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Brazil Won’t Help Rio de Janeiro State Pay Its Bills

A riot police runs during a demonstration against a constitutional amendment, known as PEC 241, that limit public spending, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Nov. 11, 2016. The message reads, "Against all authority."

Brazilian officials said Friday the federal government won't intervene to help the financially strapped state of Rio de Janeiro.

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles told reporters the government cannot adopt measures to help one state because “all states are facing financial difficulties.”

Protests erupts

Late Friday, clashes erupted between police and demonstrators in Rio following a march against spending cut proposals by both the federal and state governments.

Thousands of people, mostly public school teachers, university professors and union members, marched to the state legislative assembly building. Toward the end of the mostly peaceful protest a small group of masked men known as Black Blocs began throwing glass bottles and fireworks toward police, who responded with teargas, stun grenades and pepper spray. At least two people were detained.

Local media reported this week that Rio de Janeiro Gov. Fernando Pezao was thinking about asking the federal government for help with the financial crisis. But Pezao told reporters Friday he did not plan to ask the government to intervene.

State owes federal governments

Brazil’s government Thursday froze Rio’s accounts until it pays 140 million reals ($42 million) it owes the national administration.

The state declared a state of financial emergency before Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games in August, but many public workers haven’t been paid in months.

Because the financial crisis stems from a drop in global oil and commodity prices, Meirelles has suggested that the state borrow funds from international banks, using future oil revenue as a guarantee.