The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

June 20, 2013

Brazilians fill streets with protest, violence

(Continued)

RIO DE JANEIRO —

Despite the energy on the street, many protesters said they were unsure how the movement would win real political concessions. People in the protests have held up signs asking for everything from education reforms to free bus fare while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics.

"It's sort of a Catch-22," Rodrigues da Cunha said. "On the one hand we need some sort of leadership, on the other we don't want this to be compromised by being affiliated with any political party."

Earlier Thursday, the protests took on the feel of a party, especially in Sao Paulo and Rio.

People of all ages, many of them draped in flags, gathered in front of the majestic domed Candelaria church in downtown Rio, while groups elsewhere pounded out Carnival rhythms or chanted slogans targeting Rio state's governor.

At one point, a police helicopter flew over the crowd, which booed and pointed green lasers at the craft.

When shirtless youths, many of them with T-shirts wrapped around their faces, pushed and jostled their way through the crowd, people spontaneously broke out into a chant of "Without violence!"

But as has been the pattern earlier this week, the clashes began once night fell.

Several city leaders have already accepted protester demands to revoke an increase in bus and subway fares in the hopes that anti-government anger cools. In Sao Paulo, where demonstrators blocked Paulista Avenue, organizers said they would turn their demonstration into a party celebrating the lower transit fares.

But many believe the protests are no longer just about bus fares and have become larger cries for systemic changes.

President Dilma Rousseff was meeting Thursday with advisors in the heavily guarded presidential palace, according to her press office. Spokespeople did not say whether the president was discussing the protests going on throughout the country.

"This is the start of a structural change in Brazil," said Aline Campos, a 29 year old publicist in Brasilia. "People now want to make sure their money is well spent, that it's not wasted through corruption."

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