This Monday, June 17, was an important day for Brazilian democracy. Around 200,000 people went out on the streets of Brazil’s biggest cities, to show their discontentment with the poor public services, police violence, government corruption and the expense of staging the 2014 World Cup. The movement was organized and released on social media and gained the support of people all over the world. In Vancouver, nearly 600 people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery this Tuesday to join forces with the Brazilian protesters, singing Brazil’s national anthem and carrying signs with messages against corruption and misuse of public spending. A steady stream of photos and videos were posted to Facebook and Twitter by participants.
Mariana Nogueira, a Brazilian student in Vancouver was one of the organizers of the event. She was reading about the protests, when she saw a Facebook event called “Democracia não tem fronteiras” (Democracy has no Boundaries) that invited people from other cities in the world to join forces and show their support for what was happening in her country.
“I saw that there were at least 20 cities, but Vancouver wasn’t among them. So I talked to my friend Sther and we decided to create the event,“ says Nogueira.
Nogueira and Sther Barros, also a Brazilian student, created the Facebook event and contacted the city and police to advise them they were planning a pacific act to inform the locals about the situation in Brazil. And from that point on, it was a collective event: They opened polls to decide the best place and time and kept reading the comments for new ideas to add to the event’s timeline.
And it was on that same event page that Edward Bauman, a Brazilian sound designer and
recent graduate of Vancouver Film School, posted the idea of making a short documentary. “Anyone in for it? Filming, interviewing, anything? The sound alone won’t do any good.” His post got more than 100 replies. On the day of the act the whole film crew got together for the first time and started working. The documentary will probably be available on YouTube channels very soon.
Gabriela Reis was one of the hundreds that learned about the event on Facebook and joined the act along with her daughter and husband. She has lived in Vancouver for over a year, and has visited Brazil twice since moving to Canada. With each visit she feels her birth city, Salvador, has gotten more violent and less livable.
“But today it feels like things can change,” she says.
For Daniela Rodrigues Alves Ang, a permanent resident in Vancouver that protested rising public transport costs, these events represent a rediscovery of citizenship for Brazilians. She believes the people are ready to fight for their rights and are also reassuming their duties as part of a democracy.
“Brazil’s growth and economic power stands out among Latin American countries, and we are often seen as a flagship for success. Not everything is going right in Brazil, though, and I think that what we are doing here is the real good example to be followed,” says Ang.
Francisco Reza, a Mexican student currently living in Victoria, joined some Brazilian friends in the protest. He painted his cheeks with yellow and green to show his support.
“I think it is great what you are doing. As a person coming from a country that has lived for 70 years under the government of a same political party and has 40% of its population living with less than one dollar a day it makes me think about a lot of things,” says Reza.