According to reports coming out of Brazil, the wide-spread protests in the country stemmed from a recent decision by the Brazilian government to raise bus fare in the country by nine cents. The natural assumption is that this was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back – and that’s mostly true – but don’t be so quick to dismiss the effect of the price increase on Brazilian workers.
The price increase to $1.47 means that the poorest Brazilian citizens now must pay over a quarter of their yearly salary to ride the bus twice a day.
Such a statistic sheds light on the unbalanced economic power in the country. Brazil is rarely compared to extremely poor countries like those in places like Africa or the Middle East, but for Brazilians making the country’s minimum wage of 312 dollars a month, living in total poverty is the norm.
It is mostly these poorer workers that must commute long distances on over-crowded buses to begin with, and this seemingly minor increase in price means that their entire economic system must adjust.
The bus fare alone did not spark the riots, but it is this type of difficultly placed on the Brazilian lower-class that has inspired them to fight back.