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Brazil Hit by New Protests, Just Weeks Before World Cup Kicks Off

05/09/2014 - 09h04

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FROM SÃO PAULO

Just 35 days from the beginning of the World Cup, Brazil has been hit by a new wave of protests, most of which are directly or indirectly related to the tournament.

In São Paulo, four protests by the homeless blocked roads in the city. Protestors criticized spending on the World Cup, and invaded the headquarters of three construction companies involved in building work for the tournament - Odebrecht, OAS and Andrade Gutierrez.

Following the protests, Guilherme Boulos, leader of the homeless movement in São Paulo, was received by President Rousseff. Rousseff was in São Paulo to visit the Itaquerão, the stadium that will host the opening match of the tournament.

An area close to the stadium has been occupied recently by the homeless movement, and Boulos managed to elicit a promise from Rousseff that she would consider allocating the area for popular housing in the future.

Meanwhile, residents of Rio de Janeiro awoke today to a city virtually without buses. The drivers and cashiers are on strike, demanding an increase to their salary. More than 460 buses were vandalized in various attacks around the city.

A similar strike is going on in Greater Florianópolis. More than 300,000 people in the urban area currently have no access to public transport, following a strike by drivers and cashiers.

In the Belo Horizonte metropolitan region, in Minas Gerais, residents blocked two sections of the BR-040 between Belo Horizonte and Brasília, demanding improvements to public transport.

In Curitiba, nearly 500 residents of informal housing blocked a highway, demanding better living conditions. The group, which is part of the Popular Movement for Housing (MPM, in its Portuguese acronym), burnt tires and branches on the road, blocking the traffic on the BR-376, on the Contorno Sul, for nearly two hours.

Protests involving landless workers and striking civil servants also caused large traffic jams in Salvador, while in Manaus, 70,000 people were affected by a three-hour strike by bus drivers. Two buses were stoned by people angry at the disruption, and two drivers involved with the strike were arrested.

In June last year, the country underwent a huge wave of protests following the decision to raise the cost of public transport in several cities.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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