SAO PAULO —
It took a full two weeks at the World Cup for me to see my first demonstration in Brazil. It had been a long day. Following an early-morning flight on the heels of the USA-Portugal game in Manaus, a four-hour plane ride away, a colleague and I had scurried to the Estadio de Sao Paulo to catch the Netherlands-Chile match — insofar as you can scurry in this snarled metropolis at the edge of this tortuous country.
We caught a media bus back after the game, which would drop us off at a hotel close to our own. But as we pulled along a major thoroughfare taking us into our neighborhood — the swanky Barra Funda — the driver stopped the bus cold and opened the doors. In the middle of the road. This bus was going no further.
It took us a minute to realize why. Up the road, people were marching, protestors surrounded by a human wall of police in full riot gear, barely discernible through the black uniforms. It all looked innocuous enough from afar: A few hundred people, banging drums, chanting, and holding aloft a lone red banner. But there’s no predicting how a protest will turn out. They are lightly flammable. The Brazilians’ rage slumbers just below the surface and rouses at unexpected times. In recent days, people have started taking to the streets again. Some protests have turned violent.