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Brazil's youth piloting protests' flight path

Protests being cheered on by a wider cross section of society who do not necessarily want to navigate the aircraft.
Last modified: 21 Jun 2013 09:18
Brazil's current wave of protests are fueled by disgruntled youth, who are being applauded from the sidelines [AFP]

Dear passengers of Brazil Flight 2013, please remain seated with your seatbelts securely fastened at all times. We're going through an area of turbulence.

The kids are sitting in the back of the plane in row 35, the cramped middle seats that don't recline and are right next to the lavatory. It's been a long flight, the flight attendant has been ignoring them, and they're finally fed up and have decided to take action.

They've rushed into the cockpit, expelled the grumpy old pilots, and are now firmly in control of the plane.

Meanwhile, the older passengers in the plane are cheering them on.

This is pretty much how I see the current events in Brazil: Revolution started and fuelled by disgruntled youth, now cheered on by a wider cross section of society who don't necessarily want to pilot the plane, but are glad to go along for the ride.

Anybody who tells you they know exactly what is going on right now and exactly how it will end is simply lying.

This is unchartered territory, unprecedented times.

I think I know Brazil pretty well, having had the great privilege to have reported from all 26 states.

But I would be lying if I said I know exactly what is happening here right now. It's complicated. Brazil isn't for beginners, and neither is this current wave of protests.

No, this isn't Tahrir Square. It's not Turkey. It's Brazilian.

What I can tell you, having attended protests in Rio last Sunday and everyday since in Sao Paulo, is that this is real, it's growing, and a wider cross section of society is applauding from the sidelines.

Politicians have been caught flat-footed. They hoped - maybe expected - this would fade away, maybe just a rush of adrenaline the kids would get out of their system after a few nights of marching.

Maybe their voices would give out. Maybe they would get tired. Maybe it would be a fad. It’s not. At least not yet.  

Instead, on Thursday, the Brazilian Marines had to be called in to protect the foreign ministry while 200 army police members were sent to protect the presidential palace and hundreds of other police officials were called to protect the National Congress from being overtaken by protesters. And this is just Brasilia.

Never mind the more than 99 cities where the protests spread. Never mind the 300,000 people in Rio, or the tens of thousands in Sao Paulo.

We're at 35,000 feet. Cruising altitude, but hitting headwinds.

The Brazilian kids are in the cockpit, with a tight grip on the controls. They'll decide when, where, and how this plane lands.

Buckle up.

Follow Gabriel Elizondo on Twitter @elizondogabriel