Demonstrators took to the streets of Sao Paulo on Saturday night, with more than a thousand protestors organized in support of “Operation Stop the World Cup”. The worldwide soccer tournament is scheduled to begin in Brazil this June, and to last a month. Last year, protests attracted millions of citizens, complaining of higher bus fares, poor public services and high rates of corruption, all while the country focused attention and resources on preparing for the World Cup.
While Saturday’s demonstration in Sao Paulo was mostly peaceful, with participants waving flags, carrying signs and chanting “there will be no World Cup,” there were a few clashes with police. When the protest reached downtown Sao Paulo, members of the “Black Block” anarchist group attacked an empty police car, while others torched a small car and smashed the windows of banks. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and releasing tear gas to disperse the crowd. More than 100 protestors were detained.
A demonstration also occurred in Rio de Janeiro, although there only around 50 people turned up. They gathered in front of the Copacabana Hotel, holding signs criticizing the World Cup, before marching along the streetside boulevard. Small demonstrations were also held in several cities around the country.
The protestors are upset with the millions being spent on staging this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, believing the money could be put to better use by investing in health, education, transportation and housing. It appears as though Saturday’s demonstrations will be just the beginning. Student Juliana Turno said, “this is a small sample of the protests that will happen when the World Cup begins.”