“Chama o Bombeiro”

Brazilians are in revolt.

What started off as protests against a 20-centavo bus fare hike a week ago has exploded into the largest anti-government demonstrations in Brazil since 1985, the year its decades-old military dictatorship was overthrown. President Dilma Rousseff, once a leftist guerrilla leader, now finds herself calling for an emergency meeting today to discuss the crisis.

Between 300,000 and one million citizens took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro last night, and with Brazilians doing the same in at least 80 other cities across the country, the total number of protesters is estimated at around two million.

Protesters are jamming the streets as Brazil hosts the 2013 Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup; the swelling costs of both and the 2016 Olympics are resented by the Brazilian masses. Other grievances include corruption, police brutality and the dire state of social welfare in Brazil’s infamous favelas.

Ironically, the hundreds of thousands of left-wing demonstrators (many of whom donning tell-tale Guy Fawkes masks) aren’t protesting against a conservative government and its austere policies — as is usually the case throughout much of modern Latin America.

Since 2002 Brazil’s federal government has been led by the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party), one of the most influential leftist parties in the region. Sufficed to say, the current protests put Pres. Rousseff and her party in an awkward position ahead of next year’s presidential election.

And you can imagine how intense the demonstrations might get if Brazil doesn’t beat Italy on Saturday and win its group in the first round of Confederations Cup.


Animal House

On Tuesday Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) urged his fellow members of the House from across the political divide to “come to their senses” on immigration reform — or find their senses, I might add.

Speaker John Boehner announced on the same day that he would not bring any immigration bill to the floor for a vote that didn’t have majority support from Republicans.


Latinos get gay-friendly

The Pew Research Center reported this week that, for the first time, a majority of Latinos support marriage equality, 52 percent to 34 percent.

Pew cautions, however, that not all Latinos are down with same-sex marriage — only the nonreligious, young, Democratic and college-educated agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

The greatest opposition to marriage equality comes from Christian fundamentalists, viejitos and Republicans.


3:10 to justice

On Monday the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship before registering to vote.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) was among the Latino civil rights groups that joined the plaintiff, Jesus Gonzalez, in his suit against the state of Arizona. Gonzalez had been forced to jump through various hoops to register to vote after becoming a naturalized citizen in.

“Since [the Arizona law’s] implementation, over 31,500 applicants have been rejected for failing to provide the additional paperwork required,” MALDEF said. “In Arizona’s largest county, voter registration through community-based drives dropped 44%.”

Writing for the majority in a somewhat surprising 7-2 decision, Justice Antonin Scalia said that the 1993 National Voter Registration Act replaced the complex registration forms of individual states with a simpler federal form.

“No matter what procedural hurdles a State’s own form imposes,” Scalia wrote, “the Federal Form guarantees that a simple means of registering to vote in federal elections will be available.”

Now that Justice Scalia has sided with the progressive half of the court on a voting rights and equal treatment case (Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito were the two dissenters, of course), you maywant to consider tying down any pigs you might own.


[Photo: Semilla Luz via Flickr]


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