Brazil: 143 arrested as World Cup protests continue

Brazilians demonstrated in 36 cities on Jan. 25 to protest the underfunding of health, education, transportation and infrastructure at the same time that the government is pouring money into preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games and the World Cup soccer championship, which is to be held June 12-July 13 this year in 12 Brazilian cities. The protests, reportedly called by the clandestine internet activist group Anonymous, were a continuation of massive demonstrations targeting these issues last June, but only a few thousand people turned out on Jan. 25, in contrast to the million or more who marched in 2013.

At least 143 people were arrested at the Jan. 25 demonstration in São Paulo. Some 2,000 protesters gathered at the Museo de Arte and then marched up Paulista Avenue, carrying signs with such slogans as "No rights, no Cup," and, in English, "FIFA go home"—a reference to the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), which sponsors the World Cup games. The protest began peacefully, but later some demonstrators split off and confronted the police. At least one vehicle was burned and there were acts of vandalism at several banks. In Natal, in the northeastern state of Rio Grande, 15 people were arrested during a protest in front of the Arena das Dunas soccer stadium, which Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff had inaugurated on Jan. 22. A group attempting to enter the stadium reportedly damaged access steps and set fire to an area used by the stadium workers. Demonstrations in other cities were generally peaceful. (El Nacional, Venezuela, Jan. 25, from EFE; La Jornada, Mexico, Jan. 26, from AFP)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, January 26.