Demonstrators clashed with police in central Rio do Janeiro on Monday evening as more than 200,000 people turned out to the streets of major Brazilian cities to protest the billions of dollars spent on the Confederations Cup, higher public transport costs, corruption and poor services.
The nationwide demonstrations, the largest and most extensive in two decades since the unrest began 10 days ago, were relatively peaceful. However acts of vandalism were reported in Rio and Porto Alegre in south Brazil.
Police used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse small groups of masked youths engaging in acts of vandalism near Rio’s state legislative assembly. Some of the young people broke into the building and television showed a small fire.
Five policemen were reported hurt as 80 others holed up inside the assembly building which was surrounded by rowdy demonstrators. Police could be seen around a vehicle masked vandals had set on fire.
Elsewhere in Rio, a host city for the Confederations Cup, police said around 100,000 marched, notably down Rio’s central Rio Branco Avenue.
In Brasilia, more than 200 youths briefly occupied the roof of the National Congress.
But after negotiations with police, the boisterous crowd agreed to leave, chanting and waving placards as security forces ringed the building. Some of the protesters called for the resignation of President Dilma Rousseff.
Later, an estimated 5,000 youths formed a human chain around the Congress building.
In Sao Paulo, the country’s economic capital and most populous city, an estimated 65,000 staged a generally peaceful march, with no repetition so far of the violence that marred similar protests last week.
“Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate,” said Rousseff in a bid to calm tempers. “It is natural for the young to demonstrate,” she said in a statement posted on the presidency’s blog.
In the south some 3,000 rallied outside Porto Alegre’s City Hall, where police intervened after acts of vandalism by youths who set a bus on fire.
Some 30,000 protesters marched in Belo Horizonte, while smaller demonstrations were held in Fortaleza, Salvador and other cities.
Earlier, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo warned that that authorities would not allow the protests to disrupt international football tournaments Brazil has pledged to host — the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup.
“The government assumed the responsibility and the honor to stage these two international events and will do so, ensuring the security and integrity of the fans and tourists,” Rebelo said.
MORE ON [SOURCE]