This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 25 June, 2019
Advertisement

Brazil leaders to meet as protests and violence gets out of hand

At least one protester was killed in Sao Paulo when a car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators.

People shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
People shout slogans during an anti-government demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Image: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

BRAZIL AWOKE TODAY to city centers still smoldering after a night that shocked the nation. One million protesters took to the streets in scores of cities, with clusters clashing violently with police during anti-government demonstrations.

President Dilma Rousseff, a standoffish leader who has been virtually mute in the face of the most violent protests in recent memory, called a meeting with top Cabinet members. She faced sharp criticism in Brazil’s media for what many called her lack of any leadership.

It was not clear what action her government might take or if she would appear before the nation to give an address. There were growing calls on social media and in emails for a general strike next week.

Standing before the battered government building he presides over, Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said he “was very angry” that protesters attacked a structure “that represents the search for understanding through dialogue.” Patriota called for protesters “to convey their demands peacefully”

Protesters gesture to riot police as they stand in front of a burning barricade during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Despite the violence, the majority of protesters have been peaceful. In massive demonstrations through this week, as small groups began to vandalize, crowds would often turn and start to chant, “No violence! No violence!”

But the pattern in cities across this continent-sized nation has been that once night falls, the violence begins. Protesters and police clashed in several cities into the early hours today, as people vented anger over a litany of complaints, from high taxes to corruption to rising prices.

At least one protester was killed in Sao Paulo state when a car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators after the driver apparently became enraged about being unable to drive along a street.

The protests took place one week after a violent police crackdown on a much smaller demonstration against an increase in bus and subway fares in Sao Paulo galvanized Brazilians to take their grievances to the streets.

The unrest is hitting the nation as it hosts the Confederations Cup soccer tournament, with tens of thousands of foreign visitors in attendance. It also comes one month before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Brazil, and ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, raising concerns about how Brazilian officials will provide security.

Military police detain a man during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Mass protests have been rare in this country of 190 million people in recent years, and the mushrooming demonstrations of the past week caught Brazilian government officials by surprise while delighting many citizens.

“I think we desperately need this, that we’ve been needing this for a very, very long time,” said Paulo Roberto Rodrigues da Cunha, a 63-year-old clothing store salesman in Rio.

Despite the energy on the street, many protesters said they were unsure how the movement would win real political concessions. People in the protests have held up signs asking for everything from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics.

“We pay a lot of money in taxes, for electricity, for services, and we want to know where that money is,” said Italo Santos, a 25-year old student who joined a rally by 5,000 protesters at Salvador’s Campo Grand Square.

“This is the start of a structural change in Brazil,” said Aline Campos, a 29-year-old publicist in Brasilia. “People now want to make sure their money is well spent, that it’s not wasted through corruption.”

- AP

Related: FIFA: No plans to cancel Confederations Cup despite protest in Brazil>
More: This video explains why a million Brazilians protested last night>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (9)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel