Protesters in Brazil demand Olympics 'boycott,' clash with police

Thursday, July 07, 2016

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Several thousand people demonstrated in Rio de Janeiro, calling for a "boycott" of the Olympic Games less than a month ahead of an event plagued by a financial crisis and crime.

Most of the protesters late Wednesday were teachers who have been on strike for three months demanding payment of back wages. A handful of anarchists at the protest later clashed with riot police.

The Rio state government is nearly bankrupt and this week was due to start accessing emergency federal aid of $870 million to pay public workers, also including police, ahead of the Olympics starting August 5.

"This government says it has no money for health, for education, but it does have money for the Olympics. That's absurd! This is why public servants are on the streets to fight for our rights," said Edson Cunha, a 41-year-old teacher.

Nearby, another protester held a sign that read: "Olympic death certificate: Here lies Rio."

In addition to slogans against the Games, protesters also criticized the state government and Brazil's interim president, Michel Temer.

As the demonstration was dispersing, several radical protesters threw stones and smashed bus stops, prompting police to respond with stun grenades. At least six people, one of them a journalist, were arrested, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Before and during the 2013 Confederations Cup and in the months leading to the 2014 World Cup, massive protests took place against the government spending on football stadiums for the events.

Demonstrators asked for improvements in public services such as education, transport and health.

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