Rio de Janeiro was the stage for violent protests centred at Palacio Guanabara where earlier in the day Pope Francis had been received by Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. The incidents occurred Monday night during a demonstration against Rio state governor Sergio Cabral which convened an estimated 1.500 people according to the police.
The security forces surrounding the Guanabara palace used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd with some groups particularly aggressive and violent and armed with rocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails. Protestors also lit fires.
Activists used social media to assure that the clashes between police and protestors 200m from Rio’s government headquarters were instigated by officers who had infiltrated the crowd.
A medical student stated that he had tended to a protestor injured by a bullet in the leg while taking part in the demonstration.
The police reported four injured and several arrests.
Additionally, two journalists from Midia Ninja, an internet channel that was covering the protest, were arrested due to what police described as inciting violence.
Military Police sources revealed through their twitter account that one officer was struck by a Molotov cocktail thrown by protestors, and suffered serious burns.
They also divulged that one youngster had been held under suspicion of throwing the first Molotov cocktails in the police direction.
It was clear that the protests were not directed to Pope Francis or his presence in Brazil, but rather to target Governor Cabral who has been accused of repeated irregularities and protestors are demanding his resignation and having him face corruption charges.
The violence marred the end of the pope's first day in Brazil, which began with throngs of pilgrims lining the streets to warmly welcome the 76-year-old Argentine as he crossed the city in an open-top jeep.