On the sixteenth of April, 1984 the final demonstration of the Diretas Já campaign brought one and a half million Brazilians into the streets of São Paulo. The phrase “I want to vote for president” could be read on the protesters’ yellow t-shirts and posters. To understand the recent wave of demonstrations in Brazil, we will have to begin with the history of this reformist movement, animated by the protesters’ belief that their country had been degraded by the greed and incompetence of the politicians—a constant theme in the efforts to make our institutions more responsive to the “real Brazil.”
As I started writing from Tarlabasi, Istanbul, the police were fortifying Taksim Square to prevent peaceful protesters from entering. They were there to protest the release of the policeman who murdered one of our comrades in Ankara, Ethem Sarisuluk. He was shot in the head, and a video has been released clearly revealing the murder. Despite abundant evidence and witnesses to the contrary, courts released him on the basis of “self-defense” and will continue his trial without detention. With this decision, the partiality of the legal system in favor of the brutal police forces became obvious once again.