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Bus strike hits Brazil’s second largest city

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A bus strike in Brazil’s second-largest city, Rio de Janeiro, has left thousands of commuters in long queues.

According to Alexandre Almeida, press officer for Rio Onibus — the trade association of Rio de Janeiro bus transportation — the strike prevented more than 70 percent of 9,000 buses from serving four million daily passengers.

The bus drivers, demanding higher salaries, closed the road with road blocks and demonstrators, as 300 buses were damaged by rock throwing strikers.

The event came after police officers staged a strike on Wednesday in a number of cities to voice their anger at the government’s failure to meet their demands for better pay and working conditions.

Federal police personnel walked off their jobs and held a protest in the city of Rio de Janeiro, just as Brazil’s soccer team Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari announced the country’s squad of 23 for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Striking officers reportedly surrounded police headquarters in the capital, Brasilia. They also took industrial actions in several provincial cities such as Fortaleza, Porto Alegre and Natal.

Meanwhile, Brazilian police officers threatened to go on a nationwide strike during the World Cup games, scheduled to begin in June, if authorities do not give a satisfactory response to their demands.

Opposition to the expenses of the World Cup has been expressed in Brazil over the past few months. Critics say the money being spent on the sports event should be invested in better health, education services, transportation, and housing for Brazilians.

There have already been a number of violent confrontations between protesters and security forces in the South American country over the past weeks.

Brazil is the biggest country with the largest economy in Latin America, but, according to the World Bank, 15.9 percent of its population of 200 million lived below the poverty line in 2012.

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