Brazil’s biggest protests in 21 years

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“On Monday the 17th, more than 230,000 people took to the streets to protest in some of the main Brazilian cities, like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and Brasília. The common agenda for all complaints was the increase of the public transport fares, but insatisfaction with corruption, World Cup construction and the precariousness of public services — like health and education — reinforced the might of the movement. It was the largest popular mobilization in Brazil since 1992, when the population asked for the impeachment of then-President Fernando Collor de Mello.

In Belo Horizonte, the protest was the first to start. The movement started at 1pm in the Praça Sete de Setembro, in the capital city’s downtown area, with the end point at the Mineirão stadium, almost 9 kilometers away. On the way, the crowd of 15,000 people quickly took over Afonso Pena Avenue, one of the main avenues in the city. In spite of being peaceful most of the time, the protest got violent. There was a confrontation with the Military Police (MP) due to the police not wanting to let the protesters end up at Mineirão, one of the Confederations Cup locations. When the group advanced down Antônio Abrahão Caram Avenue, which leads to the stadium, the confrontation started, around 4pm. In the widespread rioting, the MP used tear gas bombs and rubber bullets to contain the protesters, who reacted by throwing rocks at the police. One person was injured upon falling off the overpass and was taken to the Risoleta Neves Hospital, in Venda Nova.

The newspaper Estado de Minas published an official report from the MP according to which 5 protesters were arrested and 3 were injured in Belo Horizonte. According to the newspaper, the MP denied having started the confrontations, but admitted to using rubber bullets against the state government’s recommendation. These shots, according to the MP, were fired in a way that they “hit the targets below the waist.”

In Brasília, the protests started peaceful in the afternoon and started to look more like war by nightfall. The ramp of the Congress building was taken over by thousands of protesters, the majority being teenagers. In the confusion, one of the building’s windows was broken. They had already occuppied the dome platform and, a little after, arrived at the principal access point of the Legislative House. The invasion via the principal entrance was dispersed by police, with tear gas and pepper spray. Positioned in front of the “millnery” of the Congress building, the protesters shouted: “hey, soldier, come to our side”. The MP confirmed that 10,000 people participated in the “Vinagre March”. Close to 500 police officers were on the scene to contain the crowd.

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In Rio de Janeiro, 100,000 people — according to the MP estimates — peacefully occupied the Carioca Capital’s downtown area, from where they walked to the Legislative Assembly, where a small group got involved in a fight after a bomb went off on Araújo Porto Alegre Street, around the Brazilian Press Association. A car parked near the ALERJ building exploded after being set on fire by protesters. According to the MP, a group of young people tried to invade the Assembly building. Police from the Shock Battalion used rubber bullets, gas bombs and pepper spray to contain the protesters.

At the São Paulo protests, more than 65,000 peopple (according to Datafolha’s estimates) met up at the Large da Batata, in the West Zone, from where they left, in two large groups, via Brigadeiro Faria Lima Avenue and via the Marginal Pinheiros, two of the principal avenues of the city. The two groups split up and passed some of the cities main areas, such as Paulista Avenue, the stage of the protests in previous days; the Estaiada bridge, Ibirapuera Avenue, the Legislative Assembly building and the Bandeirantes Palace, seat of the government. Part of the protesters tried to invade the official governor’s residence, but ended up giving up in the face of the police presence and also due to the objections of some of the protesters.

Attempts to invade the Piratini (Porto Alegre) and Iguaçú (Curitiba) palaces were also recorded, in addition to the Legislative Assembly building in Rio Grande do Sul. In all the cases, the MP used force to disperse the few violent protesters. In Curitiba, the MP estimated there were 10,000 protesters. In Porto Alegre, there were 5,000. There were even large protests in Belém, where 13,000 people got together and in Salvador, where 10,000 protesters met up. Other capital cities that saw protests include Fortaleza, Vitória and Maceió, where a 16 year old was shot in the face. The suspect is the driver of a car that was blocked by protesters. Protests occurred in various other cities of the country as well, such as Foz do Iguaçu (PR), Londrina (PR), Bauru (SP), Santos (SP), and Juiz de Fora (MG).” – Source (PT)

More photos here. Map of protest cities here (with scrollable new links).


5 thoughts on “Brazil’s biggest protests in 21 years

    • Good to hear about Caruaru, political parties have no place at these protests.

      I saw a video of police being beaten in Rio last night and I don’t think that’s the answer either. Glad to see the whole nation rising up.

  1. Pingback: Sounds from the Street Protests in Brazil (June 2013) | Leonardo Cardoso

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