Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Brazil hit by further protests

A demonstrator holds a Brazilian flag in front of a burning barricade during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (AP/Felipe Dana)
Protesters gesture to riot police during a demonstration in Rio (AP)
Demonstrators lie in front of a police line at the Brazilian National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators have again taken to the streets of several Brazilian cities after the country's president broke a long silence to promise reforms.

However Saturday's early protests were smaller than those of recent days and with only scattered reports of violence.

Police estimated about 20,000 demonstrators gathered in a central square in the city of Belo Horizonte, largely to denounce legislation that would limit the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes in a country where many are fed up with the high rate of robberies and killings.

Many fear the law also would hinder attempts to jail corrupt politicians and other powerful figures.

Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who was tortured under Brazil's long military dictatorship, made a televised 10-minute appearance on Friday backing the right to peaceful protest but sharply condemning violence, vandalism and looting.

She also promised to be tougher on corruption and said she would meet with peaceful protesters, governors and the mayors of big cities to create a national plan to improve urban transportation and use oil royalties for investments in education. Much of the anger behind the protests has been aimed at costly bus fares, high taxes and poor public services such as schools and health care.

Many Brazilians, shocked by a week of protests and violence, hoped that Ms Rousseff's words would help soothe tensions and help avoid more violence, but not all were convinced by her promises of action.

Still, a rapidly growing crowd blocked Sao Paulo's main business street, the Avenida Paulista, to press their demands.

Victoria Villela, a 21-year-old university student who joined a rapidly growing crowd of demonstrators blocking Sao Paulo's main business street, the Avenida Paulista, said she was "frustrated and exhausted by the endless corruption of our government.

She said: "It was good Dilma spoke, but this movement has moved to far, there was not much she could really say. All my friends were talking on Facebook about how she said nothing that satisfied them. I think the protests are going to continue for a long time and the crowds will still be huge."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz