News / Americas

Brazil Protests Proceed as Smaller Cities Join In

Riot police take position and fire tear gas at protesters gathering near Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, June 19, 2013.
Riot police take position and fire tear gas at protesters gathering near Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, June 19, 2013.
Reuters
Protesters blocked roads in Sao Paulo and marched toward a stadium hosting a major international soccer game in Brazil's northeast on Wednesday in a growing wave of nationwide demonstrations against poor public services, inflation and other woes in Latin America's biggest country.
 
After more than a week, the biggest series of protests to sweep Brazil in more than two decades continued in major capitals and moved into smaller cities. Focused at first in cities like Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the capital, Brasilia, demonstrations in more than 70 smaller cities are expected across the country on Thursday.
 
Wednesday's protests in Sao Paulo, the site of the most frequent marches, followed overnight demonstrations that led to looting and vandalism. Police arrested more than 63 people after protesters torched a police facility, tried to storm City Hall and broke windows and ransacked stores.
 
“People have the right to participate in protests,” Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad said at a news conference. He was critical, however, of unrest that interfered with “the right to get to work, to get home.”
 
Haddad on Wednesday said he was considering a reduction in bus fares, following cuts by officials in a handful of other state capitals, but still had to weigh how to make up for the subsequent shortfall in revenues for Brazil's biggest city and its financial and industrial hub.
 
In response, the Free Fare Movement, a protest group that is pushing for free transportation and is one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations, lambasted what it called the “inversion of the debate” by local authorities.
 
“They say the demonstrations impede the right to come and go of the population,” the group said in a statement. “It is the people demonstrating who are in fact fighting to guarantee that right.”
 
Poor public services
 
The nationwide protests were sparked last week by transportation fare increases, which came as Brazil struggles with annual inflation of 6.5 percent, unleashing a tide of complaints that caught authorities off guard.
 
Contrasting the country's high taxes with its ramshackle schools, hospitals and other government services, demonstrators have criticized the 28 billion reais ($12.9 billion) of public money being spent on preparations for the 2014 World Cup of soccer, to be played in 12 Brazilian cities.
 
On Tuesday night President Dilma Rousseff, who has acknowledged the legitimacy of the protesters' demands, dispatched federal troops to five Brazilian cities to help maintain order around the Confederations Cup, which began earlier this month. The international soccer tournament is a warmup for the World Cup.
 
Rousseff's action, part of the contingency plan for the tournament, is similar to previous deployments of federal troops when crime, violence or other unrest disrupted annual Carnival celebrations and other big events.
 
Brazil's national soccer team was scheduled to play Mexico on Wednesday in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. Even before kickoff at mid-afternoon, some protesters among thousands marching before the game crossed police lines and had to be repelled by force, according to local authorities. A Reuters photographer covering the protest said police pointed guns armed with rubber bullets at journalists to get them to step back.
 
Protesters outside the stadium carried signs and banners asking residents to “hit the street” and demanding “health, education, not corruption.”
 
No end in sight
 
It remains unclear whether transportation fare reductions will be enough to slow the demonstrations or whether organizers, a loose collection of young activists who are connecting through social media, will continue calling for protests.
 
Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured by military dictators in her youth, on Tuesday said Brazilians deserved better public services.
 
Neither her words nor efforts by state and local officials have done much to stop the unrest, in part because of the diffuse nature of the protesters and the wide array of demands.
 
“It's difficult to get ahead of the movement because there isn't a clear image of who they are or what exactly they will do,” said David Fleischer, a political scientist at the University of Brasilia. “It's hard to have a discourse with someone you don't know.”
 
Although many Brazilians support the issues raised by the protesters, some are concerned about the vandalism and scattered violence that has accompanied some of the demonstrations.
 
In central Sao Paulo early on Wednesday, broken glass and other debris was scattered atop colonial cobblestones, and graffiti was scrawled on the front of the city hall. “The people have awoken,” read one of the messages, echoing one of many chants that protesters have been yelling as they march.
 
“People are going to pay for this out of their pockets,” said Manuel Carlos, a 42-year-old logistics manager. “I am in favor of the movement but the stuff we are seeing here is absurd.”

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Venezuela's 'Busman' President to Make UN Debut

Nicolas Maduro says he will travel to New York despite 'racist' editorials against him in major US newspapers
More

Police: Mexican Cartels Trafficking Cocaine Direct From Colombia

General Ricardo Restrepo, Colombia's anti-narcotics director, says cartels have arrived 'basically to negotiate and transport the drug themselves'
More

Former El Salvador President to Await Graft Trial in Jail, Not at Home

Francisco Flores, who had been on the run until early Sept. before turning himself in, accused of misappropriating $15M in 2001 earthquake relief donations
More

US Won't Impede Venezuela's UN Security Council Bid

Washington is clearly unhappy, however, with idea of country joining the Council, which has the task of overseeing international peace and security
More

Video Dehydration Is Top Killer of Southern Arizona's Migrants

US Border Patrol's search and rescue unit launches 'blue blinking light of life program' - a series of poles strategically placed throughout desert that emit high-intensity blue light
More

US Steps Up Pressure on Guatemala Over Labor Rights

Trade representative says Obama administration will push ahead with legal action under free trade agreement to make country meet international standards
More