By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Thousands once again took to the streets in Brazil to protest on Wednesday, this time against the government’s proposed pension reform. In some cities, public transportation came to a halt, leaving millions with no way to go to work.
While in São Paulo the protest was peaceful, in other cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, protesters clashed with police.
After a tumultuous early morning rush hour, with no public transportation available, thousands gathered on Avenida Paulista in the early afternoon to protest labor and pension reforms proposed by the government. The protest in the largest city in the country was peaceful.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva participated in the protest, speaking against the Social Security reform at the end of the rally. According to Lula the current administration wants to end the gains of the working class through labor and welfare reforms.
In Rio de Janeiro, protesters concentrated around the Igreja da Candelaria in the late afternoon and marched on to Central do Brasil, Rio’s main train station.
Although most of the protest was calm, a group of demonstrators clashed with police in Cinelandia, and military police ended up throwing tear gas demonstrators and clients at the Amarelinho bar one of the most traditional and old in the city.
Brasilia, registered some of the most violent clashes with landless rural workers, family farmers as well as those demonstrating against the pension reform demonstrators occupying the Ministry of Finance for nine hours. Demonstrators broke down doors, damaged equipment and scribbled on walls. According to the organizers, 1,500 people participated in the occupation.
The pension reform, being discussed at the Chamber of Deputies, among other things increases the minimum retirement age to 65 years for men and women, with a minimum contribution of 25 years.