Brazil hit by widespread protests in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo as authorities send troops to Recife ahead of World Cup

 

With less than a month to go until the World Cup, the Brazilian government has sent in the tanks to restore order amid protests against the cost of hosting the international football competition.

Federal troops arrived in the World Cup host city of Recife on Thursday, where state police are on strike demanding better pay, to pacify the city following reports of looting and street violence.

"They are obviously using the proximity of the World Cup to pressure us to give into their demands," said government press officer Manoel Guimaraes for the state of Pernambuco, home to Recife, who did not specify the number of troops involved in the operation.

In Sao Paulo, which will host the opening game of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, protesters cut off access to the Avenida Paulista, coinciding with the morning rush hour, as police moved in to secure the main entrance to new stadium, Arena Corinthians.

"Our goal is symbolic. We don't want to destroy or damage the stadium," said Guilherme Boulos, head of the Homeless Workers Movement. "What we want are more rights for workers to have access to housing and to show the effects the Cup has brought to the poor."

In Sao Paulo alone, 27 people were arrested, 20 of them carrying Molotov cocktails, according to local media reports.

Meanwhile, in Rio de Janeiro, riot police used tear gas to break up protests as thousands took to the street demanding better housing and health care, adding to security concerns ahead of the World Cup. Rio will host the final match on 13 July.

In the capital Brasilia, protesters carried banners reading "FIFA Go Home". Demonstrations also hit Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza, Salvador and Campinas.

The Brazilian government downplayed the prospect of renewed violence after Thursday's protests, insisting that there is "no reason to panic" ahead of the tournament.

"I’ve seen nothing that is related to the (World) Cup," said Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo. "There’s no reason to panic ahead of receiving 3 million Brazilian tourists and 600,000 foreign tourists."

READ MORE: World Cup 2014 kick-off times for every game

Many Brazilians are angry at the billions spent to host the World Cup. Protesters have said the government should focus spending instead on improving Brazil's health care, education, security and infrastructure systems.

Brazilian leaders had hoped the World Cup and then the 2016 Olympics in Rio would put a favourable spotlight on the country, showing advances over the past decade in improving its economy and pulling tens of millions out of poverty.

Additional reporting PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'