Brazil’s Image Shifts As Protests Surge During World Cup’s First Day

We're used to pictures of Carnival and beautiful beaches. But Brazilians are protesting the troubles in their country as the World Cup begins.

brazil world cup street artRight now on Univision, Brazil and Croatia are on the pitch, kicking off the first day of action for the World Cup 2014. Out in the streets near the stadium, the scene was much less jovial with protesters expressing their anger. According to The New York Timespolice were on the scene using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Protesters, who numbered in the hundreds, seemed “stunned” by the force used to quiet the crowd. “Several protesters and journalists were injured in the tumult, including a producer for CNN,” the NYT says. Last year, a crowd that was reported to be in the millions came out to push for better public services. Images of the swarms of people traveled around the globe.

Protests and worker strikes have been taking place in Brazil over the fact that the country has spent $11 billion over seven years on a sporting event while people struggle.

At this point, much like in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics, we’ve also heard stories about the last-minute preparations for the games, with a scramble to finish public transportation channels and stadiums.

If that isn’t enough, you have Brazilians who would like to see a match but say the sky-high prices make it cost-prohibitive.

This is much different from the usual pictures of care-free, samba-dancing, beautiful people on beautiful beaches that we’re all accustomed to seeing out Brazil.

About a month ago, street artist Paulo Ito posted a picture of the mural above, painted on schoolhouse doors in Sao Paulo. After a week, it went viral across the country and around the world, thanks to Facebook. The mural, according to Slate, is the first global image that people had of the World Cup.

“The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start,” Ito said in a Facebook chat. “[W]e need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”

According to Slate, President Dilma Rousseff announced higher welfare payments early last month in the lead up to the World Cup (and October elections). And she dropped the public transport hike and brought in doctors to address the healthcare issue that drove those millions into the streets last year.

Rousseff took to the airwaves Tuesday night to urge everyone to support the Brazilian team.

Every now and again, we’ll see a film like City of God or Wasteland that touches on the harsh lives of the people living in Brazil’s favelas. But most of the time the pictures are this or this or this or this. Or we count Brazil as one of the BRIC countries, an up-and-comer with growing fortunes. The Brazilian people, seeing a way to force the government to take notice because the rest of the world will, are shedding light on some of the problems that we don’t often here about.

The question is whether it will ultimately lead to anything once the games are over.