December 20, 2014
At least 5 injured in protests in Brazil hours before W. Cup
At least five people have been injured at anti World Cup protests in Sao Paulo today. Brazilian police and protesters clashed hours before the opening game of the World Cup, which has been marred by construction delays and political unrest.
Police fired tear gas and noise bombs to disperse more than 100 demonstrators angry about heavy government spending on the event, a spokesman for Sao Paulo state's military police said.
Demonstrators regrouped about two hours later and clashed with police again three blocks away, hurling rocks and setting fire to trash.
The protesters were trying to cut off a key avenue leading to the Corinthians arena on the eastern edge of the city where Brazil plays Croatia at 5 p.m.
At least one protester was arrested, local media reported. A producer for CNN was injured during the confrontation, witnesses said.
Many Brazilians are furious over the $11.3 billion spent on hosting the World Cup when basic social services are poorly financed. Their pessimism has so far overshadowed a brighter mood among the some 800,000 foreign tourists expected to come to Brazil for the event.
The stakes are high not just on the soccer field. Whether the tournament goes smoothly may also have an effect on President Dilma Rousseff's chances for re-election in October, as well as Brazil's flagging reputation among investors.
Rousseff has dismissed complaints about overspending and delays in preparing stadiums and airports, and is betting Brazil will put on a show on and off the field.