Brazil Subway, Airport Workers Don't Strike, But Protesters Clash With Police
Subway workers in São Paulo "backed down from a threatened strike" on the opening day of the FIFA World Cup, "removing a cloud from global event whose preparations have been plagued by delays and protests," according to Magalhães & Jelmayer of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Union members voted Wednesday to continue working "despite its threats to walk off the job unless 42 co-workers fired this week were reinstated." São Paulo Metro workers' union President Altino de Melo Prazeres Júnior said that members "were worried about a potential public backlash." He said, "What weighed on our decision was fatigue and the fear of some workers that people could view our decision as a move to disturb the World Cup." The union's retreat "defuses a potential public-relations nightmare for Brazil, which has struggled with delayed stadiums, unfinished infrastructure and protesters angry over the tournament's cost" (WSJ, 6/11). The AP reported World Cup organizers are counting on São Paulo's subway system "to carry tens of thousands of fans Thursday to Itaquerao stadium, where Brazil will play Croatia in the tournament's first game far from the hotel areas where most tourists are staying." Teachers "remain on strike in Rio and routinely block streets with rallies, and subway workers in that city briefly threatened a walkout." Police in several cities "have also gone on strike in recent weeks, but are back at work now'' (AP, 6/12). Rio de Janeiro airport workers "suspended a strike" on Thursday after a court ordered them to return to work (BLOOMBERG, 6/12).
PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE: REUTERS' Winter & Teixeira reported Brazilian police and protesters clashed on Thursday "just hours before the opening game of the World Cup." Police fired noise bombs to "disperse a crowd" of about 200 demonstrators angry about government overspending on the event. The protesters "were trying to cut off a key avenue leading to the Corinthians Arena" where Thursday's opening match was held. At least one protester "was arrested." A CNN producer "was injured during the confrontation." Brazil "is widely considered the spiritual home of global football, and in recent days more of the flags and street parties that usually characterize World Cups" have begun to show up. Yet the list of possible problems "is long." In fact, hosting a successful tournament "may ultimately prove harder for Brazil than winning it" (REUTERS, 6/12). In London, Haroon Siddique reported CNN Producer Barbara Arvanitidis "suffered a suspected broken arm." An online photo showed a protester "apparently being pepper sprayed while behind held round the neck by another policeman" (GUARDIAN, 6/12). The BBC reported TV footage showed "riot police using tear gas and rubber truncheons" to disperse 50 protesters near a metro station on the route to the Arena Corinthians. The demonstrators had been chanting "there won't be a Cup" (BBC, 6/12). In London, Leahy & Pearson reported hacker group Anonymous said that "it had attacked a number of Brazilian government websites to mark its opposition to the country’s hosting of the World Cup." It "was not clear whether the group’s attack had much success, with most of the websites still operating" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/12).