SÃO PAULO – The latest in a series of protests against the World Cup in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, marched through the city center Wednesday evening in a bid to draw attention to problems with the country’s public health system.
Despite pouring rain, around 400 people gathered for the start of the fifth protest in a series, held under the banner of Não Vai Ter Copa (“There Will Be No World Cup”) at the world-famous São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) on the city’s central Avenida Paulista business avenue.
As the rain eased, the protest increased in size as more people joined, angry that billions of reais of public money has been used on preparations on the World Cup, even in the form of loans.
The demonstrators, who carried fake coffins and banners written in blood-like red paint, believe the government should be spending more on health, as well as education and public transport.
Some banners stuck to slogans seen throughout the series of protests, such as “Go home, FIFA” and demands for certain politicians to resign.
Others held flags pertaining to far-left parties and LGBT associations traditionally present at the protests.
The protest was peaceful for the majority of the evening, until it passed through the Butantã neighborhood – home to Latin America’s top university, the University of São Paulo (USP) – where a number of people vandalised two banks.
Some of the 1,000 police and riot troops accompanying the protest detained a group of suspected vandals in a “kettle” in the Butantã metro station, and 54 people were later confirmed by police to have been arrested.
Police could be seen reinforcing other local businesses, including supermarkets and pharmacies for some time after the suspects had been taken away in police vans.
The next protest in the series has been marked for 29 April, organisers confirmed to local media.
An affiliated Não Vai Ter Copa march was also held in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, where protesters demanded housing rights for low-income citizens. Among the protesters were members of a group of over 5,000 people evicted this week from a disused building complex belonging to Oi S.A. Telecommunications company, in which they had been squatting for a number of days.