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Brazilian Cities Reverse Public Transportation Hikes

 
 
 
 
 
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Riot police take positions as demonstrators gather near the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil, on June 19, 2013.

Authorities in Brazil’s two biggest cities have announced the reversal of a 10-cent hike in public transport fares that ignited massive protests across Latin America’s largest country.

On Wednesday, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad and Sao Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin said they reversed an increase in bus and subway fares, The Associated Press reported.

The mayors of Cuiaba, Recife, Joao Pessoa and other cities have already announced a reduction in bus fares in response to the protests.

The unrest, which was sparked by transport price hikes in Sao Paulo, has grown into broader discontent over poor public services and corruption and many doubt that the decision to roll back transport fare hikes would quiet the demonstrations.

“It’s not really about the price anymore,” said Camila Sena, an 18-year-old university student at a protest in Rio de Janeiro’s sister city of Niteroi.

“People are so disgusted with the system, so fed up that now we’re demanding change,” she added.

Meanwhile, protests continued across Brazil on Wednesday. The government deployed special federal police to the five of the six cities where the Confederations Cup football tournament is being played to protect the competition’s venues.

In the northeastern city of Fortaleza, some 15,000 protesters clashed with police trying to prevent them from reaching the Castelao stadium where Brazil were to play Mexico in the tournament.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the protesters from advancing past a barrier some three kilometers away from the venue.

More than 250,000 people have taken to the streets in over a dozen cities across the country over the past few days.

The demonstrators say they are angry at the vast amount of public money being spent on preparations for hosting next year’s World Cup. They argue that the government should instead spend public funds on health, education and other public services.

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