Brazil Transit Activists Struggle To Lead Broad-Based Protests

Free buses? Really?


Brazil's reluctant revolutionaries are struggling with success.

The Free Fare Movement, which advocates for the elimination of all transit fees, didn't expect to become the focal point of what some Brazilian media are calling the most important mass demonstrations in the nation's history. Nor did they imagine they'd be tapped as one of the few groups, if not the only one, to decide whether the protests grow or fade away in the coming days and weeks.

But that's the rapid evolution facing this "horizontally" organized wing of mostly young university students, who have been calling for the elimination of bus and subway fares since 2003. They've already won the cancellation of fare hikes that triggered the explosion of mass protests more than a week ago. Now, even after meeting with President Dilma Rousseff on Monday, the movement is sticking to its original platform: the complete zeroing out of transit fares.