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More protests planned in Brazil despite fare price U-turns

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More protests planned in Brazil despite fare price U-turns
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More protests are planned in dozens of cities in Brazil on Thursday, suggesting that decisions to reverse hikes in public transport fares in Rio and Sao Paulo have made no difference.

The protesters’ grievances go far deeper than a few cents on bus tickets.

Although on Wednesday thousands demonstrated peacefully in many towns, there were some violent clashes in at least two places.

At Niteroi near Rio police fired tear gas at protesters who tried to block a bridge linking the two towns.

In Rio the mayor said the U-turn on fares would have consequences elsewhere: “This means we have to make choices and define priorities. Therefore, it will obviously mean 200 million reals (nearly 70 million euros) less invested in other areas of the city,” Eduardo Paes said.

The mayor’s delicate economic balancing act is unlikely to cut much ice with demonstrators railing against corruption, huge spending on sports events and other matters.

Despite Brazil’s rapid economic growth there is a strong sense of social injustice.

“The people have woken up. The bus fare hike was just the moment of awakening. Now we are fighting for better health care, security and education. We are tired man, this is the time to fight. Enough injustice,” said one protester draped in a Brazilian flag, Leandro Pergula.

“I want education, I want good hospitals and not a football stadium for goodness sake,” added another demonstrator, Taina Rodrigues.

At Fortaleza there was violence outside the stadium, and some peaceful protests inside the ground at the Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Mexico. People held up boards with slogans denouncing corruption and calling for more priority to be given to issues like health and education.

Brazil’s star striker Neymar has pledged solidarity with the protesters’ demands, writing on social media that better conditions in transport, health, education and security were the government’s duty.

But former world champion Pele has called on people to forget what he called the confusion and back the national team.

The biggest social movement in Brazil for 20 years has been compared to demonstrations in Turkey and elsewhere – where seemingly small local disputes have mushroomed into a wave of anger against injustice, governments and elites seen by many as unaccountable.