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6 extraordinary Brazilian protesters’ victories

July 3, 2013 One Comment

The massive street protests that mobilized a few million Brazilians are effectively changing the country’s political landscape. In the last few days, lawmakers, federal and local authorities were practically obliged to launch emergency initiatives to calm the masses. They introduced substantial changes in several areas, from transportation, education, health and public administration to gay rights. Keep reading for some of the protesters’ main victories:

society  6 extraordinary Brazilian protesters victories

Protest in Ribeirão Preto, one of the biggest and richest cities in the state of São Paulo, on June 20th. Photo by Semilla Luz/Flickr.

1 – Reduction of transportation fares- The most obvious victory is related to the protesters’ initial motivation – to overthrow the R$ 0.20 bus fare raise in the city of São Paulo. After six protests, mayor Fernando Haddad and São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin, of opposing parties, agreed to reduce bus, subway and train fares, keeping them in the previous level of R$ 3. Haddad also halted the process to select and hire companies that will provide bus services in the next 15 years. In the city of Rio de Janeiro, the protests also led to the reduction of local bus fares to R$ 2.75 – once again, a R$ 0.20 raise introduced early in June had to me discarded. At least 50 other cities reduced bus fares due to protests, including state capitals Manaus, Curitiba, Goiânia, Porto Alegre, Recife and Natal. Also, two state capitals, Goiás and Porto Alegre, will exempt students from transportation fares. Finally, the Ministry of Transportation decided on June 27th to suspend federal toll gate and interstate and international bus fare raises that were planned for July. Geraldo Alckmin, governor of São Paulo, made a similar decision concerning state tolls.

2 – Oil royalties used to invest in health and education - One of the recurrent targets of the protesters is the massive investments required for the country to host the 2014 World Cup – considered exceedingly high given the meager budgets dedicated to some essentials, such as schools and hospitals.  On June 26th, the Brazilian Congress approved a bill determining that 75% of the oil exploration royalties be invested in education and 25% in health projects. It still has to be submitted to the Senate.

3 – Restrictions to public prosecutors removed -  On June 25th, the Congress rejected PEC 37, a project that would  introduce changes to the country’s constitution that would strip prosecutors (Ministério Público) of the ability to investigate.

 4 – Political reform plebiscite – President Dilma Rousseff is pushing for a political reform plebiscite. Yesterday she asked the Congress to hold a non-binding national vote to see what Brazilians want changed. This may or not include a campaign finance reform, an end to anonymous votes by congressmen, and the adoption of district voting instead of proportional representation.

5 – Active corruption now is a hideous crime – Senate approved on June 26th a bill that toughens penalties for those convicted of giving or receiving bribes, embezzlement, requiring undue advantage and improper collection of taxes for purposes of corruption goes from two to four years. Also, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate arrest of congressman Natan Donadon, convicted in 2010 for embezzlement in Rondônia, an Amazonian state.

6 – “Gay Cure” bill withdrawn – On July 2nd, the Congress dismissed a controversial project that would allow psychiatrists to consider homosexuality a disease and to try to “straighten” gays.

What is your opinion about all these developments? Are they effectively bound to change the country’s ways – or they are a mere artifice used by the government to pacify the crowd down?

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