Brazil Protests Continue Over Rising Public Transportation Costs and Government Spending on the World Cup, Olympics

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. A buck 40, in Brazil that won't even get you a ride on the bus. It used to, but not anymore. And the reaction to the fare hike across Brazil has been harsh. More protests in multiple cities, after several days of protests. They're the largest the country has seen in two decades. Some of them have ended violently, demonstrators clashing with police. Dozens of buses and buildings have been damaged during the protests. For the governor of Sao Paulo, the demonstrators are vandals. For many eyewitnesses though, they say police have been firing rubber bullets and tear gas against mostly peaceful protesters. Marcia Reis took to the streets to protest in Rio. She's an attorney. So tell me why you went out to protest. I mean this started as a grievance over the hike in city bus fare.

Marcia Reis: That's the first idea of the protest, but it's not just about that. It's more about the inequality we have here. Brazil is, you know, going through difficult times. We have two different cities in one. The poor, the medium class that is a little better, the poor still suffering and they don't have voice. The police go inside the favela's here and they act with violence, and they are victims.

Werman: So you're a lawyer Marcia. Who else is out demonstrating?

Reis: Well there's students, lawyers, small business people. So it's a lot of different people there. I went there to take care of some arrests. They were arresting people illegally. That was my first goal, but of course I took part of it.

Werman: Now the governor of Sao Paulo state is calling the protesters vandals. How do you react to that word?

Reis: That's the problem. Our press here, they showed the vandalism as main situation, and it's not. There are a lot of people protesting in peace. I saw yesterday, I was there.

Werman: And Marcia, the timing of these demonstrations, it's all happening against the backdrop of the Soccer Confederation's Cup this week, which is seen as something of a preliminary event to next year's World Cup in Brazil. Several billion dollars are being spent getting stadiums ready for this week and the World Cup. Do these protests bode well for the big event next year?

Reis: That's the problem. We're going to have a World Cup, we're going to have Olympics here, and a lot of money was spent and we don't have hospitals for the poor people, we don't have education. So what's the point to have a World Cup here?

Werman: Do you think the demonstrators saw this opportunity to really seize the moment and let the world know that people in Brazil are upset?

Reis: Well maybe, probably yes, because the World Cup are taking more bigger proportion.

Werman: Marcia Reis, an attorney in Rio de Janeiro. She'd been representing some of the people arrested at demonstrations there. She's also taken part in the protest herself. Marcia, thank you very much.

Reis: Thank you, bye-bye.