This text presents some specifics of the protests of June 2013 in the city of Belo Horizonte, MG, such as the initial carnival character and the forms of organization such as the Horizontal Popular Assemblies (APH).
Problems and Purpose
There are already a large number of studies trying to understand the protests that occurred in Brazil during the month of June 2013. Understanding those events, however, requires to comprehend June in specific contexts taking into account the numerous cities in which the protests took place and the specifics of each location. In a country as large and diversified as Brazil, it was expected that the demonstrations had different aspects and peculiarities. Thus, we present some specifics of the protests of June 2013 in the city of Belo Horizonte, MG, such as the initial carnival character and the forms of organization such as the Horizontal Popular Assemblies (APH).
Background History and Context
Belo Horizonte is the 6th most populated capital in Brazil. It was one of the main Brazilian capitals with large numbers of people participating in the demonstrations, and was the scene of protests from June 15 to 30, 2013.
The 2013 great wave of protests in Brazil occurred concurrently with the FIFA Confederations Cup, a FIFA event held every four years, always one year before the World Cup in the host country of the World Cup. In Belo Horizonte, the most intense clashes with the police were concentrated near the stadium of Mineirão and on the days of games of the Confederations Cup.
In Belo Horizonte, coletivos - horizontal collectives, or self-organized groups of activists - related to urban struggles had been mushrooming in the prior years. They were engaged in issues around the right to the city, culture, housing and the impacts caused by mega-events. The Comitê Popular dos Atingidos pela Copa (COPAC-BH, Popular Committee of People Affected by the World Cup), created in 2010, was linked to the Articulação Nacional de Comitês Populares da Copa (ANCOP, National Articulation of Popular Committees of the World Cup), which brought together other local committees, denouncing human rights violations that occurred along the organization of mega-events (PEREIRA, 2015).
Thus, the first demonstration of June 2013 in Belo Horizonte took place on the 15th, the same day that the first Confederations Cup match was held at the Mané Garrincha National Stadium in Brasília (RICCI & ARLEY, 2014; PEREIRA and PERINI, 2014). The demonstration emerged from a COPAC meeting in the Savassi region, to decide what kinds of actions would be taken during the FIFA event, along with the "Copelada", an informal street soccer game that had been taking place since 2010 (RICCI & ARLEY, 2014). From the concentration in Savassi, demonstrators marched a nearby square (Rui Barbosa Square). Savassi is a commercial neighbourhood that concentrates bars, restaurants and is locally known for its LGBT nightlife.
After the repercussion of the demonstrations of São Paulo, four more demonstrations occurred in Belo Horizonte. The number of participants increased. The demonstrations took place on Sept. 17, 19, 22 and 26th, 2013. In general, demonstrations were concentrated in Sete de Setembro Square, located in the center of the city and known as the stage of various demonstrations in the city. They usually departed from there towards the Mineirão (about 9 km). The protests occurred on days of games of the Confederations Cup. During all the acts there was a strong confrontation of the demonstrators with the police, most of the time when they tried to break the police encirclement with the purpose of reaching to the stadium.
The events that occurred in these protests were reported in real time in the social media by those who participated. Many people followed the protests through alternative channels of information, such as the Ninja Media that broadcasted online the protests through cell phone footage and internet connection, and the BH nas Ruas (BH in the Streets) page, which posted photos and information about the demonstrations (where the demonstrators were, whether the demonstration had already finished, etc.).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The demonstrations of June 2013 in Brazil were also marked by the presence of a large number of young people in the streets (NOGUEIRA, 2014, GOHN, 2014, RICCI & ARLEY, 2014). Many of them even participated in protests for the first time. According to an Ibope  survey conducted on June 20, 2013, 43% of the protesters who went to the streets that day were between 14 and 24 years old. According to the same survey, 46% of the protesters interviewed had never participated in street demonstrations. Those protests were, in fact, moments of political training (RICCI and ARLEY). In Belo Horizonte, a research of the Innovare Institute held on June 22 showed that 54.5% of the demonstrators were under 25 years old and that only 26.5% were over 40 years old (RICCI and ARLEY, 2014).
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The notion propagated that the demonstrations were totally spontaneous, without leaders and without organization is seen as a misconception by many authors (Pereira, 2015, Mendez & ERCAN, 2014). By observing the protests more closely, we can identify forms of organization and important decision-making processes. One example was the formation of Horizontal Popular Assemblies (APH), which played a fundamental role during the demonstrations in Belo Horizonte.
According to RICCI and ARLEY (2014), the APHs were responsible for redirecting the protests to a more left-wing logic. During the protests, there was an ideological dispute around who was driving them. The dispute was between right-wing and left-wing groups, especially between June 18 and 22 (RICCI & ARLEY, 2014). The authors point out that there has been an effort by popular organizations and left-wing parties to establish a critical discourse on mega-events and the need for more public policies to improve the quality of life of the population. Thus, sound cars were rented to facilitate communication during the protests and they also created four percussion groups to cheer on the protesters and restrain possible conflicts between opposing participants. According to Ricci and Arley (2014), the use of percussion groups and samba school batteries during the June walks was one of the characteristics of demonstrations in Belo Horizonte. The musicians guided the demonstrations by singing songs and slogans.
The authors compare APH with popular assemblies in Argentina, derived from the “Panelaços” in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Popular assemblies were also heavily used by Occupy Wall Street. Mendonça and Ercan (2014) point out that the assemblies played an important role in deliberating on issues of common interest about the protests. As the authors state, these assemblies tend to be inclusive, revealing a new way of doing politics. Meetings, in general, begin with the definition of who will preside over it. Then the participants decide on the procedures of the assembly and then they begin to exchange arguments for decision making.
The characteristics identified during the demonstrations of June 2013 in Belo Horizonte can not be generalized to the manifestations in others cities. Because it was such an intense and diversified movement, the protests had other aspects and characteristics specific to particular places and contexts. Here, we try to present a bit of how this important episode of Brazilian political history occurred in Belo Horizonte.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Analysis and Lessons Learned
FERREIRA, Maria Alice S. #BHNASRUAS: uma análise do confronto político a partir de páginas do Facebook. Dissertação de Mestrado. Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), 2015.
GOHN, Maria da Glória. Manifestações de junho de 2013 no Brasil e praças dos indignados no mundo. Petrópolis, RJ: Vozes, 2014.
MENDONÇA, Ricardo Fabrino de; ERCAN, Selen. Deliberation and Protest: Strange Bedfellows? Revealing the Deliberative Potential of 2013 Protests in Brazil and Turkey. Paper apresentado na APSA Conference, 2014.
NOGUEIRA, Marco Aurélio. As ruas e a Democracia: Ensaios sobre o Brasil Contemporâneo. Rio de Janeiro: Contraponto, 2013.
RICCI, Rudá e ARLEY, Patrick. Nas ruas. A outra política que emergiu em junho de 2013. Belo Horizonte: Letramento, 2014.
PEREIRA, M. A e Santos, P.P. Violência coletiva e o Facebook – os protestos de junho de 2013 no Brasil. Trabalho apresentado no IX Encontro da Associação Brasileira de Ciência Política – ABCP. Brasília, 2014.
 Ibope's research was done in the capitals of seven Brazilian states (SP, MG, RJ, RS, PE, CE and BA). Available in: http://g1.globo.com/brasil/noticia/2013/06/veja-integra-da-pesquisa-do-ibope-sobre-osmanifestantes.html >. Acesso em: 08 jun. 2019.
[[By Maria Alice Silveira]]