Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Still on the Subject of Protest

Oh boy, yesterday was quite a day! But let me start from the beginning, on Monday evening there was a new protest that, if I’m not mistaken, gathered more than 70.000 people, my bad for believing the media, they say there were 70.000 but I recently found out there were ONE MILLION PLEOPLE here in São Paulo. My parents had strictly forbidden me and my sister to go to these things because it was dangerous and bla bla bla, and I must admit I was kind of scared of getting shot (who isn’t, right?). But as I accompanied the news of that protest and of the other 40 protests that happened at the same time all over Brazil in 11 states, my legs started hurting. I knew right away why, because I wanted to be there, for me it wasn’t enough just sharing videos and images on Facebook and twitter.

Protests on Monday
The protests on Monday were quite marvelous, I’ll talk about the four I know best, but I won’t extend myself on this.

In Brasilia, our capital city which was in its whole completely designed by the great architect Oscar Niemeyer, thousands of people marched towards the National Congress, one of Niemeyer’s beautiful works of art. There they actually kind of broke into the exterior part of the building and hundreds of protesters climbed the roof. Mind you, they DID NOT use violence; all of these protests are PEACEFUL! It was really a sight to see, the people shouting for justice and better life conditions as one. It brought tears to my eyes, here are some pictures.

In Rio de Janeiro around one million protesters closed the Primeiro de Março Street, which is one of the city’s most important streets and in it they marched towards the Candelária Church. The police officers were nearby but didn’t attack, but I hear that at the end of the evening there was some confrontation between the police and a few protesters. Check out the amazing pictures:


In São Paulo another million people met at the Largo da Batata in Pinheiros and marched towards the famous Paulista Avenue. Also there was no confrontation with the police and the movement was peaceful and legit. I had many friends who were there that will attest to that, no violence, just the smell of change and determination in the air.


And finally in my home town that is not even comparable with the above in size but also has people who are willing to go out on the streets to fight for their rights. Another peaceful protest, they took over the beach avenue that is the most important avenue in the city and finished their march at the seaport where the ferries are. My wicked little sister, against our parents orders went to the manifestation, first I thought “That little bitch!” but then I thought “You damned coward!”.

My experience at the protest on Tuesday
And so I decided to go and see for myself what these protests are really about. So yesterday I went to college in my normal routine, studied all afternoon long and then decided I was going to go there. I walked to the Sé Square where the protesters were meeting, all by myself, I must admit I was very scared mainly because I was alone. On my way I saw helicopters covering the area and as I approached that GORGEOUS cathedral I started hearing the sound of the revolution.
Ok, I’ve NEVER seen so many people in my whole existence! It was literally a sea of people I couldn’t actually believe my eyes. And I mean, I’ve been to New York, London, I live in São Paulo, I’ve already been on a train here at 6:00pm, I’ve seen a lot, but nothing like this. I climbed the stairs of the church to get a better view of the gathering and took some pictures. It was amazing, the only other time I had seen so many people wearing our country's colors and making so much noise was when there was a football match. But even the football matches enthusiasm couldn’t remotely compare to what I saw, it was like game day 100 times more people and belief.

my view from up the stairs of the Se Cathedral

The best moment for me, the most magical actually, was when the cathedral bells started ringing and the people started shouting as one the national anthem. It really brought tears to my eyes, everybody with their hands over their hearts singing, it was really wonderful!

I couldn't help but also take a picture of this beautiful master piece we have in São Paulo

What I found most refreshing was that it was a very peaceful thing, yes, people were screaming and jumping, but no violence whatsoever. Signs were being held up addressing to the most various problems, from the initial bus fare issue to the new “Gay Cure” law that’s about to be approved. From people asking for the immediate arrest of the politicians who for so many years have stolen our tax money to others saying they couldn’t give a flying *uck about the World Cup, what we need is quality of life. From signs that read “The Alkimin Dead” (it’s the name of our governor) to others saying “Goku is with us in this fight” .
I loved this guy's enthusiasm, his sign reads "Fuck the World Cup" 
Another wonderful thing is that I saw of all sorts people in this manifestation, not only young college students, but parents with their children on their shoulders, old ladies with their smart phones taking pictures of everything, people who had just come from work in suit, tie and smart clothes, EVEN SPIDERMAN WAS THERE FOR CHRIST SAKES!
I stayed there from 6:00pm ‘till 7:20pm when they started leaving the square to march up the Brigadeiro Avenue to get to the Paulista Avenue. I swear to God, I stood there watching as the people left the square for 10 solid minutes and the people just kept on showing up. When I finally left there were more people still marching by the place where I was standing in awe for the number of people.

One thing that made me REALLY pissed was the fact that the Sé Subway simply closed its doors, so I had to walk to another subway station to get home. I found it outrageous because there was absolutely no trouble going on there, it was a peaceful movement. Plus I’m pretty sure they don’t close their doors when those retarded football players come to “parade” with their meaningless trophies around the city.

Fun facts about Brazilian Politics
Did you know that our distinguished president is threatening to cut off the internet here in Brazil if the protests go on?

Did you know that the Senate is voting this week on a bill called PEC37 that will let them steal even more of our tax money and get out of a hard situation in a blink of an eye?
Did you know the police had infiltrated people at the protests who vandalized public property to pin it on the protesters? If you saw a crazy human being with a gas mask throwing everything he could find at the door of the City Hall of São Paulo last night, yes, he was a police agent ordered to do so.

Did you know we have a homophobic Senator who is putting through Senate a bill for the “Gay Cure”?
Did you know that the government has spent 1.5 billion reais in building ONE football stadium alone in Brasilia?

Did you know our president spend almost R$400.000,00 of public money alone in a trip she made to Rome in order to meet the Pope?
Did you know the government has already penalized Facebook because it’s where the protests are being organized and has ordered for them to go off the air for an entire day in Brazil?

Did you know that while the government spends billions investing the World Cup and Olympics there are people dying in public hospitals that can be compared to garbage cans?
Did you know that we have projects that give money to poor people for having loads of children? As a result of that there are people who purposely have about 10 children and don’t work at all since they receive an amount of money per child.

Did you know these projects also apply to people who are in prison and that they sometimes surpass the minimum wage that is around R$600,00 per month.
Did you know that the Brazilian army went to Haiti in 2004 to help for 6 months and are still there? This project was to cost us 150 million reais and now is around 2 billion reais.

Did you know that in 2007 the Pan American Games were to cost less than 400 million reais and in the end the check was at 4 billion reais?
Did you know that in Salvador it’s been more than 10 years that the subway is under construction and would cost 300 million reais, now it’s on 600 million reais and still no subway.

Did you know the costs for the World Cup just recently have gone up 1 billion reais?
And finally, did you know there’s a new bill that wants to forbid abortion in case of rape and instead give money to the victim so she can raise the raper’s child?

The reality of Opera in Brazil
Did you know that the two only opera houses here in São Paulo (the most important urban center in the country who recently received Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato and Vesselina Kasarova) are run by the government? The Theatro Municipal (the largest) is run by the city of São Paulo and the Theatro São Pedro is run by the state and the mayor and the governor are from rival parties. So you know what they do to see who wins the people over? They schedule operas for the SAME DATES! In their ENTIRE opera season the Theatro Municipal has 5 productions and so does the Theatro São Pedro and they most curiously picked the very same dates for their recits, out of 365 freaking days of the year!

The government ALWAYS over prices any sort of project it does. So you can imagine the opera is no different. We were actually going through a marvelous time about two years ago, the Theatro São Pedro was hiring young singers for the opera chorus and many of my colleges and friends had a job in opera thanks to that. They did Carmen, Romeo et Juliette, Il Guarani, L’Elisir D’Amore and other operas and it was a real marvelous season. But then it was discovered that the Politian in charge was over pricing the productions and getting the money for himself while others were getting wages that could only be described as “they REALLY LOVE WHAT THEY DO”. The theatre was closed for about 6 months and after that there were no operas with chorus and the productions really decreased in quality.
The Theatro Municipal was closed for 8 YEARS for renovations that were also overpriced.   

The Turn of the Screw
And since we are at the opera subject here, yesterday I watched one (yes, right after the protest). It’s called The Turn of the Screw by the composer Benjamin Britten and I must say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it. It was in English so I expected PERFECT pronunciation and that I did not get and the fact that I had to look at the subtitles because I couldn’t understand what they said annoyed me enormously (and I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I KNOW that my listening skills are not the problem). On the bright side the scenery was beautiful! Although, since it’s a ghost story, they had the opportunity to give the public several frights and they didn’t (again don’t get me wrong but one of best plays I’ve ever watched was Woman in Black, I totally pissed my pants with fear and screamed, IT WAS AMAZING!).

the view from my seat
I really liked the mezzo soprano who was playing Miss Jessel, Luciana Bueno,  I already knew she was good, I saw her as Carmen a couple of years ago and she was just marvelous. Same here, creepy and wonderful ghost she was, I found that that was the coolest role in the opera. Kudos also to the soprano playing Mrs. Grose, Celine Imbert , she had a big big voice which I love, and a lot of stage presence. The kids were lovely and the little boy in particular was very weird (which is good for the story), sort of like a creepy child. The Governess character annoyed me enormously and up until the end I did not like her she was so dramatic and helpless. The music is tonal but different, I really liked it, specally when there were musical themes to each character in each scene, so that was pretty awesome. I particularly liked the theme for Miss Jessel in the bedroom scene she has with the Governess.
Plus I didn’t read the program whatsoever before watching it, I always do this because I want the opera to tell me story, knowing what’s to happen is so irritating. But I didn’t understand some things of the story, specially why it’s called The Turn of the Screw, any ideas?
Well that was it basically, oh and not forgetting my dear ex boyfriend got me a free ticket for this opera! PEACE EVERYONE, ALWAYS AND #CHANGEBRAZIL  

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