Trecker’s Brazilian Travels: Chaos runs supreme

June 26th, 2013

By Jamie Trecker, FOXSoccer.com

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL

Belo Horizonte descended into chaos Wednesday night as protestors clashed with police throughout the town. The Confederations Cup match between Brazil and Uruguay saw over 100,000 people attempt to break the security cordon set up one mile around the perimeter of the Estadio Mineirao, and police and protestors traded blows. One serious injury was reported, and police announced that 15 people had been arrested.

The scenes – with raging fires that claimed businesses, and smoke and tear gas billowing over the sides of the Mineirao – seemed better suited to a war zone than a soccer tournament. Army forces reinforced the police, and ten helicopters were deployed above and around the stadium, creating an eerie scene as kickoff approached.

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Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

The protests here have turned menacing, with some in the movement calling for peace and calm through bullhorns as the crowd advanced on the police line. But when tear gas was lobbed at the protestors, all hell broke loose. The marchers responded by pelting the police with stones and pavers and the police escalated the situation by firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

The city has been tense all weekend. On Tuesday night, the bars of Savassi were filled with jittery drinkers, as endless loops of the protests played on big screen TVs. FIFA has been directly rattled by the protests as two buses bearing FIFA emblems were waylaid protestors this week, with one having its windows smashed out in Rio de Janeiro; another simply on the street in Recife after the Tahiti-Nigeria game outside a team hotel.

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Photo: Jamie Trecker/FOX Soccer

Elsewhere in Brazil, the protests continued peacefully, with marchers demonstrating in smaller groups across the country.

On Wednesday, police warned that riots were imminent and worked to clear the corridor around the Mineirao. As they did, fires continued to rage, unabated in the streets.The army vacated a nearby university campus Wednesday morning, expelling all personnel from the Pampulha UFMG (Federal University of Minais Gerais). Students have been a driving force in the protests.

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Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

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