What Makes Brazil's Protests Different Than Turkey

Jun 21, 2013

Students and workers protest in Rio de Janeiro's city center - June 13, 2013
Credit Tanya Rego / AgĂȘncia Brasil/Wikimedia Commons

Residents of Brazil's largest cities have awakened to streets that are still smoldering after a million protesters turned out overnight -- sometimes clashing violently with police during anti-government demonstrations.

"This seems to be seems to be somewhat of a surprise given that Brazil was an economic success story for the last decade or so," says Rebecca Cruise, the Assistant Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies. "[It was] leading the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries in GDP and really doing quite well."

College of International Studies Dean Suzette Grillot says that while the protests started over higher bus fares, like in Turkey, they expanded to consume many other issues.

"Protesters in the streets [are] now concerned about everything from corruption to public safety on the World Cup and the Olympics too," Grillot says. "[It's] really a desire for more public services. They pay extremely high tax rates in Brazil, yet the citizenry is crying out for better schools and better access to health care."

Grillot says the rising middle class in Brazil has led to increased expectations and increased participation in the streets.

"The president's response there has been quite different than what we saw in Turkey," Grillot says. "She has more or less embraced the protesters and has said that they are a sign of a strong civil society and a vibrant democracy."