Monday, June 17, 2013

All we are saying is give peace a chance - São Paulo

The last week here in São Paulo has been filled with protests, hysteria and violence. A demonstration against a bus tariff raise has turned into a flashpoint about the current situation of justice in this country. A recent post I saw from the protest group showed a placard with the words "$33 Billion for the World Cup, $26 Billion for the Olympics (2016 in Rio) and $50 billion for corruption (estimated public funds stolen)...You still think this protest is about 20 cents in bus tariff?" See the photo below.

Unfortunately violence around these protests has been escalating. The protestors vandalize shops, banks and buses, and brutalize a solo military policeman. The next day at a repeat protest, the cops shoot rubber bullets and gas into the crowds. Protesters are hauled off to jail--while corrupt politicians and various other criminals walk free. The president is booed at the opening of the Confederations Cup. Brazil, frankly, looks bad. I don't think I'd want to visit at the moment.

One of the groups I belong to on facebook is a neighborhood association that wants, generically speaking, peace. Don't we all, really? Yesterday a friend and neighbor posted about a gathering at 4 pm in the Praça Por do Sol (Sunset Park), which has one of the most beautiful views in São Paulo. The gathering was about peace and invited all who wanted to participate in songs and music.

We arrived a bit late and sat down with about 60 other people on a small rise with the chorus down below. Apparently it was a mixture of different choirs and different maestros. Most of the music was Brazilian (with a theme of peace) though of course Mr. Lennon's Imagine was inevitable. The group invited any of the audience to participate and gave out song sheets. There was a portable piano and a microphone.

About 50 people joined the choir. To me, one of the standout moments was when they asked if anyone in the audience could play the tambourine for one of the songs. A tall baseball-capped man stepped forward...and proceeded to wow us all with tambourine samba beats...then a samba to the Aquarela do Brasil. Aquarela is perhaps my favorite song of Brazil...check out Gal Costa and Aquarela do Brasil for an idea of this one. My husband and I saw the Three Tenors when they came to Brasil in maybe 1999? and I'll never forget Placido Domingo doing a pseudo-samba to it...pra mim, Brasil...

This afternoon there will be more protests and this time closer to home. The Passe Livre (Free Pass) movement has a march planned (200,000 people have confirmed through facebook) at Largo da Batata. Remember the Largo from a prior post? It is on the way to pick up my kids at school. Protest planned for 5 pm, my kids leave school at 3:15 pm. To say that I will be unsympathetic if they affect my kids would be understating the situation. I can only hope that this rainy day will dampen a bit the level of hysteria the movement is causing.

Or as the song goes...all we are saying is give peace a chance...

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