As many as 200,000 protesters took to the streets across Brazil on Monday night as discontent with poor public services, rising transport costs and police brutality spread to 11 cities.
The outpouring of mass demonstration is the largest Brazil has seen in a number of decades and follows smaller protests earlier in June over an increase in single bus fares. Police have now been accused of resorting to violent repression of peaceful protestors, using tear gas and rubber bullets, during these demonstrations in São Paulo.
The police handling of the current protests appears to have ignited anger across Brazil and seen the focus switch from transport costs to wider issues such as inadequate public services, corruption and inequality, at a time when Brazil is spending billions on hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Brazil is currently hosting the Confederations Cup in preparation for next year’s World Cup which will cost at least $11 billion and is estimated could leave 1.5 million residents displaced from their homes. Police and protesters clashed in the city of Belo Horizonte outside the ground where a match was being played between Nigeria and Tahiti, with police again reportedly using tear gas and rubber bullets.
Meanwhile in Brasília, protesters stormed the National Congress building gaining access to its roof, whilst in Rio de Janeiro as many as 100,000 took to the streets. One of the 60,000 protesters in São Paulo told Associated Press: “We don’t have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife … we’re not taking it anymore.”
A mother who attended the São Paulo march with her daughter summed up the mood, telling the BBC: “We need better education, hospitals and security, not billions spent on the World Cup.”