Indigenous protesters clashed with riot police on horseback in Brazil's capital city of Brasilia on Tuesday as they tried to march the city's main soccer stadium which will soon play host to the World Cup.
Opposed to how preparations for the upcoming World Cup have displaced people from their homes and what they see as the government's lavish spending of vast sums of public money that could be used for better purposes, indigenous demonstrators joined those defending the rights of the homeless—some displaying bow and arrows and traditional dress—as they marched towards the Mané Garrincha National Stadium, the most costly of new venues built for the international soccer event that begins next month.
“Who is the Cup for? Not us!” the demonstrators shouted. “I don’t want the Cup, I want money for health and education.”
According to Agence France-Presse:
About 1,000 protesters rallying for causes ranging from indigenous rights to housing for the homeless gathered in Brasilia's government square and began marching toward the city's World Cup stadium.
After police fired tear gas, some Indians could be seen throwing stones at some of the 500 police encircling the stadium.
Protesters also continued to block roads around the government plaza, where the congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court are located.
Earlier, about 500 Indian leaders scaled the congress building and installed themselves on the roof, wearing traditional face paint and feathers and carrying bows and arrows, in a protest they said was aimed at protecting their rights.
The group, which brought together 100 ethnic groups from across Brazil, included Kayapo chief Raoni, an 84-year-old leader famous for fighting to protect the Amazon rainforest alongside pop music star Sting.
"Scaling the congress building was an act of bravery, it shows we're warriors who defend our rights," Tamalui Kuikuru, an indigenous leader from the Xingu region in Mato Grosso state, told AFP.
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And Reuters adds:
Brasilia's stadium will cost 1.9 billion reais ($849.26 million) when the surrounding landscaping is finished after the World Cup, city auditors said in a report published last week, almost three times the price tag first budgeted.
Though they have not previously joined anti-World Cup protests, Indians have routinely protested in Brasilia against efforts to change the rules around how Indian reservations boundaries are determined. They invaded Congress while it was in session on several occasions last year.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has promised the Homeless Worker's movement that squatters who have gathered around some of the stadiums will receive low-cost government housing. But her government has warned that it will call in troops if necessary to prevent protests disrupting the soccer games.