Massive Protests Rock Brazil

An estimated 100,000 Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest police violence and political corruption. The protests are being called the largest in a generation.

Some of the biggest demonstrations since the end of Brazil’s 1964-85 dictatorship have broken out across this continent-sized country, uniting tens of thousands frustrated by poor transportation, health services, education and security despite a heavy tax burden.

More than 100,000 people were in the streets Monday for largely peaceful protests in at least eight big cities. However, demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte were marred by vandalism and violent clashes with police.

The civil unrest has some concerned that Brazil might not be ready for a Papal visit scheduled next month. Brazil is also set to host the World Cup in a year and the Olympics in three.

Brazilians have long tolerated pervasive corruption, but in about 40 million Brazilians have moved out of poverty and into the middle class over the past decade and they have begun to demand more from government. Many are angry that billions of dollars in public funds are being spent to host the World Cup and Olympics while few improvements are made elsewhere…

“This is a communal cry saying: `We’re not satisfied,'” Maria Claudia Cardoso said on a Sao Paulo avenue, taking turns waving a sign reading “(hash)revolution” with her 16-year-old son, Fernando, as protesters streamed by.

The police while initially reacting with violence have changed tactics in hopes of diffusing the situation. The long term consequences of the protests are unknown with the presidential election a year away and no calls for specific policy changes have been announced.

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