Last June citizens formed the biggest mass demonstrations of Brazil since the end of dictatorship in 1985. Who were the protesters? The consensus between Brazilian and foreign analysts points to the middle class youth. Indeed it is true that most on the streets were young people who had never protested on the streets before. But the emphasis on middle class is too simplistic.
Rio’s preparations for the 2016 Olympics have been marked by human rights violations. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of the poorer for the progress of a city historically ruled by the rich is not new. But now, organized citizens have increasingly reacted. The Olympics have created a promising set of civil society alliances that may be re-shaping citizens’ involvement in Rio’s local politics.
During the demonstrations in Brazil, many said the giant – the Brazilian people – finally woke up. While it is true that many young people, especially the well-off, have been more active as citizens for the past weeks than they were before, mobilizing lower-income populations remains a hard challenge.