By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Protesters in twelve Brazilian cities took to the streets on Thursday to demonstrate against the high costs of hosting the FIFA World Cup in June, while also demanding more housing and better wages, education and health system.
In São Paulo, thousands of drivers found themselves in massive traffic jams during the morning rush hour after at least nine different groups of protesters in several parts of the city blocked major roads and an important highway coming into the city. The protests started before dawn, with metro workers demanding better wages and benefits.
By noon, there were steel workers, students and homeless city dwellers blocking major city arteries. At the end of the day another two groups, one of striking teachers and another of anti-World Cup protesters, joined the fray.
In Rio de Janeiro, students protested alongside professors for better schools while another group demonstrated against hosting the World Cup. The high costs of the sporting event and corruption allegations also led hundreds of people to the streets in Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Porto Alegre and Brasília. A group demanding housing clashed with police near Brasilia’s soccer stadium. Students in Fortaleza clashed with police after taking to the streets to demand free public transportation to and from school.
Some of the most violent protests were reported in the city of Recife, where military police officers and firemen have been on strike since Tuesday. With no police presence protests turned violent with many stores being looted and schools forced to close for the day due to safety concerns.
These are the latest nationwide protests since last year’s massive demonstrations rose up in Brazil against an increase in bus fares, as well as corruption and the high expenditures connected to international tournaments. This comes just three days after the Associated Press published a report which alleged that Brazil’s road to the World Cup has been marred by costly stadiums that may see no future use and overcharging by construction companies.
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