Recent citizen demonstrations in cities across Brazil have created not only the largest protests in the country in over 20 years but also a surge of chatter on social media. Hashtags such as #vemprarua, #protestorj, and #changebrazil are trending on Twitter and Instagram, and memes and protest recordings are spreading like wildfire on Facebook.
The unrest started in São Paolo in retaliation for a 20-cent increase in public-transport prices and has since escalated to major cities across the country to include government corruption and excessive spending on the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio instead of developing infrastructure elsewhere in the country. The protests are taking place in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, and Brasília, Brazil’s capital, during the Confederations Cup.
Many protesters feel they are being wrongly represented by the media as a group of hooligans protesting for superfluos reasons. Protesters have taken to social media in part to combat that notion, aiming to make the world a witness to their efforts as well as actions taken against them by the government and police. Jessica Camila de Souza, a student from Brasilia, said,
“Social media has been really useful during the protests going on in Brazil this past week. Through social media pages, Brazilians from all around the country and even Brazilians living abroad are sharing opinions about this so-called ‘revolution.’ Facebook and Twitter are being used as the main places to organize protests since Brazil’s main media channels are against the fights and will obviously not publicize protesters’ messages. Among serious efforts, useful tactics calling attention to the movement are memes, gifs, and videos, which are shared daily.”
The messages being shared across social media spread strong demands for change in Brazil. Let’s take a look at what’s going viral.
Sharing Striking Messages with Memes
The memes being spread around Brazil provide some of the most eye-opening criticisms of the Brazilian government. Here are a few popular memes:
“They dropped Mentos in the Coca Cola generation”
These images represent many Brazilians’ frustration toward the government’s apparent lack of concern for missing infrastructure, espeically in poor areas of the country. They also express that this movement started as youth protests that have exploded into a national movement, like a Mentos being dropped into a bottle of cola.
Videos of the Protests
Videos give us insight into the immensity of the protests in Brazil. Recordings uploaded to Vine and YouTube show never-ending crowds gathered in city streets and subway stations to protest the government’s lack of policies for social improvement.
“These are issues I carry deep in my heart, as many were the reasons why I decided to leave Brazil for good in the first place,” said Fabricio Lima, a animation and live action director from São Paulo living in Buenos Aires. “But now, for the first time in decades, the people have decided to protest and fight for their rights, for my rights, for everybody’s rights.”
This popular Vine shows the incredibly large mass of people gathering to protest:
Many users have linked to this recording of protesters singing the National Anthem in a subway in Brazil:
More than anything, Instagram has provided individuals an outlet for sharing their personal experiences during the protests, as well as an outlet for important pictures to go viral.
“Estamos lutando por um país melhor que não pense somente em futebol, mas sim na educação e na saúde,” said David Rodrigues, a student from Americana, São Paulo. Translated: “We are fighting for a better country that doesn’t only think about football but about education and health, too.”
pedropavanato on Instagram
beeside on Instagram
revolucaobrazil on Instagram
gabihcaroline on Instagram
jujununesf on Instagram
“The revolution starts here”
brunavbrasileiro on Instagram
barbaraalbernaz on Instagram
“You don’t have to agree with everything”
rozemeneghitti on Instagram
“Passive society, active corruption”
marcosviniciusjnr on Instagram
Twitter has served as an important source of protest messages and links from Brazil as well as posts of solidarity from around the world.
— Merveille Lukeba (@MervLukeba) June 18, 2013
— YourAnonLive (@YourAnonLive) June 19, 2013
— Helikopter Tamircisi (@UcakTamircisi) June 19, 2013
— hakan demir (@suyorumcusu) June 19, 2013
— Chachi (@Chachi) June 19, 2013
when real-world protests are officially named with hashtags, you realize things have changed. social-media driven revolution. #vemprarua
— Rafael Dahis (@rafaeldahis) June 19, 2013
— Lucky Tran (@luckytran) June 19, 2013
— Vanessa A Richardson (@VanRichardson) June 19, 2013
— Fernando Neves (@FernandoDNeves) June 19, 2013
— brends (@Welive4JorjaFox) June 19, 2013
Where the Protests Will Lead
Though fare hikes were reversed by the Brazilian government last night, the protests continue to grow. This is a sign that Brazilians are now organizing a larger fight for better living conditions for all people in their country, not just requesting lower public transportation fares.
So far the Brazilian government seems to support of the democratic nature of the protests. “My government hears the voices clamouring for change, my government is committed to social transformation,” President Dilma Rousseff said. It’s unclear, though, how long the government’s tolerance will last.
“I think this is one of the most important protests in the history of Brazil in decades. The movement started out because of a price change on public transportation but it quickly changed shape until it became unclear what people were fighting for. But recently, through discussion, Brazilians decided the five things they hated the most and made them the targets of the protests! I’ve never seen something like this happen before. It’s incredible.” – Fabricio Lima
Will protesters in Brazil achieve real change in the face of the upcoming World Cup or are they mobilizing too late to make a difference? Will their efforts burn out like those of Occupy Wall Street seem to have, or will protesters truly spark a “revolution,” as the Brazilian youth claim? Let us know what you think in the comments.