People power and the right to public transport

by Guest Blogger

June 21, 2013


ByLeonardo Medeiros

Brazil has finally woken up. Does this sound too optimistic? It may be, but there is no doubt that this is a day to remember. Brazilians, used to status quo in their country, finally decided to exercise their right to disagree with government decisions.

Following protests which have mobilised thousands of people onto the streets, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, two of the major Brazilian cities, announced a reduction in public transportation fares.

The increase in fares was the final drop in a bucket already filled to the brim. A general discontent towards bad public services such as transport, healthcare and education has spread and grown across the country. It’s a signal the people of Brazil want to show that they must be relevant players in the countrys political process.

Greenpeace is an organisation which engages in peaceful protests and campaigns to pressure government and corporations to change their behaviour. After police forces repressed protesters violently in recent weeks, we decided to join those people defending their right for peaceful public demonstrations.

This is how we were part of the fifth great protest against the transport fare increase which took place in Sao Paulo on Monday. Our participation was very discrete and unbranded because we just wanted to feel part of the multitude and help increase the number of people peacefully calling for better transport.

For decades, Brazil has been stimulating a car-based mobility, which explains part of the urban chaos in the major Brazilian cities. But today, the politicians promised to start a public debate on the transport system.

An efficient and high-quality public transport system is a good way to ensure efficient commuting while reducing urban greenhouse emissions and that the fares are only part of the dialogue. Hopefully, however, the transportation tariff debate will be the beginning of a major discussion about the future we want for our cities.

Leonardo Medeiros is the Communcations Coordinator at Greenpeace Brazil.

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