Scott: Yesterday, we took you to the largest country in South America – Brazil. It is home to the upcoming World Cup and home to the upcoming Summer Olympics. And, today, Maggie Rulli takes us back to see how the locals are dealing with the global spotlight.
Maggie: Over the past few months, the streets of Brazil have been rocked by the largest protest to hit the country in over twenty years. An estimated 1 million people took to the streets in more than 100 cities. Initially, the cause was just a twenty-cent increase in bus fare. Even though that increase was eventually removed, it was enough to be the tipping point.
Gustavo Amaral: It kind of grew naturally. It’s like something that we were keeping inside.
Maggie: Gustavo Amaral was one of the original protestors.
Gustavo: When it came up, even the media wasn’t seeing what was happening. They were just saying, like, ‘Oh, it’s only twenty cents.’ And we were saying, like, ‘It’s not twenty cents.’
Maggie: So, it is about a lot more than bus fare.
Maggie: The protests grew in size and anger all over the country, and continue even now with more violence and no sign of slowing down. The protests are now part of a movement, one that has spread throughout Brazil and can, quite literally, be seen in the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
We have been seeing signs of the movement all over the city, and one thing that you see everywhere are these three letters. What do they mean?
Gustavo: So, it’s ‘rua’ and it means ‘street.’ We are really on the streets all the time. That’s where we celebrate and that’s where we live. I mean, it’s a perfect match with the movement because now we are filling the streets for a reason.
Maggie: As the movement spreads, the people’s list of complaints grows. High living costs, political corruption and very high taxes combined with poor public services. In a country that is just slightly smaller than the United States, transportation is barely reliable and often dangerous. And it has an educational system handicapped by unqualified teachers and wasteful spending, creating a population where two-thirds of 15 year olds are capable of only basic math and only 12% of workers have a college degree. Which is why, even in a country that loves sports as much as Brazil and has won the World Cup a record five times, hundreds of thousands of protestors are complaining about the amount of money the government is spending on the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. Money, they say, is over budget and misguided.