Even Brazil’s footballers condemn country’s government for spending billions on the World Cup as tens of thousands continue to protest on the streets
- Hulk and David Luiz among footballers to back protesters
- Striker Hulk said he was tempted to join in demonstrations
- Protests against cost of World Cup and poor public services continue
- Many Brazilians frustrated by heavy tax burdens and rising costs
Some of Brazil’s most famous footballers have backed the tens of thousands of people who have continued to protest today over the billions being spent on the 2014 World Cup.
International star Hulk said he felt like joining the demonstration when they set up outside the football team’s hotel room and Chelsea defender David Luiz also offered his support.
Scattered street demonstrations popped up around Brazil today as protesters continued to voice their anger against the low-quality public services they receive in exchange for high taxes and high prices.
A protester holds a banner that reads ‘No violence Brazil, peace and love’ in front of a burning Sao Paulo building
Footballing stars Hulk (left) and David Luiz (right) have backed the protesters
Protestors burn a Sao Paulo state flag in front of City Hall, as part of the demonstration against public services
Firefighters tackle a burning car in Sao Paulo. Protesters are angry at the amount being spent hosting sporting events such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics
There is also fury about Government corruption and the amount being spent on hosting sport rather than improving public services.
In one of several reported protests, about 200 people blocked the Anchieta Highway that links Sao Paulo and the port city of Santos.
In the northeastern city of Fortaleza, protesters blocked the main access road to the stadium where Brazil will pay Mexico in the Confederations Cup today.
Police diverted traffic away from the road as hundreds of demonstrators gathered near the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza.
Official FIFA vehicles were among those struggling to get to the venue for the group stage match.
The demonstrations and clashes with riot police over the amount spent on the football tournaments are among the biggest the country has seen in more than 20 years.
Striker Hulk said: ‘I grew up poor and even if, thank God, I am better off today I can understand these protests – they make sense.
‘When I came downstairs [at the hotel], I felt a bit like [joining],’ according to IBTimes.co.uk.
Luiz, who is in Brazil to play in the Fifa Confederations Cup, told the website: ‘I’m in favour of demonstrations without violence.
‘People are entitled to express their opinions and to protest if they are not happy. The demonstrators are fighting for health and education. Brazil has everything to grow and be better.’
Brazilians across the world have voiced their support for the protesters and anger at the government
Protester Marcella Santiago prepares to put on a clown nose before joining a demonstration in Mexico City
Brazilian nationals gathered around the world to condemn the heavy tax burden in their home country
The Brazil manager Luis Felipe Scolari and footballer Dani Alves have also backed the protesters on Twitter.
Protesters have complained that Brazil’s government is spending billions of dollars to host next year’s World Cup tournament and the 2016 Olympics while leaving other needs unmet.
A November report from the government raised to $13.3billion the projected cost of stadiums, airport renovations and other projects for the World Cup.
City, state and other local governments are spending more than $12billion on projects for the Olympics in Rio.
Nearly $500 million was spent to renovate Maracana stadium in Rio for the World Cup even though the venue already went through a significant face-lift before the 2007 Pan American Games.
A cyber-attack knocked the government’s official World Cup site offline yesterday, and the Twitter feed for Brazil’s Anonymous hackers group posted links to a host of other government websites whose content had been replaced by a screen calling on citizens to come out to the streets.
Last night, about 50,000 people demonstrated outside Sao Paulo cathedral.
While mostly peaceful, the demonstration followed the rhythm of protests that drew 240,000 people across Brazil the previous night, with small bands of radicals splitting off to fight with police and break into stores.
Fernando Grella Vieira, head of the Sao Paulo state public safety department, said 63 people were detained during Tuesday’s protests.
He told the Globo TV network on Wednesday that police would guarantee the right to demonstrate but would ‘repress all forms of vandalism.’
A national television vehicle burns in front of City Hall in Sao Paulo
Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to voice their anger against high public transportation costs and the billions of dollars spent on the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio
Despite some concessions from the government, protests have continued across the country
Mass protests have been mushrooming across Brazil since demonstrations called last week by a group angry over the high cost of a woeful public transport system and a recent 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares in Sao Paulo, Rio and elsewhere.
The local governments in at least four cities have now agreed to reverse those hikes, and city and federal politicians have shown signs that the Sao Paulo fare could also be rolled back.
However, it not clear that the concessions with calm the protests.
Protester Yasmine Gomes, 22, said: ‘What I hope comes from these protests is that the governing class comes to understand that we’re the ones in charge, not them, and the politicians must learn to respect us,’
President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured during Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship, hailed the protests for raising questions and strengthening Brazil’s democracy.
‘Brazil today woke up stronger,’ she said in a statement.
Yet Rousseff offered no actions that her government might take to address complaints, even though her administration is a prime target of demonstrators’ frustrations.
The protests have brought troubling questions about security in the country, which is playing host this week to soccer’s Confederations Cup and will welcome Pope Francis in July for a visit to Rio de Janeiro and rural Sao Paulo.
The demonstrations have united huge crowds around a central complaint about the woeful public services in the country despite the economy growing.
Protestors destroy ATM machines at a local a bank. Mostly peaceful demonstrations have been interspersed with violence
Protestors rip away a Sao Paulo state flag after forcing their way into City Hall
The Brazilian Tax Planning Institute think tank found that the country’s tax burden in 2011 stood at 36 per cent of gross domestic product, ranking it 12th among the 30 countries with the world’s highest tax burdens.
Yet, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found in a 2009 educational survey that literacy and math skills of Brazilian 15-year-olds ranked 53rd out of 65 countries, behind nations such as Bulgaria, Mexico, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, and Romania.
Many protesting in Brazil’s streets hail from the country’s growing middle class, which government figures show has ballooned by some 40million over the past decade amid a commodities-driven economic boom.
They say they have lost patience with endemic problems such as government corruption and inefficiency.
Attorney Agatha Rossi de Paula, who attended the latest protest in Sao Paulo along with her mother, called Brazil’s fiscal priorities ‘an embarrassment.’
‘We just want what we paid in taxes back, through health care, education and transportation,’ said the 34-year-old attorney.
Frustration: Thousands of people participate in a protest against rising public transport costs in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday
‘We want the police to protect us, to help the people on the streets who have ended up with no job and no money.’
A single group set the protests in motion with its demonstrations last week calling for lowered transit fares, the mass gatherings are showing no evidence of any central leadership, with people using social media to call for marches and rallies.
Groups of Brazilians also staged small protests Tuesday in other countries, including Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Denmark.
Tuesday night’s march in Sao Paulo started out peacefully but turned nasty outside City Hall when a small group lashed out at police and tried to invade the building.
Different groups of protesters faced off, one chanting ‘peace, peace’ while trying to form a human cordon to protect the building, the other trying to clamber up metal poles to get inside.
At one point, one person tried to seize a metal barrier from another who was trying to use it to smash the building’s windows and doors.
The air was thick with police pepper spray and smoke after demonstrators set a TV satellite truck and a police lookout booth on fire.
Demonstrators march in Belem, Para State, on June 17, during one of the many protests around Brazil’s major cities
Gathering: The demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro were largely peaceful
Anger: A car burns during a protest in downtown Rio de Janeiro
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