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A million protestors take to Brazilian city streets as teenager killed in Sao Paulo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 21st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In an unprecedented move for this South American nation, ONE MILLION protestors have taken to the city streets of Brazil. The demonstrations have now claimed the life of an 18-year-old boy, who was struck by a car in Sao Paulo.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Demonstrators swarmed through more than 80 Brazilian cities in the biggest demonstrations yet. The protests are aimed at curbing government corruption. 

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency meeting of her top Cabinet members. Known for her "standoffish" governing style, Rouseff has been almost entirely absent from the public eye, making only one statement earlier in the week that peaceful protests are part of the democratic process.

People have used the protest to vent anger over a litany of complaints, from high taxes to corruption to rising prices.

An estimated 300,000 demonstrators poured into the seaside city of Rio de Janeiro's central area. Clashes played out between riot police and young men with T-shirts wrapped around their faces. Peaceful protestors were swept up into the fray as police fired tear gas canisters, indiscriminately using pepper spray.

"I was leaving a peaceful protest and it's not the thugs that attack me but the police themselves," peaceful protestor Michele Menezes says.

Thundering booms echoed off stately colonial buildings as rubber bullets and gas were fired at fleeing crowds.
Thousands of students shout slogans during a protest of what is now called the "Tropical Spring" against corruption and price hikes, at National Congress in Brasilia.

Brasilia, the national capital, police struggled to keep hundreds of protestors from invading the Foreign Ministry, while the crowd set a small fire outside. Other government buildings were attacked around the city's central esplanade. There, too, police used tear gas and rubber bullets trying to scatter demonstrators.

Clashes were reported as far away in the Amazon jungle city of Belem, Porto Alegre in the south, the university town Campinas north of Sao Paulo and the northeastern city of Salvador.

Popular unrest is rocking the nation as it hosts the Confederations Cup soccer tournament with tens of thousands of foreign visitors in attendance. It also comes one month before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Brazil, and ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, raising concerns about how Brazilian officials will provide security.

Mass protests have been rare in this country of 190 million people in recent years. The massive demonstrations of the past week caught Brazilian government officials by surprise -- while delighting many citizens.

Protestors have held up signs asking for everything from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums in advance of the World Cup and the Olympics.

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