Take this my friend: “We are here to make sure police don’t hurt these kids”
SAO PAULO – More than 100,000 people were in the streets Monday for largely peaceful protests in at least eight big cities.
In some of the biggest protests since the end of Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship, demonstrations have spread across this continent-sized country and united people from all walks of life behind frustrations over poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden. They were in large part motivated by widespread images of Sao Paulo police last week beating demonstrators and firing rubber bullets into groups during a march that drew 5,000. They also railed against the matter that sparked the first protests last week: a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic hub, at least 65,000 protesters gathered in a Carnival atmosphere, as people chanted anti-corruption jingles and thousands of protesters in the capital, Brasilia, peacefully marched on Congress.
“This is a communal cry”; “We’re not satisfied”; “We’re massacred by the government’s taxes”; “We don’t have good schools for our kids”; “Our hospitals are in awful shape”; “Corruption is rife” “We cannot take it anymore”; “We will not take it anymore” were chanting the protesters in hope for their protests to make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that the Brazil population cannot and will not be taking it anymore!
A group of mothers received a rousing cheer when they arrived at the plaza where the march began, brandishing signs that read “Mothers Who Care Show Support.”
“We are here to make sure police don’t hurt these kids”; “We need better education, hospitals and security not billions spent on the World Cup” were saying the mothers.
Protest leaders went to pains to tell marchers that damaging public or private property would only hurt their cause. Some congressional windows were broken, but police did not use force to contain the damage. During the first hours of the march that continued into the night there was barely any perceptible police presence.
In Rio, police officers tear gas and rubber bullets when a group of protesters invaded the state legislative assembly and hurled rocks and flares at police. But most of the tens of thousands who protested in Rio did so peacefully, many of them dressed in white and brandishing placards and banners.
In Belo Horizonte, police estimated about 20,000 people took part in a peaceful protest. Earlier in the day, demonstrators had erected several barricades of burning tires on a nearby highway, disrupting traffic.
In a brief statement, President Dilma Rousseff, who faces re-election next year and whose popularity rating recently dipped acknowledged the protests, saying: “Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate and part of democracy. It is natural for young people to demonstrate.”
Protests also were reported in Curitiba, Belem and Salvador.
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