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Protests break out in Brazil

Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup , on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup , on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in front of Se's Cathedral in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in front of Se's Cathedral in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Right-wing activists take part in a march in Sao Paulo downtown, as part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the military coup, on March 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Demonstrators from both ends of Brazil's political spectrum clashed briefly on Saturday in Rio, where leftists came to blows with a group commemorating 50 years since the military coup.

More than 2,000 people meanwhile demonstrated in Sao Paulo, sending out a message to President Dilma Rousseff which read, "Dilma, listen, there will be fighting at the (World) Cup", and there were smaller protests in various other Brazilian cities.

Right-wing elements in Rio had called for a reenactment of a 1964 "March of Families for God and Freedom", which came just days before a military coup that lasted until democracy's restitution in 1985.

Leftist groups promptly arranged a counter-demonstration and, despite a heavy police presence, several people broke through police lines and clashed in the city center.

The right-wing group, numbering about 300, were at pains not to praise the dictatorship.

But they said Ms Rousseff, who suffered torture under the military as a leftwing activist and is favoured to win re-election in October polls, was leading the country to ruin.

"Democracy doesn't exist in Brazil - we don't have a majority but a slew of minorities, such as Indians and feminists, with Dilma in charge," activist Felipe Paulomo told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"Our government is a fraud. We want it out," shouted one man with the words "Family, God and Freedom" emblazoned on his shirt.

One protester held aloft a banner reading: "The Brazilian people are with the armed forces".

Among the 100-strong leftist group, one woman who gave her name as Hannah carried a cardboard sign reading: "Never again dictatorship - fascists out." She told AFP: "Here come the torturers again, lessons not learned from the deaths their parents caused."

Historians estimate about 400 dissidents were killed under 21 years of military rule.

Last June, the Brazilian government was stunned when more than a million people demonstrated against the cost of the World Cup and the Rio Olympics in a country blighted by corruption and poor infrastructure.

This year has seen smaller but sometimes violent protests and radical elements have vowed to fuel more unrest during the June-July football tournament.

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