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Fares Decline. Who Will Pay?

06/20/2013 - 08h29

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FROM SÃO PAULO

After 13 days of protests, with hundreds of thousands of people in the streets of São Paulo in demonstrations that were sometimes violent and sometimes peaceful, Mayor Fernando Haddad (PT) and Governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) gave in to pressure and announced a reduction in bus, subway and train fares in the capital city, from R$ 3.20 (US$ 1.27) to R$ 3 (US$ 1.38), which was the price until the end of May. Five other capital cities did the same, including Rio de Janeiro.

On Wednesday evening Mayor Eduardo Paes (PMDB) and Governor Sérgio Cabral (PMDB) also announced the reduction in public transportation fares in Rio. Bus fares, which cost R$ 2.95 (US$ 1.36) at the beginning of the month, will fall to R$ 2.75 (US$ 1.26).

The historic decline is followed by two questions. The first: will the measure be enough to curb the wave of protests in Brazil? The Movimento Passe Livre (Free Pass Movement), responsible for the demonstrations, says the protests will continue, now to reduce the tariff to zero and in support of causes such as the rural land reform. During the commemoration with thousands of people on Paulista avenue, the MPL confirmed the protests scheduled for Thursday.

The second: who will pay? Haddad and Alckmin, who are facing financial problems, say the money will come from investment cuts. The total will amount to some R$ 380 million (US$ 175 million) in 2013. The São Paulo police said 14 of the 69 people arrested for plundering and looting in the center of the city had been arrested for robbery, theft or drug trafficking before. On Wednesday, protests closed five roads in São Paulo state - Anchieta, Imigrantes, Castelo Branco, Ayrton Senna and Régis Bittencourt.

In Fortaleza, there was fighting before the match between Brazil and Mexico for the Confederations Cup.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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