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MPL | Passe Livre Returns to the Street

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The  Movimento Passe Livre, which though few in number, successively forced a government turnabout in a proposed fare hike — the difference was R$ 0.20 — is a group I admire.

MPL has achieved a great deal with a minimum of resources, in large part due to their media savvy and their rhetorical self-discipline. (They have been liked relatively little on Facebook — 5,200 at last count. Old-school pamphleteering and stenciled graffiti — leaving a mark on the constructed world — seem to yield good results, however.)

They believe, as I understand it, that the proportion of public subsidies for public transportation should increase in order to achieve effective public oversight. 

One of them showed me an infographic demonstrating that systems of similar extent in North America and Europe — none of them ruled by soviet five-year plans –have much higher indices of public subsidy. I wish I could find where I put that.

In my attempt to rediscover it, I did find this interesting article on the degree of subsidy paid by U.S. and European straphangers. Speaking of which, the MPL might find some solidarity with New York’s Straphangers advocacy group, offshoot of a Public Interest Group, NYPIRG.

The position of the MPL is therefore quite simple: managing the system efficiently, in their view, entails a degree of deprivatization. It is a policy demand that dates  back to the mayorship of Luiza Erundina, a communist who called for a full public subsidy , if I remember correctly.

At any rate, we will see the MPL on the streets again today, alongside trade unionists representing railway workers.

Source: Os Amigos do Presidente Lula, a partisan blog that supports the PT.

 São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin and his party, the PSDB, will be targets of the protest that will take place today in São Paulo, organized after accusations arose regarding fraudulent dealings in the subway and communter rail systems of the state. Protesters will rally at 3:00 p.m. at Vale do Anhangabaú.

The demonstration was called for by the Metrô Workers Union, which participated in the June protests organized by the  Movimento Passe Livre (MPL) — “free pass movement.” Union president  Altino dos Prazeres Junior is a memeber of the PSTU has close ties with PSOL.

The  MPL agreed to join the protest, and its members met yesterday with unionists … to paint placards and banners decrying the mafia of public transport. The group, numbering 10 persons, created a bald dummy that represents  Alckmin.

Since the fare hike on public transportation was revoked, the MPL has avoided taking part in demonstrations with various and divergent demands, organized by union federations and the Black Bloc, a self-styled anarchist groups.

Monique Felix, a representative of MPL, says the group remained active during July, carrying out actions in the city periphery. “We do not participate in demonstrations that lack concrete demands related to daily life. Those protests are valid, but we are not going to take part. Tomorrow we will protest against the way in which public transportation is treated as merchandise,” she said. “It will not be an act calling for the ouster of Alckmin, but it will contest the logic of privatization of the transport system and demand that public funds be invested in public transportation.”.

The demonstration, however, will likely take on an anti-PSDB political connotation. The party has ruled the state for five consecutive four-year terms now.  The accusations fall on the shoulders of the lateMario Covas, as well as José Serra and Alckmin.

How did the Toucan bribery scandal begin?C

In May of this year,  Siemens contacted the antitrust regulator CADE and made accusations.  In exchange for reduced sentences, the company reportedly acknowledged it paid bribes to authorities of various PSDB administrations in São Paulo and that it had formed a cartel with other companies, such as Alstom, Bombardier, CAF and Mitsui.

The fraudulent practices were carriedout in public auctions for the purchase and maintenance of subway and commuter railway trains during the governorships of Mario Covas, José Serra and Geraldo Alckmin, in São Paulo, in the 1990s.

According to IstoÉ, Siemens subcontracted Brazilian firms to pay bribes to politicians and directors of publicly-held companies. Another aspect of the scheme was the use of offshore accounts in fiscal paradises.

Another accusation refers to the bribery scheme. The multinationals agreed among themselves who would win and lose public auctions in more than 30 countries in order to force prices higher. This scheme allegedly operated in São Paulo and Brasília.

Four agencies are involved in the investigation: CADE, the federal public ministry (MPF), the state MP, and the federal police.

In Germany, Siemens was convicted in 2006 of paying bribes to foreign officials and was fined US$ 1.4 billion. The scandal was one of the most dramatic in German history.

Some of the investigations began in Brazil, based on an accusation of bribes paid to Brazilians in 2008 by a Siemens employee.