Four weeks away from the World Cup and Brazilian police and security forces were being tested on Thursday by the first wave of anti-government protests.
The protests, which included burning tires and blocking roadways, had the same tone as those that consumed Brazil last year during the Confederation's Cup – the warm-up to this year's spectacle. More than one million took to the streets last year, outraged by government spending on stadiums as opposed to health care reform, education or public transportation.
Thursday's protests were much more tame, but a reported 1,500 representatives from the Homeless Workers Movement rallied near the Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo with dozens of riot police on hand to ensure the demonstrations didn't turn violent.
“Our goal is symbolic,” said Guilherme Boulos, the head of the movement, to the AP. “We don't want to destroy or damage the stadium. What we want is more rights for workers to have access to housing and to show the effects the Cup has brought to the poor.”
Boulos is referencing the hundreds of thousands that have been forced from their homes either due to World Cup construction or because wealthy Brazilians want to seize the property close to the extravagant stadiums.
“From what I've seen, these are specific claims by workers,” Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said via the BBC. “I've seen nothing that is related to the World Cup.”
“There is no reason to panic ahead of receiving three million Brazilian tourists and 600,000 foreign tourists [for the tournament].”
The price tag for next month's World Cup is expected to be at least $15 billion, the most expensive in history. Part of that money will go to protecting tourists with a record 170,000 security personnel expected to police the host cities.
The tournament begins on June 12.