The two videos that explain Brazil’s protest movement

The mass protests in Brazil, like any large-scale social movement, are necessarily complicated, driven by economic and political macro trends that precede the actual demonstrations, as well as whatever smaller, personal motivations might compel a person to don a mask and stand in the street. But, to the extent that we can sum up the complexity of Brazil's demonstrations and the social forces behind them – the protests began last week over a bus fare increase but have since escalated to protest government corruption and mismanagement – these two videos do a nice job.

This first one, by Brazilian filmmaker Carla Dauden, explains why she's boycotting the World Cup, which Brazil will host next year, as well as the Olympics in 2016. The sky-high cost of the events, she argues, is a waste of money that should go toward alleviating poverty and illiteracy. "Yeah, maybe the guy selling ice cream on the beach might do better that week," she says, adding that Brazilian leaders' decision to host the costly sports events shows their lack of interest or ability to focus on their country's larger issues.

She also criticizes the government's efforts to "clean out" or entirely move slums that stand in the way of the events, a symbol of Brazilian leaders' priorities given that these neighborhoods have been struggling for years.

This next video shows interviews (captioned in English) with a number of Brazilian protesters, who explain why they're there, their background, what they believe in and what they want from their government. Not all of them share the same ideas or goals, of course, but it's a compelling, at times poignant window into the mood of this mass movement in the world's fifth most populous country.

After the interviews, the video shows an uglier side to the demonstrations: police firing tear gas, yes, but also protesters setting fires, throwing stones and vandalizing public buildings. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to have a mass protest movement that stays entirely peaceful and civil for long.

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Max Fisher · June 21, 2013

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