Police and demonstrators clash as rallies mount
Tens of thousands of protesters are facing off with an ‘elite force’ of troops Wednesday outside of a stadium in Forteleza, Brazil where a Confederate Cup match is scheduled later in the day.
Protesters faced down tear gas, rubber bullets, and beefed up security in Forteleza, Brazil Wednesday. (Photo: Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images) Early reports of clashes between the protesters and the beefed up security reveal the use of tear gas and rubber bullets that have lead to, according to AFP, multiple injuries.
Wednesday’s rally follows an earlier announcement by the country’s Justice Ministry that federal troops, The National Force, will be deployed to the cities hosting the two-week FIFA Confederations’ Cup soccer tournament, including the states of Ceara—where Forteleza is located—Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Minas Gerais as well as in the federal district of Brasilia.
The ‘elite troops,’ composed primarily of police and firefighters from different regions, are typically reserved to address serious security crises, such as prison riots or major gang violence.
According to reports, on top of the National Force guards, an additional 6,000 state police troopers were also deployed to Forteleza Wednesday.
The AFP report continues:
“Brazil, we are going to wake up — a professor is worth more than Neymar,” the demonstrators in Fortaleza shouted, referring to a popular star of the national team.
“While you watch television, I am changing the country. Football no, we want education,” read one placard.
The protesters also railed against the country’s entire political class, which is widely seen as corrupt.
“We are protesting the use of public funds for the construction of stadiums, money that should be used for education,” said 18-year-old Matheus Dantas, amid a sea of Brazilian flags.
More protests were under way or set to take place later Wednesday, notably in Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte.
Following rallies Monday evening which saw over 200,000 Brazilians marching in the streets of a dozen cities across the country—reportedly the largest protests in Brazil in twenty years—demonstrations continued Tuesday night.
In Sao Paulo, over 50,000 people flooded the streets to join in the chorus of voices frustrated with a country which, they say, puts tourism and international events such as the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics ahead of essential infrastructure and public interest.
As evidence that the mass uprising has made some headway, officials from at least five cities announced plans yesterday lower bus fares, the raising of which was the initial spark for the widespread demonstrations. However, as The Telegraph reports, “it remains unclear if that would be enough to halt the protests,” which have grown to embody much larger issues of government corruption and the rights of citizens.
“It’s about much more than those 10 cents. It’s about a society that is sick of corrupt politicians not making good on their promises to make improvements,” said protester Bruno Bisaglia. “We want decent education, health care and transportation. That’s what this fight is all about.”
A much larger demonstration has been planned for Thursday in cities nationwide.