(Sao Paulo) Tens of thousands of Brazilians have streamed out into the streets of cities throughout Brazil to demand the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff over government corruption and economic drift.
Sunday’s protests were second in less than a month and came as polls showed Rousseff entering the second month of her second term in office with historically low approval ratings.
The demonstrations were driven by a massive corruption scandal at the state-run oil company, Petrobras, as well as a spluttering economy, a rapidly depreciating currency and political infighting.
Turnout across the nation included about 25,000 in the capital Brasilia, although police put the overall figure at nearer 100,000, media conglomerate Globo reported on its website.
“We have come to show what is going on in Brazil – this government is doing nothing. The people must show their dissatisfaction,” Dianara Loubet, a 75-year-old yoga instructor, told the AFP news agency as marchers converged on the capital Brasilia, where some protesters hung a banner calling for the army to intervene.
Rio hosted two modest protests at the tourist magnet of Copacabana beach, where media put participants at about 10,000.
Organisers had hoped more than one million people would attend marches held in some 400 cities.
Demonstrations were expected later in Brazil’s economic capital, Sao Paulo.
The protest movement has been organised, mostly via social media, by a motley assortment of groups. Most call for Rousseff’s impeachment, but they are joined by others with demands ranging from a military coup to looser gun control laws.
‘Not here to break records’
Many analysts say the movement could crumble if organisers fail to deliver crowds as big as last month’s.
Although Sunday’s numbers appeared modest, organisers said it was not the size of rallies that counts, but the message.
“We don’t have an estimate for how many people there are. We want all Brazil to come out into the streets [but] we are not here to break records,” said Rizzia Arreiro, a 35-year-old Rio protester from the Vem Pra Rua [“take to the streets”] protest group.
Public confidence in Brazil’s political class has slumped with the detention or questioning of dozens of legislators and officials, including the treasurer of the ruling Workers Party over an alleged multi-billion dollar kickback scheme at Petrobras.
Thomaz Albuquerque, a 38-year-old attending a Copacabana rally, told AFP there were “political and legal reasons to call for Dilma’s impeachment”.
“She was the president of the Petrobras board during the worst phase of the corruption scandal. That is reason enough” to call for her ouster, Albuquerque insisted.
Rousseff is herself not under investigation, despite her former ties to the company, but the widening probe has fingered a swath of her party colleagues and close allies.