Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Free Fare Movement to Brazil president: 'What matters is meeting the demands of the social movements'

By the Free Fare Movement São Paulo, translated by Federico Fuentes

June 24, 2013

To President Dilma Rousseff

We were surprised by your invitation to this meeting. We imagine that you were also taken by surprise by what has occurred in the country in recent weeks. This gesture of dialogue on the part of the federal government is in contradiction with the treatment you have given social movements, a policy that has remained consistent through this administration. It seems that the uprisings that have spread throughout the cities of Brazil since June 6 has broken old barriers and opened new paths.

From the beginning, the Free Fare Movement has been part of this process. We are an autonomous, horizontal and non-partisan social movement, that never intended to represent all of the protesters who took to the streets of the country. Our voice is just one more among those shouted in the streets, written on placards, scrawled on walls. In São Paulo, we initiated protests around a clear and concrete demand: repeal the fare increase. If previously this seemed impossible, we proved that it was not and have advanced the struggle for what is and always has been our central concern, a truly public transport system. That is why we came to Brasilia.
Transport can only be public if it is truly accessible to all people, that is, it is understood as a universal right. The injustice of fare prices becomes clearer with every increase, as each time more people can no longer afford to pay the fare. To question the increases is to question the very logic of the policy of fares, which subordinates public transport to the profits of entrepreneurs, not the needs of the population. Having to pay to move around the city means treating mobility as a commodity, not a right. This puts all other rights in check: being able to go to school, to the hospital, to the park requires setting fares at a level everyone can afford. Transportation is limited to going to and from work, while closing off the rest of the city to its residents. In order to open up the city we fight for free public transport.

For this reason we would like to know the position of the President regarding free public transport and the PEC 90/11, which includes access to transport in the list of social rights in Article 6 of the constitution. It is understood that access to transport should be treated as a complete and unrestricted social right, which we believe necessarily goes beyond a policy limited to a particular segment of society, such as students and the issue of the free fare for students. We fight for a free fare for everyone!

Although prioritising public transport is part of the government's discourse, in practice Brazil invests eleven times more in individual transport, via road projects and loans for purchasing cars (IPEA, 2011). Public money should be invested in public transport! We would like to know why the president vetoed item V of Article 16 of the National Policy on Urban Mobility (Law No. 12.587/12) which would have given the federal government the responsibility of giving financial support to municipalities that adopted policies that prioritise public transport. As Article 9 makes clear, this law prioritises a private management model based on charging for fares, thereby adopting the point of view of the companies and not commuters. The federal government needs to take the lead in the process of building a real public transport system. The municipalisation of CIDE [Contribution for Economic Intervention][1], and its full and exclusive allocation to public transport, would represent a step long the path toward free transport.

Tax exemptions, a measure that historically has been defended by transport companies, go in the opposite direction. Forgoing taxes means losing power over public money, blindly freeing funds for transport mafias, without any transparency and control. To meet the peoples' demands for transport, it is necessary to build instruments that put at the heart of decision making those whose needs should be met: commuters and transport workers.

This meeting with the president was forced upon her by the mobilisations in the streets, which advanced in the face of bombs, bullets and prisons. Social movements in Brazil have always suffered from repression and criminalisation. Until now, 2013 has been no different: in Mato Grosso do Sul, there was a massacre of indigenous peoples and last month the National Public Security Force murdered a Terena indigenous leader while attempting to re-occupy their land; in the Federal District, five activists from the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST) were arrested a few weeks ago amid protests against the impacts of the FIFA World Cup.
The police response to the protests which started in June has been no different: tear gas were thrown into hospitals and university; protesters were chased and beaten by the Military Police, others were shot; hundreds of people were arbitrarily arrested, some being accused of conspiracy and incitement to commit a crime; a man lost his sight; a girl was sexually assaulted by police; a woman died due to suffocation caused by tear gas. The real violence that we witnessed in June came from the state - in all its spheres.

The demilitarisation of the police, supported by the United Nations, and a national policy to regulate less lethal weapons that are banned in many countries and condemned by international bodies, are urgently needed. By deploying the National Public Security Force to contain demonstrations, the minister of justice demonstrated that the federal government insists on treating social movements as a police matter. News of the monitoring of activists by the Federal Police and the ABIN [Brazilian Intelligence Agency] go in the same direction: the criminalisation of popular struggle.

We hope that this meeting marks a shift in attitude of the federal government that will be extended to other social struggles: indigenous peoples, such as the Guarani-Kaiowá and Mundurukú, who have suffered several attacks at the hands of landowners and the government; communities affected by dispossession; the homeless; the landless; and mothers whose children have been murdered by the police in the poor neighbourhoods. That the same approach is also extended across all the cities struggling against the prices hikes and for a different public transport model: São José dos Campos, Florianopolis, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Goiânia, and many others.

Rather than sitting at the table and talking, what matters is meeting the clear demands that have already been raised by social movements across the country. Against all increases in the price of public transport, against the fare, we will continue in the streets! Free fare now!

All power to those fighting for a life without barriers!

[Translated from Carta Maior http://www.cartamaior.com.br/templates/materiaMostrar.cfm?materia_id=22240. Federico Fuentes is co-author of Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism. See futuresocialism.org for more details.]
[1] CIDE applies to royalty payments, technology transfers and compensation of technology supply, and technical assistance. It is be paid by those who import or commercialise items and assets covered by the tax.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Economic reasons for free public transport

Blog Boitempo: "A society dependent on individual car has high levels of pollution - much more than would have been the main means of transport to be collective. Air pollution leads to respiratory diseases and, consequently, medical expenses for the citizen and state. To the extent that such respiratory diseases incapacitate members of a society lead to a possible economic downturn - without health workers do not produce the same level as health workers. There are other expenses related to automobile use in mass, such as maintaining a network of traffic inspectors, crucial for organizing cities with heavy traffic, and time - productive - lost in traffic jams. Who pays the bill for transit are, again, the citizen and the state.

Automakers can sell at cheaper prices because they produce cars pass on the citizen and the state social costs of the transport system that sponsor. In the early months of 2011, the increase in car sales reached 8% compared with the previous year. Automakers require government tax cuts and easier credit for the buyers, that is, they want to get rid of even more of the social costs related to their cars. But the tax should increase, not decrease."

Read the whole original post

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Brazil: 75% support protest, 77% say #publictransit too expensive

Brazil braces for fresh protests - International - World - Ahram Online: "A poll Saturday by the Ibope polling agency showed three quarters of Brazilians back the wave of protests, with 77 percent citing the high cost of using public transport as the key reason for their dissatisfaction."

Friday, June 21, 2013

Corporate media tries to spin otherwise, but the #brazil organizers are the Free Transit Movement

NYTimes.com: "The Free Fare Movement was created in 2005, at a meeting in Pôrto Alegre, a southern city. Ms. Vivian, who is now 23, helped organize the event, which drew about 200 activists from around the country. Under a large tent at a campsite in a park, activists came up with a logo: a crude drawing of a stick figure kicking over a bus turnstile.

...Without the organizing grunt work over the years, she and others said, the stage for the current wave of protests would not have been set."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

About the victory: "Statement of the Free Fare Movement"

June 20, 2013

by Free Fare Movement  São Paulo

The city will not forget the experience of these last weeks. We learned that only
the struggle of those from below can defeat interests enforced from the top down. The government's intransigence had to give in because of blocked streets, barricades, and civil unrest.

Neither the Free Fare Movement or any other organization are the ones who repealed the fare hike. The people is the only responsible for it.

The people builds and makes the city functions every day. However, the people has no right to enjoy this city, because transportation is expensive. Revoking the
price rises on public transport is an important step towards the recovery and the transformation of this city by the people from below.

The struggle of the Free Free Movement, which neither begins nor ends today, continues towards a public transport without any charge, where decisions are taken by the users and not by politicians and businessmen. If before they used to say that it was impossible to cancel the increase in transport fares, the people's revolt proved that it is not. Now they say that the free fare is impossible, our struggle will prove them wrong.

For a life without turnstiles!

Free Fare Movement São Paulo

Source: http://tarifazero.org/2013/06/20/sao-paulo-nota-do-movimento-passe-livre/

Make it free

Brazil government rolls back transit hike - Americas - Al Jazeera English: ""A lot of the movement participants say [on social media] that its a good start, but not quite enough. They want free public transport, especially in Sao Paulo," he said. "

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

[Protests in São Paulo] The Clear Goals of the Struggle

1. The movement came about centered around the struggle to reduce the public transportation fares, supplemented by the fight for free fare andthe right to the city. Those are the causes the Free Fare Movement stands for, as they have been developing for a decade, with demonstrations that vary in size along those years.2. The brutal repression of the Military Police in São Paulo, on the June 13th demonstration, leaving hundreds wounded and arrested - or cowardly battered, - caused national and international commotion, taking demonstrations to a never before seen dimension when it comes to the issue of urban mobility.3. The mainstream media in Brazil, known to be a monopoly that was never properly regulated by the Federal Government to become truly democratic, as well as having its interests entwined with those of the conservative right - bought out and obedient to them - has tried to turn the goals of the movement into their own political agenda in a vile manipulative process.4. This is nothing new. It’s worth noting that, back in 1984, during one of the most important demonstrations during the Diretas Já Campaign at Sé Square, the daily news at Globo announced people were gathered there to celebrate São Paulo’s anniversary.5.Other goals that have been added to the movement are legitimate and help in politicizing the debate, widening the perspective for a positive end to this great wave of protests.6. However, there’s been an ideological cluttering, one orchestrated by the right wing parties and incited by mainstream media editorials with the intention of attributing their own agenda to the movement - an attempt to gain votes in 2014, or even creating circumstances that could lead to a coup.7. Here we have a shared responsibility: Inside the movement, we must keep fighting to neutralize the right wing conservative stupidity, defining a series of clear goals for the struggle and shouting chants related to them, as well as writing and spreading information about them. In different spheres of the government, the goals of the movement must be heard immediately, as short, medium and long term plans that include democratizing mechanisms for access to the city are created, such as FREE FARE.Haddad, honor the Worker’s Party and its history! Repeal the fare hikes today and begin negotiations with the Free Fare Movement in public transportation.We are living in a historical moment and our political function is to act in helping to build the necessary conditions for a concrete victory instead of a regression.
Written by Marcelo PomarTranslated by Jéssica Preuss

Monday, June 17, 2013

[Protests in São Paulo] GIF - Tear Gas Bomb Soccer

Meanwhile in São Paulo... A Brazilian protester against the bus fare increase kicks a tear gas bomb just a like a soccer ball. Simple like that.

Photos of the Protests Against the Bus Fare Increase in São Paulo (June 6th, 11th and 13th, 2013)

                                               Photographer: Alexandre R. Pereira

                                                Photographer: Alexandre R. Pereira

                                               Photographer: Alexandre R. Pereira

"If the bus fare does not decrease, São Paulo will stop"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

[Protests in São Paulo] Why We are in the Streets

June 15th, 2013

The model of public transportation based on allowing its exploitation by private companies and the charging of fares is a broken model. It will continue to be in crisis for as long as urban mobility continues to follow the logic of commodities, as opposed to the idea of urban mobility as a fundamental right for everyone.

This logic, namely profit, leads companies to raise the fares repeatedly with support from the government. This raise eventually leads more public transportation passengers to stop using it, and with less passengers, the companies feel the need to raise the fares again.

That is an act of violence against a large part of the population, who, as shown in the article published by UOL yesterday, has to choose between eating, or paying for public transportation fares. An estimated 37 million Brazilians have been excluded from the public transportation system because they cannot afford it. This number, not an updated figure, does not come out of nowhere: from 20 cent to 20 cent raise, transportation has become, according to IBGE (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics), the third largest expense for the Brazilian family, taking the right to mobility from the population.

In this sense, a population which requires transportation to go to work, but must pay that bill almost by itself, with no contribution from the sectors that truly benefit from their use of public transportation. That is why we believe in a free fare, which means nothing more than to indirectly fund this system, dividing the bill by everyone, as everyone benefits from it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

[Protests in São Paulo] What the News Won't Show

 About the Protests of 06/11/2013

"The News won’t say that it was hours of peaceful demonstration, from Paulista Avenue to Dom Pedro Park Bus Terminal.

The News won’t say that the march followed the route established by the police until being trapped in front of the Bus Terminal.

The News won’t say that after trapping 20 thousand people in front of the Bus Terminal, the incompetent São Paulo State Police Force threw gas bombs in the middle of the crowd, making people flee and threatening many people’s lives.

The News won’t show that the people came back singing, united, with popular support from the buildings windows, clapping and everything to Sé Square.

[Protests in São Paulo] A Historical Demonstration Ended by Police Brutality (12-06-2013)

A Historical Demonstration Ended by Police Brutality

I hate to write an article like this. I'm much more comfortable talking about how exciting it was to walk the streets of Sao Paulo next to 15-20 thousand people under severe thunderstorm. A heavy rain removed a considerable part of the crowd, but strengthened those who decided to stay. Staying in earnest with certainty that the bus fare will be reduced now, immediately. With certainty that the transport will no longer be in the hands of private companies (or managed under a privatized way even when controlled by the government). With certainty that the bus fare should not even exist.

It is simple. As we wrote so many times, urban mobility should be a right accessible to everyone, without exception, as it is the health and education systems in Brazil. I'd much rather celebrate the Free Fare Movement, which is arguably a left wing movement, truly motivated by the people's needs, against losses that capitalism tries to impose and projects to ensure best living conditions for the most excluded in our society. The movement that it is on people’s side, and not governments’ side. The bus fare has no party and must be fought, regardless the political power situation. The bus fare is a wall that separates Israel and Palestine, which prevents the passage of a people through its territory. The bus fare is an urban apartheid. 
However, I came here to write this short piece for another reason. To say that even being a huge protest, it just had one really violent moment: the premeditated end by the police. It wasn't tense in front of Terminal Parque Dom Pedro, whose outcome seemed simple: shock troops stood before the demonstration and tactical force stood behind. There was nowhere to go, they attacked, and we retreated. After this dispersion, several small and large protests happened simultaneously until everybody returned to Avenida Paulista. There, the demonstration took all the lanes of the avenue.

After walking for five hours through downtown of São Paulo, the demo was heading for a finale. Near the São Paulo Art Museum, a part of the protesters tried to occupy the other via of the avenue. Right there shock troops and several of their colleagues in the military police settled their base. Someone was arrested. I do not know why. There were very few people in this "wing". But the others protested for the release of the detainee. Anyway, the crowd shouted, the rest of the crowd was approaching and by this time the military police began to throw several of these new tear gas bombs, brutal, dense, that remain for much more time in the air, in your face and down to your trachea.
We were stuck, cornered. I'm talking about thousands of people, 5000, 6000, 7000 or so. A part of this group went down to the first street they found. Another remained crushed in the door of the museum; and another group tried to go to the avenue. Not satisfied with this first "dispersion", the police followed behind the protesters throwing one bomb after another. I counted eighteen, while walking without knowing where, without seeing and unable to breathe. At that time I saw the first guy wielding an iron bar. He wanted to break a TV corporation's car but everyone around stopped him. The police in turn struck again, pushing these people to the streets that surround the avenue, therefore, more gas bombs, and more smoke.

The revolt was stimulated from the outside, by those who have the monopoly of violence and toys capable of performing this violence against others who cannot do anything but break windows and bins. Probably tomorrow we will read on corporate media’s newspapers that the movement as a whole has as a main characteristic the thirst for violence. That's not true. Even though I do not believe in this moral e conservative tale about violence. In this society divided into social classes and controlled by an aggressive State, violence is permanent: in hunger, misery, and in the repression of the full development of each individual that is transformed one by one into mere machines for the production of wealth for the few.

The police chased protesters through the streets. In just one police station we saw 25 detainees. I await a precise number. In addition, as I’m writing this article, I read on twitter that "the officer responsible for the arrests at the demonstration against increasing bus fares demands R$ 20.000 (something like U$ 9.500) per detainee regardless of the charge." I've seen situations where the state was not only repressive, but cruel. All of them happened twice when our social movement in Florianópolis reduced the bus fares. The more they beat, the more the movement grew. The outrage because of the police brutality overcame media's manipulation and pushed the limits of the social movement. Many people came not only against the injustice in the public transport, but also against the government’s restrictions to our right to fight. By the way, we only have the right to fight just because many people have protested, and sometimes more intensely, against the civil-military dictatorship that occurred between 1964 and 1985 in Brazil.
Thursday will be bigger.

June 12, 2013
Written and translated by Daniel Guimarães - Journalist, activist of MPL (Movimento Passe Livre/Free Fare Movement) and member of tarifazero.org

Proofread by Yuri Gama - Sociologist and supporter of MPL and tarifazero.org

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Protest Over 10-Cent Bus Fare Increase Paralyzes Brazil’s Cities

Manifestantes fazem reunião na Av. Paulista para definir o término do ato e combinar o próximo. Foto: Graziela Kunsch (celular)

Businessweek: "The Sao Paulo-based organization behind the protests, called the Free Pass Movement, wants to abolish bus fares altogether, arguing that the public service should be free and improved so city dwellers can move more easily around the city.

While the movement has existed since 2005, its following has grown after Sao Paulo last month announced it was raising bus fares 7 percent, or 20 centavos, to 3.20 reais ($1.50).

The protests were also under way in Rio de Janeiro tonight, blocking traffic on the main downtown thoroughfare."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, June 8, 2013