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Brazil police clash with anti-World Cup protesters

By Adriana Gomez

SAO PAULO (AP) - Protesters and police clashed in Sao Paulo Thursday, as demonstrations against the World Cup and rallies calling for improved public services erupted in several Brazilian cities.

Officers in Brazil's largest city fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who set piles of trash alight to barricade a central avenue. Demonstrators blasted the billions spent to host next month's soccer tournament and said they wanted to draw attention to what they called a lack of investment to improve poor public services.

"We are beginning to gain strength to go against the injustices of the World Cup," said Luana Gurther, a social sciences student. "We are the ones who should decide where the public money goes. More funding for schools, hospitals, housing, transportation- not the Cup."

Gurther and a thousand other mostly young protesters gathered on a main business avenue in the city of 11 million, loudly beating drums and cans and raising banners with messages such as "less money for the Cup and more for housing." Protesters staged a soccer game with dirty tactics, and one man put on a costume of a giant skeleton dressed as a Brazil player.

The demonstration turned violent when some people smashed the windows of a Hyundai car dealership and the offices of a bank. Police arrested seven people carrying Molotov cocktails

While widespread, the rallies were far smaller than the protests that engulfed the nation last year.

Thursday's demonstrations blocked two key roads into Sao Paulo during the morning commute. Outside the new stadium that will host the opening match of the Cup, about 1,500 activists fighting for more housing waved Brazilian flags as black smoke rose from the flames burning tires.

Anti World Cup Protests in Brazil

"Our goal is symbolic. We don't want to destroy or damage the stadium," said Guilherme Boulos, head of the Homeless Workers Movement, whose activists gathered at Itaquerao Stadium on the eastern outskirts of Sao Paulo. "What we want are more rights for workers to have access to housing and to show the effects the Cup has brought to the poor."

The group claims many people have been forced out of their homes because of rising rents in the neighborhood around the new stadium.

Police blocked the main entrance next to a construction zone where cranes and other machines were lined up to carry materials still needed to finish the soccer arena.

As night fell, rallies were held in Rio de Janeiro, causing chaos for traffic in the center of the city.

In the capital Brasilia, protesters carried banners reading "FIFA Go Home," while in another Cup host city Belo Horizonte, about 2,000 people took to the streets to complain of the soccer tournament.

In northeastern Brazil, looters ransacked stores in the World Cup host city of Recife, where a police strike led to lawlessness. Police there entered the third day of a strike for a 50 percent pay hike. Authorities said they'd already decided to cancel two professional league soccer matches slated for this weekend in the city.

"They are obviously using the proximity of the World Cup to pressure us to give into their demands," government press officer Manoel Guimaraes for the state of Pernambusco, home to Recife.

Recife will host five World Cup matches, starting on June 14.

The demonstrations Thursday were being watched as a test of the government's ability to maintain security during the World Cup.

Huge anti-government protests across Brazil last year overshadowed the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament for the World Cup.

Many Brazilians are angry at the billions spent to host the World Cup. Protesters have said the government should focus spending instead on improving Brazil's woeful health, education, security and infrastructure systems.

Brazilian leaders had hoped the World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics in Rio would put a favorable spotlight on the country, showing advances over the past decade in improving its economy and pulling tens of millions out of poverty.

Join the discussion

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josephyannuzzi May 16 2014 at 7:02 AM

Hell, this is no news...here in the once great USA we already have that "moochers" mentality and the Democrats are willing to give the slugs pretty much anything they want, as long as they can obtain their votes come election time.

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3 replies
ramonbatt May 16 2014 at 8:52 AM

Homeless Workers Union? Sounds like what we have also!

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ezspin42 May 16 2014 at 8:54 AM

You do realize that this is a game, right? This doesn't happen with the World Series or the Super Bowl-or even the Daytona 500. I know, America just doesn't "get it" when it comes to soccer. In this case, I say ignorance is bliss.

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2 replies
glers ezspin42 May 16 2014 at 9:01 AM

you do realize their protests have nothing to do with the game but the displacement of residents and housing issues created by the World Cup!

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Sean Mckendrick ezspin42 May 16 2014 at 9:11 AM

OMG you are so Ignorant, your so called World series of baseball only Involves North America ffs, your Super Bowl is only USA teams & your Daytona 500 is the same. Get a grip you Idiot & post something constructive. The World Cup means exactly that, teams fro around the whole World gets a chance through a qualification process to play in without doubt the best sporting event in the WORLD IMO.

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glers May 16 2014 at 9:02 AM

Some one should tell these people it's not a sin to use birth control!

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4 replies
phil wallace May 16 2014 at 9:13 AM

"Some think football is a matter of life and death but its more important than that"Bill Shankly

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kayakler May 16 2014 at 9:20 AM

Lets me honest, every gvt wastes money on zillions of things before the even think of spending anything on the people who gave them their jobs

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Dan Embody May 16 2014 at 9:22 AM

Here is what to do. Pull the plug on the soccer games and all the money they are bringing in. Without this money, social services will be cut even more. Then when they get the idea that they need this money, they change their atttitudes.

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2 replies
bnd2suksed Dan Embody May 16 2014 at 9:29 AM

The Olympics and World Cup are not profit making ventures. The preparation costs much more than the revenue brought in. The reason to host these events is to bring attention and prestige (hopefully). Sometimes the cost to the country is more than it can bear. This might be the case for Brazil.

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2 replies
Aldo bnd2suksed May 16 2014 at 9:49 AM

They are profit making ventures!!

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queencelt bnd2suksed May 16 2014 at 11:23 AM

You are right, bnd2. They make profit only for the 1%, while the rest suffer. The raising of the bus fares is a great example. Thank goodness people protested and they were lowered again.

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mbellbrook Dan Embody May 16 2014 at 9:32 AM

Exactly. Who the hell is leading these people? I can only imagine:

"Gee, I got an idea, why don't we act like crazed imbeciles and scare off millions of dollars pouring into our country from foreigners? That's just bound to give our economy a boost and improve our quality of life."

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1 reply
bnd2suksed mbellbrook May 16 2014 at 9:52 AM

You don't have your facts straight. The World Cup and Olympics bring in money, but not enough to pay for the preparation. And, when the events are over, the county is left with over-build venues that serve very little purpose. Hosting the World Cup and Olympics is ONLY for the prestige, not the money.

Flag +2 rate up
rileydad48 May 16 2014 at 9:24 AM

is violence man's nature....seems like every corner of this globe is hell bent on destoying others or themselve.... wher do I turn in my membership card...

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1 reply
jonkmath rileydad48 May 16 2014 at 10:30 AM

The Universe is a violent place,wait til our sun supernovas then you'll see some REAL violence!

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bnd2suksed May 16 2014 at 9:24 AM

Some people in this discussion say that Brazil is overpopulated and that the people don't use birth control. This is ridiculous and ignorant. Brazil is emerging from a 3rd world country to a 1st world country. It is trying to overcome corruption and social class disparity. It is a hard balancing act. The World Cup and the Olympics are very prestigious and might help the country in the long run, but they come at a price. And, it seems to be the poor that are bearing the brunt of the cost. Last year, bus fares were increased to help pay for these sports venues. It is the poor that ride the buses. A protest reversed the fare increase. People should have the right to voice their opinions in the direction of their own destiny. These protests (except for the violence and damage) are an important piece of Brazil's growth.

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Maisa May 16 2014 at 9:24 AM

Stupid comments,Brazilian population needs more schools,hospitals,security and above all,no corruption! That's why the're angry about it!

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2 replies
jonkmath Maisa May 16 2014 at 10:29 AM

Good luck with that!

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bill_jones86 Maisa May 16 2014 at 10:32 AM

thats their problem not ours i could care less about brazil

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