Beginning at sunrise on 25 March 2019, 300 Ava-Guarani hailing from twelve villages in Guaíra, Paraná and Terra Roxa, São Paulo occupied the Ayrton Senna Bridge, which spans the Rio Paraná in Brazil. The location of this protest was a strategic disruption for two reasons; the bridge serves as the connection between the municipalities of Guaíra and Mundo Novo, and the highway that runs atop it is an access point to nearby Paraguay.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
Brazilian workers of Portland Cement Company (PERUS) strike for economic justice and better working conditions, 1962-1974
The Portland Cement Company plant at PERUS opened in 1925. Located on the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, the plant served as the main source of raw building materials for the city. In 1951, prominent Brazilian businessman, José João Abdalla, took over the plant, making it one of the thirty subsidiaries under his control. J.J. Abdalla showed serious disregard to the needs of the workers, neglecting to provide the proper maintenance and development of facilities, which hugely impacted production and quality and safety of working conditions.
In the summer of 2013, massive protests against the World Cup and public service cuts erupted across Brazil. Following this wave of protest, the State Union of Education Professional of Rio de Janeiro (SEPE-RJ), which represents both state teachers in Rio de Janeiro and municipal teachers in the city of Rio, launched a strike on 8 August 2013.
During the 1800s, the slaves of Brazil held
uprisings and rebellions that led to the governments’ careful construction of methods
of controlling black Brazilians. After one revolt in 1835 the Bahian Parliament
passed legislation to control the “ganhadores.” Ganhadores were freed and
enslaved African males who transported goods and people through the city of
Bahia, now known as Salvador. Part of this legislation required that the
ganhadores pay taxes for their services.
Ganhadores refused to pay the required dues in every way possible,
Corruption is endemic to Brazilian politics, where convicted felons may run for office and elected officials are routinely caught accepting bribes in exchange for political favor. Brazil was ranked 73 out of 182 countries in the 2011 Corruption Perception Index. Although many politicians support anti-corruption measures, they are wary to sponsor an anti-corruption bill, especially after multiple reform bills failed to pass in the National Congress in recent years.
Brazil is the largest country in South America with resources comparable to the continental United States as well as vast amounts of land for agricultural development. At the time of this campaign, two-thirds of the population went hungry and were without work. 48% of the arable land was controlled by 1% of the population for large-scale agricultural enterprises. In 1964, there was a military coup that resulted in a twenty-one year military dictatorship and small farmers were pushed off their land, which was taken by the government.
Brazilian Indigenous protest construction of Belo Monte Dam on Xingu River in Brazilian Amazon, 2008-2011
During the 1970s, when Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship, the proposal of building several hydroelectric dams on the Xingu River was first presented. These dams were suggested as a way to increase energy supply to Brazil. The location of these proposed dams, along the Xingu River, was within the Brazilian Amazon in the region of Para, Brazil. The proposal was eventually put on hold, due to controversy regarding the dams’ potential location on idigenous land.
On March 31, 1983, protesters took to the streets for the first time in the city of Abreu e Lima in the state of Pernambuco to show their support for the newly introduced Dante de Oliveira Constitutional Amendment, named after the Congressional representative who introduced it. The Amendment was proposed to change the electoral process by which Brazil elected its presidents. The current system involved indirect elections that continuously put up presidents from the armed forces through an electoral college in the Congress.
Brazilian Rubber Tappers campaign to protest the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest region, 1977-1988
For centuries, those who made a living by extracting and collecting rubber from rubber trees had been virtual slaves to the powerful rubber barons who controlled the Amazon region. Attempts were made in the 1960s to unionize these workers, called “rubber tappers;” however, these attempts failed. The 1970s marked a shift in the dynamics of the extraction of resources from the Amazon. Ranchers from Southern Brazil began to buy up huge tracts of land in order to clear them for cattle grazing land.
Dom Helder Camara was a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife and an activist, who famously said “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.” He was also the primary leader in the nonviolent intervention between a student protest and the Brazilian military in June 1968. In 1968, Dom Helder executed his campaign “Action, Justice, and Peace”, which was based on the movements conducted by Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
In 1964 the military took control of the Brazilian government in a coup d’état and began a twenty-year military rule. The government often had disagreements with the Catholic clergy in Brazil, especially foreign missionaries and priests, which made up about 40% of the Brazilian clergy. During that time many of these clergy members were espousing Liberation Theology, a use of biblical teaching for the purpose of improving and liberating the oppressed and the poor, especially the lower class in rural Brazil. However, this radical teaching often put clergy members in confront