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Million Protesters Demonstrate In 100 Brazilian Cities

By Countercurrents.org

21 June 2013

Thousands of people march on Avenida Conde Boa Vista, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil

People march on Avenida Conde Boa Vista , in the state of Pernambuco , Brazil

More than a million protesters have taken to the streets in Brazil as demonstrations over a range of social issues grow. Demonstrating people flooded into Rio de Janeiro and more than 100 cities. Violence and clashes erupted in many places and an 18-year-youth died when a car drove through a barricade in Sao Paulo state. This is the largest protests in the country in more than two decades.

Government announcement to lower transport fares and promises of better public services failed to stem the tide of discontent in the country.

Members of the city's Free Access Movement (Movimento Passe Livre) - which has been campaigning for better public transport - earlier pledged to take to the streets "to celebrate" the reversal of a public-transport fare increase.

President Dilma Rousseff called off a trip to Japan to deal with the crisis. She has also called an emergency meeting of her cabinet to discuss the unrest.

Citing official figures newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo informed: More than one million people had taken part in demonstrations. Brazilian media said there were protests in more than 100 cities.

In Rio de Janeiro , riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at groups of masked young men trying to approach the City Hall late on June 20, 2013 . At least 29 people were reported injured.

Authorities in Rio sealed off the state legislature building, the state governor's office, Guanabara Palace and the mayor's office.

Reports said: Gangs looted shops in the city centre. Many Rio shopkeepers and banks had put up wooden hoardings to protect their premises.

In the capital, Brasilia , demonstrators started a small fire at the entrance to the foreign ministry. But they were driven back by police using rubber bullets and tear gas.

Other government buildings in the city were attacked and riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter the crowds. About 26 people were reported injured.

In Sao Paulo , police said 100,000 people had gathered on the city's landmark Avenida Paulista.

There were also clashes outside a football stadium in Salvador ahead of a Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Uruguay .

More clashes were reported in Porto Alegre in the south, Campinas north of Sao Paulo and in the north-eastern city of Salvador .

People's demand is actually broader and fundamental than lowering of transport fares. People's complaints include high taxes, inflation, corruption and poor public services, from hospitals and schools to roads and police forces.

Protesters are also opposing the more than $26bn of public money that will be spent on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil .

One woman at the protest in Rio said she was protesting for a fairer Brazil . “We're doing this for a more just country, a country with less poverty.”

The outburst of people's rage has turned out as a political test of the ruling political system that is failing in meeting people's aspirations. The rich-poor gap is wide, which is against aspiration of the people.

"This means that our politicians have begun to hear our voices. This is something that has never happened before - in a non-election year, at least," Daniel Acosta from Sao Paulo told the BBC.

"It's a start. What happens now, nobody knows yet, but it gives us hope," he added.

Student Camila Sena, 18, said the protests had become much wider and the concession on fare prices would not change much.

"It's not really about the price [of transport] any more," she said while taking part in a protest in the city of Niteroi , near Rio de Janeiro , on June 19, 2013 .

"People are so disgusted with the system, so fed up that now we're demanding change."

The current unrest is the biggest since 1992, when people took to the streets to demand the impeachment of then-President Fernando Collor de Mello.





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