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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Students stand with Brazil

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By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Valentina Gassner de Oliveira, 1, participates in a protest organized by UNM’s Brazil Club on Thursday night. About 30 people gathered in front of the UNM Bookstore to voice their objections to Brazilian government spending and to express their support of the recent protests against the government in the country.

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A vuvuzela echoed in front of the Bookstore Thursday night as UNM students gathered in solidarity with recent protests in Brazil.

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By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo
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By Aaron Sweet / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Marina Todeschini, a UNM student from Brazil who was part of organizing the event, said the protest aimed to inform people about the inefficient priorities of the Brazilian government. She said the Brazilian government is overspending on the upcoming World Cup, which will be held in the country June next year, and on the next Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Todeschini said Brazilian people are demanding that the government instead turn its attention to issues of health, education, human rights and infrastructure.

Because Brazil has had so much economic success in recent years, Brazilian citizens should be able to have access to a better standard of living, Todeschini said. She said the government should set its priorities straight.

“We have a huge middle class now and more educated people,” she said. “We need a better quality of life and we need that from the government. If they’re making so much money that they can host the World Cup and the Olympics and pay almost $60 billion for those events, how come we don’t have good hospitals and education?”

Todeschini said UNM’s Brazil Club started organizing the event Saturday and publicized the event through social media. About 30 people attended.

Brazilian UNM exchange student Natalia Cundari said she attended the event to help inform people about her home country’s issues.

She said she believes the protests will start conversations about the issues particularly through social media.

Cundari said the Brazilian government should be more transparent.
“We have been going forward for a long time, and what they’re doing now just makes us go back a hundred years,” she said.

Todeschini said as of Thursday night, protests in solidarity with the Brazilian people have been going on in about 80 other cities around the world.

Albuquerque resident Brian Bough said he attended the protest in support of his Brazilian wife. He said although the recent protests in Brazil would not directly affect the U.S., he still sympathizes with the protesters.

“As with democracies, it seems like the same problems that we see here in the United States,” he said. “We don’t have the problems that bad, but when you look at the interests represented by the government as opposed to the people, you understand the problems the Brazilian people are facing.”

But Bough said the U.S. should not intervene in the issue.

Michael Wolff, a political science teacher assistant at UNM who attended the event, said the issue in Brazil revolves around the complicated governmental structure of the country.

“You have an old and corrupt political system that hasn’t attended to the new identity of Brazil,” he said. “It’s working traditional structures in a system that’s rapidly evolving. It’s a clash of ideas on how society should be organized.”

Wolff said despite the many solidarity protests spread throughout the world, he expects only minimal change in the Brazilian government.

“I don’t expect deep institutional change, but I do expect something to happen,” he said. “The president has even come out and said she supports the protest in some levels. That would give room to effect some light institutional change.”

Todeschini said she encourages other students to “pass the word around” about the Brazilian government’s spending.

“We don’t want that much money spent on the Olympics and the World Cup,” she said. “That doesn’t mean that much to us. That’s not for the people.”