Latin America

Brazilians hold second anti-government protest in a month

Thousands pour out on to the streets of São Paulo to demand Rousseff’s resignation

Thousands turn up on Sunday for an anti-government protest in São Paulo.
Thousands turn up on Sunday for an anti-government protest in São Paulo.AFP

For the second time in a month, Brazilians took to the streets on Sunday in a massive protest against President Dilma Rousseff and her ruling Workers’ Party (PT), which is under fire over alleged corruption.

Thousands marched in São Paulo and other cities bearing the colors of Brazil’s green-and-yellow flag and chanting slogans calling for Rousseff’s resignation.

Rousseff’s approval rating has plummeted as Brazil faces severe economic problems

“Leave now, Dilma, and take the PT with you,” read a placard carried by a 50-year-old woman on Paulista Avenue, one of the city’s largest thoroughfares.

On March 15, hundreds of thousands took part in a similar protest, which has been considered the biggest turnout for a demonstration since the country returned to democracy in 1985.

Rousseff’s approval rating has plummeted as Brazil faces severe economic problems that have forced the president to propose a string of unpopular spending cuts.

At the same time, Brazilians are angry about allegations surfacing from a judicial investigation that is underway against the PT and members of its allied parties in Congress over a kickback scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobras.

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On Paulista Avenue, volunteers on Sunday collected signatures in a petition drive calling for Rousseff’s impeachment. Many Brazilians believe that she was aware of the kickbacks and payoffs that took place at Petrobras, where she served as director under former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Friday marked the first 100 days of Rousseff’s second tumultuous term in office. Before attending the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the president was forced to makes some changes to her budget policies.

She also designated vice president, Michel Temer, of her allied Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), to patch up relations with skeptical congressional lawmakers who insist in not passing Rousseff’s austerity measures.

After experiencing an economic boom under Rousseff’s predecessor and mentor Lula da Silva, Brazil has been in recession for nearly a year. The president narrowly won re-election last October.

According to the daily Folha de São Paulo, 63 percent of Brazilians favor opening impeachment proceedings in Congress.

Many legal experts and opposition party leaders believe that there isn’t enough evidence or support to call for Rousseff’s removal.

According to a daily, 63 percent of Brazilians favor impeachment proceedings

But the newspaper’s poll is significant because it reflects the anger many Brazilians have at the government because of the economic crisis, unemployment, rising inflation and corruption. About 75 percent of those surveyed said they were in favor of the protests.

But there are bright spots for the president in the poll, according to some analysts. On March 15, when the last street protest took place, 62 percent said they disapproved of Rousseff’s government. But Sunday’s poll figure showed a lower disapproval rating of 60 percent.

To some government officials, the drop signifies that Rousseff’s may be slowly regaining her popularity. Nevertheless, the president has much work ahead of her to swing the tide of public opinion.

At the same time, Rousseff administration officials noted that there were fewer people out on the streets on Sunday. In Brasilia, around 25,000 turned out – half that of last time – said police. Meanwhile, 100,000 people turned out in São Paulo – fewer than half the number who did on March 15 – according to Folha de São Paulo estimates.