Only Three Days To Go 'Til The World Cup And All Is Well (UPDATE: Sao Paulo Subway Workers Suspend Strike)

  • Rick Chandler

UPDATE: Subway workers in Sao Paulo are back to work, three days before the opening match of the World Cup which is set to kick off there.

As if there wasn’t enough going on in Brazil already (see slideshow below), the subway workers in Sao Paulo are on strike, and union officials refuse to send them back to work for the beginning of the World Cup. Problematic, since Thursday’s opening match — Brazil takes on Croatia — takes place 12 miles from central Sao Paulo, and the subway is the main means of transportation for most fans.

Of course little happens in Brazil these days without protesters clashing with police, and this is no exception.

Brazilian police and striking subway workers clashed Monday in a central commuter station, with union officials threatening to maintain the work stoppage through the World Cup opening match here this week.

Earlier Monday, riot police firing tear gas forced about 100 striking workers out of the station as the strike threw Sao Paulo’s normally congested traffic into chaos for a fifth day. About half of the city’s subway stations were operating, but with greatly diminished service.

“This is the way they negotiate, with tear gas and repression,” said Alexandre Roland, a union leader, as he and others regrouped outside the station after confronting riot police.

So you land in Guarulhos Airport, and plan to take a taxi instead? Good luck.

It’s strike season all over Brazil. Teachers are still on strike in Rio de Janeiro, and frequently take to the streets and block traffic. Police in several cities were on strike, but most have gone back to work. As for the transit workers, they are demanding a 12 percent pay increase, while the government, which runs the subways, is offering eight percent. Fares haven’t been raised in two years, because every time that’s proposed, violent protests break out.

And don’t forget some of the other stuff going on (slideshow originally posted May 20):