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Protests sweep Brazil despite concession

 –Brazilians have gathered for a new wave of demonstrations, extending the protests that have sent hundreds of thousands of people into the streets since last week to denounce poor public services and government corruption.

Many believe the protests are no longer just about bus fares and have become a cry for systemic changes in a country that has otherwise seen a decade-long economic boom.

Police cordoned off Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium on Thursday, blocking access to protesters during the Spain-Tahiti Confederations Cup game. Only ticket-holders were allowed to enter.

The biggest of the more than 80 demonstrations was expected in Rio, where thousands of protesters waving flags and carrying banners demanding quality public services blocked several streets and avenues in a peaceful demonstration.

Thousands of people of all ages, many of them draped in flags or with stripes of Brazil’s national green, yellow and blue painted onto their cheeks, gathered in front of the majestic domed Candelaria church in Rio’s business district.

Several percussion groups pounded out Carnival rhythms and other groups chanted slogans targeting Rio’s governor as the crowd thickened.

Violence feared

Similar scenes were seen in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Recife, Salvador and other cities where store and bank windows were boarded up in case the protests turned violent.

Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Sao Paulo, said police in Recife were saying more than 100,000 people had gathered, while a small protest in he northeastern city of Salvador resulted in clashes between police and protesters.

Wire services said police shot tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets to disperse a small crowd of protesters trying to break through a police barrier blocking one of Salvador’s streets.

One woman was injured in her foot.

Elsewhere in Salvador about 5,000 protesters gathered in Campo Grand Square.

Several city leaders have already accepted protester demands to revoke an increase in bus and subway fares and hope that anti-government anger cools.

In Sao Paulo, which is the country’s business and media capital, demonstrators blocked Paulista Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

Many marching against corruption and the cost of the 2014 World Cup are also angry at the media, including the influential Globo network, accused of belittling their movement.

In Sao Paulo, Globo TV crews have been jeered while covering protest rallies and on Tuesday demonstrators set the satellite van of another station ablaze.

‘Leaderless movement’

Many now marching in Brazil’s streets belong to the growing middle class, which government figures show has grown by about 40 million people over the past decade amid a commodities-driven boom.

While the complaints of protesters are wide-ranging, there have been few answers about how to turn the disgruntlement into a coherent list of demands for the government….

 Source:Al Jazeera

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