Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 17th 2015 Contents A40
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, August 17, 2015
RIO DE JANEIRO---Brazilians took to the streets of
cities and towns across the country yesterday for an
anti-government protest that s seen as a barometer
of popular discontent with the increasingly unpopular
president, Dilma Rousseff.
Called out mostly by activist groups via social media,
yesterday s protests assailed Rousseff, who is fighting
for her political life amid a snowballing corruption
scandal that has embroiled politicians from her Workers
Party, as well as a sputtering economy, spiraling currency
and rising inflation. It was the third nationwide day
of protests against Rousseff s government this year,
following large-scale demonstrations in March and
Political analysts here said that turnout at yesterday s
demonstrations could determine the protest movement s
future. Massive crowds could ratchet up the pressure
on the government while an anemic turnout would
give Rousseff some breathing room.
Thousands of people brandishing green and yellow
Brazilian flags streamed onto Rio de Janeiro s Copaca-
bana Beach, and smaller demonstrations were under
way in the Amazonian city of Belem and the central
city of Belo Horizonte. In the capital, Brasilia, a march
on a central avenue flanked by ministries and mon-
uments appeared to have drawn several thousand par-
ticipants. More than 200 demonstrations were expected
around the country.
The demonstrations were called largely by web-
based activist groups with demands ranging from
Rousseff s impeachment to a return to military dic-
tatorship like the one that ruled the country from
1964-1985. But an end to corruption appeared to be
a top demand, amid the widening probe into corruption
at the state-run Petrobras oil company.
Operation Car Wash, which began more than a year
ago as an investigation into a bribes-for-contracts
scheme at Petrobras, has exposed how widely corruption
permeates Brazilian society, catching top members of
the Workers and other political parties, as well as
executives of powerful construction companies.
Lincoln Carlos, a 60-year-old businessman, said he
was joining the Rio de Janeiro protest to call for an
end to corruption.
"They ve robbed the country," he said. "It shame-
The Rio de Janeiro protest, on a broad avenue running
along the golden sands of Copacabana Beach, was to
coincide with a cycling test event for next year s Olympic
Games in the city, but organisers changed the route
and timing of the sporting event to avoid a possible
Amid the corruption probe and an economic crunch
that has seen the once-booming economy teeter on
the brink of recession, Rousseff s popularity ratings
have fallen to a level not seen since 1992, when President
Fernando Collor de Mello was forced from office after
being impeached for corruption. A poll earlier this
month showed only 8 per cent of those surveyed con-
sidered Brazil s government to be "great" or "good."
By contrast, 71 per cent said the government is a failure.
The Datafolha poll was based on interviews with 3,358
people on August 4 and 5 and had an error margin
of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
In a research note, the Eurasia Group political risk
consulting firm called yesterday s protests "an important
signpost to monitor."
"While calls for Rousseff to step down will be the
headline of yesterday s demonstrations...the greater
risk for the government would be if massive protests
become frequent and if they are followed by movements
from organised labour," the firm said.
In 2013, a wave of nationwide protests took analysts
by surprise, with the largest crowds in a generation
taking to the streets ahead of the Confederations Cup
soccer tournament, a World Cup dry run. Protesters
were angry over lavish spending on stadiums and other
infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup, which contrasted
with the woeful state of Brazil s public schools and
hospitals. Dissatisfaction over poor public services and
high taxes continues to bubble here as the country
gears up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. (AP)
Anti-government protests sweep Brazil
and of the
in front of Lula
Inacio Lula da
Silva, in Sao
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