A new book has been released set in Sao Paulo.
83% of the foreigners that datafolha interviewed felt the organisation of the World Cup was excellent or good. 92% felt the comfort and security of the stadia was excellent or good, 76% felt the same about the transport to the stadia, 42% about the refreshmengts inside the stadia, 39% regarding the communication inside the stadia, 32% regarding the cost of accomodation, 76% regarding the quality of the air travel, 84% the quality of the tourist attractions, 82% the security of tourists and 95% the hospitality of Brazilians.
Generally, Brazilians feel pretty proud with the way they hosted the World Cup. Everything ran pretty smoothly despite all the predictions of bad organisation before the tournament. They only feel a great sense of embarrassment with the way their national team exited the competition but at least they didn’t lose to Argentina, and Argentina didn’t win the competition. Both of those things would have been worse.
This video illustrates Germany’s path to the final:
And this video illustrates how Germany dealt with Argentina:
Public opinion regarding the World Cup improved during the competition but I’m waiting to see the latest figures to see to what extent opinions changed following Brazil’s 7-1 defeat to Germany.
The manner in which the national team were dispatched by Germany may also have affected the popularity of President Dilma in the run up to the presidential elections in October who was, during the tournament, enjoying an 18 point lead over her nearest rival.
Here’s a summary of the World Cup by Just Cartoons:
Some Argentinians asking to #cryforme
and an impression of a famous Brazilian comedian singing the revised words to the Itau advert:
So the first day began with scattered protests. People so proud of what they are doing they feel the need to wear masks. People so outraged at the lack of money for education and hospitals they decide the best thing to do is to burn telephone boxes and sign posts that the council is going to have to replace using more of its scarce resources.
Most Brazilians you speak too are not particularly happy about paying a quarter of their salary in tax and then having to pay extra for private schools and healthcare but the general consensus is that the decision to host the World Cup cannot be reversed and that the best place to voice their discontent is in the polling booths later in the year. This image posted to facebook sums it up:
President Dilma decided not to make a speech at the game having been booed last year at the opening game of the Confederations Cup. Even a brief appearance on the stadium monitors brought derisive chants. According to Brazilian public opinion pollsters Datafolha, the majority of the Brazilian public are, as they always have been, in favour of the World Cup.
Also, despite all the noise, President Dilma is still the most popular presidential candidate and, if history can be believed to repeat itself, a Brazilian victory in the World Cup would be very good news for a Dilma re-election.
One of the major gripes of the Brazilians is the amount of corruption that still exists in the system but, after last nights game, and after the questionable officiating in the Mexico v Cameroon game going on at the moment, conversation is moving to corruption of another kind. Brazilians completely accept that Fred’s dive last night was not a penalty but, just as no-one really minded the dubious penalty Michael Owen was awarded against Argentina in Japan in 2002, no-one is really complaining.
The first significant event of the match however was Marcelo who was unable to steer the Hull City striker, Jelavic’s, powerful back-heel away from the goal. Within minutes social media had cranked into action.
But’s not possible to end this post without mentioning the tremendous opening ceremony which even Brazil’s own press described as scoring the first goal against the World Cup. Here’s a selection of twitter comments about the spectacle and an image doing the rounds ion Facebook comparing Brazilian singer Claudia Leite to popular children’s cartoon Galinha Pintadinha:
Brazil’s surprisingly decisive win over world champions Spain in Sunday’s Confederation Cup final has added to the can do attitude sweeping the nation.
While Neymar was receiving the bronze boot for falling over the most times in 90 minutes, police outside the Maracana were firing tear gas at protesters determined to show that the decision to spend millions on sporting events rather than public services still has opposition regardless of the success of the national team.
The protesters too have had their share of success and this is contributing to a sense of empowerment and fresh protests.
The bus fare increases which triggered the initial unrest have long since been reversed but another major bone of contention, the ‘pec 37’ legislation designed to limit investigations into those guilty of corruption, has not only been scrapped but harsher penalties for those found guilty of corruption has been introduced.
This is a major u turn and evidence of exactly how scared the politicians are of the current mood.
These successes are viewed as the tip of the iceberg and now many more feel empowered to take to the streets to make their voice heard.
Yesterday one of the major routes into Sao Paulo was brought to a standstill by truck drivers protesting that the highway is closed to them at peak hours. Their argument might not be shared by those who use the highway at these hours but the protest shows how groups from disparate sections of society are coming together to air their grievances.
It’s unclear how long the protests will last or how wide the grievences will reach but one thing is sure the list of grievences from which Brazilians may choose is very very long.
Last night over a million people took to the streets in over a hundred cities in Brazil in the latest in a series of protests that shows no signs of abating
It all started when the council in São Paulo, who operated the buses, decided to to increase the bus fare by 7p. What followed is a perfect illustration of the the metaphor: ‘the straw that broke the camels back’.
No doubt the images of the Arab Spring and the discontent in Greece, Spain and the rest of Europe over the enforced austerity measures was a source of inspiration for the students who gathered on the streets of São Paulo to make their voices heard by ironically making it more difficult for their fellow citizens who use public transport to get home.
Peaceful protests on the streets of Sao Paulo
Unfortunately, as has often been the case in legitimate protests in the UK, a small minority of individuals intent on violence gave the police an excuse to get heavy handed and the dominant TV channel, Globo, to focus on the violence rather than the real issues. The initial effect was to alienate the general population from the aims of the legitimate protesters but then, last Monday, something happened which changed the course of the demonstrations.
Between 60,000 and 100,000 protesters, depending on who you believe, successfully held a peaceful demonstration in the heart of Sao Paulo in Avenida Paulista. But the real success of Monday’s demonstration was not the numbers involved, nor the fact that it was peaceful but that it expanded the debate beyond the narrow argument of bus fares to the wider issues of high taxation and poor public services.
According to Datafolha, 84% of the protesters on 18th June professed no political party, 77% were university educated, 71% were first time protesters, only 22% were students. Just over half were there to protest against the increased fares but many were protesting against corruption, violence, transport and politicians.
This last fact hasn’t stopped an opposition party, PPS, running a series of adds attempting to associate themselves with the protests and even the PT party President Dilma has come out in support of the protests.
Brazil experiences some of the highest taxation in the world making it the most expensive place to buy electronic goods such as iphones and ipads. Combine this high taxation with unsatisfactory systems of public health, eduction and infrastructure due to a combination of corruption and incompetence and you have a recipe for discontent.
Add to this the massive investment in the infrastructure required to host both the World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympics and the inevitable comparisons with the public services which could have been provided with the same level of investment and you have a dry powder keg ready to explode.
There is always discontent in the lead up to a major sporting event. Just look at the moaning that went on in London right up to the opening ceremony and I can’t remember the last world cup that didn’t suffer rumours that the stadia and infrastructure would not be ready – perhaps Germany. Despite the non-existent economic benefits of hosting a global sporting event the effects of the sense of well-being for the host nation are well documented and no doubt when the World Cup kicks off next year and Brazil scores their first goal, all of this will be forgotten.
When I arrived in Brazil 18 months ago, I had many conversations about high taxation, terrible roads, atrocious public transport, appalling state schools with poorly paid teachers and an under funded public health system but the result was always the same with the Brazilian concluding that nothing can be done about it so those who can afford a car, private healthcare and private education for their children work harder to provide for these things while those unfortunate enough to be unable to afford private services must do with what the state supplies.
I should add a caveat here that my experience of the São Paulo public health service has been, given the circumstances under which they operate, a generally positive one and that the public transport system is extensive, gradually improving, but nevertheless inadequate for the task in hand. Nevertheless I do have private health insurance and pay for my daughter to go to a private school.
London had a similarly frustrating bus service 20 years ago but the massive investment through TFL create a service that more people used because it was frequent, on the whole efficient and extensive.
One effect of the recent demonstrations in São Paulo, and now Brasilia, Rio, Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza, is that not only have the councils of Sao Paulo and Rio reversed the bus fare increases but the Brazilian citizens have now realised that they do actually have a voice and that they can change things.
It should be hoped that one of the legacies of the current wave of demonstrations is that corruption is more difficult to get away with, that processes are put in place to ensure that the taxpayers receive what they are paying for and that gradually the quality of public services and infrastructure improves. These things always take time but at least the politicians now realise that the people have found their voice and that they will be held accountable if they fail to deliver.
Tonight, the protests continue and, in some quarters as in London a couple of years back, the protests have been an excuse for looting and crime but when all the dust settles Brazil will be a different country, a country whose citizens hopefully feel empowered rather than disenfranchised which was, until very recently the case.