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  • Thousands of Brazilians march through the streets of Sao Paulo to voice their opposition to increases in transit fares, Jan. 21, 2016.

    Thousands of Brazilians march through the streets of Sao Paulo to voice their opposition to increases in transit fares, Jan. 21, 2016. | Photo: EFE

Published 24 January 2016

Local government officials are unsympathetic to the movement's demand for free fares and instead have sent police to repress demonstrations.

The Free Fare Movement has called for another round of protests in the city of Sao Paulo against transit fare hikes and police repression after its last demonstration was met with rubber bullets volleyed by local police departments.

“We will not be intimidated. The fight will only end when the (fare) increase is revoked,” read a statement released by the movement.

Organizers have called for a demonstration and march for this coming Tuesday at the Estacao da Luz, a major transit hub in Brazil's largest city.

Brazil’s military police, administered by local police departments, fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators after protesters approached police barricades. According to the Free Fare Movement Facebook page, around 17 people were seriously injured and nine people have reportedly been detained by authorities.

RELATED: Brazilian Police Fire Rubber Bullets at Protesters

Police and the Free Fare Movement have clashed previously over disputes about the planned route of marches. The police insist that they must be notified of the route while organizers say the Brazilian Constitution guarantees their right to chose their own route.

The Free Fare Movement said it would not disclose the route of Tuesday's march.

“The people who will decide how the demonstration will roll out, who will where the demonstration will take place and what route it will take will be the people organizing this demonstration … it will not be the military police,” Free Fare Movement organizer Vitor Quintiliano told Rede Brasil.

Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad compared the movement's demand for free transit was a slippery slope, saying “There's so much that could come as a result of this, next could be free lunch, free dinner, free trip to Disney World. It starts a conversation that you do not know where it could end."

Quintiliano rebuked the mayor’s comments.

“They act blind, they play dumb, because they do not want to listen to the population and they begin with that rhetoric that makes a joke (out of our demand) … If they don't want to understand, the response will be on the streets, with popular mobilizations,” said Quintiliano.

A study carried out in 2015 by Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a local research center, found that public transport in 21 Brazilian cities is among the most costly in the world in relation to the average salary, outranking cities like London, Tokyo and New York.

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