By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – As many as 100,000 protesters took to the streets of both São Paulo and Rio last night, as well as tens of thousands in other cities in Brazil – including Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Curitiba and Porto Alegre – as part of the widespread protests. Originally sparked by an increase in the cost of public transport fares in Rio and São Paulo, the demonstrations have spread to a number of cities around the world.
The protests – now regarded as the biggest Brazil has seen in twenty years, since those against President Collor in 1992 – have now become a platform to vent anger at a range of issues from government corruption to spending outlays on the impending FIFA World Cup.
Demonstrations in the Pinheiros region of São Paulo, the fifth such protest the city had seen since the beginning of June, began peacefully, with only a handful of incidents of damage to public property. Police were instructed not to use rubber bullets, and protesters were permitted to bring vinegar – known to lessen the effects of tear gas – to the march.
However, later, after splitting into three groups, tense scenes were witnessed as protesters symbolically surrounded the Palácio dos Bandeirantes, the seat of the São Paulo State Government, in the Morumbi district, and later broke down the main door and entered the building.
Throughout the São Paulo protests, police were under fierce scrutiny after accusation of violence surfaced from the previous protest, and are only reported to have used tear gas in a limited number of situations during the evening’s protests.
Protests in Rio, which largely enjoyed a party-like atmosphere, ended with a number of bank branches having windows smashed, and two cars being set on fire outside the State Legislative Assembly building, which was later breached by protesters with at least twenty police officers sustaining injuries.
Protesters also scaled the National Congress Building in Brasília and set fire to a bus in Porto Alegre. Demonstrations were also held in other state capitals, including Curitiba, Recife, Fortaleza, Belém, Vitória, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Maceió.
Earlier in the day, Anonymous hacktivists hacked the Twitter account of weekly predominantly right-wing news magazine, Veja.
About 2,000 demonstrators took to the streets of the Irish capital, Dublin, on Monday, and a protest is planned in the heart of the British capital on Tuesday, on London’s famous Trafalgar Square. Both cities have sizable Brazilian communities.
New York City, Montreal and Berlin are among other cities to have seen small-scale protests showing solidarity with the Brazilian Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement).
Another protest, São Paulo’s sixth, has already been scheduled for Tuesday the 18th at 5PM, in the central Praça da Sé.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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