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Brazil Protests Crescendo as Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets
Growing uprising against bus fare increases reveals broad discontent with decaying public services
Tens of thousands will march in Sao Paulo later Monday as protests against rising bus fares, soaring poverty, and scant public services in Brazil reach fever pitch.
This marks the latest crescendo in weeks of escalating protests, touched off by a March spike in Porto Alegre bus fares that sent protesters into the streets. The demonstrations have spread to over 100 towns and cities facing nationwide fare increases, and mass police crackdowns with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets, have led to scores of injuries.
The Huffington Post reports on opinions on-the-ground:
"It's about much more than those 10 cents. It's about a society that is sick of corrupt politicians not making good on their promises to make improvements," said Bruno Bisaglia, 24, who was gathering video testimony about the protests. "We want decent education, health care and transportation. That's what this fight is all about."
Protests at Rio de Janeiro's Confederations Cup football tournament continue into their second day as protesters assail high government spending on sports infrastructure while public services vanquish. The demonstrators were met by riot police who repeatedly fired tear gas into the crowd, Reuters reports.
The Free Fare Movement, one of the forces behind the uprisings, calls for "free public transport and quality without turnstiles and without charge," according to the group's Facebook page.
The issue of fares is a touchstone for broad discontent among the workers, students, and anti-poverty campaigners taking to Brazil' streets, The Rio Times reports:
“O Rio pra quem?” (A Rio for whom?) protesters asked, expressing their frustration over the city’s repeated decisions to favor developing tourism, promoting the city’s international image and business, as opposed to serving the people and improving services provided to them.
The mobilizations have been termed the 'salad uprisings' after a Brazilian journalist was arrested for allegedly carrying vinegar, which is believed to be a partial protection against teargas.
While economic growth for Brazil's wealthy has made this nation the darling of international lenders like the International Monetary Fund, reports suggest that growth under a trade liberalization framework and the gutting of social services have exacerbated social inequalities.