Brazilian police detain 50 during protests over bus fare hikes

Tensions were high in Sao Paulo after police resorted to tear gas and detained some 50 protesters, as thousands took to the streets against the country’s latest round of transport fare hikes. Around 2,000 people converged in Sao Paulo, according to police – including a number of masked anarchists known as Black Blocs. Police accused the group of throwing trash and sticks at officers, who responded with tear gas and pepper spray, and said they had made 50 arrests. Helicopters and mounted police patrolled the area into the night, with several subway stations closed.

I came to the protest because transportation should be free. So we can begin to change things and have improvements.

Pietro Battiato, 19, a student who has participated in the mobilisation for a year and a half

Amid a marked economic downturn and high inflation, bus fares went up in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, from 3 to 3.50 reais, and in Rio, the former capital, from 3.0 to 3.40 reais. Rio’s 13 percent hike is almost exactly double the current rate of inflation. The demonstration, which ran in conjunction with a 500-person march in Rio de Janeiro, comes after the issue sparked unprecedented mass protests in June 2013. The Rio state prosecutor sought in court to overturn the hike, saying prices should be pegged at 3.20 reais, but the attempt failed.