On April 13, a socialist student organization called the “Million Student March” will be holding a massive demonstration on 115 different college campuses. Among other things, the group is fighting for a $15 minimum wage and free college tuition.
Echoing the sentiment of the “Million Student March,” an organization calling themselves, “Socialist Alternative” has been encouraging its members to join the Million Student March demonstrations on their college campuses.
The Socialist Alternative website is strewn with black and red lettering, conjuring up images of victorious socialist revolutions from the pages of history. On the top of the page, a man stands with his fist in the air, refusing to be oppressed any longer. The entire site is set to the background of black and white images of passionate protesters, holding up signs written in Portuguese and diligently waving flags for their cause.
The images were taken from a 2013 protest known as the “Brazilian Spring.” After enormous amounts of Brazilian tax dollars were spent on the 2013 World Cup, other public goods and services had their budgets slashed, thus raising the price to consumers. The images in the pictures specifically show protestors belonging to the “Free Fare Movement,” a group of young Brazilians calling for free public transportation.
This seems like a cause many young socialists in America can get behind. However, in the last three years, young Brazilians have begun to change their tune.
Currently, massive protests and demonstrations are occurring all over Brazil. Young people carry their country’s flag and chant, “basta,” or, “enough.” The Latin American economy is struggling to regain stability after years of socialist policies and big government corruption have plunged the continent into the worst recession it has ever seen.
The protestors in Brazil are mostly young college students. Combating a 27 percent unemployment rate, Brazil’s youth are well-educated and struggling to find work. They are calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, a prominent leader of the Workers Party.
Unlike the protestors from three years prior, these students understand the shortcomings of a socialist system which encourages big government to operate virtually unregulated.
According to the International Business Times, “Brazil had a decade of economic boom and social progress starting in 2003, in which more than 26 million people were lifted out of poverty, and inequality was greatly reduced.” However, in 2014, just one year after protestors took to the street demanding free transportation, the economy took a turn for the worst.
According to the National Bank, Brazil’s GDP growth rate fell from 4.5 percent in 2006, to .01 percent in 2014. Alec Lee, a Brazil analyst at Frontier Strategy Group explains the crisis going on in Brazil today. “The government has lost credibility, investor confidence has collapsed, investment has fallen and, finally, that’s arriving in the real economy where you’re seeing job losses accelerate,” Lee said. “It’s not just an economic crisis but really a political crisis.”
At the center of the crisis is a display of crony capitalism that has ties to many leaders of the Brazilian Workers Party. Former president of Brazil and founder of the Workers Party, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, referred to only as “Lula,” is currently facing money-laundering charges relating to a scandal between the state-run oil company, Petrobras, and Latin America’s largest construction conglomerate, Odebrecht. Odebrecht has allegedly paid more than $2 billion in bribes to Petrobras in exchange for project contracts. The former CEO of Odebracht, Marcelo Odebracht, was sentence to 19 years in prison earlier this month.
When Lula left office in 2011, his approval ratings were off the charts, making it easy for his successor Rousseff to get elected and take over as the head of the Workers Party and president of the country.
It appears that Rousseff had been manipulating government accounts and hiding the actual budget deficit from the Brazilian people. All this mismanagement of state funds was in an effort to increase the money she was able to use for her re-election campaign according to a report by the Associated Press.
Unlike the Brazilian protestors of 2013, these youthful activists understand what happens when the private sector and the government join forces; the people lose. This is why they chant, “Basta,” they have had enough.
Mauro Victor Castro, a 22 year old engineering student said,
“We young people have the impression that we can change the world — not just change but change for the better.”
Just as American Millennials are dealing with the repercussions of the New Deal and Great Society era policies which promised near limitless entitlements to Baby Boomers, young Brazilians are also dealing with massive entitlements promised to Brazil’s older generations.
Those in favor of keeping Rousseff in office come primarily from older generations with poorer backgrounds. Under the Workers Party, a program known as “Bolsa Familia,” was implemented, funneling cash from taxpayers to impoverished households. If the Workers Parry loses power in Brazil, these payments may stop.
Thamiris Batista, who works part-time for the international libertarian student group, Students for Liberty, feels inspired by the droves of young people who have chosen to protest the continuation of big Government in Brazil. “This year I could see there are a lot of young and old people, which I’ve never seen before,” said Batista, “It’s started from students and then people talk during lunchtime with their parents, and now they are protesting too.”
As young socialist Americans prepare to march on their college campuses in favor of socialism next month, Brazilians who have experienced the abuses of socialism firsthand, crowd their country’s streets, warning the rest of the world to take a different path.