A Brazilian artist has captured the heartbreak and anger of his countrymen in a poignant image that is now being shared by thousands around the world.
Earlier this month, street artist Paulo Ito posted a mural on the doors of a São Paulo school that depicts an anguished, starving child with nothing on his dinner plate but a soccer ball. The stunning image, which Ito posted about a month before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has gone viral on social media in recent days.
“The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start,” Ito told Slate this week of the striking image. "I didn't mean [to say] nobody is doing anything against poverty. But we need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”
Thousands upon thousands of disgruntled Brazilians in at least 18 cities across the country have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the billions that the government has spent on the World Cup even as poverty continues to be a major national issue and public services remain neglected.
"When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren't putting on a Cup for the people, they're putting on a Cup for the gringos," protester Maria das Dores Cirqueira told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. Cirqueira is one of several thousand protesters who have occupied an empty lot near Arena Corinthians, a stadium constructed in São Paulo for the World Cup, to demand affordable housing and better services for the poor.
Brazil is expected to spend more than $11 billion on the World Cup. Arena Corinthians itself, where the tournament's first game is scheduled to be played on June 12, cost about $445 million to build, per the LA Times.