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Inside The Brazilian Protests With Freelance Journalist Edgar Costa

Inside The Brazilian Protests With Freelance Journalist Edgar Costa
Protesters came together in Brasilia to show their support for President Dilma Rousseff last week. Photo by Edgar Costa.

Our community of freelancers here at Storyhunter are often right in the middle of the news stories we read and watch every day. This week journalist Edgar Costa, who is based in Brazil, has been reporting on the recent protests in Brazil, where locals are calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. We bring you his first-hand account.

By Edgar Costa

Sometimes life truly does imitate art. The credits for the final season of House of Cards had barely rolled across my screen when I received a call: to go, immediately, to former president Lula da Silva’s house in Sao Paulo. He had just been detained on corruption charges. Outside his residence, supporters of the workers’ party clashed with protesters clamoring for current President Dilma Rousseff’s resignation.

This was even better than House of Cards; it was happening in real life.

After Lula was detained, Brazilians took to the streets and protested — for them, the detention was the last straw.

The energy and fury on the streets was palpable. Protesters, wrapped in yellow and green, called for impeachment. Supporters of the government waved a red PT flag, the symbol of the workers’ party (Partido dos Trabalhadores). While emotions ran high, fortunately, these were not violent protests, and I didn’t hear of any incidents of violence directed toward the media. They were not like the protests I covered previously, when I truly feared for my safety, or like reporting from the favelas.

Covering protests in Brazil as a journalist, whether in Rio, Sao Paulo or Brasilia is still emotionally fraught. In an atmosphere that demands solidarity, impartiality can be as provoking as opposition. When somebody asks who are you with (and they always do), I’m not sure what to say, because I see things I don’t like on both sides. The political establishment in Brazil certainly needs to be regenerated. However, booting Dilma out of office alone does not solve the problem. An ideal solution likely exists only in our imagination: not to divide society, but unite it.

Edgar Costa is a video journalist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is an avid freelancer on Storyhunter and has produced videos for AJ+, Shift by MSNBC and the New York Times.