World Cup Games Begin Amid Protests05:47
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Today, Brazil will face-off against Croatia in the first match of the World Cup, but tensions are high as protesters fill the streets of São Paulo.

Police take up positions during a World Cup protest on June 12, 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. Military police responded to the protest and there were reported injuries. (Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
Police take up positions during a World Cup protest on June 12, 2014 in São Paulo, Brazil. Military police responded to the protest and there were reported injuries. (Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)

A strong police presence can be seen in the city as officers try to control protesters with stun grenades and force to keep them from interfering with the sporting events.

Protesters have been speaking out against the economic implications hosting the international games has had for the country.

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR’s international correspondent covering South America, speaks with Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti as she makes her way through the rough protests in São Paulo.

Interview Highlights: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

On the current scene in São Paulo

"Things got very tense very quickly here ... The protesters were chanting — there's only a few dozen of them, not very many at all — but the police really are not taking any chances. They do not want the narrative of this World Cup to be hijacked by the protesters, so they tried to disperse them very quickly."

On what the protesters want

"This country is very divided on the day of this World Cup. The vast majority of people of course are supportive of the World Cup, of course are going to be rooting for Brazil. In fact, even one of the protesters here said, 'Hey, I want to watch the opening game of the World Cup. This isn't that we are against football, or soccer. This is about us. We feel aggrieved that there has been all this money spent — billions of dollars — on stadiums instead of on health and education. We feel that that isn't fair.'"

On whether the conflict will last the entire tournament

"The hope has really been that once the ball starts rolling, once the kick-off happens, that this will all be put behind them and they can enjoy the month-long celebration of sports. That's certainly what the government has been aiming for. That's certainly what soccer's world governing body, FIFA, has been aiming for. But I think what we are seeing here today at this protest is that there are a small, committed group of people who want to continue to highlight this."

Guest

This segment aired on June 12, 2014.

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