Sorry to Bother You, We're Changing Brazil

Brazilian Ambassador, Gabriel Klintowitz on the meaning of the protests in Brazil.

From time to time, every generation faces a great time of rebellion and protest. So it was with my father, who took to the streets in 1968 demanding the end of military dictatorship in Brazil. So it was with my teachers, who painted their faces black in 1992 asking for the impeachment of president Fernando Collor. And so it is with my friends and me, who have finally got off Facebook to protest against the lack of competence of the Brazilian government.

The truth is that we're late. We're the first generation in Brazil to live in a fully-fledged democracy. We don't know censorship. We don't know political repression. Inflation has never been a big problem in our lives and the Real is and will always be our currency. Stabilities have created comfort, but not silence. We knew things weren't so good and we talked about that on social networks. We just needed a spark to get us out of the chair.

Some say it all started with the 20¢ increase. But the breaking point was the strong police repression. They shut up a generation that never shuts up - even if it's usually on the Internet.

Politicians showed that they are not ready to deal with people anymore. They got a shock. Brazilian politicians have become specialists in advertising, but lag behind when it comes to actually answering the people.

The Brazilian scenario is quite simple: the state is inefficient. Through a combination of corruption and mismanagement, the quality of public services is horrible and goes against the supposed 'growth' of the country. While the government prepares the Truman Show for the World Cup, Brazilians needs to pay around 1,000 dollars per month for good education.

We took to the streets. We were over a million strong. At first everyone was scared. The police repression was frightening. But what I saw was the opposite. We were all there fighting for the same cause. Youth, adults and the elderly - all nonpartisan, independent of religion and simply in search of a better Brazil.

Forget about the vandals and anarchists. They are an unrepresentative minority and the media is already taking care of them.

Within a few days, the whole country was supporting the protests. "Sorry to bother you, we're changing the country", said the posters. Yes, we were excused.

Despite the 20¢ increase cancellation, the protests have not ceased and have instead adopted new causes, to the despair of politicians. More education, more health, more public transportation and less corruption. The lack of focus of protests became an even greater challenge for the government.

Today I'm happy to see a more engaged country. We're still in the eye of the hurricane, but since the protests began, I haven't spent one single day without a discussion about politics, without researching our history, without hearing people talking about protests on the bus and in restaurants, without changing my own opinions thousands of times.

President Rousseff made a speech last week to present five "pacts" to improve the country - some of them forcing the Congress to make real and interesting changes. However this seemed an overwhelmingly reactionary measure, full of half-truths and showing her main flaw: an addiction to political advertising and obsession with re-election.

Whatever people say, some results are inevitable. Cops will think twice before hitting skaters just because they are... skating. Politicians will think twice before stealing - at least in the next few months. And the government will know that now they are the ones being watched.

Waves of indignation are sometimes necessary and capable of creating historic opportunities. The whole of Latin America knows this. However, when the elections take place next year, there will be no shortage of opportunists presenting themselves as saviours. It's been a while since we had so much hope in Brazil, but the mistrust remains. The disappointment of failure could be fatal.