Jair Bolsonaro was swept to power in Brazil promising to take a hard line against criminals, politicians and social movements that, for him, represented the enemies of the “good citizens” who elected him. This violent discourse added to a history of hateful messages against opposition parties (especially the Workers’ Party) and especially against anything that resembles leftist ideology. But repression of social movements is not a novelty, nor did it begin with the inauguration of President Bolsonaro in 1 of January 2019.

Twenty three activists have just been convicted in Rio de Janeiro for taking part in the June 2013 demonstrations and demonstrations against the World Cup the following year on July, 2018. These activists, sentenced to up to 7 years in jail for a series of violent crimes, were chosen to send a message to social movements and autonomous activists that demonstrations which threatens the government will not be tolerated. The only violence acceptable is the one promoted by the police.

June 2013 was a turning point for Brazilian politics. Millions of people took the streets initially demanding the reduction of public transport fares, but soon protests blossomed into a more comprehensive demand for better public services and an end to corruption. Now a small group of those who were in the streets of Rio de Janeiro have been convicted, a direct blow to everyone who was supporting and taking part in the demonstrations.

Full article at Red Pepper Magazine’s website. Date of publication: 05/02/2019

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