Brazil protests over World Cup costs spread nationwide
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Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of major Brazilian cities Monday as protests spread against higher public transport costs and the billions of dollars being spent on new stadiums for the 2014 World Cup.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Brazil’s biggest cities on Monday night as protests against a rise in the cost of public transport and the huge sums being spent to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup spread across the South American country.
As many as 6,000 people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro for what were largely peaceful gatherings. However, police used tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and threw rocks.
The atmosphere was festive in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic hub, with a reported 65,000 people marching to the rhythm of drums and songs. There was little police presence, with many families among the throngs. However, these protests also ended with police firing teargas to disperse protesters trying to invade the state government building.
Thousands gathered at the National Congress in Brasilia, where protests began three days ago as the capital city hosted the first game of this year’s Confederations Cup, a prelude to next year’s bigger and more important World Cup.
There were also protests on Monday in Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Salvador – all host cities for next year’s giant football tournament – with some violence reported.
The original demonstrations were sparked by a planned rise in public bus and metro fares around the country. While the fare hikes amounted to just a few cents, organizers of the protests said many students and workers already struggled to pay for transport, and any rise threatened to further exclude Brazil’s poorest from schools and jobs.
But as protests expanded across the country on Sunday and Monday, so has the scope of protesters’ grievances. Many of the protests targeted football stadiums, into which the government has poured millions ahead of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
They said that while the government invested heavily in those events, they were letting schools and hospitals go to waste.