Brazilian activist - "Young people have the mindset for change"
The recent uprising in Brazil triggered solidarity protests around the world by Brazilian expat communities. One of the organisers of Auckland's 1000-strong march down Queen Street was Milton Menezes. He was interviewed by Nico for SocialistAotearoa.org
Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Milton Menezes. I'm a digital artist creating images and videos in NZ for advertising mainly. I'm a photoshop specialist and post production artist. I studied fine arts and worked in advertising agencies as an art director. I did years of professional football and theater acting, but that's was only some big hobbies of mine. I always had pursuit to align body and soul which I think is the way to go through a well balanced life. Can you tell us what's going on in Brazil right now, and why are so many people in the streets.
Basically everything in Brazil seems wrong. There's people in NZ complaining about corruption. But there are statistics putting NZ on the top of the list of the least corrupted countries in the world along with Finland. On the other hand Brazil has the most expensive politicians and is extremely corrupted. I read a quote one day that says something like: "In a country with people dying by hunger, stealing money is genocide." I think it fits pretty well for Brazil.
What different groups are demonstrating? And why do you think this group in particular has taken to the streets? Are there different goals? And do you think they can work together?
It started with young people and even teenagers. I reckon young people have the right mindset for change. It has always been this way in every revolution. Also young people is full on internet and things like Facebook, with NSA on your back or not, is still a better communication device and democratic information media than any other in history. Facebook has been used as a valuable tool for uniting people for good. I believe most of the people out there are good. It's the little less than 1% that fucks up with the other 99% of the planet. Sorry for swearing but there's no better way to describe it. About the goals I guess there is one only main goal in Brazil at the moment which is "Stop corruption!". I guess the whole country with it's over 200 million agrees with it.
How much power does the president have over the individual states to respond to protesters demands? Do you think there's anything that president Dilma Rouseff can do to meet the demands of the people in the street?
She doesn't have much power I feel. Like Obama or any other puppet she is doing her best I guess but the real presidents are the banks and companies. Dilma tried to suggest a whole bunch of changes that will hardly be done in my opinion. Parties won't help Dilma to help the country. They rather make it worse so they can overpower the current government. Although the pressure of people can make a difference because affects companies and banks indirectly or not. Tourism goes down, strikes affects everyone and this is the true power of people. 99% will always win the 1%. I hope so!
Do you think police actions during the demonstrations have weakened or strengthened the movement?
Both I would say! Some people will stay at home afraid of police brutality while more and more frustrated people will come to help out. You have doctors and lawyers helping people against the misguided, unprepared, under payed and violent militarized police. There's a common sense that this military police should end.
What motivated you to organise the solidarity rally on saturday? How did you promote saturdays demonstration?
I have friends giving their time and putting their faces against rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas bombs, fear of violence and unreasonable arrests with unconstitutional fines. It feels terrible to be so far from your home when it's on fire and your loved ones are still in it. It's my moral obligation to spread the word and try to help. I believe that what happens there affects everyone else all over the world. There's a lot of brazilians here and spread across the planet showing the same solidarity so I was only one more to help. I created the event on Facebook and it made sense. It was surprising though to see almost a 1000 people on Queen St. including Brazilians, kiwis and people from other countries as well. It's good to see that you are not alone and that's the message we sent to Brazil. We gave them a bit more hope and cheering. But manifesting in NZ is like manifesting in a ideal place. Things are quite the opposite on the other side of the world.
Have you planned any further actions?
Not really. Not yet! I think we sent our message for now and got the international media aware of Brazil's situation. That was our goal but nothing holds us from doing it again and again if we feel necessary. The true manifestations grow stronger in Brazil everyday. Being aware is the first step.
The Confederations cup is currently going on in Brazil, have demonstrations had any effect on the games?
Brazil does not want to know only about football and bikinis any longer. Finally! I see the manifestations growing bigger closer to the both World Cup and Olympics. It's amazing how Brazilians are waking. Not only Brazil but the world is awakening. Internet is the real democratic system, truly educational and it frees people from the brain washing main stream media and propaganda. Internet is our tool to connect and create a new kind of culture. A culture with no geographical or language boundaries. One that we feel ourselves coexisting in the same big blue spaceship. One true democratic culture that respects all the living beings and the nature around us as our home. An Earth culture.
Pope Francis is due to visit Brazil in a months time. What do you think will be the response from people in the streets?
The response was again violent towards the manifests around his visit. But if gives people hope than I don't see harm. The problem in religion in my opinion is that I don't see the pope really standing for people like Jesus did for an instance. I don't see religion as being the way for evolution. Quite the opposite. I see religion as a business and mass control. Religious people are not the problem. The problem is the money and what they do with it. Jesus said: “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's" If religions truly followed the bible the world would be a better place. But don't get me wrong. I question the management of religions. I think you should believe whatever suits yourself unless you harm other people or the environment in any way. We should respect each other. And religions tend to force their beliefs on everybody else. I rather wonder the mystery like Einstein did than get stuck with dogma.
What do you hope Brazil will be like in ten years?
A bit better I hope. I am optimistic. Life is better now than it always has been. We are evolving to something better. Although the world is dying with our evolution. We have to change. We really do.