Vandalism and clashes with police undermined recent mass protests in Brazil against inadequate public services, Sen. Lindbergh Farias said here Monday at a forum organized by Agencia Efe.
"The violence ended up pushing people away," he told journalists, politicos and business leaders during the third installment of the "Efe Breakfast" discussion series in Rio de Janeiro.
Farias, a member of the governing center-left Workers Party, was a prominent figure 21 years ago in demonstrations that led to the resignation of then-President Fernando Collor amid a corruption scandal.
The recent protests erupted in June as a reaction to a hike in public transit fares in Rio and Sao Paulo, but quickly became a nationwide mobilization to demand improved public services and more careful use of taxpayers' money.
The movement brought more than 1 million people out onto the streets in a single day before losing steam.
A major theme of the protests was the need for the government to spend more on healthcare and education and less on infrastructure to host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
"The people are right" to complain about the reported expenditure of 1.2 billion reais ($544 million) to renovate Rio's legendary Maracana stadium, Farias said.
While public money is being spent to prepare Maracana for the World Cup, ordinary people in soccer-mad Brazil will be unable to attend the matches because of high ticket prices, the senator said.
Protests have been crucial in promoting "leaps" in Brazilian history, such as the end of the 1964-1985 military regime and the 1992 resignation of Collor, the former student leader said.
Farias, 43, a protege of Workers Party founder and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, hopes to be the party's candidate for governor of Rio de Janeiro state in the 2014 elections.
Monday's forum was sponsored by Spanish consulting and tech giant Indra and moderated by Agencia Efe's president, Jose Antonio Vera.