“The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start,” Ito told Slate this week of the striking image. “I didn’t mean [to say] nobody is doing anything against poverty. But we need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”

Thousands upon thousands of disgruntled Brazilians in at least 18 cities across the country have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the billions that the government has spent on the World Cup even as poverty continues to be a major national issue and public services remain neglected.

“When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren’t putting on a Cup for the people, they’re putting on a Cup for the gringos,” protester Maria das Dores Cirqueira told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. Cirqueira is one of several thousand protesters who have occupied an empty lot near Arena Corinthians, a stadium constructed in São Paulo for the World Cup, to demand affordable housing and better services for the poor.

Brazil is expected to spend more than $11 billion on the World Cup. Arena Corinthians itself, where the tournament’s first game is scheduled to be played on June 12, cost about $445 million to build, per the LA Times.

According to the World Bank, Brazil is one of the world’s wealthiest economies. However, about 16 percent of Brazil’s nearly 200 million people continue to live in poverty, per 2012 data.

via huffington post