By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With the wave of protests ongoing and the FIFA Confederations Cup drawing to a close, attention has turned to Brazil’s next major event: World Youth Day (WYD) and Pope Francis’ visit to Rio. Organizers expect millions of Catholics from Brazil and overseas to pour into the city during July 23rd-28th, just a few weeks from now.

2013 World Youth Day, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rio is expecting to host millions of Catholics for World Youth Day, photo by WYD 2013.

As some demonstrations turned violent, causing damage to public and private property, officials have expressed concern over whether fresh protests could be sparked by the event.

“We have to be ready for WYD to occur in a climate of protests in the country,” said Secretary-General to the Presidency Gilberto Carvalho, adding that it was vandalism that had worried the government, not the protests which should be “celebrated”.

President Dilma Rousseff has attempted to quell the protests by vowing a “bruising attack” on corruption and offering five pacts to bring about political reforms and improved public services. It remains to be seen how that will effect the protests however.

Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno, president of the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), met Rousseff to seek assurances over security for the event in the event of protests during WYD, which she is reported to have given. The CNBB has lent its support to peaceful protests as a show of “Christian values”.

Rio’s detailed security plan has been praised by the Commander of the Gendarmerie (Vatican Police) General Domenico Giani: “I think that there will not be any safety issues, whether for the Pope or for those in attendance as we are studying everything down to the smallest details.”

A spokesperson for World Youth Day confirmed to The Rio Times that the event would continue and that scheduled events remained unaltered. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Rio, Orani Tempesta, said that, according to conversations held with the public authorities, the protests will not affect the event as it is “held in high esteem by all.”

The government is keen to avoid a repeat of violence clashes between protesters and police which broke out in many Brazilian cities in recent week, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The government is keen to avoid a repeat of violent clashes seen between some protesters and police in many Brazilian cities in recent weeks, photo by Tomaz Silva/ABr.

The Archbishop believes what motivates the protesters “is in some ways similar to the spirit of WYD – the desire to work together for a new world, for a new life, a new society [with] values that also seek to change the world and are rooted in justice and peace, and that can offer a different perspective on these demands for change here in Brazil.”

However, a number of activists in Rio are planning on protesting at the event. Rio-based human rights activist Rafucko tells The Rio Times he would protest at a number of events, with favela and Indian evictions and police brutality high on his agenda, things he sees as deeply “un-Christian”: “Since the Pope will unite leaders, my protest is a request for him to say something for those in need, who suffer because of some of our politicians.”

Coinciding with the end of WYD, Rio’s Marcha das Vadias (Slutwalk) movement will take to the streets on July 27th, and is likely to call in part for an end to the criminalization of abortions in Brazil, which has led to thousands of women dying from black market abortions.

Despite some recent improvements in terms of rights, Brazil’s LGBT movement will almost certainly protest in some form over domestic issues such as the controversial “Cura Gay” motion currently being debated, as well as over the Catholic Church’s stance on homosexuality, Julio Moreira, president of Rio LGBT organization Grupo Arco-Íris, tells The Rio Times.

Earlier this year military and civil police in Rio had been in special training for these events, along with the city’s municipal guards, learning crowd control techniques. Some 4,520 police officers were expected to be trained in 2013 – with specialists from Spain, the U.S. and the Ministry of Justice sharing both practical and theoretical knowledge and experiences.


  1. I am in support of the Brasilian protesters. My wife has family in Brasil. Our family group was invited to WYD to sing and the representatives later uninvited us. Although we had paid for plane tickets and pilgrim fees, WYD representatives would not give us our money back for the pilgrim fees. Brasilian representatives who control WYD are indicative to what is being worshiped today, MONEY!

    All forms of oppression take place because of money, and when it enters GOD’S arena as is the case of WYD, you know that nothing is sacred any longer.

    I am in support of the Brasilian Protesters and I pray that they win from every stand point. The USA needs them over here to show us what justice is. The USA has no justice either, just money that talks.

  2. Mark, with all due respect, you are really just stating the obvious here. You just have to look at the Vatican City’s former banking scandals and sex scandals to know that corruption is found in what would seem to you, to be the unlikeliest of places.

    In my view, what really needs to change is not the so-called “worship of money” but an amendment in the personality make-up of the human being right now in contemporary society. Facebook, the internet and mass media have given the very average person a voice. This voice has however not been used in the most productive way, but mostly for self-promotion and ego tripping. People in power no longer demonstrate the god-like qualities that are required for the job like those possessed by the likes of the late Winston Churchill. They are most nothing better than spoilt kids fighting over playground turf and low-grade one one-uppers. This is across the board in all societies both developed and developing. When leaders behave this way, what hope is there for the average person? Sad really.

    As for Brazil’s mass protests, one always have to ask the question of what is really behind the facade. Yes, there are issues at play of Govt corruption, cronyism, failed public services, police corruption and brutality and income differentials. The question really is – how do you eliminate a society that was created for an elite class which has remained in power for over five hundred years in a very short space of time? Where does the public money come from to equalise the society? Yes, billions have been spent on stadiums and facilities’ upgrading, but the final tally for what the people now want is but one thousand times higher and Brazil’s economy is faltering with no downside in sight. So where is the money for the liberation coming from?

    What do the top 5% of Brazil think about what is going on right now? I’m pretty sure they would not want to pay any more taxes or change their lifestyles.

    Brazil has performed an economic miracle of moving some forty million people out of poverty through various social welfare programmes and created a pretty large middle class for a developing country. However the reality behind the marches in my view is that this nouveau middle class also milked the system by being given access to credit and buying all the lifestyle trappings that mass media has forced down their throats and they now find themselves drowning in debt and expect the Govt to bail them out.

    In life, there are no free lunches.

  3. What ever may be the case I am totally against the protest which causes damage to public property and life which in the end will destroy the economy of the country and as result sure public will suffer. All those causing damages can not be friends of Brazil.


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