Clashes erupted between the police and protesters in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on Friday, at the end of demonstrations against pension reforms and cuts in the education budget proposed by the government. The action was part of a general strike organized by trade unions.

Authorities in Rio Grande do Sul said 76 people who participated in the protests had been detained, including 54 in the state capital of Porto Alegre. Police shot tear gas and rubber bullets at some protesters who had shot fireworks and other objects at them.

With thousands of people on the streets of Brazil, the strikes paralyzed schools, universities, banks and affected public transport in some cities across the country.

This was the first strike faced by the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro who took office on January 1st. His administration is trying to convince the Congress to approve a pension reform that will raise the retirement age to 65 for men and 62 for women and increase workers' contributions.

The government says the reform could save about 1 trillion reals (260 billion dollars) and help save the troubled social security system from bankruptcy.

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