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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Homeless Activists Block Highway in Brazilís Largest City

SAO PAULO Ė Brazilian Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) activists erected barricades early Thursday on a major Sao Paulo highway, blocking traffic to demand more affordable housing.

About 20 people occupied downtown Sao Pauloís Avenida do Estado, blocking the flow of traffic in both directions and setting tires and junk on fire.

Demonstrators also poured oil in the street to slow responding firefighters, causing a number of motorcycle accidents.

The protest caused a huge traffic jam that lasted until firefighters and police cleared the avenue hours later.

The MTST is one of the most active grassroots groups in Brazil, demanding better government policies for years to tackle the housing shortages in some cities, including Sao Paulo.

The MTST opposes a new public housing plan that raises the household income needed to qualify for the program by nearly 50 percent to 9,000 reais (about $3,000).

President Michel Temerís administration, for its part, views the changes to the program as a way to jump-start Brazilís stagnant economy, which has contracted for two straight years.

The administration hopes to stimulate demand for housing, giving a boost to the construction industry and creating jobs.

 

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