Demonstrations against the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff were staged in several Brazilian states and the Federal District on Thursday (Mar. 31). Called by Frente Brasil Popular movement, the protests brought together thousands of people on the streets shouting slogans like “There will be no coup, there will be struggle.” Banners with messages of support for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were also seen.
In Brasília, representatives from several trade unions and social, student and worker movements from across the country joined the rally, carrying flags of their organizations. About 50,000 demonstrators according to police marched to Congress to show their disapproval of impeachment.
Janeslei Albuquerque, a representative from the Central Workers' Union (CUT), said the protest in Brasília was a crucial event. “As the national capital city, Brasília is the key location to voice our discontent. About 700 to 1,000 buses came from all Brazilian states,” she said.
In São Paulo, the demonstrations took place in Praça da Sé (Cathedral Square), in the city center, where thousands of people gathered surrounded by public address cars and flags of several activist organizations, including Frente Brasil Popular, the Popular Movements Union (CMP), the Union of Workers of Brazil (CTB), the Socialist Youth Union, and trade unions.
The protesters were carrying giant and red balloons and banners with anti-impeachment words. João Souza Neto, a 47-year-old metalworker, said the rally was a protest against the coup and in support for democracy. For Raimundo Bonfim, coordinator of the Popular Movements Union, there are no legal grounds for impeachment. “We're confident that [the impeachment] will not happen. And if it does, [Vice-President] Temer will be off to a bad start with an illegitimate government,” he said.
In Rio de Janeiro, protesters staged a pro-government rally in Largo da Carioca, in the city center. The main appearance in the evening was the legendary singer-songwriter, Chico Buarque, who was cheered by the crowd.
In Porto Alegre, protesters against impeachment occupied the so-called Democracy Corner with flags of the Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST), the Central Workers' Union (CUT), and women's, black and LGBT movements. The chair of the Union of Blacks for Equality in Rio Grande do Sul, Elisa Vargas, said the anti-government protests are mostly white and rich people who do not represent a majority of Brazilian people. “If you look at the right-wing rallies, you won't find [people like] us there. We are a majority of the population, and we elected Dilma,” she said.
In Salvador, representatives of worker unions, social movements, and civil society marched through the city center. A float drove along from where they made speeches in support for President Rousseff. Police say about 12,000 people were there.
In Fortaleza, Ceará, about 10,000 anti-impeachment protesters marched evoking the consequences of the 1964 military coup. Manuel Fonseca, a 70-year-old doctor, was at the rally. He says he was a victim of the military dictatorship. “There are similarities between the military coup and what's happening today, an attempt to disrupt the rule of law. We don't want the younger generations to go through that too. We are fighting for freedom again,” he said.
In Recife, Pernambuco, there were banners and posters calling for the resignation of the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, and of Vice-President Michel Temer. Other messages extolled public policies created by the ruling Workers' Party. Most of the protesters were wearing red, but many were dressed in white and carrying flags of Brazil. During the march, many people expressed support from their apartment windows.
The demonstration in the capital of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, was organized by an association of artists and named “Chant for Democracy”. Musicians, politicians, and social movement leaders shared a stage at Station Square in the city center. According to police, there were 10,000 people. Organizers estimate 40,000.
From the stage, Bruno Tonelli, 29, of Tribalzen music group, said he could see “whites, blacks, Indians, reds, yellow-greens, all colors and races mixed up together standing up for something we have only achieved very recently in Brazil i.e. democracy.”
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Agência Brasil.