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100,000 protest in Brazil over cost of hosting sporting events

Preparing for major sporting events means taxes have gone up, while the quality of public services has fallen.
Jun 18th 2013, 10:00 AM 5,094 19

OVER 100,000 PEOPLE participated in protests across Brazil last night, in some of the largest public demonstrations since the end of the the country’s military dictatorship in 1985.

Protests were held in at least eight big cities, with demonstrators claiming they were being “massacred” by tax hikes and other increases in the cost of living, without any resulting improvement in the services being paid for.

The country – one of the world’s largest emerging economies – is spending billions on stadiums and other infrastructure to prepare for next year’s FIFA World Cup, and for the 2016 Olympic games being held in Rio de Janeiro.

There has also been heavy spending on a planned visit by Pope Francis next month, and on the FIFA Confederations Cup – a ‘warm-up’ tournament for the World Cup, which began on Saturday, and which has acted as a lightning rod for the demonstrations.

In Sao Paulo, the largest demonstration saw 65,000 people gather in a public plaza, the main subject of ire was an increase in bus and subway fares introduced last week.

Officers in Rio fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters invading the state congress, who had hurled rocks and flares at police – but by and large, the protests were peaceful.

In the capital, Brasilia, dozens scrambled onto a low-lying roof at the Congress building where some windows were smashed.

Around 20,000, meanwhile, took part in a peaceful protest in Belo Horizonte where last night’s Confederations Cup game between Nigeria and Tahiti was taking place. The game itself only attracted an attendance of 20,187.

“Everything in Brazil is a mess. There is no education, health care — no security. The government doesn’t care,” one demonstrator told AP.

We’re a rich country with a lot of potential, but the money doesn’t go to those who need it most.

While tax avoidance has always been a feature of Brazil’s economy, the country’s growing international standing has provided a ballooning middle class who have begun to demand more from the government in exchange for the taxes they pay.

The cheapest tickets available to Brazilian residents for the Confederations Cup available this morning cost 57 Brazilian real – the equivalent of around €20.

Overseas visitors, however, would pay at least €45 to get to a game – and could pay FIFA up to €165 for tickets to the final in Rio on June 30.

Read: 3 things learned from the Confederations Cup this weekend

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Gavan Reilly


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