By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Bus fares in Rio de Janeiro will return to R$2.75 after massive protests erupted across the country, mayor Eduardo Paes announced last night during a press conference in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone). Across the Brazil, city governments folded under the pressure and began to announce lower bus fares.
Protesters are claiming this is a “small victory,” as the demonstrations have come to represent greater frustrations with the government’s actions.
“I come here after reflecting a lot on the topic, and I demonstrate that the twenty cents were not made with subsidies. We are going to suspend the increase that was implemented in the beginning of June. This concurs with the actions taken by the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad. However, we warn that we will have a loss of at least R$200 million for the city and we will have to redefine our priorities,” said Paes to the press.
In addition to <a city buses, Paes spoke on behalf of Governor Sérgio Cabral, announcing that in the state of Rio, trains, boats, and metro would also return to the prices established before June 1st, when public transportation fares increased.
Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are the eighth and ninth cities, respectively, to lower bus fares, following in the footsteps of cities like Porto Alegre, João Pessoa, Cuiabá, Manaus, Natal, Recife and Vitória.
However, what began as protests over bus fare increases in many Brazilian cities has now grown into a wider expression of public discontent over a range of issues, including inflation, corruption, public safety and World Cup expenditures. It remains to be seen whether lower bus fares will appease the hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets in the last two weeks.
“I don’t just want the bus fare lowered by 20 cents. I want more health care, more education. I want more because I pay for it,” said Natane Santos, a law student at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
“We will continue fighting and neither regress nor be satisfied with just this first victory. It is important, but it should be looked at as the beginning and not the end of this process for change,” Santos added.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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