Hundreds of protesters gathered in Brasilia yesterday in an attempt to reach the World Cup stadium to protest the use of public funds to host the tournament. While the groups did not reach the stadium, a large group of indigenous activists stormed the roof of the Brazilian Congress, and others injured police with bows and arrows.
In a chaotic scene in which police fired teargas to dissuade the use of conventional indigenous weaponry against them, protesters demanding their tribes’ land rights be respected by the government took to the streets of the Brazilian capital. Infobae reports that police fired teargas at an indigenous group, prompting an arrow attack. At least one policeman was injured with an arrow to the leg during the event.
A group of native leaders reached the roof of the Brazilian Congress, including legendary native rights activist Chief Raoni. “Going up to the roof of the Congress was an act of valor, it proves we are warriors and defend our rights,” said Tamalui Kuikuru, one of the protesters, to AFP.
In addition to native Brazilians, many public sector groups have protested against the World Cup, arguing that if the government has the money to spend on a number of new soccer facilities, it can afford to pay essential workers more. This week in Rio de Janeiro, 200 teachers protested at the airport with signs calling for a salary increase while various World Cup players made their way from the airport to their hotels.
Brazilian police, meanwhile, have gone on strike to demand better working conditions and salaries as well. The potential lack of sufficient police to keep fans and players safe during the tournament is a major concern for the country, as crime has skyrocketed in the months leading up to the World Cup, once again raising concerns as to whether the nation is ready to host such a tournament. Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo has called police strikes “illegal and unconstitutional” in response.
The myriad hurdles along the way to hosting the World Cup have prompted some very public criticisms from the nation’s top soccer talent. Legendary soccer player Pelé, who wrote a song for the occasion, called preparations for the World Cup “an embarrassment.” Ronaldo, another soccer great from the country, told the media he was “embarrassed“: ‘It’s a shame. I am embarrassed, this is my country and I love it and we shouldn’t be transmitting this image abroad.”
In response, President Dilma Rousseff stated she was proud of the country’s preparations: “I am sure that our country will put on the Cup of Cups… I am proud of our accomplishments. We have no reason to be ashamed and we don`t have an inferiority complex.”
The World Cup tournament will begin in Brazil on June 12.