In Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, striking teachers’ demonstrations turn violent in Brazil
The largely peaceful demonstrations in the downtown districts of both cities turned violent when small groups of masked protesters started hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at banks, stores and restaurants and set fire to a passenger bus.
The demonstrators have already rejected the government’s proposals of a 15 percent pay rise.
The protest began peacefully, with demonstrators occupying one of Rio’s major downtown boulevards. According to police, about 10,000 protesters filled the streets. The teachers’ union, however, put that figure at closer to 50,000 people.
The scene turned violent after the marchers reached city hall.
A small group of protesters threw fireworks, grenades, tear gas and set fire to a barricade of rubbish near the public building, where legislation was recently passed changing public teacher’s pay and working hours.
The police responded with tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Masked demonstrators also destroyed banks in the surrounding area and later lit a public bus on fire.
A wider anti-government movement, which started demonstrating last June, has been demanding that the government focus public sector expenditure on the health and education instead of on the World Cup and Olympics.