Protesters in Sao Paulo have been using a diverse set of highly organized tactics to disrupt the opening of the World cup. Protester from fifteen different social movements have been working in coordination with each other to force the Brazilian government to improve living conditions, and end what is seen as government corruption around Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup. Protesters have used strikes, street demonstrations, cyber attacks, and the illegal occupation of a thirty seven acre plot of land just 2.5 miles east of Arena Corinthians on the outskirts of Sao Paulo known as The Peoples’ Cup.
Member of the Homeless Working Class Movement settled on the land more than a month ago, since then it has grown from several hundred to over 5 thousand in recent days. The encampment exemplifies the ideal of mutual aid, with people working together to acquire food, cook daily meals for everyone who needs it, and taking care of the elderly and children of working parents. The encampment is broken up into quadrants making it easier for those providing services within the camp and organizers. Each family is given a plot of land to build for themselves a lean – to. “One day we hope that we can build a permanent home here,” said Rita de Cassa, a 35 year old nurse, “we’re not against Selecao or foot ball, we’re against the way we’re being treated, they have forgotten the people.”
Many of the protesters love soccer, but are fed up with the money being wasted on an event that they feel will have little positive impact on their lives and may even harm their ability to survive in a country with growing inflation problems. “Its not that we’re against Selecao, our rage comes from the fact that this event has taken money from the people that need it, the government said it would only cost Brazil $2 billion U.S., so far it is now up to $10 billion, that money could have been spent on housing, education and other public services, this is stolen money,” said Fabio Chap, an activist from Sao Paulo.
Since Sao Paulo was chosen to host the World Cup living expenses have soared, making life nearly impossible for an already struggling working class in the rising Latin American economic power. “Our landlord doubled the rent we have to pay each month from the $110 U.S. at the beginning of the year, we can not pay this, we are not asking for anything for free, we want to be able to afford to live and not have to choose between rent or food to eat,” said Cassa.
Protesting transit workers and other groups of street protesters are increasingly becoming problematic for World Cup organizers, as their numbers grow they are becoming more brazen, confronting police head on, building barriers of burning tires and other debris. Over the past several days they have been blocking roads leading to Arena Corinthians, preventing workers from getting to the stadium, and say they intend to prevent the arrival of the World Cup trophy on Saturday.
“We intend to greet the arrival of the trophy with massive demonstrations and strikes throughout the city, we want better housing, education and public transportation, we hope the police will join us as they have in the past,” said Chap. Yesterday, 33 thousand union workers demonstrated late into the night and into today over the deaths of fifty five workers that died during the construction of the stadium. “It was very intense during the demonstrations today, police were firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, they pepper sprayed several protesters directly in the face, said Julia Reinhart, a photojournalist from Sweden, “by the end of it all I had to take a break for the rest of the day to get my own injuries treated and replace damaged equipment before going back out tomorrow and Saturday.
“We are highly organized, we have protests planned for well beyond the World Cup, we have protests planned for the presidential elections in October and through the Olympics in Rio in 2016,” said Chap. Organizers are coordinating with Brazilian Black Bloc tactic groups which they say will act as shock troops during the weekend’s protests. “Black Bloc will protect the main body of the protesters from the police, by being a buffer between them or smashing the windows of corporations, said Vincius Fiorentino, an organizer for Ato 9 (Act 9). Ato 9 is the main demonstration scheduled to be held on Saturday. Organizers say they expect tens of thousands of people to come out and shut down various parts of the city.
Protests are not just restricted to the real world of the streets, cyber attacks have already been conducted against the Foreign Ministry Office, in which three hundred and thirty three documents were leaked from fifty five network users emails. “The issue has been solved, we have asked our users to change their passwords,” said a Foreign Ministry official on condition of anonymity.
The hacker group Anonymous has threatened to attack the sponsors of the World Cup which include Adidas, Budweiser and Coca Cola just to name a few in addition to shutting down the police website. We have everything planned out, we know their weaknesses and have already tested them out, said Che Commodore a hacktivist, “these attacks are in solidarity with those who are suffering on the streets of Sao Paulo, Rio and throughout the rest of Brazil.”
Demonstrations have spread beyond the borders of Brazil into Argentina to the south, and even into Europe and Russia and as far as South Africa. Protesters around the world say they are in communication with organizers in Brazil and are coordinating with the people on the ground there to be as effective as possible. “We are organizing with those we are in solidarity with to a very high degree, we want to get the most out of our protest efforts, for those who are suffering at the hands of the World Cup organizers,” said Nikolaevna Agin, a 40 year old teacher in Saint Petersburg, “not only for those in Brazil but for our suffering here as well, we are tired of the corruption everywhere.”
By Cory Clark