By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fifty thousand protested throughout Belo Horizonte yesterday during the Confederations Cup Semi-Final match between Brazil and Uruguay. This demonstration has been said to be the worst in terms of vandalism and police violence in the over three weeks of protests that have taken Brazil by storm.
Starting at noon, protesters shut down main roads in Belo Horizonte. Some groups went directly to the Mineirão stadium, which was hosting the FIFA Confederations Cup Semi-Final match.
The majority of protesters were reportedly peaceful, but as the day progressed, violence escalated on both the side of demonstrators and police. While Brazil overcame its famed rival, Uruguay, inside the stadium’s walls, a battle erupted outside the Mineirão, as police and protesters clashed on the streets.
Vandals began breaking into stores and looting around 5PM. Several car dealerships became target to a group of violent protesters, who broke in and destroyed cars in the store’s lots. Several small fires were ignited, and one car on the street was set ablaze. Police shot rubber bullets and used tear gas to control the crowds.
Twenty-five people were arrested for being in possession of materials that could be used for acts of vandalism, like gas bombs, rocks, iron bars and pieces of wood. Seven were hospitalized, according to reports. Two people were seriously injured when they fell off the raised highway where protests were taking place.
What began as a protest against a R$0.20 fare increase on buses and trains has grown into a wider movement demanding solutions to various issues, including inadequate public services like health care and education. The governments’ World Cup expenditures have also come into question and the grounds adjacent to stadiums hosting Confederations Cup games have become magnets for protests.
This Sunday, the Brazilian national team will travel to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the Final match, where they are set to be met by a group of protesters planning a demonstration outside the Maracanã.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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