazilian economic growth and the twilight of an economic model based on unbridled consumption, the lost opportunities of the last decade are coming into sharper focus. 

23 June 2013

A Calm Between Storms

I took the header photo at the São Cristóvão metro station in between waves of assaults by the military police on peaceful protesters. Those familiar with Rio’s geo-political scenario will probably get the implication. C.V. stands for Comando Vermelho, Rio’s largest drug trafficking faction. So far, they’ve been quiet, as have the P.C.C. in São Paulo. It is good to remember that earlier this year there was a massive, diffuse and deadly conflict in São Paulo between various police factions and the P.C.C. The C.V. has lost much of its most valuable territory in Rio’s zona sul with the UPPs. The majority of Rio’s western suburbs are under the control of milicias. It is impossible to know what kind of agreements have been made between the powers that be and those that sometimes are, but if, for some reason, the drug factions or milicias want to break the status quo as much as those they sell drugs to…

It has become clear that the protests were infiltrated from the very beginning by police, right wing loonies and paid vandals. In all the looting and vandalism that happened on Thursday night in Rio, the police only managed 6 arrests. If they had any interest at all in stopping it, they could have done so quite easily. The systematic attempts to de-legitimate peaceful, democratic protests by those in power and the fringe elements that want to push Brazil back into the 17th century are supported by the very same people that held power way back then! Chega. Como dizen los hermanos, “Que se vayan todos”.

The city government has been criminally negligent in the handling of these protests. None of the people I talked to during or after saw any sign of emergency first aid services. There was a group of young doctors and medical students who volunteered, but that was it. The government knew very well what it was going to do and to whom. Paes and Cabral willingly endangered the health and safety of citizens without providing any kind of service for when their pre-meditated violence actually worked out in practice. This is as reprehensible as it is incomprehensible and I would very much like to hear the opinion of the Pope on this subject, as we prepare to receive his millions of minions in July.

The news from Brazil is big everywhere in the world with the exception of the United States. Uncle Sam is again too busy staring at his bellybutton. The Obama Administration appears to be snowed-in (ahem) by a mound of neo-liberal snarky powder. Hope went to Nope and then Dope too quickly.

The protests in Brazil are not static, nor are they diminishing. Today saw more violent clashes outside of stadiums and in city centers. The number one goal of this movement, rebellion, collective shout, occupation, bananada – should be to rip out the putrid insides of the Brazilian political and economic systems and replace them with something new. This, of course, is the work of decades. Unfortunately, in Dilma’s wobbling, cold and hollow speech on Friday night, she gave no indication that she has any intention of moving in this direction. The lack of viable alternatives and the increasing presence of neo-Nazis and other loonies may convince people to stop their nascent militancy.

In the blah, blah, blah response of Brazil’s politicians there has been almost no mention of police violence. During his press conference, Rio’s mayor began listing what had been vandalized in the center of the city yet never mentioned the 80+ that had to be taken to the hospital as city hall was “defended”. These barbarities and barbarians stand in stark contrast to the dignified, necessary, peaceful, tasteful, and orderly expression of civil and human rights exercised by the overwhelming majority of protesters.

The World Cup will happen in Brazil. It is surprising that there have not been many calls for FIFA and their partners to pay taxes on profits made in Brazil. In London, so many people boycotted the Olympic sponsors once they discovered that they were tax exempt, that McDonald’s and Cocaine-Cola agreed to pay up. This hit the sponsors in the only place it hurts.

For more info, check the Media link above and follow @geostadia.


21 June 2013

Chega de Bullying

The lines to buy Metro tickets were impossibly long. It was not, I thought, an accident that the increased demand for public transportation to get to Rio`s biggest protest in a generation had not been anticipated. The unusual presence of Military Police at the station entrances gave an unmasked vision of the hooded cowards that would be waiting a few hours hence. I walked towards downtown, eventually entering the metro in Catete.

My fellow passengers were dressed for a walk in the park, not a military confrontation. They carried poster-sized banners, handbags, cell phones. One of the better posters read “Se Pelé é Rei, eu sou jacobino” (If Pelé is King, then I´m a Jacobian). Coming from the zona sul, the attitude was light, festive, but different from Carnaval. There were small groups of friends, couples and individuals – mostly in their late teens, twenties and thirties heading to Candelaria to start the long march to the Prefeitura.

A carnaval-style sound car led the way, with chants blasting over the throbbing mass. This gave the procession a familiar air, but there was no dancing, no gyrating and skimpily clad women to ogle. The sound car moved slowly as a human tide rose behind it.

Several political parties (or unions) had their banners out: UNE, CTB, AMES, PSB, PSTU, ANEL. Compared to the march of 100,000 on Monday, this showed a jockeying for position among vested political interests, exactly what the majority of the protesters don`t want. Later, I heard that the CUT and PSTU groups had their banners shredded. The ANEL banner was prescient (At least on the night):  “Isso aqui vai virar a Turquia” (This here will become Turkey).

In the middle of a crowd it is impossible to determine its dimensions. In order to get some perspective, I ran forward to overpass that links the Prefeitura building with the Cidade Nova metro. I arrived to find the metro access doors closed. 150 people, journalists and photographers, PM and Metro security were inside. 5 minutes later the journalists were gone.  

Looking back towards Candelaria, some 3km distant, a human wave rolled. Directly below me, the vanguard had arrived and was dancing underneath the overpass. The Maraca é Nosso flag whipped through the air as the songs and rhythms from the x-Maracanã made protesters jump and chant as if they were watching a game unfold.  Hundreds had pushed forward towards the front of the Prefeitura building (aka Piranhão, or big brothel). The mass of the protest was still coming but had slowed. Fireworks. Bap bap bap, boom. Cheers. Military helicopters swooped. Jeers.

Bap, bap, bap, Boom. Cheers. Elderly people huffed up the stairs to get into the metro. Security told them it was impossible. Como pode? We heard that BOPE was going to enter the station. Bap bap, Boom. Cheers. Journalists climbed up for a better angle. The stairs were crowded in order to see the impure spectacle. Below, the growing chorus  bellowed stadium chants. The most popular “Não vai ter Copa! Não vai ter Copa! “

History stretched, ran here and there. 500,000? 600,000? During Carnaval, O Bobo inflates counts. There was light conversation in an atmosphere of civic solidarity and pride.

Boom. Boom. Crack crack crack. No cheers. The air filled with tear gas as people sprinted towards the oncoming hundreds of thousands. I was stuck on the stairs, with my back protected and seemingly out of the line of fire coming from city hall. Crack crack crack. More gas canisters flew into the streets, chasing those who are already running. Brave young lads picked them up and threw them back or kicked them in the canal. Someone with his face covered smashed the bus stop. I can`t decide if that is a satisfying sound.

Minutes extended as I judged a good time to run in front of the rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to get away from city hall and back towards the crowd. More gas flowed  through and we choked and coughed and spit and cried. I try not to rub my eyes, sprayed some vinegar on my mask and rode out the wave of pain. Three guys with medic coats came up and offered a spray of milk of magnesia  - a base substance to rub around the eyes. I felt horribly for these people with me on the platform. They were all overweight and scared and in the right place with a wrong government.  

The front of the crowd was chased away and in their place came the tough young guys with masks and muscles to throw things back at the PM. More bombs, more smoke, more anger, more vandalism. I decided to run for it as a rainstorm of tear gas canisters falls from the top of buildings, or helicopters, or who knows where. Blinded again, I ran towards the crowd retreating along Presidente Vargas. A small group sprinted down a side street and was confronted by shock troops. They retreatd  around a corner, but they were prepared with Molotov cocktails and bombs. One cocktail exploded in someone`s hand, catching his hair on fire. Será que valeu a pena?

Caught between two side streets where the shock troops laid down constant tear gas and percussion grenades, we were pressed from behind by the PM which had been systematically following the salvos and establishing the new front. Again, I timed a run and was again caught in a world of tear gas. We were up against the Canal do Mangue, a putrid, open sewer that would eat through a tennis shoe faster than a taser. The PM continued launching gas into the slow moving crowd. Como pode?

For an hour we were pushed back with gas and bombs and bullets. The crowd walked quicker, with small groups occasionally running to get out of the way of falling canisters. When they fell at my feet again I was blinded, but not as much as the person to my left. I wrapped my arm around him leading him forward as quickly as possible. He was helpless. I was not much better. Minutes later the torment passed and we were again walking with the masses, beating a new path to the state legislature building. The beer vendors were out. Antartica has never tasted so good.

Near the intersection of Rio Branco, it seemed that the crowd had moved on. Explosions and sirens punctuated an eerie silence. The scene was one of Holywoodian destruction. The PM was 100 yards distant. The menacing force stood shadowed by clouds of tear gas and black smoke, the red lights of their trucks making scary shadows. Dozens of people sat down in the street. My friend and I joined them. BBC Radio called me for a live interview. The number grew to two hundred people, legs crossed, V signs raised.

The PM attacked from two sides: bombs, gas, bullets. Blindness, searing lungs and a full sprint into the side streets while trying to talk on the phone. I don`t know if the BBC aired the interview. I blindly jumped over broken trees, cobblestones and shredded metal while running forward, trying to explain what was going on. Bombs exploded all around and more canisters rained down. There were no machos here, just people running for safety.

I ended up on Rio Branco heading towards Praça Mauá. The vandalism was out of control, universally undertaken by young men with their faces covered. Then again in front of the Museu da Amanha, another attack from the police that sent us running yet again.

It was a long walk to the metro. PM roamed the streets like rabid dogs, guns pointed in everyone`s faces. Worse, they threw tear gas into restaurants. These are the same tactics employed in Turkey. Solidarity!

For my usual trenchant analysis you can find links to the million interviews on the media page. And if anyone heard that BBC interview, please send it along.

My banner choices of the day: Chega de Bullying; Mais Amor Menos Paes; Desigualdade social é uma violência estrutural

[p.s. I had it easy]


18 June 2013

A Revolta do Vinagre

Yesterday`s march of 100,000 cariocas occurred almost 45 years to the day as the famous march of the 100,000 against the dictatorship in 1968. That movement was led by very strong student organizations and was a brave confrontation of the status quo. A second protest a few days later resulted in 28 deaths and the jailing of hundreds of students.  The dictatorship lasted until 1985.

Throughout Brazil, hundreds of thousands are taking to the streets in what is being called A Revolta do Vinagre. The Vinegar Revolt refers to the arrest of a São Paulo journalist that was arrested for having a bottle of vinegar in his pocket. Vinegar is used to minimize the effects of tear gas. Yesterday one banner in Rio read: Liberté, egalité, fraternité, vinagraté.

The Vinegar Revolt is a reaction to the total absence of quality in public services and the deteriorating condition of institutional democracy. The protest began as a response to an increase in bus fares. The increase in bus fares has been constant and as I have been cataloguing here for years, service has not improved in the least. To the contrary, everything in Brazil is much more expensive with no increase in quality. Traffic is worse than ever, public transportation is completely inadequate. The government is spending tens of billions on mega-events guaranteeing profits for the rest of the world while ordinary people struggle to get from A to B. Their children struggle to get from A to Z.

This is a general revolt of the middle classes who are thoroughly disgusted with the country`s direction. They see incredibly high taxes going into the pockets of corrupt politicians that have never opened up any meaningful democratic channels. The Brazilian president, Dilma, is authoritarian and detached from reality. After some initial positive steps to combat corruption she stopped. Her lack of political capacity has ruined economic growth. The taxes we pay here disappear into a black box that is sometimes put on four wheels, stuffed with people and recklessly driven around cities.

Brazil is emptying its coffers to FIFA and the IOC, with little chance of them being refilled. The hosting of the various megas means that the city streets are more for tourists than locals and when locals try to take the street back, they are met with violence. It was no accident that Dilma was booed off the stage at the opening of the Confederations Cup.

Public education is terrible, so the middle class feels like they have to send their children to private school. Public health care is also terrible, so those who can pay for private care. Public culture is increasingly commoditized and branded, given over to private interests. Iconic football venues have been “transformed” into shopping malls with no public consultation. There are infinite public projects para o ingles ver: tramlines, UPP, choque de ordem, blinged-out stadiums that attend to the desperate needs of VIPs to pretend they live in Europe. The only way to carry this off is through violence, or the threat of violence, which amounts to the same thing. These are not growing pains, this is pure sacanagem.

As yesterday’s Al Jazeera piece clearly demonstrated, the Brazilian police are absolutely un-prepared to deal with peaceful demonstrators. If you need more evidence, check out http://copaemcuiaba.com.br/ and draw your own conclusions. Not only do the police receive terrible wages, they are stuck in a corrupt system that has never had any significant reform in ideology, functioning or control. Never. Not before the dictatorship and not after the return to democracy. There were several reports yesterday that indicated the police wanted to be out protesting as well, but alas, duty called. There were also confirmed reports that police were using live ammunition against protesters in Rio. It is also likely that the vandals involved in yesterday`s protest were acting on behalf of the government in order to de-legitimize the protest.

Here is a Brazilian explaining the general context very clearly:

17 June 2013

Tear gas is a magic potion

Tear gas is a magic potion. Those who launch it are weakened while those forced to inhale it are strengthened. The temporary blindness caused by the gas allows for thousands more to have their eyes opened, while police and politicians continue in their myopic pursuit of “order and progress”. The temporary dispersions provoked by tear gas bring together multitudes the next day. The bombas de efeito moral  (percussion grenades) erect a moral platform for protests while eliminating the legitimacy of the state. Pepper spray in the faces of children guarantees the pursuit of social justice in the face of criminal actions committed by those who are supposed to protect the common good.

The only way to explain what happened around the x-Maracanã yesterday is through video. This Al Jazeera piece by Gabriel Elizondo and Douglas Engle captures things nicely.


It is, of course, much worse than this as there is no way to effectively show the spectacle of consumption that was going on inside the x-Maracanã at the same time the state was violently repressing peaceful protestors. The World Cup project at the x-Maracanã has resulted in a sanitization of the urban space around the
Truth in advertising
stadium where there are no street vendors, no public bathrooms and kilometers of concrete that will create blistering heat islands that will force fans into the stadium as quickly as possible. The sterilization of urban space comes with a commensurate sterilization of social actors – when the two things do not conform, in come the police to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the smooth delivery of the event.

A few weeks ago, Valcke (VP of FIFA) was again honest in his desire that FIFA have ~clean~ stadiums for the Cup. Of course, the stadium does not end at the end of the pitch or on the bottom side of the stands but is connected to the urban and social environments. So a clean stadium means clean streets and clean access and a clean conscious. Yesterday, we saw that this process of cleansing is going to be very messy.

Speaking of Messi, Rio`s mayor gave an interview last week in which he said that if Argentina won the World Cup in Brazil, he would commit suicide. There has been a marked increase in the number of Argentina jerseys in Rio as well as a facebook movement that has more than 10,000 followers.

The Copa das Remoções on Saturday was a great success. A video link to the story (Portuguese):




14 June 2013

Inverno Brasileiro (The best new Brazilian porn)

The collective, public expression of righteous indignation in response to a twenty cent increase in bus fares has led to massive police repression in a number of Brazilian cities in the past week. On the eve of the Confederations Cup, meant to be a systems test for FIFA and a small showpiece event for Brazil, this latest revolt against public transport has caught the world`s attention. Back in March, there was a similar protest about the poor ferry service in Rio. Last year, there was a revolt against the State Transportation Secretary`s criminal negligence in the case of the Santa Teresa tram, the military occupation of the Complexo do Alemão happened after cars and buses were torched. 

As I tried to point out in my last post, there are a number of similarities between what is happening in Brazil and in Turkey, and throughout much of the world. Brazilian journalists are being attacked with rubber bullets and tear gas. Press reports are explicitly linking the #Taksim and #Gezi struggles with that of #passelivre which has expanded to six major cities.

The ongoing protests and violent responses are about much more than a fare increase or the fate of a vital public space. These are responses, in part, to the systematic erosion of public life and culture that come with the two step movement to empty public coffers into private pockets. These movements are fundamentally about a fight to maintain rights as citizens versus privileges as consumers.

Unfortunately, the governments` responses in both Turkey and Brazil are as violent as they are predictable. In both cases police have been instigators of violence and perpetrators of vandalism. In both cases, the major media outlets have walked hand in hand with the government to try to discredit these movements and to call into question the rights of citizens in a democracy to take to the streets to demand their rights. In both, journalists have been arrested, shot, silenced and hassled. Unarmed people are met with lethal force on city streets, escalating crises of governance.

One major difference is that in Istanbul, football fans have been politicized even more than usual, coming together to lead the fight. In Rio, the torcidas organizdas have been anesthetized, depoliticized and co-opted for so long that they are completely irrelevant.

Below is a press release for the Copa Popular, an initiative of the Comite Popular da Cope e das Olim-piadas that will draw attention to the forced removals undertaken in order “to prepare” the city for mega-events. Hopefully the international journalists covering FIFA’s party will pay attention to the realities beyond the air-conditioned, securitized and segmented off-worlds in which they circulate.

Residents of communities threatened with removal compete at the “Popular Cup” this Saturday
- Tournament represents a different form of protest against forced removals and the exclusion of low-income residents of Rio de Janeiro
- Official launch of Saci Pererê as the popular mascot

Far from the billion-dollar marketing campaigns and overpriced stadiums of the Confederations Cup, Brazilian and international audiences will be able to follow a different championship that is taking place this weekend. On Saturday (June 15), communities being threatened with forced removal will gather for the “Popular Cup” at 10:00am in the Port Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The initiative—organized by “Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics”—will show that soccer should be synonymous with fun and integration, as opposed to with alienation and tragedy. Men’s and women’s teams from diverse communities including Morro da Providência, Santa Marta, Salgueiro, Vila Autódromo, Indiana, and others, will compete for the Cup, while simultaneously and symbolically protesting the city’s exclusion of low-income residents in the name of huge sporting events. 

In addition to the players, the “People’s Cup” expects the presence of other residents from the communities who will both support their teams and tell personal stories facing the threat of removal. The intention of the event is to show that behind the soccer festivities of the Confederations Cup, the government is committing a series of irregularities and human rights violations. In Rio de Janeiro alone, more than 11,000 people have already lost their homes and another 29,000 are being threatened with removal, based on the false justification that this is necessary for the World Cup (2014) and the Olympics (2016). While the country spends R$ 15.8 million (about US $7.4 million) per game of the Confederation’s Cups(R$ 252.5 billion in total; US $118.4 billion), families are displaced, receiving tiny compensation which does not allow them to find adequate and dignified housing. In a city where the average square meter costs R$ 9,000 (according to a study by the Institute of Economic ResearchFIPE), forcibly displaced families are receiving sums as low as R$ 10,000 (about US $5,000), which cannot even pay for two square meters of property in Rio de Janeiro. There are also cases of families that are removed and have spent two years waiting for any reparation from the government. 

Saturday will also be the official launch of the Popular Mascot of the Cup, “Saci Pererê." If soccer is our rightful heritage, we cannot accept that companies are owners of the symbols of the sport. As such, the image of Saci, which will be on the front of the teams’ t-shirts, will adhere to the rules of “copyleft,” and can therefore be used by any people or vendors wanting to reproduce and sell the t-shirts on their own.
Information about the communities and the teams on the field can be followed in real time through the Facebook of the Committee: www.facebook.com/ComitePopularCopaRJ

 Event information: https://www.facebook.com/events/354614781332029/

The matches will be played in Quilombo da Gamboa, an area of land taken over by the population in order to construct affordable housing—well in the middle of the Port Zone, which is undergoing a process of real estate speculation with the "Porto Maravilha" project. All are invited for a true democratic celebration of the sport.

Copa Popular - Contra as Remoções
Quilombo da Gamboa - Rua da Gamboa 345, Rio de Janeiro
Starting at 10:00am

Comitê Popular da Copa e das Olimpíadas
Information for the press
Kate Steiker-Ginzberg (21) 8369-0077
Mario Campagnani (21) 9849-2025
Renato Cosentino (21) 8267-2760


  

05 June 2013

Aldeia Taksim

Having heard rumors that a new breed of white elephants had emerged in Turkey, I took to the hunt. To my surprise, I encountered with Brazilian consultants and architects who had perfected the murky techniques of pachyderm insemination.  While promising that the Brazilian variety (loxodonta brasilense) would bring infinite returns for those who financed them, these same professionals had mastered the art of depoliticizing the authoritarian use of public money to ensure private profit. These post-modern fakirs go to great lengths to disguise the wrapping of concrete and steel in high-tensile, translucent membranes (manufactured and maintained by foreign companies) as a necessary passage towards modernization and return on investment. Public space has no apparent financial returns and could be used more profitably if given to developers so it is “natural” that this happen.

Except it isn’t natural at all.

After the conference as I walked around one of the great football and stadium cities in the world, I came across the Hippodromo where 30,000 chariot fans were once slaughtered for being on the wrong side of a political debate. In the Byzantium city of the Greens and the Blues, Circus Factions could determine the fate of Empire.  1500 years later, the fans of Beşiktaş welcomed the rival fans of Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray as they organized to protest the Erdogan government in the streets around their stadium


Don`t cry for me...Brazil?
The battle for Taksim Square is as much about symbolism as it is about the functional use of public space and the future of Turkish democracy. By eliminating one of the few remaining green spaces in central Istanbul, The Turkish government wants to rebuild an Ottoman-era (read: pre-secular Turkey) military barracks that will then be transformed into a shopping mall. There was no public consultation and the NGO established to preserve the park was violently ousted by riot police. This kicked off the larger protest that has engulfed Turkey over the last week.

As the Rio state and city governments showed in the struggle for the Maracanã, the Turkish state has shown itself willing to use maximum force to eliminate peaceful, public dissent and the right to public assembly. That both police forces use tear gas manufactured in Brazil is an ironic coincidence. That these struggles have as their flash points the authoritarian appropriation of public space and culture to produce symbolic spaces dedicated to conservative and consumerist ideologies is sadly consistent with larger governmental trends in both countries.

Putting down the violent rebels in Istanbul
...using the same perfume and good sense as in Brazil. 
We can see in the recent history of the Aldeia Maracanã he same kind of struggle being played out over Taksim Square. The major difference is that in Rio, no larger protest emerged over the loss of the city`s most iconic public space. Reading the news reports of the Maracanã‘s official opening (Brazil x England) I saw no mention of the years’ long struggles to keep the stadium in public hands. As we know, once the lights are on and the ball is rolling, no one remembers the past. This is a major genetic flaw in the White Elephant.

The extent to which the state will use violence to protect the interests of private capital has been demonstrated time and time again as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup and Olympics. Istanbul, until last week, was the leading candidate for the 2020 Olympics and Turkey will host the U-20 World Cup in July of this year. The Turkish state has demonstrated quite clearly that they too are willing to intercede violently in the pursuit of conservative consumerism. We will find out in September what impression this leaves on the IOC.

As the Turks battle for their public spaces and democratic rights, Brazilians (and everyone else) should pay close attention to what is happening. Brazilians should remember that there is always a chance to raise a collective voice over what has happened in the name of the same kind of governmental regime that the Turks are fed up with. This is especially true in Rio where the mayor reacts to public criticism through personal acts of violence (he punched someone in the face after being called a piece of sh*te). The mayor`s personal actions are a perfect expression of the way he handles the government and this should be reason enough for large-scale protest.

For those with the stomach of an elephant the following shows disturbing scenes from the last week of protests in Turkey.



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