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Pope Francis gets boisterous welcome in Brazil


Pope Francis’ first international trip as pontiff got off to a rocky start, as crowds of people in downtown Rio de Janeiro swarmed the 76-year-old’s vehicle to take pictures and reach out to the head of the Catholic Church.

Though the pope, who traveled to Brazil for World Youth Day, called the welcome “magnificent” on Twitter, many were taken aback by mounting security concerns.
In addition to the mob that rushed the pope’s Fiat–which authorities attributed to a wrong turn made by the driver–police also found a homemade explosive device in the parking garage of a shrine that Francis was set to visit this week, reports The New York Times. Authorities used water cannons and rubber bullets to break up a crowd of demonstrators after violence erupted following the pope’s address Monday.
Moving forward, security forces will likely take extra precautions to prevent any more incidents, said former U.S. secret service agent Evyenia Poumpouras on NewsNation Tuesday. “An estimated $53 million has been put in from [Brazil’s] government to help provide security for this visit,” she said.
The pope himself declined enhanced security measures such as a bulletproof car, choosing instead to be more accessible.
Brazil has seen a series of clashes across the country between police officers and anti-government protesters who are calling for lower taxes and better public services. Despite the trip’s tumultuous beginning, Poumpouras expects the pope will maintain the same level of accessibility.
“I don’t think anything like this will deter him because nothing happened,” she said. But security forces will probably be more “on edge now.”