With helicopters circling overhead, a group of 300 protesters in Sao Paolo found themselves up against police tear gas launchers.
It’s anything but serene, let alone joyful, with the World Cup slated to begin in just three days time in Brazil. Sao Paolo metro workers are using the stage and their importance in an international tournament to attempt to get a salary increase of approximately 12 percent.
Which apparently warrants tear gas (as did a protest late last month in Brasilia, see above photo). Three cheers for the Brazilian government (and for what it’s worth, the workers have been offered a reported raise of close to nine percent).
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she would not allow violent demonstrations to mar the World Cup.
Sao Paulo metro workers have been on strike since Thursday, creating traffic chaos in one of the world’s most congested cities.
Altino Prazeres, the president of the union organising the strike, said that ruining the World Cup was not the strikers’ intention.
“I love soccer! I support our national team. The point is not to stop the Cup,” he told the AP news agency.
“We want to resolve this today and all are willing to negotiate”, he said.
Sixty workers have already been fired for their roles in the strike, but the BBC says it’s clear the anguish and consternation from the workers has been amplified by the massive unrest caused by money spent on the tournament.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, even going back to the protests at last summer’s Confederations Cup, there’s a lot of anger in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro’s mayor has been critical of the tournament’s organization, as has Pele. Troops have been sent into protests multiple times now. It hasn’t been pretty, and now looks likely to invade the fun of the actual tournament.
Turns out you can’t ignore people.