Friday, June 13, 2014

Brazil: 7 People, Including Two CNN Journalists, Injured During São Paulo Protests, Tips for Travelers

According to The Latin American Tribune, at least seven people, including two CNN journalists, were injured Thursday (June 12) during police attempts to disperse demonstrators protesting heavy government spending re: the World Cup.

The demonstrators took to the streets prior to 1700 hours just before the inaugural match between Brazil and Croatia, but police disrupted their protest when they attempted to block a main thoroughfare.

Nearly 150 riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a group of 200 demonstrators who tried to shut down traffic on Radial Leste, the main road leading to Arena Corinthians, where the Group A match was to be played.

One protester was arrested and two CNN reporters were injured in that initial incident, one of them by a stun-grenade fragment.

Some of the dispersed demonstrators made their way to the Tatuape metro station, where metro employees were holding a demonstration against the dismissal of 42 co-workers for alleged vandalism during a five-day strike.
Employees of the São Paulo Metro, the primary means of transportation to Arena Corinthians, backed away from a threat to hold a new work stoppage on the first day of the World Cup.

The metro employees’ demonstration was supported by numerous young people, including hooded and black-clad members of the so-called Black Bloc, a group that advocates the use of violence during protests.

One group of demonstrators set out from the Tatuape station in a new attempt to block the Radial Leste thoroughfare, but they were turned away by police who used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to keep the road clear.

COMMENT: My advice to all visitors to the Games is as follow:

1. Be prepared for a mass of humanity;

2. Use an-under-the-garment device to safeguard your money and a photocopy of your passport;

3. Don't carry your actual passport;

4. Carry a large quantity of 1, 2, 5 and ten reais safely on your person;

5. Purchase two tickets per person on the São Paulo Metro, one for transport to the Arena Corinthians and one for your return;

6. Carry less than US$150 in cash; 

7. DON'T use "fanny" packs;

8. If you are new to Brazil, ensure you carry a bilingual business card from your hotel;

9. The city has NOT articulated very well to attendees what tote bags are acceptable to take into the Stadium. Consequently, for the first day, I suggest carrying a very light tote bag, sufficient for water, money and small personal items;

10. Reliance on credit cards is discouraged, largely because of credit card fraud by disreputable vendors;

11. Theft in Brazil, particularly during the Games, has become an art-form. 

For an E-copy of the FIFA security and safety regulation see:

A small group of radical protesters that did not include the metro employees set fires and committed other acts of vandalism.

Police had completely dispersed the demonstrators by around midday, when ticket holders had begun making their way via metro or on foot to Arena Corinthians.

But they remained on alert for additional demonstrations elsewhere in São Paulo and in other cities on the opening day of the World Cup.

In recent weeks, unions have used media coverage surrounding soccer’s main international showcase, which runs through July 13, to press for salary and other demands by staging strikes and calling for demonstrations against the billions of dollars spent on hosting this major sporting event.

Authorities, however, expect the turnout for those protests will be less than for marches last year, when millions took to the streets of cities across Brazil during the Confederations Cup soccer tournament in June 2013.

Demonstrators protested against the low quality of public services, such as health care and education, corruption and public spending on the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

The government has said it will take a permissive approach to non-violent demonstrations that do not disrupt people’s ability to reach the stadiums where the World Cup matches will be played.