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Brazil: Rising World Cup costs prompt largest demonstrations in 20 years

"The size of yesterday's marches is evidence of the strength of our democracy," President Dilma Rousseff said of the protests.

Brazil protests world cup june 18Enlarge
A protestor faces the police during clashes at the legislative parliament (ALERJ) in Rio de Janeiro's downtown on june 17, 2013. Tens thousands of people took to the streets of major Brazilian cities protesting the billions of dollars spent on the confederation cup- and preparations for the upcoming World cup- and against the hike in mass transit fares. (Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil is experiencing its largest protests in 20 years, as at least 200,000 people across the country took to the streets to demonstrate against the rising costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup.

In Rio de Janeiro, 100,000 people took part in a mostly peaceful march, though some demonstrators threw rocks at police, defaced government buildings, and set a car on fire, Reuters reported.

In Sao Paulo, where the protests began earlier this month over the hike in a single bus fare from 3 reals ($1.40) to 3.20 reals, around 65,000 demonstrators marched.

"This is a communal cry saying: 'We're not satisfied,'" Maria Claudia Cardoso, who was protesting in Sao Paulo with her 16-year-old son, told the Associated Press. "We're massacred by the government's taxes, yet when we leave home in the morning to go to work, we don't know if we'll make it home alive because of the violence." 

"We don't have good schools for our kids. Our hospitals are in awful shape. Corruption is rife," she added. "These protests will make history and wake our politicians up to the fact that we're not taking it anymore." 

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff expressed her support of the protests on Tuesday in her first comments since the demonstrations broke out, BBC News reported

"My government is listening to the voices calling for change," said Rousseff, in her first comments on the protests since Monday. "Brazil has woken up a stronger country. The size of yesterday's marches is evidence of the strength of our democracy." 

"It is good to see so many young people, and adults — the grandson, the father and the grandfather — together holding the Brazilian flag, singing our anthem and fighting for a better country," she added. 

Protests were reported in 11 cities across Brazil, including the capital of Brasilia, where people broke through security barriers at the National Congress and climbed up on the roof, BBC News reported.

There were also demonstrations reported in Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Vitoria, Fortaleza, Recife, Belem and Salvador. 

Around two dozen people — both police and demonstrators — were reportedly injured as the protests continued, tamped down by officers using pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and other forceful tactics, the New York Times reported.

Many of the violent incidents have been captured on video and posted to YouTube, such as this one taken during peaceful protests in front of Rio's recently renovated Maracana stadium Sunday: 

However, the police took a more hands-off approach on Monday after meeting with protest leaders and agreeing not to carry rubber bullet guns, according to BBC.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also urged both sides to remain calm. 

More from GlobalPost: Brazil protests: crowds promise to stay in streets as demands intensify (PHOTOS)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/brazil/130618/brazil-protests-rising-world-cup-costs