World Cup fuels Brazil's brand of occupy protests

(AZ Central) -- In the days leading up to the World Cup, you can feel both electricity and anger in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. On one street, rows of green-and-yellow ribbons are strung overhead with banners celebrating the upcoming games. On another street, graffiti shows a soccer ball with the question, "Who is the cup really for?"

The sentiment of many Brazilians is that the government is spending billions of public dollars on misguided municipal construction projects and stadium upgrades and not enough money on programs that would benefit Brazil's poor working class.

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Demonstrations, strikes and protests have erupted across the country, organized mostly by Facebook campaigners and workers' unions.

Leo Moraes, 34, a Brazilian-born engineer who works in New York, compares the movement to the U.S. "occupy" protests. However, he says the situation in Brazil is more desperate.

"In the U.S. people could still go out and get some kind of job. Here you can't," he said.

It is clear that there is fatigue and resentment among the working class and residents of the slum neighborhoods known as favellas. Even the most passionate soccer fans say this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the country of Brazil comes with a heavy price that is not worth the money.

Adjacent a hillside favella in the Santa Theresa neighborhood, high school history teacher Carlos Moura said the World Cup was brought to Brazil to benefit "the elite."

"I think it's shameful to be hosting an event like this, spending so much money in a country where there is still hunger, education is horrible quality, healthcare - people dying on gurneys in the ERs," Moura said.

He also stressed that he loves soccer, reflecting a common theme among many fans. They feel strong passion for the game. But they feel disdain for the arrival of the game's grandest event.


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