More than 200,000 people took to the streets of major cities in Brazil on Monday, June 17, as a sign of discontent with the economic policies of the authorities on the eve of the World Cup. Major demonstrations were held in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. With such a massive expression of popular discontent this South American country hasn’t faced in at least two decades. The clashes with the police resulted in several injured, both among the demonstrators, as well as in the ranks of the security forces.
How events unfolded in Rio de Janeiro
At first, the demonstration was peaceful, but closer to the night extremist-minded young people began to smash windows, set fire to garbage bins and even tried to storm the building of the city legislature. In response, the police used tear gas. As reported by the TV channel "Globo", shots rang out in the crowd. One man was shot.
Confederation Cup against protests
Protests in Brazil began in the end of last week, on the eve of and during the opening of the FIFA Confederations Cup, which started in the country on Saturday. These competitions are considered a "dress rehearsal" before the football World Cup, which is to start in just under a year. The main declared reason for the protests was the high cost of international football tournaments.
On Friday, demonstrations were held in the capital, Brasilia, near the stadium where the opening of the competition was scheduled. The police has not applied force that day, however, the government warned that the opening of the tournament will not tolerate such performances near the place of the games.
Hundreds of people have tried to block the entries to the stadium, expanding the posters with the requirements to send funds allocated for training before the Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup, for healthcare, education and housing. The police, as authorities warned the day before, used against the demonstrators tear gas and rubber bullets. In the dispersal of demonstrators took part mounted police. In the clashes between demonstrators and security forces at least 20 people, including four policemen, were injured. 15 demonstrators were arrested.
At the stadium fans hummed disapprovingly during the speech of FIFA president Joseph Blatter, who declared the Confederations Cup opened. In the same way the public “greeted” the president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, that according to all poll results remains the most popular politician in the country.
On Sunday near the Marakana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, where the game Italy – Mexico took place, about 3,000 people gathered to protest against the high cost of football tournaments. Riot police dispersed them using non-lethal weapons, including rubber bullets.
What do people in the streets think?
What is pushing the Brazilians, who love football passionately, to spoil the sporting event for themselves and other fans?
University students - the main participants in the escalating demonstrations in the country - are demanding to cancel the price increase for buses and re-assign the multimillion-dollar funds allocated by the state to prepare for the World Cup to education and health care.
Many also oppose overt commercialization of football competitions, including the high price of tickets, which are only available to people with incomes above the average.
ITAR-TASS reporter had a conversation with some protesters, the majority of which are peaceful and well educated young people, receiving or having received higher education.
Highlights of the dissatisfaction of protesters:
- high taxes make up about 40 percent of the cost of most goods. Prices are comparable to European and American, but the quality of services is lagging behind.
- the cost of public transport
- shortage of doctors and unsatisfactory health care for the poor
- prices for public events
"Our tribune is the street, Brazil doesn’t need more public events, it needs more schools and hospitals!” – reads the slogan of the demonstrators, reflecting the essence of what is happening.
Authorities do not yet know how to react to the situation. However, the problems require immediate solutions. In 2014, in 12 Brazilian cities the World Cup will be held, as well as in 2016 Rio de Janeiro plans to take the summer Olympics.