Brazilians in Vancouver speak out

Luiz Lopes

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Tuesday in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in support of mass demonstrations by Brazilians all around the world. With green and yellow painted faces, in reference to their native flag, they took the streets of Vancouver holding posters saying “We don’t need a World Cup, we need a better country” and “Stop police brutality.”

It all started with a 20-cent hike on the bus fare last week in Brazil, spreading a wave of people rallying against the government across the continent-sized country. Some demonstrations in Brazil were marked by extreme violence among the protesters and the police.

The protests also question why, with failing education and poor health system, the Brazilian government should be spending billions of dollars in public funds to host social events like the World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics while leaving these others essential needs not satisfied.

Protesters say they’ve lost their patience with high taxes, low-quality public services and a government infected with corruption. “The bus fare was just the last of a series of disappointments,” said Ester Barros, one of the organizers during Tuesday’s protest outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.

The motto in Vancouver was “The giant has awoken.” The organizers started the protest after they saw an event on Facebook called “Democracy without Borders” asking Brazilians all around the globe to participate. “We saw that Vancouver wasn’t in the list yet so we’ve decided to just start a Facebook event in the city and see who would join us. A lot of people did, so we are very happy.

“Corruption is a big problem in Brazil right now.  The politicians seem do to the things for themselves and not for the people. And that’s not how a government should be. A government should be for the people, because that’s whom they are representing,” said Barros.

Regina Noppe, a Brazilian living in Vancouver for nine years, brought her six-year-old Canadian daughter to attend the protest. “I want to make sure she knows what’s going on. Explain the meaning of change and people expressing their opinion and dissatisfactions,” said Noppe.

The protests in Brazil are inspired by similar mobilizations in Turkey, Greece and other parts of the world. More than 240,000 people took to the streets of 10 Brazilian cities last Monday demanding change.

This is not the first Brazilian demonstration in Vancouver. On April 27, more than 30 people took part in a protest and marched from Robson Square to the Brazilian Embassy against the appointment of Marcos Feliciano for chairman of the Brazilian legislature’s human rights committee.

Feliciano is known for his homophobic and racist declarations during legislature sessions, interviews and on his Twitter account. Some of his tweets say things like AIDS is a “gay cancer” and Africans are “cursed since the times of Noah.”

Luiz Lopes

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