Rousseff sends the Army to safeguard airports and hotels hosting national teams
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff ordered the Army, which already occupies several of the favelas (shanty towns) in Rio do Janeiro to move in and take responsibility for airports and hotels that will be hosting the 32 national teams competing for the World Cup.
The Thursday decision to call in the military was adopted after President Rousseff was informed that last Monday a group of protestors surrounded the bus transporting the Brazilian national team at the hotel next to the Tom Jobim international airport in Rio.
Defense ministry sources admitted 'errors' were committed during the security operation surrounding the bus of the national team, when at least a dozen striking teachers managed to put protest stickers on the bus. Teachers in Rio have been on strike for a month demanding better pay and working conditions.
On Wednesday the Brazilian army made a presentation of manpower and weapons it will be using in the northern city of Salvador de Bahía, one of the Cup's twelve host cities and where local police forces have been on a round of strike actions. The special Army forces displayed their muscle and simulated rioting situations.
Meanwhile another group from the Army made similar deployments and operational drills in the capital Brasilia, where on Tuesday protesting indigenous peoples, with bows and arrows, and other groups clashed with anti riot teams. At least two police officers suffered arrow injuries and some of the protestors managed to climb to the roof of Congress.
In rather ironical comments, Rio do Janeiro's O'Globo asked if the deployment of the army was to be the contribution from the President to ensure security in the different states of the union?.
Meantime further to the south on Wednesday evening and night, several thousand demonstrators marched peacefully in Sao Paulo to demand more low income housing for residents they say were displaced to make way for a World Cup stadium.
The protest was led by the Homeless Workers Movement on behalf of an encampment of more than 4,000 families living in tents just a few miles from Sao Paulo's 1 billion Reais (448 million dollars) Arena Corinthians, still not fully completed.
Protesters urged municipal lawmakers to include the occupied area in a proposal to build more public housing and said they expected a swift answer from authorities.
They promise the whole project will be voted on before the World Cup, said organizer Jussara Basso.
Unlike a similar protest from the same group last week that shut down stores and snarled traffic in Sao Paulo, Wednesday’s protest was far from the city's main business district.
Some 600,000 foreign soccer fans are expected to travel to 12 host cities in Brazil for the month-long World Cup starting on June 12. Protests and strikes have become an almost daily occurrence in Brazil just over two weeks from the opening match.
Brazilian authorities this week also revealed that they had confiscated food not fit for consumption from two hotels that will host the English and Italian national teams during the upcoming World Cup competition in Brazil.
According to Procon, the Brazilian consumer protection agency, inspectors found food past its consumption date at the Portobello Hotel in the city of Mangaratiba, a suburb just west of Rio de Janeiro. The Italian national team is expected to stay at the Portobello.
In a surprise inspection Monday, Procon said, inspectors found 25 kilograms of expired pasta, shrimp, salmon and margarine. At Portobello, inspectors also seized 24 kilograms of steak, sauces, beef heart, cheese, sugar and fish without expiration labels.
Fabio Domingos, head of Procon in Rio de Janeiro state, told Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency, that he's very concerned about the number of establishments that have violated sanitation rules.
Last week, in another surprise inspection, Procon inspectors found food past consumption quality at the Royal Tulip Hotel in the São Conrado neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.
The hotel is expected to host the English national team during the World Cup. Inspectors there found 2.36 kilograms of expired lard, Parma ham and salmon.