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Brazil: 40 Cities Make the Freedom March

This post is part of our special coverage SlutWalks 2011.

Forty Brazilian cities had their streets taken over by the Freedom March on Saturday 18 June, 2011. A multitude of groups, collectives, movements, organizations and outraged people brought forth their revolt. The fuse of this spontaneous rebellion was the violent repression at the Marijuana March of São Paulo by the military police on 21 May . [Watch the great video that TV Trip made of the Marijuana March].

The violence was so great that it awoke the rage of a thousand young people who, organized by social networks like Facebook, made the first Freedom March in São Paulo, on the following weekend.

First Freedom March in São Paulo. Photo by Flickr user Marcel Bertoldi/Fora do Eixo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

First Freedom March in São Paulo. Photo by Flickr user Marcel Bertoldi/Fora do Eixo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The call [pt] to the Freedom March was addressed to everyone, urging them to claim their freedom of expression:

Quando a tropa de choque bateu nos escudos e, em coro, gritou CHOQUE! a Marcha pela Liberdade de Expressão do último sábado se tornou muito maior. Não em número de pessoas, mas em importância, em significado.

Foram liminares, tiros, estilhaços, cacetadas, gases e prisões sem sentido. Um ataque direto, cru, registrado por centenas de câmeras, corpos e corações. Muita gente acha que maconheiros foram reprimidos.

Engano…
Naquele 21 de maio, houve uma única vítima: a liberdade de todos.

When the riot troops smote their shields and, in chorus, yelled SHOCK! the March for Freedom of Expression of last Saturday became much bigger. Not in number of people, but in importance, in meaning.

It was commands, shots, shrapnel, beatings, gas and meaningless arrests. A direct attack, raw, registered by hundreds of cameras, bodies and hearts. Many people still think the marijuana smokers were repressed.

Mistake…

On that 21 May, there was only one victim: the freedom of all.

Spontaneous and political at the same time, the movement was distinguished by a lack of hierarchy, leaders, political organizations or ideas. But, like an epidemic, the indignation spread into 40 Brazilian cities.

Forty cities rallied for freedom last Saturday, 18 June, 2011.

Forty cities rallied for freedom last Saturday, 18 June, 2011.

The main body of Brazilian justice resolved to intervene and on 15 June the Supreme Court ruled on the process that allowed the organization of protests claiming the legalization of marijuana. The decision was the guarantee that the protesters would be able to march without being hit by batons, pepper gas or bombs.

Júlio Delmato, a member of Coletivo DAR (DAR stands for Awakening Reason) believes that the second Freedom March at São Paulo was a victory over oppression:

Este sábado marcou não só o dia nacional de marchas pela liberdade como também a primeira vez em que pudemos sair às ruas em São Paulo e falar sobre políticas de drogas sem mordaça.

This Saturday marked not only the national day of Freedom Marches, but also the first time we could go out on the streets of São Paulo and speak about the politics of drugs without being gagged.
Curitiba Freedom March. Photo by André Rodrigues, available on the blog <em/>Tudo de Fotografia (All of Photography).

Curitiba Freedom March. Photo by André Rodrigues, available on the blog Tudo de Fotografia (All of Photography).

In each city local items were added to the one of freedom of expression. Marijuana became a claim like many others. Activists marched against Belo Monte's planned hydroelectric power plant, against the new Forestry Code recently approved, for media democratization, better public transports, gender equality, against indiscriminate use of pesticides, against homophobia among others.

Not even the most traditional media could avoid reporting the Freedom March, but the coverage was massive in the alternative media. The Circuito Fora do Eixo [pt], a net of cultural works with 72 points throughout Brazil, transmitted live from several marches in different cities.

The newspaper Brasil de Fato, a periodical founded at World Social Forum that congregates only news of social movements, also reported the March:

[A marcha em Curitiba] está sendo organizada por grupos de artistas independentes, partidos políticos, feministas e grupos de LGBT, anti-racistas, ambientalistas, do movimento estudantil e de comunicação. “De forma geral, podemos observar o protagonismo da juventude tanto na organização da marcha quanto nos movimentos que a compõe”.

[The Curitiba March] is being organized by a group of independent artists, political parties, feminists and LGBT groups, anti-racists, environmentalists, students and communication movements. “On the whole, we can observe youth playing the leading role in the organization of the march and in all the movements that compose it”.

The journalist Xico Sá posted at his blog 22 reasons for people to participate in the Freedom March. Here are some of them:

I)Temos que retomar o prazer pelas ruas, seja em um passeio, seja em um ensaio de revolta. A velha lição do flâneur, do que vaga ou do que atira pedras.

VII) O protesto pode sim virar uma festa. Quando isso acontece é ainda mais perigoso para o Establishment entediado e careta.

IX) É livre a participação de todos as legendas, mas que levemos de partidos para a avenida apenas os nossos pobres e resistentes corações.

XI) É numa passeata que você pode encontrar de verdade o amor da sua vida. Aquele amor acima de qualquer suspeita ideológica.

XIII) Sim, protestamos mas não somos chatos, tiramos la buena onda, preste atenção como agora somos ainda mais anarquistas.

XIV) O blasé datou, é hora de escancarar a bocarra e mostrar que tem peito e uma alma capaz de escândalos.

XVII) Como a liberdade é um mote muito amplo, aproveite para protestar contra tudo e contra todos.

XVIII) Se der vontade, tire a roupa.

XXI) Triste da geração que passa pela vida sem fazer um barulho ou uma confusão bem grande na existência.

XXII) Protestar é sexy, é Eros derrotando a morte de quem aceita o pijama como um precoce paletó de madeira.

I) We have to recover the pleasure by the streets, whatever it is in a sounter, or a revolt essay. The old lesson of the flâneur, the one who roves or the one who throw rocks.

VII) The protest can become a party. When this happens is even more dangerous to the boring and old Establishment.

IX) The participation of all parties is free, but we have to take to the streets only our poor and resistant hearts.

XI) It's in a walk you can find the true love of your life. That love above all ideological suspicions.

XIII) Yes, we protest but we are not boring, we take la buena onda, pay attention that now we are even more anarchists.

XIV) The blasé is old, it's time to open the mouth and show we have breasts and souls capable of scandals.

XVIII) If you want, take off your clothes.

XXI) Sad is the generation that passes by life without making some noise or a big confusion in its existence.

XXII) Protest is sexy, Eros is defeating death who accepts pajamas as an early wood suit.

Freedom March in Brasília. Photo by Marcus Franchi Nogueira on Facebook

Freedom March in Brasília. Photo by Marcus Franchi Nogueira on Facebook (used with permission).

Indymedia Brazil, the collective that organized the Freedom March at Natal (Rio Grande do Norte) also summoned their fellow citizens to march:

Nossas reivindicações não têm hierarquia. Todas as pautas se completam na perspectiva da luta por uma sociedade igualitária, por uma vida digna, de amor e respeito mútuos. Somos todos pedestres, motoristas, cadeirantes, catadores, estudantes, trabalhadores. Somos todos idosos, índios, travestis. Somos todos nordestinos, bolivianos, brasileiros, vira-latas.
E somos livres.

Our claims don't have hierarchy. All the items of our agenda are from the perspective of a fight for an egalitarian society, for a worthy life, of love and mutual respect. We are all pedestrians, drivers, wheelchair people, scavengers, students, workers. We are all elderly people, natives, transvestites. We are all Northeasterners, Bolivians, Brazilians, homeless.

And we are free.

In the capital city Brasília, just like at Natal, the Freedom March was accomplished simultaneously with the Slut Walk, a manifesto for women in search of respect for their bodies and clothing.

Cuiabá Freedom March. Photo by Flickr user Ederson Deka (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Cuiabá Freedom March. Photo by Flickr user Ederson Deka (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

At Cuiabá, Capital of Mato Grosso, despite there being less people than expected, the March walked by the most important avenues, where there are some expensive pubs and clubs. With the already traditional yells, posters and whistles, the protest was one of the biggest recently, making invalid the theory that says youth would be apathetic.

Known as a state where the politics is reactionary and guided by a small group of parliamentarians, forming an “modern oligarchy”, calling the shots in sectors that should be commanded by citizens, Mato Grosso received the March with very special yells, as remembered by the blog Rad Rocker:

Marchinhas do tipo “Livra, livra, livra a sociedade desse Riva” e “Walter Rabelo, cadê você, eu vim aqui só pra te ver” foi o jeito animado encontrado para criticar o governo e o descaso com a sociedade cuiabana.

Songs like “Shake off that Riva” and “Walter Rabelo, where are you?, we just came to see you” was the animated way finded to criticize the government and the negligence with the society of Cuiabá.

Many stories, many claims and the wish to make things change. The throat was spent to yell for justice, democracy and human rights in Brazil. It was a clear demonstration that there are limits to the patience of a suffering but happy people.

Like Xico Sá said, the protest can become a party and Brazil wouldn't have it any other way. Clown noses, posters and carnival costumes were the way found by millions of young people to say ENOUGH to all that is wrong.

Freedom March in Belo Horizonte. Photo by Junia Mortimer/Coletivo Pegada, available on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Freedom March in Belo Horizonte. Photo by Junia Mortimer/Coletivo Pegada, available on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This post is part of our special coverage SlutWalks 2011.

4 comments

  • Jillian Galloway

    On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us.” After forty years of trying to destroy “the drug menace in America” we still *haven’t* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn’t* destroyed us. Four decades is long enough to realize that on this incredibly important issue, President Nixon was wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

    It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn’t* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

    We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

    “There’s something extraordinarily perverse when we’re so concerned about preventing addicts from having access to drugs that we destroy the lives of many times more people, either through untreated pain or other drug war damage”.

  • Thanks for shared with us this story, keep doing your great job !!!

  • Great article! Brazil’s mainstream media and most media channels in the world do not inform us about the socio-economic problems that are faced in the Global South. The Belo Monte Dam, Brazil’s agrobusiness and the use of pesticides is slowly destroying my country. It’s a sad reality.

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