Police in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, on Friday reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of protesters, who were demonstrating against the hike in public transportation prices. Following the protests, police officials also detained four people.
The demonstration was arranged by "Passe Livre" (Free Fare Movement), which had also conducted the 2013 protest, demanding free fares in mass transit, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The protest movement was founded in 2005 at the Worldwide Social Forum at Port Alegre and had turned into a nationwide movement in 2013 amid the ongoing FIFA Confederations Cup games in the country.
While organizers claim that about 15,000 people attended the protests, in which many participants were students, police officials said only 1,200 people were present at the rally in downtown Sao Paulo. Officials also reportedly said they had to resort to such methods because protesters threw homemade devices at them. A bank’s building was also smashed up the rally, AFP reported.
The 2013 protests had become a matter of concern for the Brazilian government and led President Dilma Rousseff to announce a $2.4-billion plan to improve transportation in the city, Press TV reported.
On Jan. 6, bus fares in Sao Paulo were increased from 3 Brazilian Reals ($1.16) to 3.50 Brazilian Reals ($1.36). Early this month, police had detained about 50 protesters and used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
"I came to the protest because transportation should be free. So we can begin to change things and have improvements," 19-year-old Pietro Battiato, a student who had also participated in the 2013 protests, told AFP, after the protests earlier this month.