Less than a year from the World Cup and three years from the Summer Olympics, Brazilians took to the streets Monday to protest
heavy tax burdens for both events, while little has been done to improve public education, health, security, and transportation in the nation.
Upwards of 100,000 residents took part in demonstrations around the country, disturbances that were the country's largest in more than 25 years, according to the Associated Press.
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In eight cities across Brazil, large but mostly peaceful protests have popped up, as marchers object to deteriorating infrastructure and services.
The criticism is heightened by the fact that the government is spending billions of public funds on the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
A 10-cent bus and subway fare hike sparked 65,000 to protest in Sao Paulo, as crowds chanted anti-corruption slogans, the Associated Press reported. Authorities fought protesters in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Porto Alegre, resorting to tear gas to break up crowds.
About 50 protesters were driven away from the state assembly building in Rio de Janeiro, while as many as 20 police officers and 10 protesters suffered injuries there.
"Everything in Brazil is a mess," photographer and protester Manoela Chiabai told the Associated Press. "There is no education, health care — no security. The government doesn't care. We're a rich country with a lot of potential but the money doesn't go to those who need it most."
President Dilma Rousseff, who faces reelection next year, declined to speak out against the protesters.
"Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate and part of democracy. It is natural for young people to demonstrate," Rousseff said.
Reuters reported that polls showed Rousseff still is widely popular, especially among poor and working-class voters, but her approval ratings have slipped in recent weeks for the first time since she took office in 2011. She was booed at Saturday's Confederations Cup opener as protesters gathered outside.
Police's harsh reactions to protests last week struck a nerve for residents, as the nation endured two decades of a military dictatorship that ended in 1985.
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