Protesters camp to fight political corruption in Brazil

A group of Brazilians pitched tents outside Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo on Paulista Avenue to protest government corruption. (Reagan Allen/BSU at the Games)

A group of Brazilians pitched tents outside Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo on Paulista Avenue to protest government corruption. (Reagan Allen/BSU at the Games)

Alessandro Gouveia spends his nights sleeping on the cold concrete of Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, Brazil. July 20 was night 123.

He wakes up, goes to work and comes back to his tent, which is covered in black trash bags to keep the rain out.

Gouveia has a home and a family — two kids — but he chooses to stay in his tent outside the Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo, an industry association, to protest against the Brazilian government.

“I stay in the streets, and I stay in the protest for a movement,” Gouveia said. “I’m fighting for my daughters.”

Gouveia is one of a group of Brazilians protesting the political turmoil the country is currently experiencing.

He is advocating for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, who was suspended from her role as president on May 12 after she was accused of mismanaging state money to cover budget shortfalls, according to The New York Times. Her former vice president, Michel Temer, took over as interim president.

The country is divided over its political opinions, and many, like Gouveia, have taken to the streets to protest.

Alessandro Gouveia talks about the corruption of the government. He has been protesting for over 123 days. (Reagan Allen/BSU at the Games)

Alessandro Gouveia talks about the corruption of the government. He has been protesting for over 123 days. (Reagan Allen/BSU at the Games)

The country has seen many demonstrations for and against Rousseff, and her approval ratings have plummeted. But Rousseff has denied all allegations against her, even as the country is debating whether to impeach her, according to the Times. The country has to make a decision by Nov. 8.

Many Brazilians also are against Temer’s temporary leadership, which some say is also corrupt, according to alternative online news site The Intercept.

Lucas Tufulu has been camping out on Paulista Avenue for almost 100 days. He said through a translator he was mainly protesting against government corruption.

“Our main goal is to take down the government we have here, especially Temer,” Tufulu said. “It’s a no-party movement.”

His is a small protest right now, but one he hopes will grow. Occasionally people will stop to talk to his and his fellow protesters and offer up food, money or clothing to show their support.

If Rousseff isn’t impeached, Gouveia said he and other protesters are prepared to move their tents and block Paulista Avenue, the Wall Street of São Paulo and one of the city’s busiest roads.

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Lucas Tufulu is one of the men protesting corruption in the government on Paulista Avenue. Photo by Maggie Kenworthy

As it is, passersby have to skirt around the tents, tables, multiple signs and a makeshift kitchen, which take up most of the sidewalk.

Júlia Uchôa walks by on her way to work. She’s greeted with Portuguese signs that read, “Moro (one of the judges deciding Rousseff’s fate), don’t disappoint us,” and, “Fight for your country, not for your party.”

Uchôa disapproves of the protesters’ actions. She thinks they don’t actually sleep out at their campsite at night.

“If they want to protest, they have the right, so come and do it — don’t pretend you are doing it,” she said.

She also doesn’t agree with the message they’re spreading.

“I’m not in favor of this whole impeachment thing because I don’t think it will enhance our chances in overcoming this crisis,” Uchôa said. “I don’t think that this instability that is the impeachment will help the situation.”

All Gouveia has with him is his shirt and bag, and he never stops missing his daughters, he says. But as Brazil becomes the first country to step into the Olympic Games with two presidents to welcome visitors, according to The Intercept, Gouveia says he will keep living away from his family outside the FIESP building. He will keep protesting for what he believes.

“It’s my life,” he said.

Authors:
Elizabeth Wyman

Kara Berg

Kara Berg is a senior journalism major at Ball State University, and has been obsessed with the Olympics ever since she can remember. She was a competitive swimmer for 12 years and loves the sport more than anything.

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