Bus fare protests hit Brazil's two largest cities

June 14, 2013 at 10:16 AM

SAO PAULO, June 14 (UPI) -- Demonstrations against nationwide bus fare hikes turned boisterous in Brazil's two largest cities, leading to clashes with police, witnesses said.

Police in Sao Paulo arrested dozens of protesters Thursday, just days after they fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters who tried to shut main thoroughfares, The New York Times reported.

In Rio de Janeiro, more than 1,000 demonstrators halted traffic during Thursday's rush hour on a well-traveled avenue.

Similar protests were reported in Porto Allegra to the south, Goiania in central Brazil and Natal in the northeast.

"The hike in bus fares were the spark for this to happen," Mauricio Sandro, an Amnesty International adviser in Brazil, said. "Public transportation in Brazil is expensive, unsafe and poorly managed, especially impacting poor commuters who have no choice but to rely on these systems."

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