Bruno Oliveira advocates for mass population of Salvador, Bahia

Bruno Oliveira has been protesting since he was a child without fully understanding why he was even there. But he seemed to enjoy the energy of the crowd.

Oliveira remembers being present in all the yearly protests against the increases in public transportation fees since 2003.  Today he is a 28-year-old student studying law at the Universidad Federal de Bahia, Brasil (UFBA). He is still protesting against the increasing public transportation fees and conscious more than ever of his presence within the movement.

These continuous manifestations have derived from essentially the same transportation movement but with evolving objectives. “É o mesmo movimento com idais diferentes—It’s the same movement but with different ideals,” Oliveira says.  This year the movement is very unique because it was not isolated in the city of Salvador; it awoke in the entire nation.

Oliveira demonstrates the importance of  public transportation: “Nós estamos lutando por transporte público, mas também inclui a saúde, educação, e seguridade. Nós precisamos de transporte público para ter aceso a hospitales, escolas, e ter que ser segura—We are fighting for public transportation but this also includes health, education, and safety.  We need transportation to access hospitals, schools, and we need them to be safe.”

As a student, Oliveira has gained much knowledge which has formed his present vision.  He says, “Eu gosto de aprender sobre a filosofia sociologia e política, eu amo a política. Eu fui inspirado por muitos homens na historia—I like learning about sociology philosophy, and politics. I love politics. I have been inspired by many men in history.”

He admits that education in Brazil is very bad; it can be better. “Governo nao quiere pessoas que pensam—The government does not want people who think,” Oliveira said.

The majority of the people in this movement are students from the UFBA, but there are a variety of people, including unemployed, activists and anarchists.  The movement is organized horizontally, with no one leader.

However, many people think that Oliveira is the leader of the movement because of his consistent and active participation. He says, “Eu não sou, eu sou apenas o líder de minha comissão. Nós não temos uma liderança, porque isso tem criado problemas em movimentos passados​​—I am not, I am only the leader of my commission. We do not have a leadership because that has created problems in past movements.”

When asked what he thought was the best weapon for the movement, Oliveira responded, “quantidade de  pessoas” (number of people).  He explains that Passe Livre has created a new strategy that has formed a fragmented movement. They are organizing in various other neighborhoods and schools so that various demonstrations and actions occur in many places at once.  This strategy confuses the government’s authorities and decreases repression.

Oliveira is very committed to the movement because he is worried about the future.  He shares, “Meus filhos não vai ter educação boa ou saúde boa.”  He is concerned that his future children will not have a decent education or access to a healthcare system. Therefore, he will continue the work that he started as a kid—advocating for the mass population of Salvador, Bahia.


Salvador City Hall Occupation

On Monday July 22nd the Movimento Passe Livre, who is fighting for an improved transportation system in the city of Salvador in Bahia, Brazil, occupied the city hall of Salvador and have been occupying since.  The people occupying have been releasing documents to communicate updates with the outside.  The first publication states that the occupation is a measure to push the government into negotiating with the movement and to actually listen to the people.  There has been much dialogue in the city hall about the transportation system, but the movement’s demands have not been taken into consideration.  The objective is to have Salvador’s government take action and lower the transportation fares to zero. Read more

General strike in Brazil

Rui Oliveira, president of the labor union for teachers in public education in Bahia.

On Thursday July 11th Brazil was scheduled for a general strike.  This means that all public services were to be cancelled or reduced, including public transportation, banks, hospitals, and schools.

In Salvador, Bahia at 11am protestors met at a historical place of resistance named Campo Grande.  There were many people representing various struggles with flags, banners, t-shirts, huge balloons, and even buses with speakers.

Rui Oliveira is the president of the labor union for teachers in public education in Bahia named Associação dos Professores Licenciados do Brasil – Secção da Bahia (APLB-BA) and the first secretary for the national confederation.  Oliveira informed that 100,000 public school teachers of Bahia participated in the strike along with the rest of the nation.  He outlined some of the objectives of the teachers’ struggle such as a better retirement plan and a decrease in the number of working hours from 44 to 40 without a decrease in salary.

Oliveira also highlighted other demands such as the democratization of the media and a better transportation system.  He emphasized the importance of solidarity with the other “categories” of struggle to continue fighting for the “povo” or “the people” that will not stand still because the fight is not over.

After about two hours at Campo Grande, the manifestation began to make it’s way onto the streets toward Praça da Sé in the Centro Historico of the city.  Specific streets were previously closed off for the manifestation, and military police marched in front to direct the protesters.  Local police officers were also stationed at multiple points of the route.

Almost halfway through the route, many young people started marching their way to the front of the manifestation.  They wore regular clothes without logos and mostly black, some wore masks and some wore bandanas only showing their eyes.  The flags and banner that they held up were also black and carried the message:  “Tarifa Zero,” translated to “Zero Tariff”, written in white ink.  This crowd was made up of mostly young people and they carried with them a lot of energy. They chanted very creative phrases along the way, commenting on the transportation system and the government.  This was “Movimento Passe Livre.”

Lukas Volca, 18 years old, explains Passe Livre’s objectives: “We are fighting for the fare reduction for seniors, students and unemployed. Of course we are in favor because if it is public transportation then why do we have to to pay?”  Volca then  differentiated this movement from the people marching behind them that were carrying all types of flags, banners, and t-shirts: “we are ‘different’ from these people with political party flags. No doubt that some are being paid/sponsored to also deflect the main movement: Passe Livre.”

However, a friend of Volca and member of Movimento Passe Livre, explained that this does not mean that they are completely against all people carrying flags. Some are fighting for causes that they support, such as education.

The movement in Brazil is as complex as the nation itself.  Thus, it is important to shed light on the many faces and issues that are coming to the surface during this historical movement.

Todos Los Ojos Puestos en Brasil


From Brazil, Gentista Michelle Salinas reports on the unrest.

       July 2nd was Independence Day for the state of Bahia in Brazil.  While I did see the traditional parades and festivities, they were accompanied with signs of protests. Brazil has been in great unrest recently and most people think it is just about  the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.  However, this unrest has been growing for some time now with a movement called “Movimento Passe Livre.” This is a movement that began with students who were fed up with the rising fees in public transportation.  They reacted to rising prices by demanding free transportation instead.  This movement gave rise to many other issues in various sectors including health, education, and the political system. Read more

World Cup Burdens Brazilians

Brazil, the home of the football lovers, is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014. This “miracle”, as many Brazilians call it, hasn’t happened since 1950, and many soccer fans are excited for it. I feel honored that my home country is able to host the most important international sports event. I am excited to go back to Brazil, in 2014, especially to visit my hometown, São Paulo, where the opening of the World Cup will be held.

Morumbi, a soccer stadium, was where the opening game of the World Cup was supposed to be held at and I only lived fifteen minutes away from it. The only memory I have with Morumbi is from when my dad took me to my first soccer match with him when I was eight years old. Unfortunately because of São Paulo’s financial situation, Morumbi is not able to hold the opening game of the World Cup because of the lack of renovation funds. The FIFA federation decided to move the opening game from Morumbi to the “Corinthians New Stadium” where less money is needed to bring the stadium to safe conditions. Guilherme Macedo Silva, says that “the ‘Corinthians new stadium’ renovation is undergoing a lot of construction, and at a very fast pace. It will probably be the most modern stadium, and hopefully the most beautiful one in the country. A lot of other stadiums are going through constructions too, but the pressure on aesthetics remains on the Corinthians stadium.”

While hosting the World Cup is a very exciting thing for Brazilians, not all of them are pleased with the constructions. “The problem right now is that constructions are very superficial, and a lot of public money is going to waste,” says Guilherme.

“Superficial” construction isn’t the only problem. Another unsatisfied Brazilian, Fernando Bicudo, says that Brazil needs to “improve subways, bus and airport systems and also create hotels for tourists…the national image of Brazil is in the hands of the government and I feel like too much money is being taken from citizens in order to accomplish this. We have our own financial worries too.”

Although hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a blessing and an honor for Brazil, there is a lot of local and international pressure on the government to ensure that Brazil’s image is not blemished. I feel somewhat of a “free-loader” compared to my childhood friends, since I am not experiencing raised taxes and prices in everything, yet I will still get to enjoy the experience of the World Cup when I go back for the first time since I immigrated in 2004.

Eviction of Brazilian slum residents in name of World Cup

The slum neighborhood of Jose Santos de Oliveira faces demolition for the construction of new bus routes as a part of Brazil’s makeover for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

According to Oliveira, residents were not invited to city planning meetings to speak out against the proposed changes, Yahoo! News reports

However, Rio’s housing secretary Jorge Bittar claims that the number of people facing upheaval is small in comparison to the number of low-income citizens who will benefit from this investment in public transportation.

Many Brazilians are excited about their country hosting the World Cup, but, like Sueli Alfonso da Costa, also see the drastic changes that are being made.

“We are all for progress and the culture of sports, but in this case they came and destroyed our lives.”

Join in the Carnival!

Thursday marked the beginning of  the 6-day carnival in Salvador, Bahia,  Brazil. Often called the world’s biggest party, thousands of people gather the streets in celebration, from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Don’t worry if you’re not a night-owl or you can’t make it all the way to Brazil, you can still join in the festival!

Check out YouTube’s Carnaval channel where you can watch live preformances from Ivete Sangalo, Margareth Menezes, Olodum, Harmonia do Samba, Netinho, Eva, Parangolé and more.

Ronaldo Retires After 18 Years

Ronaldo scoring the winning penalty in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final against Paris Saint-Germain. Photo: Wikipedia.

After 18 years of professional play, after being named FIFA Player of the Year three times, after setting – and still holding – the record of 15 goals scored during the World Cup, and after winning the World Cup twice, Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo retires from the game because of persistent knee injuries and his body’s inability to keep up.

With tears in his eyes and his two sons by his side, the 34-year-old announced his decision on February 14, which ended his contract with the Brazilian club Corinthians.

Fans have been disappointed with Ronaldo’s performance, which has been deteriorating for two years during which he’s faced three serious knee injuries that have threatened to end his career. He’s been forced to work even harder since he learned he has hypothyroidism, a condition that makes it difficult for him to stay in shape.

According to NPR, Ronaldo said that he wants to “publicly apologize for failing in the [Copa] Libertadores project,” the most important Latin American tournament.

However, team President Andres Sanchez handed him a jersey with the words “forever” and “phenomenon,” and former Inter Milan teammate Youri Djorkaeff said, “Ronaldo is the best player I ever played with.” Many would agree, despite his downfall these past few years.

Brazil Elects First Female President

Dilma Rousseff

On Oct. 31 Brazil elected its first female president. A former Marxist guerilla, Dilma Rouseff was the Energy Minister before running for president. She was picked by outgoing President Luiz Lula da Silva as his party’s candidate, and she will now take the head of one of the world’s most growing economies.