Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free Fare! The possible reality.

When a system goes into crisis, all outputs are merely palliative historical patches, which soon will bust before the torrential river of History. And faced with a crisis of a system, it is those who always challenged to state clearly what are their strategic perspectives to a new system. That is, a system that is consistent with their historical moment, and with the needs of the society that uses it.

Florianópolis lived two moments of profound radicalization in the city in 2004 and 2005. Two intense uprisings: of week-long confrontation, with brutal state violence, with arbitrary arrests, illegal use of arms, etc... These revolts were an expression of wear, the "failure" - not in the financial sense, but social and moral - of Urban Public Transportation System.

They exposed a fundamental and unsustainable situation: the need for a real public mass transportation, toward the interests of developing society, of the productive forces in general, and the reality of a system falsely "public", controlled by oligarchic and delayed families - or even by large international corporations - which are governed primarily by profit, not the res publica. That is, public transport is seen as a huge market, a source of ownership of fat slices of the budget of families, a source of economic and political power. And as such, it is interesting that this system is maintained for the same groups.

It turns out that in society there is class struggle. And in this struggle that is a contradiction between opposing interests, and that every exploration has its limits. And the limit of exploration on public transport has reached its maximum degree.

Besides the historical “Revoltas da Catraca” (the name which are called the revolts where popular demands were guaranteed) in 2004 and 2005 in Florianopolis, the “Uprising of Buzú” in Salvador in 2003, and similar uprisings that toppled or challenged rates in Vitoria (ES) 2005, Uberlândia (MG) 2005, Criciuma (SC) 2005 Fortaleza (CE) in 2005, and Recife (PE) in 2005, showed that this is an inevitable wave. At that moment Brasília (DF) and Aracaju (SE) are fighting against a rate increase in urban transport. And this wave will not stop, mainly due to the concrete fact of 38 million Brazilians have no access to transport due to its rates, and that number grows every time that the prices increases.

Solution exists. It depends on a successful combination of factors: popular mobilization, strategic design of a model transport system, and also direction and political determination to implement it. From the standpoint of popular mobilization, there is an expectation rather positive, as the balance of two consecutive wins (2004-05), and the great show of strength of the population in the two revolts. From the viewpoint of the model we need to make a broad discussion in society. Our determination is to dare. Think of transportation as essential public service. Public transportation should be removed from the hands of private companies as key element to overcome the agenda of profitability, which is the core issue that excludes millions of transportation. Transport must be managed by government agencies, municipalities, aimed at the interests of the community, and ruled in another form of financing.

Setember, 2009.

Marcelo Nascimento Pomar is a brazilian historian and one of the founders of Movimento Passe Livre (MPL) or "Fare Free Movement" in Brazil.

Original article in brazilian portuguese:

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