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By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – More than two hundred people protested outside Rio’s city council in Centro against the CPI dos Ônibus – a parliamentary commission of inquiry into Rio de Janeiro’s bus licenses – during its first meeting yesterday, causing road closures and traffic jams on Thursday, August 15th.

Protests Over Rio Bus Commission, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Protesters outside Rio de Janeiro’s city council on Thursday, photo by Fernando Frazão/ABr.

The protests that started early in the morning blocked various streets around the city council and Avenida Rio Branco, creating traffic jams and chaos in the entire Centro area, Rio’s main business hub. The police blocked the entrance to the council and arrested two protesters when turmoil began.

Some businesses and restaurants in the area had to close due to the protests. One member of the committee was attacked with an egg; others had to leave via back doors amid booing of the crowd.

The traffic chaos held on for the entire day, as Avenida Rio Branco was closed for more than six hours and only opened shortly before 5PM.

Around ten protesters made it into the city council and accompanied the commission’s session with black straps over their mouths and with their backs turned towards the commission. The commission had decided to close the debate to the public earlier.

Despite the ongoing protests, the commission set the agenda and scheduled sessions for every Thursday at 10AM until September. Members of the Prefeitura (local government) and representatives from the four bus consortia that operate bus lines in the city were invited to the debate.

The CPI was created to investigate the licenses of Rio’s 43 bus companies. The bus line operators are accused of engaging in practices that limit competition, including creating cartels and collusion.

Protesters are dissatisfied with the chosen members of the committee, as Chiquinho Brazão e Professor Uóston, both from the PMDB party, were named president and controller, respectively, instead of Eliomar Coelho (Psol), who had originally asked for the creation of the CPI. Coelho left the session in protest.

The creation of the CPI had also been one of the original demand of protests against raised bus fares in June. Last week, protesters attempted to interrupt CPI sessions, as well.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.

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