Hundreds of protesters in Brazil’s eastern coastal city of Recife have held a demonstration against hikes in public transportation fare, following similar rallies in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro earlier in the week.
The demonstrators converged on the center of Brazil’s fifth largest city on Friday to demand free transit passes rather than proposed fare hikes from 3.50 reais (USD 0.87) to 3.80 reais (USD 0.95).
The protesters said the fare hike is not justified considering the poor quality of public transit services.
“We want a free pass for all students,” said Jairo Marques, the president of the Metropolitan Secondary Students’ Union. He blamed corporations in the country for the economic crisis, arguing that people should not have to pay for the wrongdoings of those corporations.
“We need free passes because we are students and workers,” he said.
On January 14, a similar demonstration in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, turned violent when a group of protesters attempted to vandalize a subway station toward the end of the event, prompting police forces to use stun grenades and pepper spray to disperse the people.
The protest in Sao Paulo, involving nearly 1,000 people, was organized by the Free Fare Movement, the same group that sparked massive anti-government demonstrations that crowded the streets across Brazil in 2013.
In June that year, simultaneous protests were held in nearly 80 cities, with a total turnout estimated at close to two million. According to local reports, some 110,000 people marched in Sao Paulo, 80,000 in Manaus, 50,000 in Recife, and 20,000 in Belo Horizonte and Salvador.