Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — At least six people were detained and four injured, including a minor, in São Paulo on Friday night after a largely peaceful protest against recent price rises to public transit fares turned violent.

After following a route around the historic city centre, the march returned to the Municipal Theatre, from where it had begun — and shortly afterwards chaotic scenes broke out between protesters and security forces.

Police said they responded when a flare was let off in their direction, but the protest’s organizers, the Free Fare Movement (Movimento Passe Livre, MPL), said via Twitter that the security forces fired first and that those policing the event had set out to “ruin the protest with violence.”

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO — The second major protest against a recent price hike in public transit fares this year ended in violence on Friday evening, with a number of protesters arrested in central São Paulo.

The demonstration and march, called by the MPL, the Free Fare Movement, gathered 3,000 protesters, according to police estimates; organisers said 20,000 attended. An Anadolu correspondent at the scene put the total at about 5,000.

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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – Damage of over US$1 million was wrought by acts of vandalism by Black Bloc elements during an anniversary march led by the MPL (Free Fare Movement) in the streets of São Paulo on Thursday evening.

As a major World Cup tie between England and Uruguay got underway on the other side of the city, the MPL-coordinated march gathered around 1,300 people in the city centre, according to military police figures.

Although it began peacefully, it ended in a major damage to at least 10 bank branches and a luxury car showroom.

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Anadolu Agency

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.

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It was an apparently innocuous twenty-centavo rise in the cost of a bus or metro ticket in São Paulo at the beginning of June that initially sparked mass protests that have since swept through at least twelve Brazilian states. On Monday 17 June, an estimated 200,000 people took to the streets in São Paulo and Rio alone, in protests larger than any since those against President Fernando Collor in 1992.

São Paulo protest on Monday 17 June. Photo by Ben Tavener.

The good-natured atmosphere seen at the São Paulo protest on 17 June turned was replaced by violence at other protests, with police accused of brutality towards protesters and journalists. Photo by Ben Tavener.

The Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement) demanded the increase to be reversed – which they achieved in a number of cities, including São Paulo and Rio – but their call for both free and better-quality public transport has yet to be met – meaning the wave of protests are likely to continue.

The protests, which many protesters said are “not just about 20 centavos!”, have taken a much wider form and now represent a general platform for Brazilians to vent their frustration and show their displeasure at the state of the country, whether it be the country’s multi-billion-dollar hosting of the World Cup and Olympics, poor public services, particularly health and education, or rampant political corruption.

But despite the diversity of the slogans chanted, many have been united by a concern for Brazil’s economy: the rising cost of living, particularly food and services, have hit Brazilians hard.

Even though incomes have gone up, Brazil’s new middle class has been demanding more from public services, and with billions of reais of public money being spent on World Cup preparations with public services remain poor, the 20-centavo rise in bus fares appears to have been the final straw.

A survey of families by O Globo newspaper also reported many seeing expenses go up forty percent in the last year, despite the government’s official annual inflation figure of 6.5%.

Even though the rise in bus and metro fares has been reversed in most cities, the Free Fare Movement (MPL) says it will continue its fight until quality public transport is delivered. Photo by Ben Tavener.

Even though the rise in bus and metro fares has been reversed in most cities, the Free Fare Movement (MPL) says it will continue its fight until quality public transport is delivered. Photo by Ben Tavener.

Given Brazil’s economic track record in the 1980s and early 1990s, some have pointed to concerns over inflation as the main problem to be debated.

Alexandre Macchione Saes, Professor of Economics at USP, says that those using the inflation argument are generally politicians: “Yes, the economy in general has not grown much lately, but unemployment is low and people’s spending capabilities have generally increased – people can now buy things they couldn’t buy before.”

“The only real objective argument that can be carried at these protests is about public services – education, health, public transport – things objectively of poor quality.”

For Tabiner Domingues Marques, an economics student at the University of São Paulo (USP) who has been to every one of the São Paulo protests to date, it is all about the quality of public services and galvanizing a new generation to become politically active to change the face of Brazilian politics: “People are coming to the streets because victories won over the last decade in terms of income growth and distribution have not been accompanied by an increase in quality in public services.”

The government has certainly been caught out by the number of people taking part in the mass demonstrations: President Dilma has tried to get protesters back on side by praising the protest spirit and even mimicking the protest’s “People have woken up!” slogan, and other politicians are likely to try to score personal goals from the protests, analysts say.

The big question now for the protesters is, with almost daily protests planned and no central leader yet assuming control, do the disparate movements marching together have enough steam to carry on galvanizing the population into demanding a change in Brazil, and if they do want to see real change – what their next move is.

Read the full article on The Rio Times website.

As many as 100,000 people took to the streets of both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on 17 June – and marches were held in at least 10 other major cities across Brazil – to protest again a range of issues, from the World Cup to government corruption – all of which were sparked originally by a 20-centavo increase in bus fares.

I accompanied the first half of the São Paulo protests around the Faria Lima area of Pinheiros.