Student - 25 juni 2013

Solidarity with the Brazilians back home

Brazilian students in Wageningen are showing solidarity with their compatriots demonstrating back home. Master’s students Juliana Arthuso and Ianna Dantas handed out flyers in Forum and took part in protests in The Hague last weekend.

Brazilians have been on the streets of Brazil protesting for two weeks now. The reason was an increase in public transport fares but that was not the only factor, says Environmental Sciences student Ianna Dantas. ‘People are fed up with the incompetence and corruption. Brazilians pay a lot in taxes but that money is not invested in better education, better infrastructure or health care. On the other hand, vast amounts are spent on extravagant sports events like the football World Cup and the Olympic Games.’
The police have responded to the protests with violence, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators. There have already been some fatalities and dozens of people wounded. The two students don’t want to sit around doing nothing while their compatriots are taking to the streets. Last week, they handed out flyers in Forum and last weekend they and eight other Brazilian students from Wageningen joined the hundreds of demonstrators on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague. Urban Environmental Management student Juliana: ‘I would have joined the protests if I’d been at home. Then I would probably have been shot at with rubber bullets.’ Ianna: ‘We are privileged; we are able to attend this university thanks to the Brazilian people. Our student grants are paid for by Brazilian cleaners, teachers, bus drivers. I have to do something in return, show them they are not alone.’
The public transport fares have now been reduced. This gives Brazil’s people the feeling that by joining forces, they can demand more changes, says Ianna. The two students realize that a couple of weeks of protesting will not be enough. Juliana: ‘This is the first step. It’s a small step but a significant one. There are elections next year and it’s good that the people are thinking about politics.’ Ianna: ‘It’s a lengthy process that requires perseverance. But in Brazil we say “The giant is awake”. Brazilians never give up.’

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