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EDITORIAL: Arab Spring gets touch of samba

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Arab Spring gets touch of samba

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Amidst the proliferation of criticism the current Democratic Labour Party Government is facing by its stony silence with respect to the pressing issues facing the country, it should pay particular attention to the manner in which small issues could snowball when left to fester.
The question that has to be asked is: is this decade going to be one of citizen activism, especially when we look critically at the events that are transpiring around the world? The Arab Spring brought the silent majority of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria on to the streets to demonstrate against their regimes.
Inspired by the power of protest in the Middle East, even people of developed countries, such as the United States and Britain, came out to protest against rampant unemployment and income inequalities.
While the Occupy Wall Street movement did not capture the attention of policymakers and was hardly mentioned in the mainstream media, dissent on the streets seems to have become the new mantra for venting grievances and making demands on governments.
For example, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has been rather short-sighted in allowing the situation to spiral out of control.
Brazil’s first female leader, just like Turkey’s Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan, had a solid reason for believing that dissent against her regime would be contained: she is a democratically elected leader.
This fact has not stopped almost one million Brazilians from protesting against Rousseff’s government. In most cities of this huge country, people have come out on the streets to express their dissent against the rising fares for public transport, corruption and the huge costs to prepare for next year’s football World Cup.
The demonstrations, which started last week, have also grown more violent, with protesters retaliating forcefully against police action. Though in many cities, the government has rolled back increased bus fares, protesters are still thronging the streets.
With the protests growing larger and more vociferous, the Brazilian government will soon have to negotiate with the protesters if it wants peace on the streets.
The intransigent posture like that adapted by Turkey’s Erdogan’s will not help Rousseff as public enthusiasm for chanting anti-government slogans is not likely to exhaust anytime soon. The better option is to engage the protesters at the earliest, before the situation gets out of control.
Brazilians seem to have been observing the pattern of protest across the Atlantic, because they too, have now come out on the street in true samba fashion to channel their anger against their own government.
With the World Cup next year, the Brazilian government might give in to demands of the protesters to get them off the streets. However, it seems we are likely to see more citizen activism in the future.