Why a Decade of Protests Didn't Lead to a Revolution

Vincent Bevins

You are right that they never imagined what happened to their country like Bolsonaro; They never imagined that the centre-right would win. This came as a shock to them in 2014, when it became clear that the traditional, neoliberal party in Brazilian politics could win the election. This led to queuing up to vote for Dilma Rousseff.

Among the deep-seated assumptions held by many in the alternative globalization movement was that they lost control of the streets for the reasons we have sketched. They are planned Lose control in the streets – they believed Lose control of the streets. They hoped to incite an uprising, a popular uprising beyond their control.

Since it was a group founded in 2005, many people in Movimento Passe Livre had ties to Indímedia Brasil. They grew out of the anarcho-punk world, which overlapped with the alternative-globalization movement.

After many years, from 2005 to 2013, they said that what we wanted was to cause a massive popular uprising. We won and it was terrible. After we provided the initial spark, we thought putting everyone on the street would somehow go our way, somehow put grassroots pressure on the PT – which they opposed but didn't want to see replaced by the right.

It didn't go that way. To tell this story, I am involved in it because I am in their fourth protest in June 2013, which was repressed to follow a big eruption. This is reflected throughout the decade; It's not unique to Brazil, but this particular change is particularly different, and it has a lot to do with Brazilian media.

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On the morning of June 13, 2013, right-leaning, oligarch-owned Brazilian media, like much of the world's media, demanded a military police crackdown on the movement. Well, the center-right media says that's enough. These kids who have been protesting for most of the month to get the bus fare hike back – it's getting out of hand, stop traffic, get out, clean up.

If the owners and writers of Brazil's media were from the people who usually suffer from the repression of the military police, they should know how this is going. Because Brazil's military police do what they do and they repress the way they repress. This repression hit people like me; This one particularly struck me, but I'm not one of those people who go viral, flip the media, and completely change their position.

The crackdown hit members of the Brazilian media. It attacked „respectable” „innocent” members of Brazil's white middle class. Images of this crackdown went viral – images of injuries suffered by Brazilian journalists, including in most establishment outlets, went viral. So, from that Thursday to the following Monday, Brazil's media went from, “We have to crack down on these punks and anarchists” to “This is a patriotic uprising. It is a patriotic expression of support for the idea of ​​resistance.

I spent two years talking with both the original organizers of the protest, the MPL and the then mayor, Fernando Haddad. I don't think it's through some conspiracy in Brazil's mainstream media to resign themselves to what's happening on the streets. But because the media decides to support it, it must provide a rationale aligned with their deeply held ideological assumptions.

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The original protesters, the MPL, had always demanded free public transport for all. They want to completely destroy transportation in Brazil. It's not like Brazil's media is going to give a real reason for protest.

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