“The people finally woke up” – and will no longer turn back to sleep. The phrase heard from the four corners of Brazil, this Monday, was the summary of what was seen everywhere: it was past midnight and thousands of people remained in the streets – and on the social networks – sharing emotions, images and memories of a day that has already become history in the country.
Never a Monday was so awaited by so many people. One hundred, two hundred, three hundred thousand… The exact number does not matter anymore. The Brazilians occupied the streets as they haven’t done since long time ago. And shouted clear and loud what was stuck in their throat.
It was not only because of the 20 cents of increase in the public transport fares. After the last protests were violently suppressed by police forces, the manifestations have become something much bigger. Brazilians left their homes to remind that the street is the most legitimate space of democracy.
São Paulo, the biggest city in South America, is known by “the city that never stops” – except in traffic jams. This time the millions of automobiles gave room for thousands of people. Others big cities as Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Salvador, Maceio, Belém and Rio Branco have also joined the protests all over the country.
The protests spread up nationwide, like gunpowder. But real gunpowder was hardly seen. What exploded on the asphalt, this time, was the optimism, creativity, good humor and the feeling that something must change. Democracy, education, health care, an end to corruption, the right to peaceful protest, accessible public transportation… It was all there, composing the claims.
As an organization that has the peaceful protest in its DNA, Greenpeace supports, applauds and is proud to have taken part in one of the most beautiful moments in the recent history of Brazil. We will keep calling for cities thought for its people, with mobility for all. Let the winds of change continue to blow through the country. Each of us, as citizens, need to take ownership of this learning: policy is also made by our own hands.
And what was born because of a feeling of indignation by the increase in public transport fares cannot go unanswered. Governments need to offer a solution to the issue of the high cost of public transport.
After decades and decades encouraging the car industry, it is time to rethink this wasted model and ensure massive investments in public transport. The problem of urban mobility in the major Brazilian cities can no longer be ignored. The main way to solve it is an affordable, accessible and efficient public transportation.
By Bernardo Camara, Greenpeace Brazil