5 Reasons Why Brazil Is Protesting

PHOTO: A protester lies on the ground in front of a police line in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 16, 2013. Her sign reads "To hell with the World Cup." Plans to increase bus fares sparked a wave of protests in Brazil last week.
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On Saturday, thousands of Brazilian fans at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha booed and heckled FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazilian president Dilma Roussef during the opening ceremony of the Confederations Cup.

Although that response has become fairly common at events that involve Blatter, the jeering seemed unexpected in the case of Dilma Roussef, who has been a popular figure for years. Few analysts found it odd, however. Indeed, even Roussef herself expected trouble.

That's because for more than a week now thousands of protesters in Brazil have fought violent battles against riot police. The demonstrations, started in Sao Paulo by a political group called the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement), have spread across at least five cities. And the group's initial objective – to revert a recent hike in public transportation prices – has given leftist organizations and university students a reason to shine a light on larger social issues like corruption.

This broader movement has been alternately dubbed the Revolta da Salada (The Salad Revolution), the Revolta do Vinagre (The Vinegar Revolution), and V for Vinagre, after a Brazilian journalist who was arrested for carrying vinegar to ward off the effects of tear gas used during protests.

So what exactly was the final straw? There wasn't just one. Here are five key reasons that led to the revolt we're seeing in Brazil today:

1. Public Transportation Prices

The recent 10-cent increase in bus and subway fare has been cited in most news accounts as the leading motive behind the week's brutal clashes. The issue is constantly highlighted by the Free Fare Movement, and it is the only item in this list that protesters can actually hope to change.

"People are demanding a single thing, a clear and specific one, which is to repeal the increase," Caio Martins, a 19-year-old history student who belongs to the Free Fare Movement, told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sau Paulo. "To negotiate something different than what the population wants would be a betrayal."

2. The Combined Costs of the World Cup and the Confederations Cup

Demonstrators have started targeting soccer stadiums in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro as part of an effort to raise awareness about the extraordinary amounts of money the government has on 12 stadiums to host the World Cup and the Confederations Cup. Taxpayers are footing the bill in spite of promises that private enterprise would cover it.

"We are demanding more respect to the population," Vinicius de Assis, 21, a protester in Rio, told the Associated Press. "They are building these overpriced stadiums and are not worrying about the situation of their own people."

The total cost of the buildings has tripled since the initial 2007 estimates. It currently stands at around $3.68 billion, nearly twice what Germany spent on their World Cup preparations.

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