Brazilians Demand Social Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Justifiable public anger holds back only so long. On June 11, protests began. On June 17, they erupted across Brazil. Hundreds of thousands turned out. Estimates ranged up to 1.5 million.
At issue is scandalous misspending on sports. It’s at a time of stalling economic growth, layoffs, rising inflation, and few opportunities for youths.
Public need are sacrificed. Billions go for construction. It’s spent for the 2014 International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
On June 21, FIFA secretary general Jerome Falcke said:
“The Confederations Cup is taking place in Brazil and the World Cup must be held in Brazil. There is no plan B.”
FIFA media head Pekka Pdriozola added:
“At no stage has FIFA considered or discussed abandoning the Confederations Cup with the local authorities. We are monitoring the situation with the authorities. We support the right of free speech. We condemn violence.”
More on what’s ongoing below. Police show no mercy. Peaceful protesters are brutalized. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Brazil’s dark side resembles realpolitik in America, Canada, Europe and elsewhere.
James Petras includes Brazil among so-called Latin American “progressive camp” nations. Their rhetoric belies their policies.
On the one hand, they reduced poverty. On the other, they “increased dependence on agro-mineral exports and investments.” Venezuela achieved most social justice. Others lack “any vision or project for redistributing wealth, income or land.”
“Brazil leads the way in catering to Wall Street speculators and in government anti-poverty spending on minimum food baskets.”
“Poverty reduction is matched by the spectacular growth of millionaires (and billionaires) linked to the finance and agro-mineral export sector.”
Moderate progressives “have the most egregious” environmental record. “Presidents Lula da Silva and Dilma Rouseffâ€¦.promoted the destruction of millions of acres of the Amazon rain forest and displacement of scores of Indian communities in a decade.”
Brazil accommodates US military policy. Its “overall economic performance is mixed.” Manufacturing is “stagnating.”
Brazil matters. It ranks sixth among world economies. It’s by far Latin America’s largest. It’s GDP exceeds the rest of South America combined. Its population equals nearly half the entire continent.
In 1971, Nixon said, “As Brazil goes, so will the rest of that Latin American continent.” Brazil encouraged other regional countries to challenge US hegemony. At the same time, it embraces it.
It does so by accommodating US military policy. It fails to condemn its ruthlessness. It’s silent in the face of crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. It’s more concerned about good political and trade relations than rule of law principles and fairness.
Michel Chossudovsky says Brazil reflects “neoliberalism with a human face.” Scandalous misspending on sports alone explains.
In 1998, Joanna Cagan/Neil deMause’s book “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit” discussed how influential sports organizations hold cities hostage.
They operate in a climate of manipulative team owners, “deceptive politicians, taxpayer swindles, media slants, the power of big money, and most of all, a political system that serves the rich and powerful at the expense of the average fan, the average taxpayer, and the average citizen.”
So-called public servants sell out constituents. They do so for profit, power and privilege. An “anatomy of a swindle” follows. As revenues soar, owners insist they’re losing money.
Books are cooked to show it. Old facilities aren’t suitable, they claim. Replace them, they demand. Otherwise, they’ll leave. They lie saying stadium construction stimulates local economies. Cities without them lose out. Polar opposite is true.
Once deals are finalized, pressure continues. More concessions are extracted. They’re gotten at taxpayers’ expense. It’s the same everywhere.
Big money profits. Public needs go begging. According to Cagan and deMause:
“The effective blackmail that professional teams wield over cities is not good, it is not correct, and it not eternal. It is the consequence of a particular state of affairs in which public agencies have become beholden to private power. It can be changed, and it’s worth changing.”
It requires public pressure to do so. The authors stress “chang(ing) the terms of the debate.” People have more power than they realize. It’s up to them to use it.
Olympism’s a scam. It’s more about profiteering, exploitation and corruption than sport. The Olympic Movement’s Charter reflects doublespeak duplicity, not truth.
It’s not about promoting good will, open competition, and fair play. It’s about profiteering, marginalizing the poor and other disenfranchised groups.
It affects communities adversely. It sticks taxpayers with the bill. It providing nothing in return but hype and the illusion of amateur international sport at its best.
Thousands are evicted and displaced. Disadvantaged residents are left high and dry. Cozy relationships among government officials, corporate sponsors, universities, and IOC bosses facilitate exploiting communities, people, and athletes.
It’s done for power and profit. It’s done deceitfully. It’s grand theft writ large.
Behind a facade of public friendliness and high-minded hyperbole lie profiteers, political intrigue, corruption, disregard for public needs and rights, exploitative practices, and scandalous wheeling, dealing, collusion, and bribery turning sport into a commercial grab bag free-for-all.
Olympism’s big business. Power brokers spare nothing promoting it. They do so for self-aggrandizement and big bucks. Total costs are enormous.
Workers are exploited. Taxpayers get stuck with the bill. Public needs go begging. Illusion substitutes for reality. Hyperbole and deception belie truth.
It’s the American way. It’s commonplace across Europe. It’s same old, same old in Brazil. This time people reacted. They did so en masse. Ordinary people are cheated. It’s done to enrich fat cats.
Protesters expressed profound discontent. They did so for good reason. Signs reflect it. Some read:
“You do not represent me!”
“More bread, less circuses!”
“FIFA give us our money back!”
“We want health and education. World Cup out!”
At issue isn’t sports. It’s neoliberalism writ large. It’s force-fed austerity. It’s social injustice. It’s rage against what’s wrong.
Corruption is widespread. Basic services are lacking. Brazil’s socially polarized. It’s one of the world’s most unequal countries. Vast slums pockmark city landscapes. They’re emblematic of ingrained poverty and systemic inequality.
Growth lifting millions out of deep poverty left millions more mired in distress. Too little is done to help. Billions are misspent for FIFA tournaments and Olympism. Public needs are sacrificed to finance them.
Police responded violently. Brutality is standard practice. Tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets and pepper spray are commonplace. Demonstrators, journalists and bystanders are attacked.
Popular concerns go unaddressed. People needs go begging. Concessions offered are too few. Promises are made and broken. Rouseff claimed “we changed Brazil.”
It’s not enough to matter. The disparity between wealth and working people is greater than ever. Fifty billionaires and 150,000 millionaires reflect it. Social injustice is institutionalized.
University graduates can’t find decent jobs. Too few accommodate their skill levels. Salaries paid are too low. Benefits are too few. Future prospects look dim.
Rage against injustice continues. Institutional reform is demanded. Polls show 75% of Brazilians support protests. They’ve been ongoing since June 11.
They began against raising public transit fares. They mushroomed against corruption, unconscionable sports spending, politics as usual, and social injustice.
They continue nationwide. Brazil’s caras pintadas (painted faces) demand social justice until it’s achieved. It remains to be seen what follows.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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