Brazil's Justice Ministry has announced that a special police organization will field officers in five of the six cities hosting the Confederations Cup. The soccer tournament has become a focal point for public protests.
Brazilian authorities mobilized the country's SENASP special police force on Wednesday, sending the elite forces to five of the six Confederations Cup venues.
The National Public Security Force will be posted in cities in the states of Rio de Janeiro Bahia, Minas Gerais, Ceara and the capital Brasilia, but not in Pernambuco.
SENASP, established in 2004 under former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is a federal force deployed in times of civil unrest. The Justice Ministry did not specify how many officers would be deployed in its statement.
Protesters question spending
The Confederations Cup tournament, seen as something of a dry run for next summer's World Cup in Brazil, has prompted public protests in much of the country. Costly projects preparing for the 2014 tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics have contributed to the dissatisfaction, with protesters saying that the money would be better spent on social programs like healthcare and education.
The first major Brazilian protests followed the second game of the Confederations Cup, when Italy and Mexico played in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Demonstrations, sometimes including instances of violence between police and the public, have continued in several cities but most notably in Rio.
President Dilma Rousseff sought late on Tuesday to placate the demonstrators, saying she would take their messages on board.
"My government hears the voices clamoring for change, my government is committed to social transformation," Rousseff said. "Those who took to the streets [on Monday] sent a clear message to all of society, above all to political leaders of all levels of government."
On the pitch, Brazil play their second match of the Confederations Cup, against Mexico, on Wednesday. The 'Selecao' will look to build on an impressive win against Japan in the tournament opener on Saturday. Mexico's Olympic team last summer beat Brazil's side to a gold medal in London.
msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, SID)