By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Despite the revocation of bus fare increases in many cities on Thursday and Friday’s announcement of a three-pronged public services’ improvement plan by President Dilma Rousseff, demonstrations continued in over a dozen Brazilian cities on Saturday, June 22nd.
Demonstrating against various issues, most of the protests were both smaller in number and peaceful with the notable exception of protests in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais.
Over the course of the afternoon, more than 70,000 had gathered in that city, making it the biggest demonstration there to date. Many were located near the Mineirão stadium where Mexico took on Japan as part of Confederations Cup.
Nevertheless, it was in the evening when police and protesters clashed, after a group began destroying public and private property outside the stadium.
Military Police deployed tear gas and stun grenades as tensions escalated. At least twenty-two have been arrested with thirteen civilians and five police officers reported injured at the time of writing.
In Rio, where some 300,000 demonstrated on Thursday night, a smaller group gathered near Copacabana on Saturday to protest PEC 37, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the public prosecutor’s power to investigate corruption, among other crimes.
The NGO Rio de Paz also placed 500 soccer balls painted with red crosses on the beach of Copacabana in protest. The balls represented the 500,000 homicides that have occurred in the country over the past ten years and demonstrators kicked the balls in the air at noon.
Another group of around fifty people gathered peacefully outside of state governor Sérgio Cabral’s Rio residence.
However, minor clashes took place in the Rio Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Bangu. There, Military Police arrested at least thirty, including sixteen adolescents, for looting nearby shops. Members of the group reportedly had sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails and some tried to block off neighborhood streets with barricades of fire.
In the city of São Paulo, some 35,000 more protesters marched without without major incident on Avenida Paulista. Most were also reportedly protesting against PEC 37.
Some four thousand people gathered in the capital, Brasília, to also protest PEC 37, and march for women’s rights and against homophobia. A smaller group also demonstrated against the funds allocated for the stadiums for current and upcoming sporting events.
In Salvador, Bahia state, protesters also clashed with the Military Police, but the incidents took place at least a mile away from the stadium where Brazil’s Confederations Cup match against Italy took place.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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