By lambert strether of Corrente.
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Here’s another in my series of quote dumps on protests by country; this time, I thought I’d focus on Brazil, China, and the United States. Much of this material comes from official media, and I’m not making any representations as to accuracy of the report or the justification of the protest. There’s no particular method behind the selection, beyond crowd size, interesting tactics, concrete detail, or thoughtfulness. As always, more sources and protests welcome in comments. In the section in the United States, I was concerned I’d have to filter for events sponsored or manipulated by the legacy party apparatus, but very fortunately, my concern was not warranted.
Belo Horizonte, June 26 – Bizarre scene, blurry photos From Brazil, 2013-06-26
I was at the Brazil-Uruguay game on Wednesday, which was surrounded by protests marked by an especially large amount of property destruction and clashes with police. I left the game, and walked past a line of Police Shock Troops (I was wearing a big Fifa press badge, so they let me) into a bizarre world. I left a tightly organized sports mega-spectacle into what felt like a post-apocalyptic movie, with street fires, smashed windows, terrifying (though polite) police, and journalists and residents wandering aimlessly among the wreckage. Above, some motorcycles on fire in the street.
Brazil’s Great Moment of Hope: Interview with Paulo Sotero Global Observatory, 2013-06-28
[SOTERO:] Now, what would have to happen in turn of actual proposals that would quiet the streets; I think it has to do, first and foremost, with issues related to political representation. There is actually one already being worked on that would, through direct action by the people, the Brazilian constitution allows this, you collect one and a half million signatures, which represents about one percent of the voters in Brazil. And you mandate Congress to vote on a proposal. The proposal is about political system reform. It would, one: ban companies corporate donations to politicians. Secondly, it would create a two-phased system of elections in Brazil, by which you would first vote on political platforms of parties and once those platforms are voted on, and the number of slots that each party will have in Congress is determined, you will chose the politicians that will advance that platform.
The idea here is to, one, reduce the number of political parties –we have almost 30, they represent nothing. And also to reduce the number of politicians in Brazil. So, to re-establish the connection between the people and it representatives; that connection has been lost. Other proposals, Warren, affecting public transportation, health, education–they have been all under the table. They obvious take a while to be worked on. But, in order for them to be worked on in a consequential way, I think there is a consensus here that you have to re-establish the connection between the government and the governed.
Brazil’s civil society has become self-aware. We must make it last A load of Selkie, 2013-06-30
For the first time in my 30 years as a born-and-bred Brazilian, with great satisfaction, I have seen my fellow countrymen and women avidly discuss bill proposals, angrily dispute excesses by money-grabbing politicians and openly challenge the vile military police on the streets without any fear. … Brazil has a long record of relying on the third sector to bridge the gap between the shortcomings of the state and its poorer, disenfranchised people. Several non-governmental organisations (ONGs in Portuguese) have been set up since the 70s to complement a poor educational system, poor public health system, to make up for societal inequalities and an absent state.
This same gap allowed for extremely politicised criminal factions to take on the role of the state in the 70s, establishing themselves as providers of services and security in poorer communities (remember City of God?). In the past decade or so, it also allowed for the creation of militias – which took on the role of the military police in expelling drug dealers from favelas.
Even though we have several NGOs doing a fantastic job giving young people the opportunity get to where they want in life and many others operating in similar, charitable ways, we lack groups carrying out fundamental activities for the maintenance of democracy: the scrutiny of politicians, public finances, decision-making, and the holding of Brazilian municipal, state and federal authorities to account.
Brazil 2013 – a political Big Bang From Brazil, 2013-06-30
Less than a month ago, the Confederations Cup was already looming large, but the idea of there being protests associated with it was nowhere near the agenda. ‘Imagina na Copa‘ (meaning ‘if it’s this bad now, imagine what it will be like in the World Cup’), a catch-all phrase for structural problems large and small, was little more than a collective, anxious fretting over the World Cup, and the likelihood of Brazil’s infrastructure being ready for it. But it is now linked to protests and skirmishes outside the stadiums, and to discontent with what’s perceived as massive over-spending as well as bad planning for the Cup.
As I write this, in the streets of Fortaleza, North-East Brazil, where the Confederations Cup match between Italy and Spain is underway, a ‘sonic cannon’ crowd-control weapon has just been switched on for the first time by police, and protests have turned to tyre-burning on the parts of protestors, and tear-gassing and shooting on the part of the police. Witness this Storify of the days’ events in Fortaleza, which shows protesters with a FIFA GO HOME banner, police firing smoke bombs and teargas, and protesters scattering, their faces covered. One tweet by @KetyDC, whose feed is a tireless, compelling ticker-tape covering protests all over Brazil, reads ‘Palestine? No, Fortaleza. #ProtestoCE #VemPraRua #ChangeBrazil (AFP) ‘.
Brazil indigenous protest blocks major iron ore railway BBC, 2013-07-10
Brazilian indigenous people in the Amazon region have blocked one of the country’s most important railways in a protest for better public services.
Workers at Brazil port end protest; to resume strike Thursday Reuters 2013-07-10
Dock workers at Brazil’s key shipping port of Santos, the largest in South America, stopped a strike over port reform [privatization] early on Wednesday but plan to walk off the job again on Thursday in support of a broader union protest. … The National Stevedores Association in Brasilia said workers at other ports had decided against a July 10 strike and would instead join other industrial unions planning a nationwide walkout on Thursday, July 11.
Brasil for Beginners Adventures in the Recent Past, 07-11-2013
Indeed, for a country of almost 200 million, Brazilian media is very narrowly controlled, shockingly so to outsiders, by a couple of elite families, as described in the BBC documentary from the early 1990s called “Beyond Citizen Kane” about the powerful Globo TV Network (which they successfully suppressed until the invention of YouTube). It deals with how the first election since democracy was restored, in 1989, was manipulated by the channel, leading to that disastrous and short lived presidency of Fernando Collor.
One of the widespread memes during the protests, and still growing, is the call to ‘Ocupe a Mídia’, and break the shared monopoly of Globo & Grupo Abril.
Brazil’s Workers Take to Streets in One-Day Strike Times, 2013-07-11
A one-day nationwide general strike, meant to capitalize on a wave of mass demonstrations across Brazil last month, produced mixed results on Thursday, with some cities and states disrupted severely and others largely unaffected. … In contrast to last month’s mass protests, which began spontaneously, relied on social media to spread a broad-ranging message and had few identifiable leaders, the “National Day of Struggle” on Thursday was called by Brazil’s eight main labor union federations and was heavily scripted. The unions, which have a combined membership of six million, even met in advance with the authorities to work out the rules of the protest.
Brazil’s precarious new middle class demands more BBC, 2013-07-14
Brazil’s so-called “new middle class” gained recognition worldwide as a symbol of upward mobility. But the wave of demonstrations that brought millions out on to the streets in June has exposed the thin line that separates this group from slipping back into poverty.
Brazil’s “Other” Protesters Truthout 2013-07-14
Rio De Janeiro – The young people who have been protesting in Brazil over the last few weeks, who say they are apolitical and who have organised over the social networking sites, were not entirely pleased with Thursday’s demonstrations by the country’s trade unions and social and popular movements. … The demands of the new and more organised protests included better wages, a reduction of the work week to 40 hours, job security and an end to outsourcing, higher pensions, 10 percent of GDP for education, higher spending on public health, and improved public transport.
According to the organisers, 100,000 demonstrators came out on the streets nationwide. … But the student protests, initially triggered by bus fare hikes and organised over Facebook and other sites, were much bigger, reaching one million people countrywide.
How I missed Brazil’s revolution Al Jazeera, 2013-07-15
As the tear gas canisters careening through the streets of Brazil finally roll to a stop near the curb and the nationwide protests subside, I now find myself reflecting on a simple question: “How did I not see this coming?”
Violence breaks out in Brazilian favelas ahead of Pope Francis visit El Pais, 2013-07-15
On Saturday night, in an operation dubbed Paz armada (Armed peace), dozens of police officers went up into the hillside slum with 58 arrest warrants against alleged drug traffickers still operating in Rocinha. There were 30 arrests and the police also uncovered as many as 100 drug sale points scattered all over the favela. Using surveillance cameras that were installed in Rocinha following its “pacification,” as well as information gleaned from social networks, the police were able to locate suspects in alleyways that do not even show up on Google Maps.
The Mass Protests in Brazil in June-July 2013 Global Research, 2013-07-15
The MPL returned in larger numbers in the following days, and the police responded with increasing brutality, beating up demonstrators and passers-by indiscriminately, and wounding several journalists.
In two weeks, the demonstrations had exploded in size while also spreading across the country. They attracted well over one million people in hundreds of cities, and movements are still taking place almost every day, including a large national mobilization led by the left on 11 July. They involve mainly young workers, students and the middle class, and localized movements of poor communities and categories of workers with demands that may be more or less specific to their circumstances (bus drivers, lorry drivers, health sector workers, and so on).
In mid-June, the mainstream press and TV networks suddenly changed sides, and started supporting the movement. They immediately engaged in a full-scale attempt to lead the movement, offering blanket coverage, effectively calling people to the streets, and – very importantly – sponsoring the multiplication and de-radicalization of demands, toward a cacophony focusing on broad citizenship issues and, especially, state inefficiency and corruption, in order to drown out the left and delegitimize the federal government.
From this moment on, the demonstrations became much more white and middle-class in composition. They included banners about a whole range of issues, among them public services (for); FIFA, the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup (against); gay rights and the legalization of drugs (mainly for, but most churches are against); … Anyone could come up with their own demand, and if they were individualist and anti-political this was even better TV. It was especially paradoxical to see middle class people expressing indignation over public services that they do not currently use, and have no intention of using any time soon.
Renewal of Democracy in Brazil’s Protests Economic and Political Weekly, 2013-07-20
The protests have produced important responses from the regional and central governments as well as from public sector undertakings—urban bus fares have been lowered; construction for the automobile sector has been cancelled; the congress has speeded up voting on some proposals that were stalled for years; it has also rejected a project that was intended to change a constitutional provision and was seen as a possible loophole for political corruption; it has passed a bill that severely punishes work similar to slavery, which was previously paralysed by the agricultural business lobby; the supreme court has ordered the arrest of a congressman convicted of corruption; and most important of all, President Rousseff has proposed a national referendum on reforming the country’s political system. These actions in such a short period of time are extraordinary. They indicate that the new “protagonism” of citizens, even though diffuse, had led deaf governors and political parties to finally make some important concessions.
Occupy ‘hearts and minds’ Global Times, 2013-06-25
As the Occupy Wall Street movement spread around the world almost two years ago, Hong Kong residents occupied Central, the city’s central business district, to show support for the campaign against the excesses of capitalism.
Now some are proposing another “Occupy Central” campaign with at least 10,000 people flooding the main roads of Central on July 1, 2014. Organizers say this act of civil disobedience would be their last resort to push for universal suffrage in future Hong Kong elections.
While some might scoff at revealing the details of such a protest so far in advance, organizers said they did so because they still hope the situation won’t come to that.
The central government has technically approved universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election and has also stressed that the chief executive must be a patriot, which some people argue would invalidate “real” universal suffrage.
Questions on PLA role in Occupy push The Standard, 2013-07-14
Leung Chun-ying sidestepped the question of whether he would call in the People’s Liberation Army to handle Occupy Central protesters, saying he has full confidence in the ability of the local police.
The question was posed by pro-Beijing lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, who said he was merely testing to see whether Leung would stick to the “one country, two systems” principle.
Sensitive Words: Hong Kong Protests, Xinjiang & More China Digital Times, 2013-07-15.
As of July 1, the following search terms are blocked on Sina Weibo:
- Central (中环): The area of Hong Kong where the rally ended.
- seven one+take a walk (七一+散步): The numbers refer to July 1. “Taking a walk” is a euphemism for publicly protesting.
- march (游行): Retested.
- 游xing: The first character and the pinyin romanization of the second character in the word ”march.”
- you行: The pinyin romanization of the first character in the word “march,” followed by the second character in the same word. Retested.
- youxing: The pinyin romanization of “march.” Retested.
Thousands brave typhoon rains demanding China honour Hong Kong democracy pledge The Star, 2013-07-01
Tens of thousands braved typhoon rains on Monday to demand China live up to its promise to allow fully democratic elections in Hong Kong in 2017 amid mounting fears of increased meddling by Beijing’s Communist Party leaders.
The former British colony returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997, with the promise of universal suffrage as an “ultimate aim” in its mini-constitution, making it potentially the first place on Chinese soil to enjoy fully democratic elections.
Younger activists have become increasingly politicized. Surveys show they identify themselves more as Hong Kong citizens than Chinese nationals – a trend that alarms Beijing, which is eager for the city to show more “patriotism” to the motherland.
Despite China’s pledge to allow a direct poll for the city’s leader in 2017, recent signs from senior Chinese officials have raised concern Beijing may somehow try to rig the rules to screen out opposition candidates from taking part.
My big day out at Hong Kong’s annual July 1 protest stroll Shanghai-ist, 2013-07-05
Aside from the occasional government-astroturfed xenophobic anti-Japan protest, there isn’t much opportunity to join a demonstration in Shanghai, especially one that doesn’t pose a real risk of being arrested for any foreigners who happen to catch the eye of the security services. So, finding myself in Hong Kong this July 1st, I decided to follow Jackie Chan’s lead and join in the favourite activity of the “city of protest“
The march, which drew crowds of over 400,000 according to organisers, was beset both by Tropical Storm Rumbia and a nakedly desperate (and hugely cynical) free concert put on by pro-Beijing groups in an attempt to lure young Hong Kongers away from exercising their right to protest. Nevertheless, from a street level at least, the demonstration was well attended by a diverse selection of Hong Kong society.
Protesters win environmental battle in China USA Today, 2013-07-15
They were just “taking a stroll,” said organizers of an environmental protest in south China’s Guangdong province, using a widely understood term necessary in a nation whose Communist Party rulers ban most protests and unofficial public gatherings.
More than 1,000 people gathered at Jiangmen City Hall last week to demand authorities stop a planned uranium-processing facility that protesters feared would affect their health — and the health of future generations.
As the protest continued over the weekend, officials quickly announced the state-run project’s cancellation.
Activist protests China’s forced evictions by tagging DC embassy France 24, 2013-07-15
As the fifth round of US-China economic talks got underway in Washington, DC last week, one intrepid protester decided to leave his or her mark on the Chinese embassy. Under cover of darkness, the person spray-painted the Chinese character for “chai”, which means “dismantle”, on the embassy’s outer wall – right underneath security cameras.
Though it was quickly wiped away, photos of the graffiti have gone viral on Chinese social media networks, with some commenter calling the person who painted it “a national hero”. The character “chai” is fraught with meaning: in China, it is often painted on homes from which occupants have been forcibly evicted by the authorities, and which are slated for demolition to make way for massive development projects. Since the start of China’s economic boom, between 50 and 60 million Chinese citizens have lost their property in such seizures. Sometimes, residents receive some compensation, but not always.
Land rights campaigners strike at second embassy South China Morning Post, 2013-07-16
The Chinese embassy in Canada has become the second mission targeted with graffiti as part of a protest campaign by a US-based land rights group.
The Washington-based Sparrow Initiative confirmed yesterday its members were responsible for fixing a board with the Chinese character chai – meaning demolish or dismantle – to the gates of the embassy in Ottawa on Sunday.
“Eventually we will extend the meaning of the character to mean ‘demolish this dictatorship’,” [yhe group’s founder, Yang Jianli] added.
10,000 join protest against Guangzhou refuse incinerator South China Morning Post, 2013-07-16
About 10,000 people gathered yesterday in a township under Huadu district, Guangzhou, to demonstrate against plans to build a refuse incinerator in the national hub for leather-goods manufacturing.
The demonstration, approved by Shiling township officials, began at around 3pm at the Qianjin village committee office, with about 3,000 participants.
More people joined as protesters marched along main roads in Shiling to the local government offices. Some witnesses put the total number of protesters at between 8,000 and 20,000, while the organiser said at least 10,000 people showed up.
Nearly 1,000 armed police officers were seen clearing the way for demonstrators, many of whom carried colourful flags and large banners criticising the incinerator plan. The sea of people appeared to stretch about a kilometre along the roads.
Streaking on the rise in China: nudity for social change? Rocket News 2013-07-24
According to the news site News Post Seven, the number of young people arrested in Beijing for streaking suddenly jumped in May and the numbers continue to rise. On June 14, there was even an incident at Beijing University, known as China’s most prestigious and exclusive university.
‘We Are Not Trayvon Martin’ Campaign Turns Protest Meme on Its Head Gawker, 2013-07-14
But a counter-movement of sorts has formed in the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s trial, and their rallying cry stands diametrically opposed to the original slogan. And here’s [Bob Seay’s] manifesto that inspired the others:
I am not Trayvon Martin. I am a middle-aged, middle class, overweight white guy. I am also a teacher, and in 20 years of teaching, I have seen plenty of Trayvon Martins. More accurately, I have seen plenty of young men who fit the caricatured image that is being portrayed of this kid in the media, Left and Right. Fox News and MSNBC. I’m guessing that neither portrayal – saint or thug – is accurate. People are more complex than that.
None of the Trayvon Martins that I know deserve to die. They may arouse suspicion, but your paranoia is not their crime. If they do commit a crime, they deserve to have a trial. Trayvon Martin’s jury consisted of one person. That is not how we are supposed to do things in America. Unfortunately, that is our reality.
Zimmerman Protesters March in D.C. CBS 2013-07-14 (photo gallery)
Hundreds gathered at Malcolm X Park and marched to Howard University to rally for Trayvon Martin, a day after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges, Sunday, July 14
In Tallahassee, 200 protest Zimmerman acquittal Miami Herald 2013-07-14
Some 200 protesters disappointed with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial marched early Sunday in downtown Tallahassee. … Some in the group wore hoodies. Others carried signs that said “Racism is Not Dead” and “Who’s Next?” … Tallahassee police cleared the road to the Capitol complex to accommodate the marchers.
“Don’t worry about more riots,” read a sign. “Worry about more Zimmermans.”
It was one of many pointed poster messages as roughly 200 people gathered at a rally in Downtown Miami Sunday evening in response [the Zimmerman verdict].
Though rain dampened demonstration Saturday night, the verdict was addressed at churches across the city Sunday morning.
After the Verdict: The Zimmerman Non-Riots The New Yorker, 2013-07-15
The prediction of violence was not simply wrong. It was wrong for all the wrong reasons, in an echo of the way responsibility in the case was shifted onto Martin’s shoulders. There’s a sly inversion at work in the references to lynch mobs and riots, one that takes Zimmerman’s acquittal and expands it to all of American history. This country has a long history of lynchings, but not one in which non-black defendants needed to fear the fury of black mobs. Amplifying the irony is the fact that the verdict was announced on July 13, 2013—the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War draft riots in New York City, in which white mobs pursued and killed blacks on the streets and burned a black orphanage to the ground.
Salt Lake crowd decries not guilty verdict in George Zimmerman case Deseret News, 2013-07-15
The crowd was diverse, with faces of all ages and colors rallying under the same message. “Justice for Trayvon,” they shouted. “No justice, no peace.”
Word about the rally spread on social media and from friends, and the crowd lined the sidewalk and cheered as many drivers on State Street honked, waved and shouted support out their car windows. …
Prominent Utah activist Tim DeChristopher was also in attendance, walking with the group as they circled the courthouse and blocked three lanes of traffic in their march down 400 South.
Marchers Protesting Zimmerman Verdict Block Traffic on Crenshaw Blvd. KTLA, 2013-07-15. (The “storm Walmart” headlines I’m seeing are grossly sensationalistic. Pic of Crenshaw.)
Demonstrators protesting the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial were marching down Crenshaw Boulevard on Monday night. Aerials of the street showed the demonstrators walking in large groups, at times blocking traffic. A number of protesters were riding bikes, others carried signs protesting the verdict. At one point a group of marchers ran past security guards into a Walmart store at the Crenshaw Mall.
News photographers roughed up during Zimmerman protest in Oakland LA Times, 2013-07-15. (Pic of blocked traffic.)
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland on Sunday night to express outrage at the Florida acquittal of George Zimmerman, who admitted to shooting unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin but claimed he had feared for his life.
Both protests were largely peaceful but a small number of Oakland demonstrators — some hiding their faces with bandanas, as demonstrators did during the Occupy Oakland melees — turned violent late Sunday, setting upon an Oakland Tribune photographer and KTVU cameraman with kicks and punches.
Hundreds in Seattle protest Zimmerman acquittal Seattle Times, 2013-07-15
At least 400 people took to the streets of Seattle on Sunday night to peacefully protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch volunteer who said he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Florida last year. … Chanting in anger over the verdict, they rallied for an hour with signs and speeches at Westlake Park, then marched several blocks in the street to the steps of the federal courthouse for more speeches.
Hundreds in Philly Protest Zimmerman Verdict NBC10, 2013-07-15
Hundreds of people marched peacefully through Center City Sunday to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. … The rally grew through social media with little official organization apart from the frustration of its participants.