Greenpeace Australia Pacific BLOG

Brazil: “The people finally woke up – and will no longer turn back to sleep”

Posted on June 19, 2013 by Alex Harris

Bernardo Camara

Thousands in Brazil have taken to the streets. Online, people are sharing emotions, images and memories of a day that has already become history in the country.

“The people finally woke up” – and will no longer turn back to sleep.

This phrase heard from the four corners of Brazil on Monday was the summary of what was seen everywhere. It was past midnight and thousands of people remained in the streets – and on social networks – sharing emotions, images and memories of a day that has already become history in the country.

Never a Monday was so awaited by so many people. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred thousand… The exact number does not matter anymore. The Brazilians occupied the streets as they haven’t done since long time ago. And shouted clear and loud what was stuck in their throat.

It was not only because of the 20 cent increase in the public transport fares. After the last protests were violently suppressed by police forces, the manifestations have become something much bigger. Brazilians left their homes to remind the world that the street is the most legitimate space of democracy.

São Paulo, the biggest city in South America, is known by “the city that never stops” – except in traffic jams. This time the millions of automobiles gave room for thousands of people. Others in big cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Salvador, Maceio, Belém and Rio Branco have also joined the protests.

The protests spread nationwide, like gunpowder. But real gunpowder was hardly seen. What exploded on the asphalt this time was the optimism, creativity, good humour and the feeling that something must change. Democracy, education, health care, an end to corruption, the right to peaceful protest, accessible public transportation. It was all there.

As an organization that has the peaceful protest in its DNA, Greenpeace supports, applauds and is proud to have taken part in one of the most beautiful moments in the recent history of Brazil. We will keep calling for cities thought for its people, with mobility for all. Let the winds of change continue to blow through the country. Each of us, as citizens, need to take ownership of this learning: policy is also made by our own hands.

What was born because of a feeling of indignation by the increase in public transport fares cannot go unanswered. Governments need to offer a solution to the issue of the high cost of public transport.

After decades and decades encouraging the car industry, it is time to rethink this wasteful model and call for massive investments in public transport. The problem of urban mobility in the major Brazilian cities can no longer be ignored. The main way to solve it is an affordable, accessible and efficient public transportation.

Blog post by: Alex Harris
Alex Harris is the Communications Officer at Greenpeace Australia Pacific. She was also one of 30 people who were imprisoned in Russia at the end of 2013 following a peaceful protest against Arctic drilling.
All blogposts by Alex Harris
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