By Julia Melim
Brazilians are tired of being ridiculed by their representatives. And since the politicians made to the national headlines, brazilians decided to take over the streets. Brazil is going through a major crisis, yes. There’s a lot of corruption, yes. At the same time, there hasn’t been such an expressive movement, taking back our rights as citizens.
Even being only a child, I remember how my parents were such activists during the 80s. They made signs for the “Direct Vote” campaign, asking for a direct democracy, asking for the end of corruption, the impeachment of then president Fernando Collor, meanwhile Lula was a symbol of hope for our country. I still remember the slogan, as a light at the end of the tunnel “A star shines, Lula”.
When Lula became president, I cried of happiness, and we popped champagne bottles in downtown Rio de Janeiro, along with millions of brazilians. Many might not remember, but Lula was elected as one of the most popular presidents in history, with over 80% approval ratings. There’s no place for hypocrisy. It wasn’t just Lula. It wasn’t just Dilma. It was the fact that we remained silente all these years.
Many years have gone by, our economy grew, it reached a peak that our economy beat Britain’s economy, largest 6th economy in the world. We became known in the international scene, even at the United Nations. We hosted the World Cup 2014, the Olympics 2016 – there’s even a subway station in Barra da Tijuca! We conquered so much, and reached achievements that were hard to conceive for Brazil. And now it seems that we are back in the 80s, before all the progress we made with our new constitution in 1988, the last time we hit the streets until now.
On December 4th, 2016, the movement “Take Over the Streets” (Vem Pra Rua) United millions of Brazilians for one single cause, taking back our democracy and our rights. I joined the crowd in Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, where we had more people than on New Year’s Eve and proved that we can join our forces for a great cause, not only for fireworks and samba. There were crowds in São Paulo and all over Brazil. As soon as I arrived, I saw signs that read “Fora Renan,” and showing support to Sergio Moro. Some people have criticized the movement “Vem Pra Rua,” saying it’s a right wing movement. However, it’s not associated to any party and it praises the constitution and democracy. Even in the middle of a crisis, I never felt so proud to be brazilian.
We, Brazilians, are in a moment to unite, it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right. We are all one for a cause. We want the betterment of our country ending the crisis, we cry together, we fight together, and together we can. We can win because we are expressing our right as citizens, our freedom of speech. That’s a right so dear to our hearts, and that we fought so hard to obtain, and people didn’t have during the dictatorship, where they were censured, tortured and exhiled, such as artists, writers, journalists and professors, and so many thinkers who disappeared in the middle of the night without explanation – just like our constitution.
I worked with Augusto Boal, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize, before his passing in 2009. He always brought up his struggle during the dictatorship, and how he had to ask for exhile in France to develop his technique of Theater of the Oppressed, before he was able to return to Brazil. That’s the moment we need you Boal, it’s so sad he’s no longer with us, we need his way of doing theater bringing up critical thinking without censorship.
The same way people go to the streets to protest, we need to speak up, stand up, and fight for our democracy, since we have earned that right. So if the government doesn’t change, we go to the streets, if it all continues to be the same, we go to the streets, and we keep going to the streets, because there’s no limit to how much we can exert our citizenship.
We didn’t come this far, to only come this far. We need to be united even more, in perseverance, solidarity and hope for a better tomorrow. We have gone through a lot of tragic moments in 2016, but our people do not fear, we are not afraid to show our emotions, to face our issues, and prove that we won’t shy away as it’s a constant reminder in our national anthem.