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Brazilian cities largely shut down in austerity protests

Staff Writer | April 28, 2017
Several Brazilian cities largely shut down as the country takes part in its first general strike in more than two decades to oppose proposed austerity measures by President Michel Temer's government.
Brazil protests
Brazil   Government proposals to battle ecession
The nationwide strike called on by Brazilian unions began early Friday, causing transportation, schools and businesses to mostly shut down.

In Sao Paolo, most businesses, banks and schools, including private schools, closed for the day and residents were blocked from using ATMs due to banners that said "We are on strike."

"It is going to be the biggest strike in the history of Brazil," Paulo Pereira da Silva, president of the Forca Sindical trade union, said.

Only Sao Paolo's Metro Line 4-Yellow was in service early Friday because it is privatized. Most schools and businesses shut down because of the anticipated lack of transportation.

Brazil's Congress will vote next week on proposed pension changes that would set the minimum retirement age at 65 for men and 62 for women.

Workers in the public sector previously were able to retire much earlier depending on individual circumstances.

Government proposals to battle a recession also include capping pension benefits. About 14 million people are unemployed in Brazil.