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As World Cup Looms, Brazilian Cities Paralyzed By Protests


From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. There are plenty of fireworks in the lead up to the world's largest soccer tournament. The World Cup in Brazil is three weeks away. A lot of American fans are upset about the makeup of the U.S. team, and we'll get to that in a moment, but things are not going according to plan in the host country. Brazil is racked with protests and strikes and there are a lot of issues at play. But the demonstrations are unified by one theme, anger over public spending on stadiums instead of on services and salaries.

NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in Sao Paulo.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: This doesn't feel like a country that's about to host a global sporting event. There are a few decorations out. And while everyone is talking about the World Cup here, it's mostly for the wrong reasons. In fact, the only real public displays are of discontent.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yesterday, by some counts, as many as 30,000 people marched through Sao Paulo in one of the largest anti-World Cup protests yet. Another protest is set for tonight and tomorrow. In fact, protestors are promising almost constant demonstrations in advance of the World Cup.

And then there are the strikes. In Sao Paulo over the past few days, public busses have been mostly not working, which has caused traffic and metro chaos. There were incredible scenes on the subway system of thousands of people trapped and pushing to get into the already overburdened trains. Police, teachers and even bank guards have joined in demanding better pay and conditions in this city and others across the country.

And consider this statistic. In soccer-mad Brazil, in the latest poll more than two-thirds of Sao Paulo residents believe hosting the World Cup is doing more harm than good. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.