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A Tale of Two World Cups in Fortaleza, Brazil

"Enough with evictions. We want housing", says the yellow banner by MCP. Photo shared on Twitter by Jornalismo B profile (@jornalismob).

“Enough with evictions. We want housing”, says the yellow banner by the Movement of People's Councils. Photo shared on Twitter by Jornalismo B profile (@jornalismob).

The sounds of vuvuzelas and fireworks mixed with those of protest chants near Arena Castelão stadium in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza ahead of the Mexico vs. Brazil World Cup match on June 17, 2014. As Mexican fans enjoyed themselves before the match, protesters rallied against FIFA and the government for the event's immense cost to public coffers and people, some of whom were left homeless thanks to infrastructure construction.   

Nearly a year ago, the two teams played in Fortaleza for the Confederations Cup. Inside the stadium, Brazil defeated Mexico 2-0. Outside, thousands of people protested on Alberto Craveiro and Paulino Rocha avenues against urban intervention and public spending, and clashed with military police, who used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against the crowds.

This time around, the match ended in a tie, and military police deployed dozens of special forces officers to Alberto Craveiro Avenue, a meeting place for protesters. There, they formed a blockade to secure a perimeter around the stadium.

As protesters arrived—union workers, youth, students and feminist groups—independent journalism collective Nigéria shared photos on their Facebook page.

Protesters start to gather in Alberto Craveiro Avenue, before one the police blockades around Arena Castelão stadium. Photo by Nigéria Collective, published on Facebook, June 17.

Protesters start to gather on Alberto Craveiro Avenue. Photo by Nigéria Collective, shared on Facebook, June 17, 2014.

Heavily armed police form a double blockade to prevent protesters from getting closer to the stadium. Photo by Nigéria Collective, published on Facebook, June 17.

Heavily armed police form a double blockade to prevent protesters from getting closer to the stadium. Photo by Nigéria Collective, shared on Facebook, June 17, 2014.

Heavily armed and without badges on their uniforms, officers approached and searched protesters, saying that ”they were doing their part, investigating any suspicious behavior, such as carrying a Molotov cocktail”, according to members of media platform Na Rua (On The Street), which is dedicated to the coverage of human rights violations during protests in Fortaleza.

Heavily armed and unidentified police officers search protesters in Fortaleza before the game. Photo shared by platform Na Rua on Facebook.

Heavily armed and without badges, police officers search protesters in Fortaleza before the game. Photo by Natasha Cruz, shared on platform Na Rua on Facebook.

A couple of kilometers away, residents threatened by forced evictions were joined by members of the Movement of People's Councils (Movimento dos Conselhos Populares – MCP), and families who were evicted or whose houses were destroyed for World Cup infrastructure work. Together, they closed one side of an express highway to protest against forced evictions and the mayor, accusing him of lacking social commitment on the issue.

A surprise for Mexican fans 

Meanwhile, Mexicans seemed very excited about the match. A group of Mexican supporters donned costumes depicting the Mexican character El Chapulín Colorado, known in Brazil as Chapolin Colorado. Over 20 supporters were dressed as Chapulín, and one woman was dressed up as La Chilindrina (known in Brazil as Chiquinha) from the series “El Chavo del Ocho“, renamed in Brazil as “Chaves”. Both TV series, created by Mexican Roberto Gómez Bolaños who also starred in them, have been extremely popular in Brazil for generations.

Twitter user Alysson shared photos of the Chapulín Colorado supporters as they arrived at the stadium:

THE BEST WORLD CUP! Chapulíns going to Arena Castelão to watch Brazil vs Mexico

More Chapulíns in front of Castelão! HAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAH

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