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Inflation rises and chaotic public services led us here

A demonstrator jumps over rubbish set alight during protests in Sao Paolo. Photo: REUTERS/Victor Moriyama

Demonstrator Bruno Correia writes for ITV News as protests sweep through Brazil in opposition to the rise in cost of living and poor public services.

It cannot be said that what is happening in Brazil has only just started. It is result of years of social movements fighting inequality. The Brazilian Government took advantage of the economy boom of the last few years to ease social inequality. However, the Governmental political base remains virtually the same since the military dictatorship, with politicians who change their position in accordance with the trend of the moment. It is not difficult to find right-wing politician posting Guy Fawkes photo montages on social networks.

Then there's the Fifa World Cup - promises were made that investments in the event would be reverted in infrastructural improvements for the population. A year before the World Cup, only the stadiums are being finished, for prices twice or thrice as much as originally planned. Transport infrastructure will not be ready in time.

Former football star and World Cup champion Ronaldo, a member of the organsing committee, said: "One does not organise a World Cup by building hospitals". Sports Minister and long-time communist Aldo Rebelo, says "the greatest legacy of the Cup for the Brazilian will be joy."

Police respond to demonstrations in Brazil. Credit: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

We live in a democracy, unemployment rate has never been as low, but the economy is cooling down, inflation is increasing and the public transport in the big cities is as chaotic as ever. Distrust in authorities is on the rise and the protests, which were restricted to certain left-wing movements, somehow resonate in various sections of the population.

Unlike the large protests against the dictatorship in the 1980s, and 1992 rallies for the impeachment of President Collor, today we see a movement without a leader, in horizontal in its organisation and heterogeneous in its demand, based mostly in the eagerness of the youth to be heard and represented.

Riot police face off against demonstrators in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Tuesday night. Credit: REUTERS/Alex Almeida

The government in Rio and São Paulo do not seem to understand what is happening. The President - who took a crucial role in fights against dictatorship and was tortured by the regime - remains silent. Mainstream media has difficulty explaining the causes of the insurgency. Last week, the media speech was that vandals had occupied the streets in protest in São Paulo.

By Thursday, police used brutal force to contain the outbreak and members of the press were injured, and their action was defended by São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin (who at the time was in Paris with São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad) as legitimate. The following day, vandals become demonstrators on the cover of the newspapers, who condemn both police action and Government position.

Riot police face off against demonstrators in Sao Paulo. Credit: REUTERS/Alex Almeida

On Sunday I went to a rally that was going to take place around Maracanã, where Italy and Mexico were playing for the Federations Cup. I must confess I was not sure which cause I was there do defend - there are many reasons for dissatisfaction. This specific protest couldn't be less specific: it focused on the "rise in the cost of living".

But I needed to be there, see it with my own eyes. No more than 2,000 of us, mostly youths, were marching peacefully toward the Maracanã stadium when we were stopped by riot police, who attacked us with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. The police said the operation was successful as they only reacted "in manner according to the actions of the population". We were denied our basic right of coming and going, the right to express our opinion. It was not difficult to pick a side.

Here's a video of the second assault by the police. It lasted five minutes but seemed to last an hour: demonstrators on their knees, saying "No violence". After singing the national anthem, they opened fire with tear gas, right next to a park where several families and children were spending their Sunday afternoon.

Bruno Correia is a 29-year-old book editor who was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. His views do not necessarily reflect those of ITV News.

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