Enough is enough! Hundreds of thousands flood streets in cities across Brazil
June 18, 2013
In some of the biggest protests since the end of Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship, demonstrations have spread across this continent-sized country and united people from all walks of life behind frustrations over poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden.
More than 100,000 people were in the streets Monday for largely peaceful protests in at least eight big cities. They were in large part motivated by widespread images of Sao Paulo police last week beating demonstrators and firing rubber bullets into groups during a march that drew 5,000.
There was some violence, with police and protesters clashing in Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. The newspaper O Globo, citing Rio state security officials, said at least 20 officers and 10 protesters were injured there.
Monday’s protests come after the opening matches of soccer’s Confederations Cup over the weekend, just one month before a papal visit, a year before the World Cup and three years ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The unrest is raising some security concerns, especially after the earlier protests produced injury-causing clashes with police.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic hub, at least 65,000 protesters gathered Monday at a small, treeless plaza then broke into three directions in a Carnival atmosphere, with drummers beating out samba rhythms as people chanted anti-corruption jingles. They also railed against the matter that sparked the first protests last week — a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares.
Thousands of protesters in the capital, Brasilia, peacefully marched on Congress. Dozens scrambled up a ramp to a low-lying roof, clasping hands and raising their arms, the light from below sending their elongated shadows onto the structure’s large, hallmark upward-turned bowl designed by famed architect Oscar Niemeyer. Some congressional windows were broken, but police did not use force to contain the damage.
“This is a communal cry saying: ‘We’re not satisfied,’” Maria Claudia Cardoso said on a Sao Paulo avenue, taking turns waving a sign reading “#revolution” with her 16-year-old son, Fernando, as protesters streamed by.
“We’re massacred by the government’s taxes — yet when we leave home in the morning to go to work, we don’t know if we’ll make it home alive because of the violence,” she added. “We don’t have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife. These protests will make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that we’re not taking it anymore!”
Protest leaders went to pains to tell marchers that damaging public or private property would only hurt their cause. In Sao Paulo, sentiments were at first against the protests last week after windows were broken and buildings spray painted during the demonstrations.
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