These are some impressions of the anti-Dilma protests in Sao Jose do Rio Preto, a city of about four hundred thousand people in Sao Paolo state. My Portuguese is not good enough for the detail of the speeches, so these are mostly visual impressions, based on what I saw and could read on placards. My guess is that the turn-out was about ten thousand.
Firstly, the protestors were overwhelmingly white. Bar literally three people, everyone I saw in the crowd was white, and the only black or indigenous people I saw were riot police. Whatever the movements might say about not being a `white elite’, it would be obvious to an observer on this demonstration. Rio Preto is not very mixed by Brazilian standards—the immigrant population here was mostly Italian and Middle-Eastern—but it is a lot more diverse than the crowd on this demonstration. The speakers on the platform were all white.
The protest movement claims to be in favour of legality and against corruption, but there were placards which were unambiguously anti-left (“Brazil is green and yellow, not red”, “Dilma go to Cuba”, etc) and slogans seemed to be what you would get from a Brazilian UKIP: resentful of change, especially change that undermines established privilege.
There is a definite nationalist and/or militaristic element, even in the mainstream of the movement. As well as singing the national anthem (twice), the speakers asked the crowd to wave and cheer to the (military) police helicopter and talked of the armed forces and military police as a force for stability. One marcher carried a placard with the slogan `military intervention’ which is the demand of one group which forms part of the broader anti-Dilma movement.
I have now been in the middle of Sao Paulo state for just over a fortnight. Lessons learned:
- It is hot, like Africa hot, like you could fry Sally O’Brien on an egg if you had a stone hot.
- There are two big black cats around here that look as if their mammies were interfered with by jaguars.
- Brazilians eat a lot of meat. Round here Desperate Dan would be considered a perfumed ponce for having that effeminate pastry nonsense.
- Sliced, grilled cow hump is very tasty.
- Do not cross the woman with the machete who chops the ends off the unripe coconut so that you can drink the coconut water. She has a machete and she chops the ends off coconuts to make a crust.
- There is at least one person here who believes a chap can put coconut water in whisky and remain a gentleman. Such a man probably cheats at billiards.
- Everybody knows somebody who has been to Dublin, except for the people who have been there themselves.
- Brazilian academics will cheerfully go on strike for three months in pursuit of an above inflation pay claim.
- Brazilian academics have had their pensions slashed: they can no longer retire on full pay after thirty five years service.
- I might need to do a t-test on my sample size, but there is only one vegetarian in Sao Paulo state. Or all of Brazil, quite probably.