Brazil's army to reinforce security for World Cup teams
Army Military Police in riot gear prepare themselves for any protest ahead of the Australian Socceroos football team arrival at their host city of Vitoria on May 28, 2014 to prepare for the FIFA Football World Cup in Brazil - by William West
A defense spokesman said President Dilma Rousseff's office had authorized the decision Monday -- the same day 200 striking teachers surrounded the Brazilian team's bus for nearly half an hour and blocked it from carrying the squad to their first day at base camp.
"It was already planned that the armed forces could provide this support. Now that teams have begun arriving, it's been officially authorized," said the spokesman.
A 30-troop infantry platoon was sent Wednesday to Brazil's base camp in Teresopolis, outside Rio de Janeiro, to reinforce security for the team, which plays the opening match of the tournament against Croatia on June 12.
The army will also be charged with anti-terrorism operations, border security and protecting strategic infrastructure during the tournament, including ports, airports, power stations and water supplies.
Australia, the first of the 32 teams to arrive for the World Cup, touched down Wednesday night. Brazil arrived at their base camp Monday and began training Wednesday.
Brazil has seen a series of strikes and demonstrations in the run-up to the tournament, though they have been smaller than the mass protests that shook the country a year ago during the Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal.
The protesters are angry over the more than $11 billion being spent on the tournament, saying the government should prioritize health, education and transport instead.
There are fears the movement could regain momentum during the World Cup, swelling to the one million protesters who took to the streets last year, sometimes violently.
So far security at protests has been the responsibility of state police.
Brazil has mobilized 57,000 troops to provide security during the World Cup. About 21,000 of them will be on standby in case state police need reinforcements.
In all, the country will have 157,000 soldiers and police ensuring security, officials say.