As many as 100,000 Brazilians took to the streets on Monday to protest the poor public services, violence, corruption and high-taxation in their country. Protests have been ongoing in Brazil since earlier this month, when a small demonstration broke out in Sao Paulo after authorities there increased bus and subway fares.
Word of that protest spread and soon there were demonstrations across Brazil, several of which ended in violent confrontations with police. At last Thursday's protest in Sao Paulo, for example, police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators, injuring over 100 people, including 15 journalists.
But Monday's protests, the Associated Press reports, were largely peaceful. Many of the estimated 65,000 protesters in Sao Paulo turned the demonstration into a Carnival-type atmosphere, with dancing, drumming and anti-corruption songs.
"This is a communal cry saying: 'We're not satisfied,'" Maria Claudia Cardoso said on a Sao Paulo avenue, taking turns waving a sign reading "#revolution" with her 16-year-old son, Fernando, as protesters streamed by.
"We're massacred by the government's taxes - yet when we leave home in the morning to go to work, we don't know if we'll make it home alive because of the violence," she added. "We don't have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife. These protests will make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that we're not taking it anymore!"
Protests took place in at least eight different cities on Monday, including Brasilia, the capital, where hundreds of protesters climbed onto the roof of Brazil's Congress and danced. Several windows were damaged in the process, but police there didn't respond with force.
There was some violence Monday during proests in Rio de Janeiro, where a few protesters overturned a car and set it on fire, and threw rocks at police. A separate group of protesters stormed the state legislative assembly and threw objects at police, who responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. But compared to last week, the confrontations with police and damage to property were relatively minimal.
In addition to the increased costs and continued ineffectiveness of social services and issues with corruption and crime, many Brazilians are angry about the billions the government is spending to prepare for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
"We shouldn't be spending public money on stadiums," said one protester in Sao Paulo who identified herself as Camila, a 32-year-old travel agent. "We don't want the Cup. We want education, hospitals, a better life for our children."
UPDATE: The New York Times reports that, according to an independent estimate, there were 100,000 protesters in Rio de Janeiro alone.
[Image via AP]
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