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Brazilian protesters assemble outside World Cup stadium

Demonstrators marched to the São Paulo World Cup stadium demanding housing rights and their share of World Cup benefits.

05.06.2014
Brazilian protesters assemble outside World Cup stadium

SAO PAULO

With the World Cup starting in less than a week, the Homeless Workers' Movement and other aligned protest groups demonstrated Wednesday outside São Paulo's World Cup stadium in Brazil, demanding housing rights for people occupying around 90 sites across the city, including one near the football facility.

Around 15,000 people were assembled for the protest, according to organizers -- 4,000 according to police.

"I'm here because I have nowhere to live, said 49-year-old São Paulo businessman Antônio Belarmino da Silva. We want the World Cup to happen and to be a success, but we also demand housing and better education."

Unlike for previous protests held under the "Não Vai Ter Copa" ('There Will Not Be a World Cup') banner, police presence was minimal.

In recent weeks, protests and strikes have multiplied, with a number of organizations coordinating to plan disruptive actions on June 12, the start of the World Cup, as well as throughout the month-long football tournament.

"We're not against the World Cup, but we do want our part in it," Guilherme Boulos, a Homeless Workers' Movement leader, told the Anadolu Agency.

"The ball is now in the government's court. If they meet our demands for housing, we will stop," Boulos added. "But until then we continue, including at the opening of the World Cup next week."

The leader warned that the movement could "radicalize" its actions, as current tactics "weren't having the right effect."

Other groups represented at the march included the "Movimento Passe Livre" ('Free Fare Movement') group whose demands for free public transport in the wake of a price hike in bus and metro tickets played a significant role in sparking the nationwide mass protests seen in June 2013 disrupting the Confederations Cup.

After rejecting an offer for an 8.7-percent pay increase, members of the city's main subway union announced a strike starting Thursday for an indefinite period of time.

Four of São Paulo's five metro lines will experience stoppages, including Line 3, which serves the World Cup stadium, as well as the main Tatuapé shuttle bus leading to the city's Guarulhos International Airport.

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