Brazil, Brasilia: Yesterday, thousands of people in Brazil come on to the street to demand the removal of President Dilma Rousseff. The demonstrations were the latest in a wave of anti-government rallies that lost momentum late last year but could gain strength as a sweeping corruption investigation nears Ms Rousseff’s inner circle.
The magnitude of the protests on Sunday could be decisive in convincing a divided Congress to back ongoing impeachment proceedings against Ms Rousseff. The leftist leader is blamed by many in Brazil for sinking the economy into its worst recession in at least 25 years. Polls show that more than half of Brazilians favour the impeachment of Ms Rousseff, who was re-elected by a slim margin for a second four-year term in 2014.
She is the latest leftist leader in Latin America to face social upheaval as a decade-long commodities boom that fuelled break-neck growth rates comes to an abrupt end. Tensions ahead of the demonstrations were high after Sao Paulo state prosecutors requested the arrest of Ms Rousseff’s political mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, on money-laundering charges.
President Rousseff called for calm as her government feared clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters. Demonstrators were peaceful with thousands clad in the national yellow and green colours and holding banners that read “Dilma out” and “Stop with corruption”. “This government cannot stay in power any longer. This is not a class war between the poor and the rich, but a fight against corruption,” said Andre Cerqueira, an engineer protesting in the ocean city of Rio de Janeiro. In the capital Brasilia, protestors inflated a giant doll of Mr Lula wearing a striped prison uniform and chained to a ball that read “Operation Carwash”, the name of the investigation centred on state oil company Petrobras. Police estimated about 50,000 protesters in Brasilia alone.