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Brazil Bus Fare Increases Rescinded; Will Mass Protests End?

The mass protests that have swept through Brazilian cities over the past week where sparked by planned bus fare increases, but quickly expanded to encompass a variety of complaints. Will the protests end now that fares have been lowered?
June 20, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Late yesterday, the leaders of Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and other cities that have been roiled by mass demonstrations agreed to cut bus fares in response to the demands of protestors, reports Gisele Regatao. However, since the start of the demonstrations, the protests have grown to encompass a variety of complaints. 

At Next City, Sam Seifman points to displeasure with the largess invested in two upcoming sporting events: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. "Writers for Next City have previously pointed out why large-scale sporting events, and the huge stadium projects that accompany them, rarely benefit the neighborhoods and populations in the areas where they pop up," he says. And in Brazil, "[s]uch outsized spending is taking place at time when basic infrastructure needs remain unmet and the nation’s higher education system remains a mess." 

Writing for The Smoke Filled Room blogRaphael Neves, PhD candidate at the Politics department at the New School for Social Research, and assistant professor of politics at the University of São Paulo, blames the growing pains that have accompanied the country's astounding economic rise.

"On the one hand, a large part of the population has been integrated into the economic market and consumption levels have never been so high," says Neves. "On the other hand, this possibly made people more aware of other problems way beyond material needs. A minimum wage worker may now choose which cell phone or TV she or he is going to buy, but one is unable to have dominion over basic aspects of everyday life. In São Paulo, where rent is as expensive as in New York, someone who lives in a poorer area will spend at least two hours in an extremely crowded bus or train to get to work. To lose control over one’s own time and space is enough reason to revolt, isn’t it?"

With so many sources fueling the protests, It's unclear if the fare rollbacks will help to tamp them down. In fact, according to Simon Romero, protest leaders are calling for the largest action yet today. 

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Published on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 in WNYC: Transportation Nation
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