During the Confederations Cup, the streets of Brazil were occupied by crowds demanding public services worthy of a country which is the world's sixth largest economy. Certainly a just demand. The economic wealth produced by a nation must be converted into welfare for the people. This must be a constant struggle by governments and society. Brazil has made great progress in recent years, with over 20 million people coming out of extreme poverty and the formation of a middle class of over 100 million people. But we still have a long way to go.
Other countries in the world experience mass protests to obtain -- or for the maintenance of -- welfare rights. These protests have historically resulted in progress in various societies, guaranteeing better living conditions for the people.
The protests in Brazil have brought about good immediate results, such as a reduction in public transport fares in dozens of cities (including Rio and São Paulo), a debate on a referendum for political reform, and the More Doctors programme which will increase the presence of medical professionals in cities with poor healthcare.
But what have mega-events to do with that? Some critics see them as villains which mop up resources which could be invested in public services. I prefer to see them as a great contribution to a new national development project, which obviously includes an urgent improvement in public services.
This contribution brings immediate benefits to Brazil.
The 15 days of the Confederations Cup matches alone boosted the Brazilian economy by BRL 740 million (USD 336 million). With World Youth Day, the movement in the economy was in excess of BRL 1.2 billion (USD 545 million). During the 2014 World Cup, Brazilian and foreign tourists should boost a further BRL 25 billion (USD 11.3 billion). These are considerable resources, which in turn, give a boost to segments in all regions of Brazil, from aviation to the informal economy.