By lambert strether of Corrente.
So, I was trawling the twitter earlier this evening, and I ran across mention of a large, ongoing “protest” (we’ll call it*) in Sao Paolo, Brazil. I’ve been following events in Turkey, of course, which seem to be on scale of Tahrir Square/Puerta del Sol/capitol occupations/Zucotti Park/carré rouge, but the Sao Paolo protest seemed of a similar scale, and yet I hadn’t heard anything about it in our famously free press. So I thought I would do a quick and totally unscientific survey of protests round the world to see what was up. What follows is a quote dump of protests by country; as it turns out, there are rather a lot of them! Note that most of this material comes from official media, and I’m not making any representations as to accuracy or justification; I’m just trying to get a rough idea of scale.
Brazil, Sao Paolo
Protests against bus and underground fare rises in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have turned violent. Police fired rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, and detained more than 200 people. Police say they seized petrol bombs, knives and drugs. Violence has also been reported at protests in Rio de Janeiro. An estimated 5,000 protesters converged on the streets of Sao Paulo’s central area on Thursday – the fourth day of the protests.
Thousands of Brazilians have protested in several cities over the past ten days, and organizers are planning for another march in Sao Paulo on Monday night. Rising prices for public transportation was the original cause of the the protests, organized by Movimento Passe Livre. Since then, Brazilians have joined protests for various other reasons, including rising crime, income inequality, and corruption. The protests are quickly becoming a sign of a weakening public confidence for Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Police said on Sunday that about 15,000 people took part in a rally outside the government building in the capital Sofia to demand a new election. Protesters also gathered outside parliament and in other Bulgarian cities. Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski’s decision to appoint 32-year-old media mogul Delyan Peevski as chief of the powerful national security agency DANS [!!] and parliament’s rapidity in rubber stamping the nomination angered many people.
Thousands of Montrealers snaked through the city’s downtown core on Saturday afternoon to protest against the Conservative government’s changes to employment insurance. The changes to EI, which came into effect in January, have spurred several protests this year across Eastern Canada — home to many seasonal workers affected by the new rules.
More than 3,000 villagers from Henan’s Xuchang county have maintained a 24-hour silent vigil for the past 12 days over the Quandian coal mine run by the Henan Shenhuo Group, which they say has devastated the ground near their homes, swallowed up a road, and left cracks in their houses.
China (Hong Kong)
In a show of protest against U.S. surveillance programs and in support of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, several hundred people marched Saturday to the U.S. Consulate General and the offices of the Hong Kong government despite drizzly weather. “Shame on NSA! Defend freedom of speech!” chanted marchers, who carried signs written in Chinese and English and wrapped in plastic to keep out the rain. “Protect Snowden!”
Has Cairo become the world’s protest capital? It would not have been tolerated before the revolution, but now numerous demonstrations are held in Cairo each week. Some estimates suggest that over 5,000 public protests were held across Egypt in the first five months of this year alone.
Greece was back in protest mode after Antonis Samaras, the centre-right prime minister, broke ranks with his coalition partners and high-handedly closed the state broadcaster on June 11th without first securing their agreement. As sacked employees of ERT (Hellenic Radio and Television) continued to occupy the Greek state broadcaster’s headquarters, streaming live coverage of their plight over the internet, scores of former colleagues peacefully set up camp in a park outside the ERT building in Agia Paraskevi, a suburb of Athens.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras moved to defuse a political crisis over the government’s abrupt closure of state broadcaster ERT that prompted a nationwide strike on June 13 and brought thousands into the streets in protest.
Leaders across the political parties joined hands during a human chain on Sunday in Pune to protest against the revised development plan for the city. All the leaders and representatives of NGO’s have demanded scrapping of the DP. Pune Bachav Kruti Samiti had organised the human chain for an hour between 9 and 10 am at Lokmanya Tilak Chowk near Alka Talkies.
The Jakarta Police said at least 4,000 people would take to the streets on Monday to protest the government’s plan to raise the subsidized fuel price.
Around 7,500 people participated in the anti-nuclear protests in the Japanese capital, according to organizers cited by AFP. The demonstrators gathered in a park in central Tokyo, marched through the city and rallied outside the offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant which suffered meltdowns of three reactor cores following an earthquake and tsunami two years ago.
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
Tens of thousands of people held a rally near Malaysia’s capital against alleged electoral fraud, further raising the political temperature after divisive recent polls. The latest in a series of protest rallies over the May 5 elections – which the opposition says were won fraudulently by the 56-year-old ruling coalition – saw a large crowd gather in an open field outside Kuala Lumpur Saturday night.
Malaysian police on Saturday arrested 15 people over a flash-mob protest held ahead of a planned June 22 opposition rally against alleged fraud in elections last month, but they were later freed. Those detained, who included opposition-aligned activists but also a 10-year-old boy, were held for disrupting public order in a busy shopping area of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
A strike called by 33 parties in Nepal to protest an election called for November shut down transport, schools and markets yesterday, the parties said in a statement.
Stones rain down on Peruvian riot police as they try to calm protests by angry university students. The city of Cusco, better known as the capital of the Inca empire, has seen several days of demonstrations against a proposed education law. Students say it could privatise universities.
Anti-government white-mask protesters gathered in many provinces yesterday despite opposition from red-shirt supporters of the government. In Bangkok, about 1,000 people – many wearing white Guy Fawkes masks – gathered at the CentralWorld shopping complex yesterday afternoon.
Yemeni security officials say thousands have protested in the capital against “excesses” by security forces, calling for the overthrow of the president and national security apparatus.
So, what can we conclude from this random collection of incidents? First, there’s a lot of protest out there. It’s occurred to me that one reason our global ruling elites — besides living in a “morally pathological” environment — are so paranoid is that they have real enemies; hence the global militarization of police forces, and global surveillance as well. Second, currently, although a lot of expertise in mobilization is clearly being developed, the “causes” are diverse. However, in a crisis, things correlate; it would be interesting to see if and how the local blobs of mercury come together globularly over issues like food, or water, or fuel (stuff at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy). No doubt climate change will accelerate such correlations. Third, there are some protests on this list that I probably wouldn’t support. What is interesting to me is the global scale and intensity. Finally, yes, I know globalism (for want of a better word) has so far been able to destroy or absorb anything thrown at it, but you lose until you win. So I don’t see political risk for the elites decreasing, and if they run true to form, they’ll double down on #FAIL. May you live in interesting times.
Readers, corrections? Additions? Your own experiences?
NOTE * I know “protest” isn’t prefigurative, and is in any case not the right category for Occupations which, I would argue, are more about parallel sovereignty (non-violent tactic of protest and persuasion #198) than “marches,” but “protest” is the word that Google seems to understand, and so for the purpose of this post that’s the word I’ll use.
NOTE In New York, the occupation of the Cooper Union continues.