Brazil protests continue as strikes and occupations begin

Protesters shut down an expensive toll bridge

A riveting person account from a libcom poster in Vitória with updates on the protest movement which has swept Brazil, as demonstrations have begun to turn into wildcat strikes, occupations and direct action.

I thought I wouldn't have much else to tell about the current wave of protests around Brazil, but things keep happening and new qualities are joining what's already happening. I can only speak for myself and my short-sighted perceptions, so if anybody can correct me or write down some more consistent opinions, I'll be glad to learn.

Across the country, this past week had its usual street marches, much, much less crowded compared to the ones two weeks ago, and I thought they would be over soon. Other than this, there were bus and truck driver's strikes in some cities, which caused significant delays in transportation. On July 1, something really bizarre took place: an ordinary guy decided to invite the country for a general strike from Facebook, without any connection to unions or whatever, and more than half a million people signed it. However, being a mere Facebook event, it confused many people. I myself didn't give it much attention, even though my bosses at work seemed a bit excited about the possibility of such an event, and I really didn't expect anything unusual on Monday. But my brother didn't go to work, a few commercial places were kept closed (I can only talk about my own city), and many schools decided not to open. It was really, really bizarre.

Speaking of general strike, on July 11 the biggest Brazilian unions, CUT, Força, UGT, CGTB, etc., are calling for a day of protests, strikes, marches and more in order to push for their own agenda with many items, including the reduction of work hours from 44 to 40 a week. I think it's going to be a big day, as hopefully there will be lots of people on the streets. Everyday I'm hearing of new professional categories joining the general strike.

I don't know very well what's going on in the main cities of the country, but in Vitória the latest protests focused a big part of their attention to a very specific situation: the toll fees we have to pay to use the main bridge connecting Vitória to Vila Velha (see photo, above). It's a very important connection, and not only is it to cross it, but it also causes a lot of congestion in very important parts of both cities, as it's not on the outskirts, but in quite central areas.

Two weeks ago, on the biggest march of all, all the toll booths were smashed by protesters, and the company responsible for its operation was forced to let traffic through without charging anything (they tried to charge the prices manually and even advised drivers to avoid using the bridge), so people had the chance to experience the crossing without the annoyance of paying for it and I guess it opened the path for new hopes. I'm probably exaggerating it, but that's how I felt, I can't deny.

Anyway, somehow, one day, it started to spread the news that there was a project to be voted on the State's Legislative Assembly that could eliminate the need to pay the toll of the bridge, and all attentions then turned to the deputies in the Assembly. I really cannot tell the real nature of this decree, as it all came too sudden and I couldn't find reliable material on it, to know if it's really, really possible to do what it says, as the company in charge of the bridge (Rodosol) would never accept such a thing peacefully, but the thing is: on the day the project was to be voted, the Legislative Assembly was packed with people aggressively watching on all politicians in there.

When it was the time to vote it, though, the first one to speak said they needed more time to consider it, and so the voting was postponed. The people watching became really angry, broke doors and invaded the House Presidency Office, keeping an occupation in there since then. They said they'll only leave it when the project is voted. Politicians said they'll only vote it if the office gets freed. People are taking food and more stuff to the occupiers every day.

Yesterday there was a new march from both Vitória and Vila Velha, set to reunite on the Legislative Assembly, which is right next to the bridge of discontent. I couldn't go there, but people say the arrival at the occupation gave everybody a great sense of unity, even though there were just about 2,000 people in the crowd. They then marched to the toll booths, now heavily guarded by the police, and amazingly five toll booths got smashed again, even with all the police repression that took place. In fact, police brutality is again pissing everybody, probably because now that there are less people on the streets, they have to make sure to kill the movement once and for all, even though police violence has always been there anyway. You can read a short description of yesterday's drama on this link.

The most amazing thing yesterday is that the police started forcing some of the people to cross the bridge, speeding them up with a rain of tear gas canisters, surrounding them and even turning the lights off in the middle of the bridge!

They then began searching people, erasing photos, harassing others and the usual police stuff. So now it remains to be seen what will happen in Vitória in the next days, as there will be new marches next week, on the same day of the general strike, and people will certainly keep trying to push for the scrapping of the bridge's toll fee.

This blog entry was originally a comment in our forum thread on the Brazil riots here and has been lightly edited by libcom to turn it into blog format.

Posted By

Davi
Jul 8 2013 17:32

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ultraviolet
Jul 9 2013 02:11

thanks for the update. smile

lumpemproletariat
Jul 10 2013 04:17

CONVOCATION FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

Comrades,
We write in the name of the Anarchist Popular Union (UNIPA), the revolutionary organization of Brazil, to urge the international support and to do a denounce about the syndicates and syndicate centrals that are fulfilling a reactionary paper in front of the popular levant.
The Brazil, since of June 17 live the true popular levant. The labors and students, the poor youth went to the streets to fight. Because of this we have a dead demonstrator and many wounded demonstrators. The police run over by demonstrators. Even with the use of firearms and four young boys shot, the demonstrates didn’t stop. The labors get on with the demonstrates without weapons against the police armed and armored cars. The hospital where the demonstrates took refuge was attacked with rubber bullets, gas bombs and pump moral effect. But we are ready to face this state repression. What we didn’t tolerate is the desertion and the betrayal of the syndicates centrals.

However, the syndicates centrals are betraying the protests. Not only they didn’t take part with the streets combats but also are denouncing on the media the labors like vandals and criminals, these labors are resisting against the assault and abuse of authority. The CUT, the CSP-CONLUTAS, the CTB and the political parties are doing a public denounces of “radicals and anarchists” like criminals, preparing so the legitimation of the fascist state and its crackdown.
The big corporations of media (newspapers, TV’s and radio) are urging the violence against the radicals. They speak about two sides: vandals and pacific demonstrates. These last ones would be who have the rights inside the democracy. The firsts would be common criminals. But those who are on the barricades can testify: the word that animate these youth is the resistance and the revolution.

Right now the organizations and syndicates centrals are working to demobilize the protests. Incur themselves on the most infamous works.Comrades, it’s fundamental that the comrades know these events and that demonstrate your public solidary. Comrades it’s fundamental that the internationalist solidary is heard. We need that the Europe labors and world labors demonstrate your unrestricted support to whom resist on the streets, facing the death and the police brutality. We have been abandoned, betrayed and attacked by leaders that would be in the front line.

In this sense we urge the comrades to:

1) Organize acts on the embassies and consulates of Brazil, in defense of the rights of resistance, denouncing that the labors that resist in Brazil didn’t are vandals, because they are recognized as legitimate fighters of the proletariat by the international organizations.

2) Do a campaign of pression together the Brazilian and international press, denouncing the criminalization of the direct action movement in Brazil, to the liberty of the politics prisoners and withdrawal criminal processes. This internationalist support is urgent. We write from Brazil and direct by the barricades where we are on the front lines, facing the enemy and unfortunately too in our rear.

Anarquism is fight!
The people won!
Anarchist Popular Union (UNIPA

http://uniaoanarquista.wordpress.com/