São Paulo has seen a fourth night of protests after an increase in bus and subway fares, and the BBC reports that things are starting to get violent.
The price rise itself may seem relatively insignificant — an increase of 3 reals ($1.40) to 3.20 reals ($1.50) per journey — but the protests show a growing unease with inflation and crime within Brazil, and unrest has begun to spread to other cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre.
Videos from the scene show police battling with large crowds, and there have been reports of petrol bombs being thrown. More than 200 people have been detained, and police are reported to have used both rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.
This video reportedly shows journalist Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira being hit with batons and detained by police:
A reader wrote in to explain why the protests matter so much:
Yesterday, June 13th 2013, the city of São Paulo saw the forth day of protests in its streets with the presence of over 20.000 people [ed. note — other estimates say 5,000 people were protesting]. The demonstration was peaceful and did not engage in the depredation of public goods. The arrival of the police, nevertheless, changed quickly the situation and a war environment took control of the city. The police with rubber bullet shots and tear gas grenades attacked the demonstrators. At no point these individuals had violent behaviour or gave any reason for such a response. With no reason to do so, the police started to arrest people only by the fact of having vinegar on their backpacks (so they could protect themselves of the tear gas).
Of those that were sent to the police stations we could find journalists, students, entrepreneurs, an average citizen, that can’t stand this government that reinforces social inequality through their politics.
The truth is, nevertheless, not that simple, and the “real reasons” for these protests go a little further. It’s clear to the whole population the increasing rage of violence in the country. This violence comes from the government towards the people. We live in a country where 30% of the people live bellow the poverty lines. Every public service (education, health, transportation, security) is furnished from the private sector, and can’t satisfy the needs of the population unless you have a high sum of money to get them. Those that do not have this kind of cash die waiting for a doctor in hospitals, never learn how to write or read and are excluded from the society.
While the protests are still relatively small, its a worrying sign for a country that has staked so much on huge upcoming events like the World Cup and the Olympic Games. The next protest is planned for June 17th and clearly believe the unrest will grow.
The Los Angeles Times reports that last night crowds of protesters were chanting, “The love is over — Turkey is right here.”
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