Tags: Brazil | politics | strike | fbl | WC | 2014

Brazilian Police Crack Down on World Cup Protest

Monday, 09 Jun 2014 03:26 PM

Police in Sao Paulo fired tear gas Monday to disperse protesters supporting a subway strike that has unleashed transportation chaos three days before the Brazilian mega-city hosts the World Cup kick-off.

About 150 strikers and protesters set fire to piles of garbage to block a central avenue in the business hub, prompting two-dozen riot police to use stun grenades and then tear gas to disperse them.

Police detained 13 strikers who had entered a central subway station, but the other demonstrators regrouped, chanting, "There won't be a cup. There will be a strike!"

The protest grew to about 1,000 people, who marched to the state transportation ministry waving red banners, banging drums and blowing whistles and vuvuzelas.

Protest leaders delivered speeches blasted from a sound truck outside the transportation offices as about 50 riot police with shields guarded the entrances.

The demonstrators are backing a five-day-old walkout by subway workers in the latest in a wave of protests and strikes that has swept Brazil ahead of the World Cup and elections in October.

The walkout has posed a major headache for commuters in the sprawling city of 20 million people and threatens to disrupt transportation plans for Thursday's opening match, when the world's eyes will be on Brazil.

About a billion people worldwide are expected to watch the game on TV, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and 12 heads of state and government will be in the stadium to see Brazil play Croatia.

World Cup teams, meanwhile, continue arriving in Brazil, with reigning champions Spain touching down Sunday night.

The latest clashes came four days after police fired tear gas at strikers inside a central station.

The metropolitan transportation authority said it had fired around 60 strikers for "just cause." Officials accused them of vandalism, blocking commuters and inciting people to jump turnstiles.

The union representing the transportation strikers has reduced an initial demand for a 16.5-percent wage hike to 12.2 percent, but the government is offering only 8.7 percent.

A labor court ruled Sunday that the strike was illegal and imposed a $222,000 fine for every day it continues, but the union voted to press on with the walkout.

Some 4.5 million people use the subway daily, and it is the main transport link to Corinthians Arena, which will host the World Cup opening ceremony and match.

Only part of the five-line subway has been operating, forcing commuters to take a suburban train to reach the arena.

Rising inflation and a sluggish economy have tarnished the World Cup glow in Brazil, fueling the anger of strikers and protesters who say the $11 billion budget for the tournament would have been better spent on education, health and transport.

Authorities are keen to resolve the latest labor dispute and avoid further embarrassment in a World Cup hit by delays and cost overruns even before it has started.

The 61,600-capacity Corinthians Arena has become a symbol of the problems besetting the tournament.

At the weekend, workers were still racing to finish the over-budget and chronically delayed stadium.

 

© AFP 2017

 
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TheAmericas
Police in Sao Paulo fired tear gas Monday to disperse protesters supporting a subway strike that has unleashed transportation chaos three days before the Brazilian mega-city hosts the World Cup kick-off.
Brazil, politics, strike, fbl, WC, 2014
506
2014-26-09
Monday, 09 Jun 2014 03:26 PM
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