The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

June 19, 2013

Protesters out again in Brazilian cities

SAO PAULO (AP) — Scattered street demonstrations popped up around Brazil Wednesday as protesters continued their collective cry against the low-quality public services they receive in exchange for high taxes and rising prices.

In one of several protests, about 200 people blocked the Anchieta Highway that links Sao Paulo and the port city of Santos before heading to the industrial suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb on Sao Paulo's outskirts. Another group of protesters later obstructed the highway again.

In the northeastern city of Fortaleza, hundreds of protesters cut off the main access road to the stadium where Brazil will play Mexico in the Confederations Cup soccer tournament later Wednesday. Police responded by diverting traffic away from the road near the venue, but official vehicles of tournament organizers FIFA were among those struggling to reach the stadium.

The actions followed another night of mass marches around Brazil and nearly a week of unrest that has shocked the country's leaders ahead of a papal visit next month and next year's World Cup soccer tournament.

Beginning as protests against bus fare hikes, the demonstrations have quickly ballooned to include broad middle-class outrage over the failure of governments to provide basic services and ensure public safety, even as the country's economy modernizes and tax rates remain some of the highest in the world.

Protest organizers, who have widely employed social media, said new mass demonstrations will be held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. The Rio action promises the most volatility, with protesters planning to march to Maracana stadium where Spain and Tahiti will meet in a Confederations Cup match. Police have said they will not allow protesters to interrupt the game.

Fortaleza, Rio, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Brasilia have received soldiers from Brazil's elite National Force to bolster security during tournament games.

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