More than 200,000 people marched in major Brazilian cities on Monday to protest the billions of dollars spent on the Confederation Cup and higher public transport costs.
Police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse small groups of masked youths engaging in acts of vandalism near Rio’s state legislative assembly. Five policemen were reported hurt as 80 others were holed up inside the assembly building which was surrounded by rowdy demonstrators.
In Rio, a host city for the Confederations Cup, police said around 100,000 marched, notably down Rio’s central Rio Branco avenue. In Brasilia, more than 200 youths briefly occupied the roof of the National Congress.
In Sao Paulo, the country’s economic capital, an estimated 65,000 staged a generally peaceful march. “Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate,” said Rousseff in a bid to calm tempers. “It is natural for the young to demonstrate,” she said in a statement.
“I came because I want Brazil to wake up. It’s not just to protest the higher transport fares, but also because of shortcomings in education and health,” said 20-year-old Diyo Coelho, who marched in Sao Paulo.
The protests over a hike in mass transit fares from $1.5 to $1.6 began 10 days ago in Sao Paulo, days before the opening of the Confederations Cup.AFP