Brazil police fire tear gas at protesters

Demonstrators smash into barriers near stadium in city of Fortaleza where Spain faced Italy in Confederations Cup.

    Brazil police fire tear gas at protesters
    Police have been battling protesters who have been demanding better public services and end to corruption [AFP]

    Police have fired tear gas in violent clashes with about 5,000 protesters near a stadium in northeastern city of Fortaleza where Spain were facing Italy in the semifinal of Confederations Cup.

    In the latest of a series of protests which have gripped Brazil since the tournament started, demonstrators hurled rocks as they tried to smash through barriers set up to block access to the ground, AFP news agency reported on Thursday.

    At least one protester and one policeman were injured in the clashes, the local G1 news website reported.

    "We are not against (world's football governing body) FIFA or the World Cup, but we are against the huge investments made (for the event). Public health, education, roads are in a sorry state and politicians prefer to invest in football," said one of the demonstrators, Teo Sucupira.

    "Get ready, it is time to change the history of our country," read some of the protesters' placards.

    A police officer at the scene later described the situation as "under control”.

    New demonstrations

    Scattered protests were reported around Brazil on Thursday. Most were smaller gatherings of demonstrators focused on a single issue, not the sort of massive protests seen last week when as many as 1 million Brazilians poured into the streets to call for change.

    In Brasilia, President Dilma Rousseff met with union leaders and legislators as the government continued to scramble to meet protester demands over anti-corruption measures and improved public services.

    The demonstrators have particularly condemned the $15bn invested in the Confederations Cup, considered a warm up before the next year’s World Cup.

    On Wednesday, about 40,000 people staged a march in city of Belo Horizonte as the host booked a place in the Confederations Cup final by beating Uruguay 2-1.

    Police fired tear gas when stone-throwing protesters tried to force their way through the security perimetre near the stadium.

    Meanwhile, the death toll from more than two weeks of social turmoil rose to five on Thursday, when a 21-year-old man died in hospital a day after he fell from an overpass during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte.

    President Rousseff last week proposed a popular referendum on sweeping political reforms, a $25bn investment in public transport and allocation of more resources for education, health and social services.

    In an emergency meeting with Brazil's governors on Monday, Rousseff proposed a national referendum to ask voters whether they agree to holding a constituent assembly to reform Brazil's political system.

    However, legal experts said that was unconstitutional.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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