President’s promises fail to calm Brazil

Protesters return to Sao Paulo’s streets, while police detain nine people over deadly shootout in Rio de Janeiro slum.

Brazil protests
Protesters in Sao Paulo do not appear appeased by Rousseff's $23bn new spending proposal [Reuters]

Protesters in Brazil have returned to the streets in low-income suburbs of Sao Paulo to demand better education, transport and health services, one day after President Dilma Rousseff proposed a wide range of actions to reform the country’s political system.

Police said at least 500 people blocked streets for several hours on Tuesday in a peaceful protest in the districts of Capao Redondo and Campo Limpo on the outskirts of Brazil’s largest city.

The protesters did not appear appeased by Rousseff’s proposals, which shifted some of the burden for progress onto Brazil’s unpopular Congress by calling for a referendum on reform politicians will have to approve.

The divided Congress is likely to struggle to take any quick action on such a referendum.

Protesters have filled cities to air a number of grievances including poor public services and the high cost of hosting next year’s World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo reports on why Rousseff may not be able to appease protesters with reforms.

About 100,000 people were expected to march in the city of Belo Horizonte on Wednesday before Brazil played Uruguay in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup.

City officials have declared a holiday in Belo Horizonte, and authorities said they were expecting confrontations with demonstrators.

Sepp Blatter, president of soccer organising body FIFA, is scheduled to attend the game.

FIFA officials have said security has been boosted because of the protests, but it was not immediately known if any changes were expected in Belo Horizonte because of Blatter’s presence.

In Porto Alegre, Ronaldo Sielichow, president of the local Association of Store Owners, asked law enforcement to tighten security after looting hit the southern city over the past few days during demonstrations.

Favela shootout

Against this backdrop of continued unrest, authorities have deployed about 1,000 security personnel near a slum in Rio de Janeiro where a shootout left at least nine people, including a police officer, dead on Monday.

The officer had been called to the Nova Holonda favela after a group of people set fire to rubbish in the street to create a roadblock in order to rob stranded motorists on a major thoroughfare cutting through the city, police said.

The dead included five robbery suspects and three residents besides the officer, police said, adding that at least nine others were injured.

Nine people were detained, including the main suspect in the police officer’s killing.

Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney, reporting from the favela on Tuesday, said he saw blood splattered on the walls of the homes of the dead.

“It’s unclear if it was a gunshot that killed these suspects in these houses or if it was something more in closed quarters,” he said.

He said people in the neighbourhood would not speak to him because police there are feared rather than respected. 

Inside Story Americas – Brazil: Protests of discontent

The violence in Rio occurred as Brazil remained in the grip of the protests over poor governance.

Rousseff told governors and mayors on Monday that her administration would allocate $23bn for new spending on urban public transport, but did not provide details on what the new projects would be.

Four leaders from the free-transit activist group that launched the demonstrations more than a week ago said she also gave them no concrete plans while meeting them.

She said her government would focus on five priorities: fiscal responsibility and controlling inflation; political reform; health care; public transport, and education.

In her weekly column posted on Tuesday on the presidency’s website, Rousseff said: “The money spent to build or renovate stadiums for the World Cup is not part of the federal budget and does not affect funds earmarked for health and education.”

She said the World Cup cost was financed and will be paid back by the companies and state governments that use these stadiums.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies