Protest draws 2,000 in Brazil on Cup match day

AP News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2014 6:28 PM
Protest draws 2,000 in Brazil on Cup match day

SAO PAULO (AP) — A protest demanding free public transportation in Brazil's biggest city drew about 2,000 people Thursday, and some smashed windows at banks and car dealerships and spray-painted anti-capitalist slogans on buildings.

The demonstration began just as Sao Paulo hosted a World Cup soccer match, which Uruguay won 2-1 over England. But the protest was about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the stadium.

By nightfall, protesters set trash aflame on a main highway and organized their own soccer match on the roadway. There was little transit chaos, because it was a national holiday in Brazil.

It was the latest protest to hit Brazil, which has seen hundreds of demonstrations in the past year by people expressing anger about poor public services, corruption in government, the billions spent to host the World Cup and a litany of other complaints. Recent protests have been far smaller than those seen last year.

"Even if Brazil was the champion of the World Cup it wouldn't make me happy," said Valcenie Karai, a 24-year-old protester. "I would be happy if their victory meant something for us. But the money they spent to host World Cup has already done enough damage."

The protest was organized by the Free Fare movement, the group that was behind the first protests last year that sparked roiling anti-government demonstrations across Brazil.

The group has one specific aim — to make public transit free. But its demonstrations often draw protesters with the myriad of other complaints that have become evident over the past year.

Anarchist "Black Block" protesters were carrying out the vandalism during Thursday's protest.

Separately, police in Sao Paulo said they arrested 15 young men who threatened English soccer fans earlier in the day near the FIFA Fan Fest match viewing area. No serious altercation or injuries were reported.