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Brazil Protests Rage On As Thousands Accuse Government Of Corruption

President Dilma Rousseff, a former guerilla herself, praised the protests, but the National Public Security force will be deployed.

Posted on June 19, 2013, at 11:30 a.m. ET

Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, was once again overrun with protesters as 50,000 people took to the streets with a familiar cry: Taxes and prices are too high and the quality of public services is too low in a government rife with corruption.

View this video on YouTube


From The Associated Press:

That was the repeated message Tuesday night in Sao Paulo, where upward of 50,000 people massed in front of the city's main cathedral. While mostly peaceful, the demonstration followed the rhythm of protests that drew 240,000 people across Brazil the previous night, with small bands of radicals splitting off to fight with police and break into stores.

Mass protests have been mushrooming across Brazil since demonstrations called last week by a group angry over the high cost of a woeful public transport system and a recent 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares in Sao Paulo, Rio and elsewhere.

The local governments in at least four cities have now agreed to reverse those hikes, and city and federal politicians have shown signs that the Sao Paulo fare could also be rolled back. It's not clear that will calm the country, though, because the protests have released a seething litany of discontent from Brazilians over life's struggles.

"Brazil has woken up a stronger country this morning" —Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

Nelson Antoine / AP

Protests may be surprising for a country that will play host to worldwide mega-events, the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, but Rousseff, a former leftist guerilla herself, said she saw them as a positive for the country.

"My government is listening to the voices calling for change," she said. "The size of yesterday's marches is evidence of the strength of our democracy. It is good to see so many young people, and adults — the grandson, the father and the grandfather — together holding the Brazilian flag, singing our anthem, and fighting for a better country."

In response, 11 cities across the country have already lowered bus fares.

Nelson Antoine / AP

In Sao Paolo, the mayor changed course, saying he would rethink the 20-cent increase and meet with the protesters, according to Brazil's O Globo newspaper.

"If people make a decision to revoke the price increase, I'll do what they want me to do, because I'm the mayor of the city to do what the city wants me to do," he told the paper.

But despite public praise of the protesters by its president, Brazil will begin to deploy its National Public Security Force in five cities hosting the FIFA soccer tournament ahead of the World Cup.

Brazil / Reuters

The Brazilian Justice Ministry says troops will be tasked with mediating the conflict, rather than punishing people, but spates of violence, whether escalated by protesters or authorities, promise to make this a tall order.

"We just want what we paid in taxes back, through health care, education and transportation," attorney Agatha Rossi de Paula told AP. "We want the police to protect us, to help the people on the streets who have ended up with no job and no money."

Brazil / Reuters

The 34-year-old attorney attended the latest protest in Sao Paulo along with her mother and called Brazil's fiscal priorities "an embarrassment."

This video by director Carla Dauden, where she explains the real problems in Brazil, has caught fire online and already has more than 1.5 million views on YouTube.

View this video on YouTube