Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Fresh protest at football match

A woman shouts during an anti-government protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (AP)
Protesters detained by police walk to a waiting police bus near the football stadium where Spain and Italy met in a Confederations Cup match (AP)
A man holds a sheet of paper with a message that reads in Portuguese: "Officer, don't shoot at me. I'm also fighting for you" (AP)

About 5,000 anti-government protesters have fought police near a stadium that hosted a semi-final at the Confederations Cup football tournament.

The protesters marched peacefully on Thursday night but clashed with police as they neared a security zone about a mile from the stadium in Fortaleza, where Spain beat Italy on penalties in the warm-up tournament to the 2014 World Cup. In Rio de Janeiro, about 2,000 protesters marched but did not clash with police.

They are the latest in a series of massive, nationwide protests that have hit Brazil since June 17. Demonstrators are angry about corruption and poor public services despite a heavy tax burden.

They are also denouncing the billions of pounds spent on hosting the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio - money they say should be going toward better hospitals, schools, transportation projects and schools.

Victoria Ferreira, a 16-year-old protesting near the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, said it was ironic that "if something broke out here, some violence, there would be no hospitals to take care of us".

Acrid tear gas still drifted in the air around Ferreira as police and clusters of protesters fought. The authorities fired tear gas and rubber bullets in an effort to scatter the crowd, while protesters responded with slingshots, fireworks and rocks. At one point, a group of protesters broke through the outer police barrier and made a dash for the stadium, but they were pushed pack by police.

A few other scattered protests were reported around Brazil, smaller gatherings of demonstrators focused on individual issues, not the sort of massive protests seen last week when as many as one million Brazilians poured into the streets to call for change.

In Brasilia, President Dilma Rousseff met union leaders and politicians as the government continued to scramble to meet protester demands over anti-corruption measures and improved public services.

She was preparing the ground for a proposal she is expected to deliver to congress on Monday for a vote on political reform that she wants to put before the Brazilian population in the coming months.

Gilberto Carvalho, her general secretary, said the biggest lesson the government took from the protests was that it needs to better hear and understand the voices coming from the street.

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