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Brazil protests continue despite concession

Rallies under way in 80 cities against high cost of living and excessive government spending on 2014 football World Cup.

Last Modified: 20 Jun 2013 22:07
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Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters demonstrating on Wednesday [Reuters]

Brazilian authorities are bracing for a new wave of protests as hundreds of thousands of people across 80 cities have responded to social media posts, calling for them to rally in the streets.

Demonstrators had started to gather on Thursday, with the biggest protest likely to take place in Rio de Janeiro, where protesters said they will march on Maracana stadium just as a Confederations cup football game will kick off.

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo reported on Thursday that police in Recife were saying more than 100,000 people had gathered, while a small protest in Salvador resulted in clashes between police and protesters.

The protests, which were sparked by a rise in public transport costs, have since become about demanding better living conditions, and voicing displeasure about the government's excessive spending on the World Cup.

President Dilma Rousseff announced that her planned trips to Japan next week and Salvador tomorrow have been cancelled as she focuses on the protests.

Monday's protests of more than 250,00 people were Brazil's biggest demonstrations in 20 years and included a mass storming of the roof of Brasilia's National Congress.

The protests so far have been staunchly a-political, with Elizondo reporting that political signs held up at rallies he was covering were quickly boo-ed down.

Fare hikes cancelled

In an attempt to cool anti-government sentiment, authorities in Sao Paulo and Rio on Wednesday cancelled the proposed transit fare hikes, but the crowds have continued to gather, despite the government climb-down.

Al Jazeera's Adam Raney, reporting from Rio de Janeiro, said the government was yet to establish how to calm the tensions.

"It is overall a leaderless movement, what we're seeing is the government, not just trying to spin the story, but also trying to understand what it is the protesters want, what [they] can deliver," he said.

"The government is going to take a while to get comfortable dealing with this. They're going to make the best of it and try to get their police to show a little restraint."

The protest fed on widespread resentment at the billions of dollars the government is spending on the Confederations Cup, the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, with demonstrators saying they want increased education and health funding and a cut in wages for public officials.

Rampant corruption

"People are so disgusted with the system, so fed up that now we're demanding change." said Camila Sena, an 18-year-old university student.

Al Jazeera's Adam Raney reports from Rio de Janeiro

"It's not that we're against the World Cup, not at all. It will bring good things for Brazil. It's just that we're against the corruption that the World Cup has become an excuse for," she said.

They are also railing against what they viewed as rampant corruption within the political class.

Meanwhile police tightened security around the Congress building in Brasilia to prevent a repetition of Monday's disturbances

"We have to respect the demonstrators, but I hope that things will not get out of hand," Renan Calheiros, the Senate speaker, said.

In announcing the reversal of the fare hike, Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad said it "will represent a big sacrifice and we will have to reduce investments in other areas".

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