Widespread Protests in Brazil as Olympics Loom

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Protests in Brazil in March, 2015 (Agência Brasil photo)

By B.Q. Barrett
Insurgentsia guest contributor

With the Olympic Games only a few months away, the host country, Brazil, is still holding massive protests. Just two years ago Brazil hosted the World Cup and millions protested government overspending on both the World Cup and Olympic games. Now in 2016, the country has seen even larger amounts of people protesting to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

In 2014, millions of Brazilians protested in over 80 cities which lead to 837 Brazilians reporting injuries from police. Police, armed with tear gas and rubber bullets, maintained order in streets across the country. These protests contributed to looting, vandalism and damage to buildings and public works.

The most notable day of protests came on June 13, 2014, which has been named a quinta sangrenta. During a quinta sangrenta, or bloody Thursday, thousands of protestors were peacefully marching in São Paulo when police fired upon them unannounced with non-lethal weapons, injuring many.

“While most of these protests have been peaceful, it will likely take one incident for them to return to the chaos seen in 2014.”

March of this year brought even more reasoning for Brazilians to once again take to the streets and voice their concern. A Brazilian judge released wiretaps in mid-March of President Rousseff, which detailed her reasoning for appointing former President Lula to her cabinet: avoiding prosecution. These wiretaps only confirmed the public’s opinion about corruption in the government.

São Paulo was estimated to have over 500,000 protesters, the largest number in the city’s history. Overall the entire country saw more than 3 million people protest to impeach the current president.  While most of these protests have been peaceful, it will likely take one incident for them to return to the chaos seen in 2014.

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Protests in March, 2016 (Agência Brasil photo)

Unfortunately, widespread protests could cause Brazil’s Olympic athletes to feel less support from their people — much like what occurred to the Brazilian national soccer team in 2014. Fans then, discouraged by their government, took to the streets during Brazil’s soccer matches and engaged with police. Some wore foreign country’s jerseys to show their disappointment in the government of their nation.

The impeachment process of President Dilma could last until November, which means this unrest will almost certainly continue during the entire Olympic Games.

B.Q. Barrett is a former Marine rifleman.