Brazil Fare Protests
Sao Paulo, Brazil
August 15, 2013
Olivia Flores-Siller and Haniya Orloff
On August 19, 2013 citizen protests began in Brazil against the rise in bus fares. The population of Brazil has been unhappy for many years as a result of the corrupt government raising bus fares but providing no improvements to the transportation system and now the public is fighting back. The protests started in Sao Paulo when citizens filled the streets to fight for their rights to a better transportation system. These violet and non-violent protesters were met with excessive force from the local police. Tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray were among the forces that the demonstrators had to face.
Most recently the bus fare were raised by $0.09 bringing the bus fare to a total of $1.47. In some societies this may not be a large change but in Brazil, to the every day commuter, this raise has greatly impacted their lives. The average citizen of Sao Paulo, who lives off a minimum wage job, makes $312.33 each month. If they commute every day to and from work they spend about $82.46 each month. That’s a total of about 26% of their monthly income that is spent just on transportation alone.  If the quality of the transportation were more adequate maybe the people of Brazil would be less likely to protest the fare raises, however the quality of the buses in Brazil is outdated and over crowded. Most of the population uses the transportation system however it is not equipped for such crowds.
These protests, like many protests before, were fueled by the public’s distrust of the government as well as an approaching change in the infrastructure of the city, and the uncertainty of whether or not these changes will be beneficial or detrimental to the health of the city. The rise in bus fares is not the only cause for unrest. The protests have also been fueled but the frustration for the way the public’s money is planned on being spent. In the upcoming years Brazil will play host to two legendary events, in 2014 the FIFA Word Cup and the Summer Olympics in 2016. The Olympics will be hosted in Rio de Janiero and the World Cup in various cities around Brazil. In response to the upcoming events the government has started construction on “improving the cities” and proving the right transportation and venues to host these grand events. However the government has not been focused on bettering the cities of Brazil as a whole but they have been focused on doing the bare minimum in order to prep for these games. They have devoted major funds, provided by citizens all over Brazil, to the development of these places but in reality only certain areas are going to be improved, not all the areas that the public needs.
There have been many cities that have hosted big events such as these over the years. Some of these cities have thrived from these improvements and used the funds provided in a positive manor. There are other cities that spent large amounts of money trying to create creative venues but did not think about these “improvements” in the long term resulting in wasted funds and sparsely used buildings. When Vancouver hosted the 2010 winter Olympics they developed what is known as the Olympic Village, to house athletes, coaches, etc. The conversion of this parking lot into housing is still being used to this day. After the Olympics it was modified into 252 affordable housing units and another 100 units for “modest market housing” as well as a community center, daycare, retail and service spaces. This is an example of a successful renovation to aid the Olympics as well as the city itself.
An example of wasteful Olympic construction and development include the Olympic Village in the city of Athens, which hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics. The Olympic Village constructed was intended to become lower income housing following the conclusion of the summer games. The facilities did become housing but they quickly lost their popularity and effectiveness. The shopping center, library, cafeteria, cinema, banks, and post offices that were supposed to be included in this development were never finished, resulting in a secluded feeling brought on by the isolated location of the houses which many referred to as feeling like a “ghetto”. On top of the inefficiency of the Olympic Village, the venues created to house the various Olympic games went into disarray and today are abandoned, neglected, and covered in graffiti.
The development and assembly of the large buildings needed to house grand events such as the Olympics and the world cup is a very expensive process, more expensive than the everyday citizen realizes. So when the government promises these buildings to a city and requires more money to be paid to create these venues the public often rejects it. The average citizens only see their money disappearing from their bank accounts but they do not see how each an every cent works to improve the infrastructure of the city. So even when the development is done successfully and the plan is effective in improving the city the citizens may still reject the ideas because they cant see how their money directly helps.
In Brazil the protests of the bus fares are a prime example of the people of the city not seeing how their money can help the progress of the infrastructure, however in this case there is not a high chance of success in the development of the venues for both the 2016 Olympic games and the 2014 FIFA world cup. The government has not presented the public with a plan that promises a fruitful outcome to the spending of the publics’ money. In a country such as Brazil, where there are mostly areas with low incomes and a large reliance on public transportation, taking advantage of the peoples money to build these magnificent creations, with no promise of success or prosperity could damage not only the economy of the city but also the heart of the city.
Jenny Barchfield, “Brazil Protests To Continue Despite Government Concessions Rolling Back Transit Fare Hike” Huffington Post. Jun 20 2013
The article explained how the Brazilian Public is upset and has been for a while about the fare prices for their terrible quality transportation system. This article gives the impression that the public has been frustrated with how the government has been using their money for quite a while and this was the last straw, and even though they agreed to undo the most recent fare raise they are still not pleased with what the government is providing them.
Simon Romero, “Bus-Fare Protests Hit Brazil’s Two Biggest Cities” New York Times. Jun 13 2013
This article talks about the effect that the protests are having on the people around them and who has been involved as well as the lengths some protesters are willing to go to prove their point.
“Olympic Village.” City of Vancouver. http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/olympic-village.aspx (accessed September 10, 2013).
This article describes the work done in Vancouver following the 2010 Winter Olympics.
BECATOROS, ELENA. “Athens Olympics Venues In Decay 8 Years After 2004 Games (PHOTOS).” Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/athens-olympics-venues-photos-abandoned_n_1739264.html (accessed September 10, 2013).
This article highlights the aftermath of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
The World Factbook 2013-14. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013.
CIA: The World FactBook
This resource gave us the information to understand transportation in Brazil and how it relates to the population of Brazil as well as tourists that use the transportation.
Roberto A. Ferdman, “Brazilians spend as much as 26% of their income to ride the bus” Quartz. Jun 18 2013
This talks about how much the cost of transportation is and how it relates to the average income of people in Brazil and how it affects their lives and emphasizes the reasons for which the public is protesting.
Alencar Martins Izidoro, “Making up for lost time: Public transportation in Brazil’s metropolitan areas” The Economist Intelligence Unit. November 2011
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit
This article talks about the public transportation in Brazil and how it has changed in relation to the population and in relation to other major cities.
Fernanda Schwambach, Karin. “MEGA-EVENTS IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE CITY PLANNING.” 15th INTERNATIONAL PLANNING HISTORY SOCIETY CONFERENCE 1 (2012). http://www.fau.usp.br/iphs/abstractsAndPapersFiles/Sessions/20/SCHWAMBACH-KARIN.PDF (accessed September 10, 2013).
Orthographic Documentation and Images
Dawson, Simon. Getty Images Next Share Tweet Fullscreen 2004 Olympics in Athens An empty spectator stand is seen overlooking the disused slalom course at the canoe-kayak water park at the 2004 Olympic complex in the Hellenikon district of Athens, Greece.. 7. The Huffington Post, Athens. The Huffington Post. Web. 16 Sept. 2013. Stavrakis, Thanassis . Murky water and rubbish fill an abandoned training pool for athletes at the Olympic village on the northern fringes of Athens. After the Athens 2004 Games, the village was used as a worker housing project. . 7. The Huffington Post, Athens. The Huffington Post. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Marcelino, Ueslei . A protester jumps over a subway turnstile during a protest demanding improvements be made to the public transport system, at the bus station in the centre of Brasilia June 19, 2013. . 2013. The Atlantic Cities, Brazil. The Atlantic Cities. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Doce, Nacho . A commuter tries closing the door of a crowded train at a subway station in downtown Sao Paulo May 28, 2013.. 2013. The Atlantic Cities, Brazil. The Atlantic Cities. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
Moraes, Ricardo . People try to get in as others try to exit a bus at a bus station in Recife City June 21, 2013. . 2013. The Atlantic Cities, Brazil. The Atlantic Cities. Web. 16 Sept. 2013.
 Jenny Barchfield, “Brazil Protests To Continue Despite Government Concessions Rolling Back Transit Fare Hike” Huffington Post. Jun 20 2013
 Roberto A. Ferdman, “Brazilians spend as much as 26% of their income to ride the bus” Quartz. Jun 18 2013
 Fernanda Schwambach, Karin. “MEGA-EVENTS IN RIO DE JANEIRO AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE CITY PLANNING.” 15th INTERNATIONAL PLANNING HISTORY SOCIETY CONFERENCE 1 (2012). http://www.fau.usp.br/iphs/abstractsAndPapersFiles/Sessions/20/SCHWAMBACH-KARIN.PDF (accessed September 10, 2013).
 “Olympic Village.” City of Vancouver. http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/olympic-village.aspx (accessed September 10, 2013).
 BECATOROS, ELENA. “Athens Olympics Venues In Decay 8 Years After 2004 Games (PHOTOS).” Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/03/athens-olympics-venues-photos-abandoned_n_1739264.html (accessed September 10, 2013).