While Brazil's largest demonstrations took place in late June, they've been simmering all over the country, with ongoing protests in Rio in particular. There have been "occupations" of around two dozen city councils across Brazil. The government responded with new plans and investments for health, education, and transport, voting down a controversial bill, and vowing to work on a political reform package. For the first time since redemocratization in 1988, the Supreme Court sent a congressman to jail. Protests in Rio have targeted the governor, and Rio's city council is investigating the city's "bus mafia." The impact of the protests has continued to reverberate nationwide.
And now, the largest protests since June are planned for September 7, Brazil's Independence Day, with demonstrations scheduled in 135 cities.
The protests have helped change Brazil's entire political and social scenario, at least in the short term. There's a sense that people are paying attention and that institutions must be held accountable for their actions. The protesters' demands have created policy opportunities at every level of government, and has made next year's elections much more interesting.
But the NSA scandal may detract from protesters' demands and this evolving scenario. Being able to identify a meddling foreign power and to focus people's attention away from domestic issues is something that some other governments in Latin America do on a regular basis. This hasn't happened yet in Brazil, but if there are more revelations to come, there's a possibility the government could take this approach, at least in the short-term. While privacy concerns are legitimate and worth addressing, so are protesters' demands for better public services and transportation, improved security, as well as less corruption and impunity.
For now, most of the NSA fallout has been on the bilateral level between the U.S. and Brazil, with a lot of play in the media. But if there are more big stories coming, there's a chance the government could use the scandal to distract from other issues at home. (There's also a chance they could spur anti-U.S. protests, but we'll see.) Now it's a matter of seeing what Mr. Greenwald will publish next.