Vem Pra Rua/Come to the Street: The Power of Protest in Brazil

Jessica Glass


This study offers an ethnographic account of the Brazilian protest movement that erupted in June of 2013. I conducted fieldwork in Rio during this time, including unstructured interviews, participant observation, unobtrusive observation, and collection of narratives to gain an understanding of what people living in Rio believe about these protests and social movements in general. The initial motivation for the protests was an increase in public transportation fare, but the movement quickly evolved into a fight for citizenship rights. With the upcoming mega-events in Rio (World Cup and Olympic Games), the city has spent billions of dollars on construction that many people think is unnecessary and ultimately useless. Brazil is a country rife with socioeconomic inequality, and many citizens lack access to having their basic needs met. Protesters in Rio argue that this money could be better spent on providing health care, education, and other fundamental necessities to the city’s population.