Brazil protests – now it’s personal

If you thought you had seen the last of the protests in Brazil, think again. When mass demonstrations broke out across the country in June, protesters were calling for everything from free bus fares to the legalisation of abortion. Few directed their anger at one politician in particular, but at the system as a whole.

But now it’s getting personal. While fewer protesters have hit the streets over the past few weeks, they have started homing in on specific targets. And it’s a strategy that may be just as effective. In Rio de Janeiro, public enemy No. 1 appears to be Sérgio Cabral, the state’s powerful and well-connected governor.

A group of protesters have been camping outside Cabral’s home in the upmarket Leblon neighbourhood since Sunday now, demanding more investment in health and education as well as the governor’s impeachment.

On Wednesday night, a group of protesters also managed to invade the city council building in Rio de Janeiro before they were expelled in a violent clash with the police.

After keeping silent when the protests first broke out in June, Cabral seems to have been shaken by their more recent strategy.

As well as promising to introduce new rules governing the use of state helicopters for personal trips (Cabral has been accused of using state helicopters to fly his family and dog to his beach house), he issued the following statement earlier this week in an attempt to get protesters to go home:

I want to make an appeal, because, at the door of my home I have small children. Now, there is my six-year-old son, my 11 year-old-son. I’m asking you as a father, you know? Demonstrations are a democratic game. I’m not a dictator, I am open to dialogue. But to the protesters outside my home I want to make an appeal from the heart, as a father.

But with more demonstrations scheduled outside his building for Thursday night, it seems Cabral’s problems are far from over.

Related reading:
Brazil: The power of the streets, FT
Brazil’s IP: more fuel for protest, beyondbrics
Dilma’s popularity and the end of another “super cycle”?, beyondbrics
Brazil protests file, beyondbrics