Brazil is Going to Burn, Again

On Thursday, March 13, in interrogating Juliano Torres, executive-director of the Brazilian chapter of Students For Liberty (Estudantes Pela Liberdade – EPL), the Brazilian Federal Police (Polícia Federal) made sure they had all his travel records at hand to make their intimidation tactics appear even punchier.

The Federal Police has been summoning for questions (or, as they call it in their totalitarian lingo, “to provide clarifications”) several individuals seen as leaders of the protests that occurred during the FIFA Confederations Cup in June. EPL was somewhat involved in them, and their several Facebook pages helped organize demonstrations by several groups. Torres, then, was questioned about all his political and institutional involvement — having to explain even where the money for his trips abroad came from (which should remind us clearly of the real reason passports exist: Control over and surveillance of the people.)

Libertarians in social media quickly mobilized in support of  Torres and  against the Federal Police’s fear-mongering, but we should remember that not only libertarians have been targeted by the Brazilian government. The same treatment has been dispensed to many individuals who have been involved in political demonstrations, notably those linked to Marcha da Maconha (“Marijuana March,” a collective for the rethinking of the public policy on drugs) and to Movimento Passe Livre (“Free Pass Movement,” which primarily advocates free public transportation).The coming of the FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Brazil later this year, and the Summer Olympics of 2016 have thrown the country in a state of exception, freeing the government and the police to employ ever more repressive and authoritarian means to reach their goals. With the excuse of providing adequate security for the international sporting events, the Brazilian government got the convenient justification it needed for reinforcing internet surveillance, increase the violence employed against street protesters and, even worse, cranking up to eleven the police state already established in Brazilian slums (favelas).In Rio de Janeiro, particularly, the feeling of terror dominates the favelas which have been “pacified,” where residents go about their lives under the sights of Military Police rifles, and are effectively second class citizens. The police crackdowns on the favelas have also driven the drug dealers to areas located farther away from the city centers, where they are “invisible” — tolerating the existence of so called “militias” (death squads) that fight over the control of those communities.

In comparison, the middle class activists’ visits to the Federal Police looks like a stroll in the park.

With carte blanche to ramp up violence against the people, the government has felt especially free to economically exploit the people in the last few years. June’s protests, ignited by the poor condition of public transportation all over the country, are but a symptom of a larger problem. Heavy subsidies to real estate development (in reality, little more than government handouts to contractors) have made Brazil’s large cities grow even larger, making the country on of the most expensive in the world — and creating a housing bubble very similar to the American one. Urban infra-structure can’t take the shock and falls apart everywhere.

Soccer stadiums built for the World Cup are catalysts for the popular revolt, being money drains as they are, but they even hide the human tragedy of violent expropriations of thousands of families. Everything for sport, for a World Cup according to FIFA’s quality standards.

That is why it is even more painful when soccer icons like Ronaldo find it proper to act unabashedly as poster-boys for the government and state that a World Cup is made with stadiums, not hospitals. Things like that don’t allow to die the black bloc cry of There Will Be No World Cup.

Thus, Brazil nowadays is the paradise of state violence, which strengthens the caste that has power in their hands right now and insures a steady stream of money for the profiteering corporations. That is why the government is right in fearing new protests and riots come the World Cup. That is why the Federal Police will have to dig up many more international travel records.

Translations for this article:

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory