independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

One million take to the streets in Brazil

Anti riot police officers fire rubber bullets after clashes erupted during a protest against bus fare price hikes June 20, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Anti riot police officers fire rubber bullets after clashes erupted during a protest against bus fare price hikes June 20, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has defended the money spent on next year's World Cup amid widespread anti-government protests and demonstrations that have hit the nation this week.

An estimated one million people have been involved in protests in cities across the country, initially over rising transport fares but quickly developing into rallies against other issues, including government corruption and also the amount of public money spent on the 2014 World Cup - which Brazil are hosting for the first time since 1950.

 

Protests have affected the ongoing Confederations Cup, with local media yesterday claiming the eight-team competition, which includes Spain and Italy as well as the hosts, could be stopped. Football's world governing body FIFA has insisted there are no plans to abandon the tournament despite some of the demonstrations descending into violence.

 

President Rousseff last night responded to the unrest by issuing a public address to the nation, where she explained among other issues that the funding for the World Cup would not be coming out of the public budget.

 

She said: "With regard to the World Cup, I want to clarify that the federal money spent on the stadiums is in the form of financing that will be duly repaid by the companies and governments that are exploiting these stadiums.

 

"I would never allow these funds to come out of the federal public budget or to damage priority sectors such as health and education.

 

"In fact, we have strongly expanded spending in health and education, and we will expand it more and more. I trust that the National Congress will approve the bill I presented that ensures that all oil royalties are spent exclusively on education.

 

"It is also imperative that I mention a very important topic that has to do with our Brazilian soul and our manners.

 

"Brazil, the only country to have participated in every World Cup and a five-time world champion, has always been very well received everywhere.

 

"We must give our friends the same generous welcome we have received from them - with respect, love and joy. This is how we must treat our guests. Football and sport are symbols of peace and peaceful coexistence among peoples.

 

"Brazil deserves to, and will, host a great World Cup."

 

The disruption and violence has also raised questions over Brazil's ability to put on a safe and secure tournament in 12 months' time, but Rousseff insisted her country would rise to that challenge.

 

"This violence, promoted by a small minority, cannot tarnish a peaceful and democratic movement," she continued.

 

"We cannot live with such violence, which shames Brazil.

 

"All institutions and public safety bodies have the obligation to curb, within the limits of law, all forms of violence and vandalism."

Press Association

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