Thousands of activists gathered today in São Paulo in another march for more rights and against the Right. The Red Forró [a type of dance], at the Gardens, left its message: the people are on the streets, ready to face any attempts to push back [against popular struggle], wherever they may come from.
Brazil’s swelling street rebellion claimed its second fatality in the largest and most violent protests yet, as 1 million demonstrators rallied for better public services and an end to corruption
Marches took place in hundreds of cities across Brazil last night in what began as a peaceful protest. Violence later erupted with police battling mobs trying to storm the Foreign Ministry in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro’s city hall.
In the northern city of Belem, a 54-year-old street cleaner died today after having a heart attack during the protests there, local health officials said. Yesterday an 18-year-old was killed when a vehicle accelerated into a crowd in the city of Ribeirao Preto, the military police said. The Free Fare Movement that helped organize protests in Sao Paulo said today it wouldn’t call new protests for now.
President Dilma Rousseff, who has been struggling to get in front of the mass movement, met with cabinet members today to discuss emergency measures to help quell violence and prepare proposals on education, health and other demands of protesters, a government official aware of her agenda said.
The movement triggered by an increase in bus fares this month has spread amid a groundswell of discontent among Brazil’s middle class. While faster economic growth helped lift 40 million people out of poverty over the past decade, a recent slowdown and faster inflation threaten to erode social gains.
As my colleague Simon Romero reports from São Paulo, more than 200,000 Brazilians filled the streets in cities across the country on Monday to protest the high cost of living and lavish spending on soccer stadiums ahead of next year’s World Cup, in demonstrations that have intensified as images of police brutality against peaceful protesters spread on social networks.
While the dynamic of heavy-handed police tactics, like the use of pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, intensifying rather than quelling protests echoes recent events in Turkey — not to mention those in the Unites States, Spain, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 — one difference is that some of the images of the police crackdown in Brazil that stirred the most anger were captured by reporters for local newspapers and television stations, not just protesters or foreign correspondents.
One striking account of the violence used on protesters last week in Brazil’s largest city, captured in a video viewed more than a million times on YouTube, was narrated by Giuliana Vallone, a reporter for the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, who was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at point-blank range by one of the police “shock troops” deployed against the protesters.
Some of country’s biggest ever rallies sweep major cities as bus fare rise is last straw in spiral of high costs and poor services
Brazil experienced one of its biggest nights of protest in decades on Monday as more than 100,000 people took to the streets nationwide to express their frustration at heavyhanded policing, poor public services and high costs for the World Cup.
The major demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia, Belem, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and elsewhere started peacefully but several led to clashes with police and arson attacks on cars and buses.
The large turnout and geographic spread marked a rapid escalation after smaller protests last week against bus price increases led to complaints that police responded disproportionately with rubber bullets, tear gas and violent beatings.
Coinciding with the start of the Confederations Cup – a World Cup test event – the rallies brought together a wide coalition of people frustrated with the escalating costs and persistently poor quality of public services, lavish investment on international sporting events, low standards of healthcare and wider unease about inequality and corruption.
While the vast majority of demonstrations were peaceful, several police were injured in clashes at the city’s legislative assembly, at least one car was overturned and burned and windows were smashed in the offices of banks and notary offices.
The unrest escalated during the night as a large crowd set several fires outside the legislative assembly, smashed the building’s windows and daubed graffiti on the walls proclaiming “Revolution”, “Down with Paes, down with Cabral [the mayor and state governor]” and “Hate police”. Police inside responded with pepper spray and perhaps more – the Guardian saw one protester passed out and bleeding heavily from a wound in the upper arm.
The causes pursued by the protesters varied widely. “We are here because we hate the government. They do nothing for us,” said Oscar José Santos, a 19-year-old who was with a group of hooded youths from the Rocinha favela.
“I’m an architect but I have been unemployed for six months. There must be something wrong with this country,” said Nadia al Husin, holding up a banner calling on the government to do more for education.
At a far smaller rally in Brasilia demonstrators broke through police lines to enter the high-security area of the national congress. Several climbed on to the roof.
In Belo Horizonte police clashed with protesters who tried to break through a cordon around a football stadium hosting a Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Tahiti.
In Port Alegre demonstrators set fire to a bus and in Curitiba protesters attempted to force their way into the office of the state governor. There were also rallies in Belem, Salvador and elsewhere.
In São Paulo, which had seen the fiercest clashes last week and the main allegations of police violence, large crowds gathered once again but initial reports suggested the marches passed peacefully.