As the “home of football” and a country that does a party better than anyone in the world, it was expected that the announcement of a World Cup in Brazil would have been met with widespread approval and excitement here.
That has not been the case.
Brazil is a country that is maturing politically and growing in both continental and global importance. It has an active democracy, more so than many other South American countries, and its politically engaged youth are an example to us in the UK who remain gravely apathetic and uninterested in the decisions that shape our lives.
The protests here, which reached their height last June, relate to two main issues. Foremost, there exists a belief that in a growing economy funds should be directed towards redressing the huge income inequality in Brazil, the 17th highest in the world. For many, the US$11.3 billion dollars spent on the World Cup could have been better directed towards improving education and healthcare and addressing the pervasive poverty that is ever-present in this country. Secondly, a perceived misappropriation of funds has caused much anger, with a general consensus that too much money has filled the pockets of officials and politicians.
It seems, though, that a tipping point has been reached
As teams and tourists begin to disembark into the land of Samba, there has been a marked change in the atmosphere. The concerns and frustrations have not disappeared but there is a general consensus amongst Brazilians that now the Copa is here, we might as well enjoy it. “There are so many good aspects to this country and so much we want to show off,” Lisiane told me, “that we don’t want the focus on our country to be a negative one”.
Bars are filling. Brahma is flowing. “Bora Brazil!”