SÃO PAULO – A demonstration by the Homeless Workers’ Movement and other aligned protest groups drew crowds of around 15,000 people outside São Paulo’s World Cup stadium on Wednesday, the movement said during the event.
Police estimated 4,000 people had taken part in the protest.
The movement is demanding housing and the legalisation of around 90 plots of land its members have occupied around São Paulo and others across the country.
Unlike at previous protests held under the “Não Vai Ter Copa” (There Will Not Be a World Cup) banner, reinforcements by police were minimal at Wednesday’s march, which snaked its way peacefully for three hours from Vila Matilde to the Arena Corinthians World Cup stadium.
“We’re not against the World Cup, but we do want out part in it,” Guilherme Boulos, a Homeless Workers’ Movement leader, told the Anadolu Agency.
“The ball is now in the government’s court. If they meet our demands for housing, we will stop. But until then we continue, including at the opening of the World Cup next week,” Boulos said.
The leader also said that the movement could “radicalize” its actions, as current tactics “weren’t having the right effect.”
‘Our slice of World Cup benefits’
“I’m here because I have nowhere to live,” said 49-year-old São Paulo businessman Antônio Belarmino da Silva. “We want the World Cup to happen and to be a success, but we also demand housing and better education.”
“I’m here fighting for housing and better healthcare. If you go to a hospital here, there are no doctors,” pensioner Rita Almeida, 68, told AA.
Other groups represented at the march included the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) group whose demands for free public transport in the wake of a price hike in bus and metro tickets played a significant role in rallying the nationwide mass protests seen in June 2013 during the Confederations Cup.
The groups are coordinating protests throughout the month-long football tournament, which begins in São Paulo on 12 June, and are supporting the ongoing wave of public sector strikes.