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The Diversity of Protest Posters in Brazil

From May through July 2013, crowds of protesters took to the streets and shook the cities of São Paulo, Rio, Porto Alegre, Brasília, Fortaleza, among dozens of others, on a nationwide scale. This huge social phenomenon keeps on sparking debates with a feeling that more is still to come.

"Our name is courage Our right is to fight"

“Our name is courage Our right is to fight”

Protests are very common in Brazilian political life, but last year's protests took everyone by surprise due their particular features. Young generations went to the streets, most of them for the first time. They did not belong to political parties or social movements – instead, their mobilization took place among friends and acquaintances through discussions and posts on online social media. Commercial slogans “the giant woke up” and “come to the street” were subverted and used as invitations. Demands and issues of criticism were very diverse, including the high cost of living, corruption, interventions for the FIFA World Cup, quality of public education, healthcare, and disbelief of the current political system – and these would all come together in a single march.

Through banners, chants, and posters, demands were given support to echo. Looking back, they now may be seen as documents of that moment and the ways of “waking up” to protest. Posters became an inspiration for a protest song, and have also serve as material for the Tumblr blog Cartazes dos Protestos, which brings together photos of protest posters published on social media. Through the collection, one can see the diversity of demands, criticisms, and struggles of protesters throughout the country, which cover all sorts of perspectives, from progressive and critical to intolerant and prejudiced accounts.

"This is the way that the mayor sees you" -

“This is the way that the mayor sees you” -

A man dressed up as Spiderman criticized taxes and held a poster that said “Not even a superhero can put up with so many taxes!”; another poster said “I'm no longer a government prostitute! I want to be a free slut!”, in reference to the Slut Walk; the poster “Politicians instead are in need of a cure” stood against preacher and politician Feliciano, who proposed a law to “cure” homosexuals; the poster “Let's shake the order to meet progress” made reference to the country motto “Order and Progress”.

Playful and ironic messages also had their space, such as the poster “I could be upping files [right now], but I'm here protesting”.

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches, followed closely by the elections for President, state Governors, and other executive positions in October, new protests and mobilizations are expected. That will be once more a prolific time for posters, banners and chants, after all, as one poster put it: “A country in silence will not change”.

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