Brazilian police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Rio de Janeiro rallying against the vast amount of public funds spent on Pope Francis’ visit to the country.
The demonstration was held on Monday near the Rio state governor’s palace after a meeting there between the pope and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. One photographer suffered a head injury after being clubbed by a riot police officer and at least five protesters were arrested. According to police, officers charged the crowd of protesters after someone threw a Molotov cocktail. A day earlier on Sunday, Brazilian police found a homemade explosive device in a public toilet near the basilica at Aparecida, a Marian shrine that Francis will visit Wednesday. The Brazilian government has spent USD 53 million in public funds for the Pope’s week-long visit to the country, which is his first trip abroad after becoming head of the Catholic Church in March. The pope’s arrival to Brazil came just weeks after the country experienced a series of protests against government corruption and public spending for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. The protesters argued that the government should instead spend public funds on health, education and other public services.