Monday, 9 March 2015

Kicking Off in São Paulo - by Tariq Jazeel

I can hear the hum of a multitude, the sound of thousands of people somewhere as I approach. Helicopters overhead, São Paulo’s signature sound amplified, the burst of a police siren close by, but not within sight, at least I don’t think so. It’s confusing. There are people, everywhere. Some with banners, some with anonymous masks incongruously balancing atop their heads, groups of three or four, individuals like me, some laughing, all in high spirits. All heading in one direction. To the square. To Praça da Sé. It’s the perfect place for public demonstrations of this magnitude, its wide open spaces and grubby street furniture, rusty benches, wraught iron railings, and overflowing dustbins, all offset the imposing turn of the century neo-gothic cathedral occupying one whole side. Then as I round the corner, as my eyes expectantly set sight on the Praça, there’s an eruption of singing, chanting, a chorus of a thousand voices, rising, then fading, then a new chant, like a well orchestrated football crowd, only more urgent somehow, more vital. “Hey FIFA, pagar a tarifa”  There’s a buzz of electricity, of energy, enveloping the square, and there are people, people everywhere. Thousands of them, clustered, but the clusters have merged, and there’s just a swathe of bodies covering what seems like the whole of the square, punctuated by banners, banners written in Portuguese, only some of which I can read, Brazilian flags, some cheekily annotated, waving, fluttering above this seething mass of politically charged bodies. I’m on the outskirts, mouth open, stunned, scared, excited, energized, confused. What next?

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