Strikes, violent protests hit Brazil ahead of World Cup
May 16, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
- The World Cup opens in Brazil on June 12
- Some protesters say government should spend more on housing
- Other groups taking advantage of event to air their grievances
Sao Paulo, Brazil (CNN) -- With barely a month until the World Cup opens in Brazil, violent protests and strikes are breaking out across the country by groups angry about the changes the sporting event has brought -- and what it hasn't.
Demonstrations were held in 18 cities Thursday. The biggest and most violent was in Sao Paulo, where police shot tear gas and protesters threw rocks and smashed the windows of a car dealership and a bank.
While thousands of people took part in the protests, they were still much smaller than the massive marches seen during the Confederations Cup last year when tens of thousands took to the streets.
In the morning, the Homeless Workers Movement blocked main avenues across the city and about 4,000 people marched on the Arena Sao Paulo where the inaugural game of the World Cup will be held on June 12.
People gather in Rio de Janeiro to protest against this summer's World Cup on Thursday, May 15. The protests broke out across Brazil as citizens expressed anger over the government spending money on the soccer tournament instead of on low-income housing or services such as health and education.
World Cup protests in Brazil
Demonstrators accuse the government of spending billions on new stadiums and not enough on low-income housing.
"The World Cup has done nothing to help us," said Diana, a manicurist who has been on a list for a government-subsidized house for a decade. "So we decided to use it as a platform to make our voices heard."
Taking advantage of the global attention focused on the country for the world soccer championship, other groups are staging protests to air their grievances.
Across the country in Recife, also a World Cup venue, soldiers were deployed to rein in crime and looting after police went on strike there.
In Sao Paulo, more than 5,000 striking teachers marched to demand higher wages.
In the evening, a string of anti-World Cup protests were staged in different cities.
In Sao Paulo, activists turned out carrying banners that said "FIFA go home" and "A World Cup without the people means we're back on the street again!"
About 1,500 people marched peacefully for a couple of blocks before clashes erupted.
Anti-World Cup protesters and homeless activists vowed to keep up the pressure through the global event that ends on July 13.
A total of 600,000 foreign visitors are expected for the cup and another three million Brazilian fans are expected to travel around the country.
READ: World Cup 2014: Can the FBI help stop Brazil's World Cup protesters?
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.