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Arab Spring Winds Are Now Blowing Through Brazil

Protest against corruption in Brasília, Brazil On the 7th of September – Independence Day in Brazil – the population of Brasília went to the streets to demonstrate against the corruption with the same or greater zeal as that shown in the past acts against the military dictatorship. Estimates varied and indicated between 25 and 40 thousand persons in the Esplanada dos Ministérios.

The majority of them young, the protesters carried placards and banners with the current principal demands: reclassification of corruption as a heinous crime; education equals more schools and fewer stadiums; the corruption manufactures the misery; the end of the Congressional secret vote; utilization of the public services by the politicians.

The huge demonstration was noisy, with young people, children and their parents dressed in mourning, carrying musical instruments and chanting slogans against political corruption. The mobilization began very early, around 8 in the morning, alongside the Museum of the Republic.

Despite the strong sun, the heat and the drought, the march departed, bound for the Praça dos Três Poderes, just as the airplanes began the Independence celebration in the blue skies of Brasília.

The first stop was beside the National Congress, where the demonstrators called for the end of the secret vote there. Then, the march occupied the Praça dos Três Poderes, the site of a huge rally with the banners of all the web movements that had brought the demonstration together, as if it were a real-life reflection of gatherings in the Internet world.

After the end of the military parade, the demonstration occupied the Eixo Monumental space facing towards the Rodoviária, the bus depot. But it divided into two parts. One went to the Rodoviária, the place chosen for the conclusion of the rally. The other part occupied the lawn in front of the National Congress and the youngest participants entered the reflecting pool to leave their message as close as possible to the ramp.

In a way, this demonstration serves to distinguish the people of Brasília from national politics. In the last few years, the generalized corruption effectively contaminated the image of the capital of the country, not only because the city symbolizes the national corruption but also because the local Brasília administrations served to justify this impression held elsewhere. The demonstration showed that Brasília is not only the capital of Brazil but also the center of the struggle against the corruption.

The huge Brasília march revealed some other important facts. The demonstrators displayed more indignation than affirmation. It was a legitimate demonstration by the public with no need for personal leadership.

This is why the rally organizers did not accept the presence of either politicians or political parties, whether of the left or the right. The opposite can be observed since – with the exception of the Organization of Brazilian Attorneys (OAB) and the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) – the parties and entities that traditionally fought for ethics in politics were absent this time.

Late in coming in relation to those in other countries, this was the first huge Brazilian demonstration convoked directly through the Internet social networks in the same way the Spaniards changed their government in the last elections and the Arab countries overturned their dictatorships.

Moreover, the greatest lesson that we learned from this Independence Day demonstration in Brasília is the question that all the ideological politicians going into politics to change Brazil must ask themselves: Is the mandate worthwhile? My answer: It’s worthwhile as long as it stays close to the people.

Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District.  You can visit his website at www.cristovam.org.br/portal2/, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SEN_CRISTOVAM in Portuguese and http://twitter.com/cbbrazilianview in English and write to him at cristovam@senado.gov.br

New translations of his works of fiction The Subterranean Gods and Astricia are now available on Amazon.com.

Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome (LinJerome@cs.com).

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