RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo woke up to scenes of destruction on Tuesday following violent overnight demonstrations by striking teachers demanding higher pay.
In Rio, a largely peaceful rally by some 20,000 demonstrators turned violent when small groups of masked protesters started hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at banks, stores and restaurants and set fire to a passenger bus.
Violence also broke out in Sao Paulo during a demonstration in support of the teachers in Rio.
Footage aired by the Globo TV network showed demonstrators in both cities shattering store and bank windows and wrecking ATMs with hammers and large pieces of wood.
Protesters also hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the American and Angolan consulates in Rio, where they set fire to trash used as street barricades and tried unsuccessfully to set Rio's City Council on fire.
Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and percussion grenades to disperse the protesters.
It was the second time in a week that clashes broke out in Rio between police and striking teachers. Chaos erupted when police set off deafening percussion grenades and fired rubber bullets.
Tuesday's demonstrations were among the most violent in a series of street protests that have hit several Brazilian cities since June. Those earlier demonstrations against a subway and bus fare hike in Sao Paulo snowballed into a nationwide movement against high taxes, corruption and high World Cup spending.
On the wall of a bank that was attacked, a protester spray-painted a message that read: "Screw the World Cup."
The latest protests took place as FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke began an inspection tour of World Cup host cities.
On Tuesday Valcke was met by some 50 protesters when he arrived at the construction site of the Arena Pantanal stadium in the city of Cuiaba. The demonstrators, mostly teachers, carried banners against FIFA and the Brazilian government and jeered Valcke and the other officials he arrived with.
The Confederations Cup games held earlier this year in the leadup to the World Cup were also marked by violent protests.