Who is Shaking Up Brazil and Why

A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, June 17, 2013. Protesters massed in at least seven Brazilian cities Monday for another round of demonstrations voicing disgruntlement about life in the country, raising questions about security during big events like the current Confederations Cup and a papal visit next month. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

By Nil Nikandrov

The mass street protests in Brazil continue. Most of the protesters do not belong to any party and have no leaders with whom the authorities could negotiate about the demands being made. It all began with a flare-up of discontent among Brazilians from the middle class and residents of poor neighborhoods with a hike in public transportation fares. Fares were high to begin with, and the most recent fare hike was met with indignation from city dwellers who do not have their own cars.

Transportation problems are a constant topic of critical speeches in the country. Many Brazilians often have to spend a total of 5-6 hours to get to work and then return home. The people’s discontent was further roused by the appearance in social networks, as if on command, of materials about «multibillion expenditures from the state coffers» on the construction of sport venues for the World Football Championship in 2014 and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Handwritten signs in the demonstrators’ hands show that not all Brazilians live for football battles and sports records: «We need modern public transportation, quality education, medical services and guaranteed work». Calls to fight corruption are also heard. The «sports boom» is more and more often associated in public opinion with corruption in the government and the «mutually profitable connections» of some of its members with construction companies and financial and entrepreneurial circles. According to various estimates, between 300 and 500 people turned out for the demonstrations. The protests have not yet subsided. Organization of the protesters is conducted mainly through the «Forum for Fighting Ticket Price Hikes».

The signals for the protests were «mobilizing» messages from anonymous Facebook users whose location is as of yet difficult to ascertain. However, there are some conjectures about who these instigators are. For example, on June 19 a photograph was published on the page of the Brazilian Facebook «Human Rights» community depicting the company’s owner, Mark Zuckerberg, holding a sign in English saying: «It’s not 20 cents! #ChangeBrasil!» It is well known that at the beginning of Zuckerberg’s entrepreneurial career the CIA established contact with him and financed his business. His working connections with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) are no secret either. So Zuckerberg’s incitement to protest after unexpectedly becoming alarmed by the increase in public transportation fares in Brazil is unlikely to be his own initiative.

The slogans of the «fight for change» have stimulated the political life of the universities and other institutions of higher learning. Students are willing to be in the forefront of the fight for social and political rights, although the hidden manipulators have not been able to create a centralized leadership for the protests. Now that the modus operandi of U.S. intelligence has been revealed by Edward Snowden, their activities in Brazil and several other countries have been placed in «elevated threat» mode.

Brazilian counterintelligence and police are doing all they can to find the people who have quickly introduced an acute «whistle-blowing» agenda to the Internet discussions of students and other groups of protesters. The investigation of «hostile use» of social networks has been stepped up. Over 80 million people in Brazil have Internet access, and 140 million use mobile phones. Naturally, slogans aimed at destabilizing the sociopolitical situation are not ignored. The activities of NGOs, foreign agents which maintain contact with the U.S. embassy and consulates and the USAID office in Brazil, are also attracting interest. Local bloggers have noticed that protests are reaching the highest pitch in the cities where there are U.S. representative offices – in the Brazilian capital and in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Allegre, Sao Paolo, etc.

One of the largest CIA and U.S. military intelligence stations is operating in Brazil. The political coordinator of these operations in Brazil is Ambassador Thomas Shannon. We can take it that he has accomplished his goal in dealing with the «South American giant». June’s protests, which to all appearances will continue into July, have to a great extent damaged the ideal image of a successful and dynamically developing Brazil which was prevalent in the international media.

The presidential elections in Brazil will take place in October 2014; Dilma Rousseff plans to run for a second presidential term, and thus any destabilizing actions are seen as the activities of political rivals: «They’re testing our mettle!» At first in some states the local authorities responded to the protests very harshly, using military police to put them down. Rousseff condemned the «excessive use of force», emphasizing that the decision to use the military police against the demonstrators was made by state leaders.

There are many in the country who oppose the «rule of the left» and feel that over the ten years of the presidencies of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff «the regime has become corrupt» and should be changed. When analyzing the events that are taking place, Brazilian political scientists emphasize that they caught both the government and Dilma Rousseff off guard; the latter had to cancel a visit to Japan. After a series of meetings, including meetings with defense and law enforcement leaders, Rousseff chose the only possible course of action: adopting a conciliatory policy rather than a confrontational one that would arouse passions. She essentially announced that she supports the demonstrators. In a televised address to the nation she stated that she is proud that many Brazilians are fighting for a better future for the country: «It’s good to see so many young people, and mature people as well, walking side by side, waving Brazilian flags and singing the national anthem.» She emphasized that she would never allow international sporting events to be held at the expense of state-funded social programs.

In order to stanch the wave of protests, Dilma Rousseff suggested organizing a «plebiscite» on the issue of conducting an in-depth political reform in the country. In the end, the plebiscite and subsequent steps should lead to the calling of a Constitutional Assembly which would amend the main law of the land to be more democratic, increasing the role of the people in making important decisions on the country’s development. These plans are already evoking opposition from Brazilian financial oligarchic circles. The president’s opponents believe that the «Lula-Rousseff course for sociopolitical modernization» will lead to the establishment of a «populist regime» like that of Hugo Chavez.

The Obama administration is doing all it can to prevent such a prospect. That is how the creation of the Pacific Alliance, uniting four countries in the region – Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Chile – under the aegis of the U.S. should be interpreted. As envisioned by Washington, the Alliance will, among other things, help to limit the influence of Brazil in the Western Hemisphere and to create a powerful geostrategic «counterweight to Brazilian expansion». Under various pretexts, the Pentagon is organizing joint military exercises with Brazil’s neighbors – Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana and Peru. In essence, the Americans are studying a future theater of military operations. The U.S. Fourth Fleet is patrolling the regions of the Atlantic Ocean near oil deposits on the Brazilian shelf. The United States is keeping up efforts to weaken Brazil’s allies and partners in the region, first of all Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba. NATO’s rapprochement with Colombia can also be explained in part as the creation of an additional «pressure factor» on Brazil.

The protests continue. Through the efforts of the media, ugly details about how the areas around stadiums (old ones and those under construction) were «cleansed of dangerous elements» and how the homes of the poor were demolished for construction sites without adequate financial compensation came out. The central government is having to answer for the actions of local authorities.

Events in Brazil are being covered by the Western media down to the tiniest detail. Political scientists assess their work as a deliberate operation to compromise the image of Brazil and its ability to organize large international sporting events. There have even been suggestions that the football championship should be canceled due to danger to the lives of the players and fans. This is a rehearsal for using the upcoming sporting events in Brazil to pressure the country on issues that have nothing to do with sports.


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