Police Expect 100,000 to Protest Brazil Soccer Game Tomorrow

Authorities in Brazil’s third-largest metropolitan area, Belo Horizonte, expect 100,000 people to protest as the country’s national soccer team plays Uruguay tomorrow, reviving the largest street uprising in two decades.

The city will deploy 5,000 security personnel, including almost 2,000 to supervise the game, said Major Gilmar Luciano, head of the press office for the military police in Minas Gerais state, of which Belo Horizonte is the capital. The precautions, which include 10 aircraft, come after President Dilma Rousseff pledged to hold a plebiscite to make Brazil’s institutions more representative and less corrupt.

“We have a special plan to guarantee law and order, and we will arrest anyone who engages in criminal activity,” Luciano said.

Demonstrations began three weeks ago against an increase in bus fares and since expanded to include demands for improved health, education, and discontent over public spending on stadiums in preparation for next year’s World Cup. While 40 million Brazilians emerged from poverty over the past decade, accelerating inflation and a slowing economy have helped Rousseff’s approval rating drop eight percentage points since March, according to an Ibope poll published June 19.

Some of the demonstrations, including one in Belo Horizonte on June 22, have taken place outside stadiums where Confederations Cup games were being played and have involved vandalism and clashes with the police.

Political Overhaul

While the government may reconsider creating a constituent assembly as Rousseff proposed yesterday, it will insist on holding a plebiscite to garner popular support to overhaul the political system, which protesters blamed for corruption and excessive spending, Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said today.

“The people are in the streets saying they want changes, they want more citizenship,” Rousseff said at the start of a meeting yesterday with mayors and governors at the presidential palace in Brasilia. “They want quality public services and more effective tools for fighting corruption.”

Rousseff will send a proposal for the plebiscite to Congress as soon as possible, Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante told reporters in Brasilia today.

Brazil needs constitutional change to enact deep reform, Supreme Court Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa told reporters in Brasilia today. The country needs radical measures to fight corruption, he said, adding Brazil is suffering a crisis.

Earlier today, Supreme Court Justice Marco Aurelio told CBN radio that a constituent assembly and constitutional amendment weren’t necessary, and that Congress was most appropriate to improve electoral and party rules. Existing proposals along those lines could have been approved quickly in Congress had the governing coalition backed them, Aecio Neves of the main opposition party PSDB, told state news agency Agencia Brasil.

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