Brazil protests: Change Brazil and Free Fare Movement take to streets

More than 100,000 Brazilians have taken to the streets in peaceful protests in at least 11 cities throughout Brazil to voice frustration over public education, health, security, transportation and government corruption.

The rallies, organized mainly via social media campaigns, blocked streets and stopped traffic in more than a half-dozen cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. The protests began this month with a small protest in Sao Paulo against a hike in bus and subway fares. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters and journalists.

Police arrested more than 200 people and managed to injure 120 protesters and several journalists. Police claimed that they seized petrol bombs, knives and drugs.

The protests in Sao Paulo were organized by the student-heavy “Free Fare Movement,” but after excessive police violence, support for the movement quickly gained support and spread to other cities. Many Brazilians are upset that the government is spending billions in public money on new stadiums for the World Cup and the Olympics while Brazil’s public services are in a total state disarray.

Brazilian politicians are worried that the spreading protests might reflect badly on Brazil as it tries to promote stability ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Maybe instead of evicting poor people so they can build white elephant stadiums, the Brazilian government should spend some of the money on much needed public services.