Mass protests continued throughout Brazil on Monday, with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators converging in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, the capital of Brasilia and other cities.
Protests initially began last week following a government announcement of an increase in public transportation costs, which brought out students and young workers and led to more than 250 arrests.
According to reports by Brazilian media such as Jornal do Dia, the initially peaceful demonstrations last week became heated, and led to clashes with Brazil’s riot police that left at least 100 injured in the major cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.
Though the protests initially began following the announcement of bus fare increases, they have evolved to include a wide range of groups that have grown dissatisfied over everything from government corruption and income inequality, as well as to outrage over the police’s harsh response to protesters last week.
In a sign that public dissatisfaction was still simmering, soccer fans booed president Dilma Rousseff on Monday during the opening of a two-week tournament at a stadium in the capital Brasilia. The heckling only intensified when the president of the global soccer body, FIFA, reprimanded the crowed for failing to show the president “respect.”
Though Rousseff was able to ride on her predecessor’s popularity, Brazil’s economic growth has slowed considerably since she took over from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is widely credited with lifting 40 million Brazilians out of poverty. Brazil’s economy has posted its worst two-year performance in over a decade, and inflation rose to 6.5 per cent in May.
At least 20,000 Brazilians were expected to demonstrate in Sao Paulo on Monday, with organizers placing the figure closer to 30,000.