Stop the Privatization of Public Space in Porto Alegre, Brazil

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Target: Mayor of Porto Alegre, Jose Fortunati

Goal: Stop robbing citizens of their culture by privatizing public space in Porto Alegre, Brazil

In Porto Alegre, Brazil, tensions have risen since the city passed a law banning public space from use. With the World Cup in two years, public spaces are being overrun by the public sector and closed off for ‘World Cup construction.’ Hundreds of protesters recently gathered in the city square to condemn the privatization of public space. Support the protesters and demand the public space be given back to the people.

Porto Alegre is one of the main host cities of the 2014 World Cup. In preparation for the world event, the city has banned use of public space. Mayor Jose Fortunati is turning over public areas in the city to the private sector. The city council in Porto Alegre recently passed a law banning cultural, artistic and economic activities from happening in the city square. The law prohibits events which have taken place in the city for years. It also prohibits demonstrations in the city square, limiting free speech of the people. City officials say that the law is to preserve the pavement in the area; however, they still allow vehicles to drive on the pavement. The city is only restricting the space, not preserving it. Citizens say that the law is a disgrace, as it privatizes and restricts use of public space.

Hundreds of protesters came out to Montevida Plaza in Porto Alegre to vocalize their opposition to the new law.  The plaza has been shut off to the public because Coca-Cola put up a huge inflatable armadillo, the mascot of the World Cup. The public plaza was given to the multinational corporation and shut off to street performers, artists and fairs that normally take place in the area.

The protesters got past military police guarding the mascot and brought the mascot down. The police reacted with brutality, hitting protesters with batons and rubber bullets. Several of the protesters were injured and some were arrested. The police put the well being of a mascot of a multinational company before the well being of the citizens. Protesters later stated that the problem was not with the mascot itself, but with a huge advertisement for a multinational corporation in the middle of a historic cultural area. Removing people from the public square in the benefit of a company needs to be denounced.

The public areas of Porto Alegre must be given back to the people. The banning of public space will economically cripple street performers and artists, and the only benefits will be to the multinational corporations. The interests of the people must be put first. Sign the petition and stand against the privatization of public space in Porto Alegre.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Fortunati,

Banning the use of public space in Porto Alegre must be stopped. The public of Porto Alegre is angry over the new city law restricting use of the city square. The public is also angry over the privatization of other public areas in the city. While the World Cup is understandably an important event for the city, it cannot be put before the interests of the citizens. Citizens’ interests must also be put before the interests of multinational corporations, like Coca-Cola.

I am asking you to respect the city’s cultural and historical places. A city’s culture is an important part of the well-being and happiness of the people. The new law must be repealed. By not allowing demonstrations in public places you are limiting the freedom of citizens and weakening democracy. The law will economically cripple street performers and artists who no longer have a place to work.

Stop the privatization of public space and give the city back to the people. Put the citizens’ interests first.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ana Paula Hirama via Flickr

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