Tag Archive | "brazil"

Brazil: PT Senate Leader Arrested in Connection With Petrobras Scandal

Delcídio do Amaral, PT Senator (Photo via Wikipedia)

Delcídio do Amaral, PT Senator (Photo via Wikipedia)

Senator Delcídio do Amaral, leader of Dilma Rousseff’s Worker’s Party (PT) in the Brazilian senate, was arrested today on charges of obstructing operation ‘Lava Jato’ (car wash), the Supreme Court (STF) investigation into a multibillion dollar corruption scheme at state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

Petrobras is considered Brazil’s largest ever corruption scandal. More than 40 people have been charged so far, with dozens of senior politicians and businessman under investigation, accused of colluding with Petrobras executives to receive illicit payments of over US$2bn.

Amaral became the first sitting senator to be arrested in the country as federal police, under orders from the STF, took him into custody at the Golden Tulip Hotel.

Also arrested today was multi-billionaire banker André Esteves, chief executive of the country’s largest investment bank, Banco BTG Pactual.

“[Mr Esteves] was arrested because he was allegedly involved in irregularities in operation Lava Jato,” said an STF spokesperson. “[Mr Amaral] was arrested because he was allegedly obstructing the investigations,” adding that Amaral’s arrest was “preventative”.

The minister in charge of the STF operation, Teori Zavascki, said he ordered the arrest to prevent Amaral from influencing Néstor Cervero, an ex-director of Petrobras who is currently negotiating a reduced sentence with court in exchange for his cooperation.

Zavascki said that the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) has evidence that Amaral offered Cerveró’s family 50,000 reais (around US$13,000) a month if he chose not to make a deal with the court.

According to the MPF, these payments were due to be financed by Esteves.

Financial markets reacted badly to the arrests, with the real weakening 1.9% against the US dollar to R$3.77 as fears spread of an aggravation to Brazil’s political and economic difficulties. Share prices in BTG fell 19.33% after news of Esteves’ arrest.

Amaral’s implication in the scandal is the latest in a string of Petrobras-related accusations against members of the PT, including former president Lula da Silva’s cabinet chief José Dirceu, which have contributed to the political crisis faced by President Dilma Rousseff.

Re-elected in October 2014, Rousseff ends the first year of her second term amid impeachment threats and approval ratings of just 10% while the Brazilian economy continues to flounder.

Senate president Renan Calheiros, from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) said that this Wednesday’s senate session, in which new budget laws and fiscal targets for 2016 were due to be discussed, has been suspended.

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Brazil: Mining Waste Reaches Coast After Dam Collapse

Rio Doce river mouth (photo: Fred Loureiro/Secom ES via Agencia Brasil)

Rio Doce river mouth (photo: Fred Loureiro/Secom ES via Agencia Brasil)

Contaminated mudflow from a catastrophic dam collapse in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais is spreading along the Brazilian coast, with Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira warning of “the worst environmental disaster Brazil has ever faced”.

The mud has travelled 650 kilometres down the Rio Doce river from the Fundão iron mine where a tailing dam, designed to hold waste from iron mining, burst on 5th November. Sixty-two million cubic metres of mud were released, destroying the nearby town of Bento Rodrigues and leaving at least 12 people dead and a further 11 missing.

The mine is operated by Samarco, a joint venture between Brazilian company Vale and Anglo-Australian mining giants BHP Billiton.

Images showing a massive area of reddish-brown mud off the coast of Espírito Santo state went viral yesterday on social media as local authorities cut off access to the Regência and Povoação beaches.

A 10km stretch of the Brazilian coast is currently affected, but it is predicted that this will grow to 40km as the mud moves up the coast. Biologists warn that it could take 30 years to clean up the river basin.

Over 280,00 people remain dependent on bottled water, after the national water agency banned the use of water from the Rio Doce following contamination fears from mud, which contains toxic levels of mercury, arsenic, and chromium.

The mud could also severely reduce oxygen levels and alter the water’s pH, threatening aquatic life including fish, turtles, whales, and dolphins. Fears have been raised over the risks to the Comboios nature reserve, which for 35 years has been a protected-nesting ground for the endangered leather-back turtle and which lies in the path of the mudflow.

“I don’t know what to say,” Joca Thome, coordinator of the turtle protection agency TAMAR, told local media yesterday after flying over the mudflow in a helicopter. “It’s terrible. It’s a calamity. It looks like brown gelatine spreading into the sea”

Minister Texeira highlighted the risks to local economies, saying, “We have to attend to the workers whose livelihoods are based on the river, like the fishermen. They need help and we are giving it to them.”

Dead fish began washing up on the coast on Sunday, and the State Institute for the Environment (Iema) has warned that the few fish who have survived are too weakened by pollution to repopulate the river.

Samarco has erected 9km of floating barriers to protect the river bank and is contracting local fishermen to bury dead fish and diggers to widen the mouth of the river, allowing the mud to disperse into the sea as quickly as possible.

The company has been fined US$66m by Brazil’s Federal environmental agency and will contribute US$250m in cleanup costs.

Fears have been raised that the rain season, which lasts until March, may aggravate the situation as more mud which remains lodged near the site of the collapse and could be washed into the river by rain.

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Brazil: Impeachment Threat for Rousseff as Auditors Reject Budget

A unanimous vote by the Brazilian federal accounts court rejected President Dilma Rousseff’s 2014 budget accounts on Wednesday, giving opponents a cause to impeach her.

Rousseff was accused of manipulating the budget to hide a growing deficit during the 2014 election, which she won by a 3.2% margin.

Brasília - A presidenta Dilma Rousseff  anuncia mudanças em seu ministério , durante  declaração à imprensa no Palácio do Planalto (Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

Brasília – A presidenta Dilma Rousseff anuncia mudanças em seu ministério , durante declaração à imprensa no Palácio do Planalto (Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

A report by the auditors suggested the financial juggling was done by delaying payments to fund social programs and instead keeping the money in public banks. In doing so, it looked as if there was more money than there actually was in the public coffers.

This is the first time in close to 80 years that the fiscal auditors have ruled against a president.

The government said it will appeal the federal accounts court’s decision, which is not legally binding.

In the meantime it will be sent to Congress to vote on the ruling. If it is supported, the president could be charged with a “crime of responsibility.”

“This establishes that they doctored fiscal accounts, which is an administrative crime and President Rousseff should face an impeachment vote,” said the leader of the opposition Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), Carlos Sampaio in an interview with Reuters.

PSDB senator Aécio Neves, who ran against Rousseff in the 2014 election, also said that his party would vote to impeach the president.

Rousseff accused segments of the opposition of trying to provoke a ‘democratic coup’, and of using impeachment as a political tool.

The ruling represents another blow to Rousseff’s popularity. The president is already facing growing criticism because of the ongoing Petrobras scandal and a poor economic situation, which has seen her approval rating plummet.

In another setback for the president this week, a separate investigation by the state’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal has begun looking into allegations that Rousseff received illegal campaign financing from the state-owned oil company Petrobras.

If Rousseff is found guilty of this she would be implicated in the Petrobras scandal. The scandal cost billions of dollars and involved executives from the oil company allegedly offering benefits in exchange for overpriced contracts.

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Brazil: Rousseff Announces Major Cabinet Reshuffle

Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has announced sweeping changes to the government’s administrative structure, including eliminating eight cabinet positions and replacing her chief of staff.

The move comes in the wake of Brazil’s continuing economic and political crisis that has left Rousseff’s popularity at an all time low.

Brasília - A presidenta Dilma Rousseff  anuncia mudanças em seu ministério , durante  declaração à imprensa no Palácio do Planalto (Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

Brasília – A presidenta Dilma Rousseff anuncia mudanças em seu ministério , durante declaração à imprensa no Palácio do Planalto (Antonio Cruz/Agência Brasil)

Rousseff’s announcement proposes a multifaceted attempt to tackle the government’s fiscal woes. On the one hand, it seeks to lower the government’s overall expenditures on employee salaries. In addition to eliminating eight cabinet positions, Rousseff announced a 10% cut to minister’s wages, the dismissal of 30 secretariats, and the elimination of over 3,000 government jobs. She also announced that she and the vice-president would reduce their salaries by 10%.

“Other countries have built and are building modern states. Those modern states are efficient,” Rousseff said in her address. “The Brazilian state needs to be prepared to assume a double function: assuring the equality of opportunity and elevating the competitiveness of the state.”

She continued, stressing that: “We need to place the State’s interests above individual interests…These are the foundations of a new growth cycle.”

Aside from relieving pressure on public finances, Rousseff’s plan hopes to mend divisions between her party, Partido de los Trabajadores (PT), and centrist ally, Partido del Movimiento Democrático Brasileño (PMDB).

The PMDB is centrist umbrella party that currently holds power in most regional and provincial governments. The PMDB also maintains the largest minorities in both houses of Congress.

Rousseff said that PMDB representatives would take over as heads of the Health Ministry and the Science & Technology Ministry. This means that PMDB representatives now control 9 of the 31 remaining ministries.

Rousseff also replaced her chief of staff with defence minister, Jaques Wagner.

The president remains highly dependent on the backing of the PMDB to garner greater support in Congress, especially as rumours of a possible impeachment circle in the nation’s legislative body.

Notably, Rousseff did not announce any changes to her financial team, leaving Joaquim Levy on as Finance Minister to deal with one of Brazil’s worst economic crises in decades.

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Brazil: Guaraní Communities Suffer String of Violent Attacks

Guaraní tribes in central Brazil have been hit by a wave of attacks from armed militias after reclaiming parts of their ancestral land.

Guaraní-Kaiowa communities in the state of Matto Grosso do Sul have denounced a lack of aid from security forces after weeks of violence and threats from landowners who claim they are occupying the territories illegally.

Leaders of several indigenous tribes protest the killing of Guarani-kaiowá leader Simeão Vilhalva (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

Leaders of several indigenous tribes protest the killing of Guarani-kaiowá leader Simeão Vilhalva (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

An attack on the Nanderu Marangatu community on 29th August culminated in the killing of leader Simião Vilhalva and the injuring of many others, including a one-year-old baby. Less than a week later, 30 vehicles carrying gunmen and ranchers surrounded the Guyra Kambi’y community in the state’s Dourados region and opened fire on the group of around 20 families.

“They came and started to shoot with fire arms,” said leader Ezequiel Guyra Kambi’y. “Our warriors began to pull back, but they kept pushing, driving some of their vans towards us and shooting […] We had to run away and hide in the forest.” According to the Guyra Kambi’y, the militia then set fire to their homes and possessions, destroying everything.

Several other Guaraní communities in the region have been threatened with further attacks.

Though the Justice Ministry has held meetings with both indigenous and landowner groups in an attempt to resolve the issue, Cléber Buzatto, executive secretary of the indigenous council Cimi, has criticised a lack of government intervention in the conflict.

Buzatto told Rádio Brasil Atual, “What worries us a great deal is that the National Public Security Force [Força Nacional] is not there. It’s worrying because we will continue to see similar cases – the communities remain at the mercy of these attacks.”

Attention was drawn to the current wave of intimidation and violence in mid-August when the UN presented an urgent appeal to the Brazilian government to aid indigenous communities under threat of forced eviction.

Plans to mark out ancestral lands for indigenous communities’ exclusive use by 1993, under Article 67 of the Brazilian Constitution’s Act of Transitional Dispositions, have been stalled and much of this territory remains occupied by agricultural processes such as cattle raising and sugarcane, soya, and corn plantations.

Buzatto maintains that the successful demarcation of these lands is essential to put a stop to the “violence and violation of rights” that the Guaranís are suffering.

Many indigenous leaders and activists have been killed in attempts to reclaim and protect lands which have historically belonged to their communities. In December 2013 Ambrósio Vilhalva, a Guaraní leader and film star, was murdered after decades of activism on behalf of the Guyra Roká community. Last year Brazil came top of a list of the most dangerous countries for environmental activists produced by Global Witness.

Several organisations, including Survival International and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders have launched campaigns calling for the Brazilian government to address the attacks on Guaranís and move forward in their restoration of indigenous lands.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Brazil: Government Announces Massive Austerity Package

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff (Photo: wikimedia commons)

Brazil announced US$17bn worth of austerity measures Monday in an effort to aid its foundering economy.

“These are major corrections,” said finance minister Joaquim Levy.

Latin America’s largest country is in the midst of a recession. And with its credit rating recently downgraded to junk status by Standard & Poor’s, there are fears that investors will run if another rating agency downgrades the country of 200 million people.

The austerity package will target the public sector heavily. Planning minister Nelson Barbosa announced cuts to 1,000 jobs as well as salary and hiring freezes and eliminating ten government ministries out of the existing 39.

There will also be cuts to housing and health-related spending, prompting concerns that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s voter base that relies on social assistance could balk.

“These are measures that are quite unpopular. And they are going to affect the support that (Rousseff)’s government still has, especially among lower-income people,” economist Felipe Queiroz told AFP.

“Austerity (makes sense) to maintain a budget surplus like the ratings agencies want, but that is going to contract economic activity even more,” he added.

The government forecast its GDP to shrink by 1.49% this year, and announced last month that the recession could last through 2016, which would make it the longest since 1931.

The beleaguered president has seen her approval rating sink into the single digits because of rising inflation, unemployment, the recession and corruption allegations from the Petrobras scandal.

There have been widespread protests in recent months calling for Rousseff to step down.

Leftist groups have also criticised the government’s recent austerity measures.

The Landless Workers Movement (MST) released a statement on Friday, before the latest austerity measures were announced, criticising the government’s economic policy.

“We recognise the existence of a global economic crisis, but we do not believe that the workers should pay this bill,” read one of the key points in the document. “We are against the austerity measures and consider that the Dilma government is implementing neoliberal adjustment measures that harm workers’ rights and slash social investments. We express our total disagreement with the current economic policy. And we demand that at least the president implements the program that got her elected.”

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Crisis in Brazil: A View from the Left

This is an exclusive English version of an article originally published in www.mst.org.br and Notas.

Faced with the complex situation that Brazil is currently going through, Giselene dos Santos, a leader with the left-wing social group Movimiento de los Sin Tierra (MST) analyses the current political climate and the marches from the political left and right this week.

The MST rally in Brazil (Photo via MST)

The MST rallying in Brazil (Photo via MST)

One side calls for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, part of a discourse of hate such as that seen in last Sunday’s marches. On the other side lie movements that are highly critical of the government’s economic policies – namely fiscal austerity and ‘Agenda Brasil’ – but also emphasise the defence of democracy and respect for the popular vote that elected Dilma as president for the second time. They marched on Thursday.

Giselene dos Santos, MST leader, analyses the current political climate and argues that the unity between organisations is “against the conservative measures and attacks on people’s rights coming from Congress, represented by the figure of Eduardo Cunha (Partido de Movimiento Democrático Brasileño, PMDB).” She also criticises the government’s economic policies. “We believe the solution [to the crisis] is found with the left, with the people in the streets and with popular reforms.”

What is your view on last Sunday’s protest march?

Everyone has the right to protest. But the ‘Dilma Out’ act represents a minority of the Brazilian public, a privileged middle class that doesn’t want to lose these privileges and feels threatened by the rise of the working class. It’s clear that those people want a government that widens the gap between the rich and the poor.

Do you think there is a real possibility of an impeachment?

We never thought that this was possible. This is because the social class that really runs the country – the large economic powers and financial capital – is already satisfied with this government since the start of its second term.

The current economic policies of the federal government, with interest rate hikes, labour market flexibilisation, cuts to social spending are those that benefits these groups who have the most political and economic power. For that they they are not interested in creating even more political instability without any certainty over the consequences it could bring.

Now, it’s a fact that some groups on the right do seek this impeachment. And for this they resort to a conservative, sometimes fascist, discourse, spreading a feeling of hate around society using generic issues such as corruption.

Who has benefitted the most from corruption throughout Brazil’s history? It was precisely the Brasilian bourgeoisie, made up of businessmen, bankers, land barons etc. For a corrupt person to exist there must be someone else who corrupts them.

A huge anti-government rally took place in Sao Paulo and across Brazil on Sunday. (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

A huge anti-government rally took place in Sao Paulo and across Brazil on Sunday. (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

In recent weeks there has been a change in the editorial line of mainstream media. Why do you think that is?

Beyond the pressure of those groups we talked about there are other factors that help explain this change in the ‘impeachment’ discourse.

The first could be that it is part of the strategy of the Globo media network, to push things right to the limit and then step aside, allowing the movement to continue of its own accord. That way Globo preserves its image – if there is a coup it could say that at the last moment it stood up for democracy and for the continuation of Dilma’s mandate.

Another issue is the overemphasis on the economic crisis. Even though this is true to an extent, it is not as serious as the media make it out to be. But pushing this issue so much can actually worsen the crisis, even harming the advertising revenues of the same media outlets.

A final point is the lack of consensus within the Brazilian Right in terms of what they would do if the president were removed from office. In other words, they haven’t been about to create political stability.

The government’s response to the political and economic crisis was the ‘Agenda Brazil’. How do you view this proposal?

The ‘Agenda Brazil’ is a trick, a step back for workers’ rights. Renan Calheiros, president of the Senate and the [opposition party] PMDB, does not represent the interests of Brazil. He represents the agenda of the major land owners, agribusinesses, corporations, banks, and a Senate that is not concerned about the Brazilian public and has no proposals to deal with the reality it faces.

The president saw the ‘Agenda Brazil’ as a way out of the political crisis that has gripped her administration since the start of her second term. But the Agenda is a setback for workers’ rights, healthcare, and the environment.

It strengthens, for example, the PL 4330 (now PLC 30), which allows for unrestricted outsourcing of labour, relaxes environmental laws for large development projects, blocks debate about the new Mining Code, and opens the way for agribusiness on land belonging to indigenous people.

Brazil's Senate. The MST says people don't feel represented by Congress anymore. (Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil)

Brazil’s Senate. The MST says people don’t feel represented by Congress anymore. (Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil)

So what is a possible way for the government to overcome this moment, and why haven’t they taken it?

President Dilma has to govern for those who voted for her at the ballot boxes. She must take a firm stance and amplify public policies rather than withdraw them, especially with regards labour rights.

In terms of the economic crisis, the government must put the burden on those who really owe the Brazilian people, taxing the rich, reforming the tax code – which is one of the most unfair in the world – lowering interest rates, and reinstalling the state as the driver of the Brazilian economy, favouring the productive – not the financial – market.

As for politics, we believe that only a deep reform of the political system can end with this distortion. No one feels represented by the National Congress anymore, and that’s because large corporation took control of the Brazilian electoral system through financing campaign funds.

What are the measures that political movements are taking to take a stand in this climate?

Firstly by informing the public so that they cannot be exploited or manipulated by the right, which is currently represented by the media. Secondly, by getting our members out on the streets to defend our rights. It’s not a coincidence that the ‘Anti-terrorist Law’ was created and approved – those on the right know that there are social organisations willing to fight against the capitalist and neo-liberal model.

Lastly, by building a popular national front for Brazil, uniting movements, unions, political parties, and diverse sectors of society. We need a vision for the country that consolidates democracy, increases worker rights, and guarantees public participation in the political life.

This Thursday diverse organisations have called the public out on the streets. What do you hope from this event? [Editor’s note: the article was written before the 20th August marches, in which tens of thousands came together in defence of democracy and/or to support President Rousseff.]

The second half of the year has start well. In first week of July we had a national day for the MST’s struggle, in which we occupied 13 buildings belonging to the Economy Ministry and marched in 18 states. A week later more than 70,000 women from rural areas marched in Brasilia in the ‘Marcha de las Margaritas’. This week we have mobilisations on 20th August, and on the 5th September we will launch the Frente Brasil Popular.

The popular forces are mobilising more and more to alter the correlation of forces in society, both with street marches and the creation of a united front to come up with a medium/long-term vision for the country.

A counter march to defend democracy and/or the president took place across Brazil on Thursday 20th August (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

A counter march to defend democracy and/or the president took place across Brazil on Thursday 20th August (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

The event on the 20th is the continuation of a series of marches that have brought together rural and urban social movements, political parties, and trade unions in the defence of our rights.

We march against the conservative measures and attack on rights coming from Congress, led by Eduardo Cunha. Another central point is our criticism of the government’s economic policy. We believe that the way out is with the Left, with the people out on the streets and popular reforms.

In other words, it will be another example of popular unity, of the fight against retreat in economic policy, and for the defence of democracy. We will be out on the streets through the country with concrete demands and objective, such as tax, agricultural, urban, educations, and political reform, and for the democratisation of the media.

Posted in Analysis, News From Latin America, TOP STORYComments (1)

Brazil: Loggers Blamed as Two More Indigenous Leaders Killed

Members of the Tupinambá community protest the killing of Adenilson da Silva Nascimento (Photo via Cimi)

Members of the Tupinambá community protest the killing of Adenilson da Silva Nascimento (Photo via Cimi)

Local indigenous groups and international NGOs have blamed illegal loggers in Brazil for the killing of two tribal leaders in the space of five days last week.

On 26th April, Eusébio Ka’apor (42) was shot in the back by hooded gunmen as he rode on a motorbike. A health worker and leader of the Ka’apor indigenous community, Eusébio had been an active part of the fight against illegal logging in the territory.

Members of the community in Alto Turiaçu, which lies in the north-eastern corner of the Amazon in the state of Maranhão, blamed loggers for the murder, according to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi). Soon after the killing, Eusébio’s son reported that a known local logger had warned him that others could suffer the same fate if the community did not allow logging activity to continue.

According to NGO Survival International, one Ka’apor leader said: “There have been constant death threats against us for a long time. Now they are even killing to intimidate us. They say it’s better that we release our wood than more people die. We don’t know what to do, because we have no protection. The state does nothing.”

Infuriated with a lack of state action, the community has chased loggers from the area and blocked access routes since 2013. Survival International called on Brazilian authorities to “bring Eusébio’s killers to justice, and to provide protection to the Ka’apor and [neighbouring tribe] Awá as a matter of urgency.”

A few days later on 1st May, Adenilson da Silva Nascimento (54), of Tupinambá ethnicity, was shot dead after being ambushed by three hooded men as he returned from a fishing excursion with his family. His wife suffered severe injuries to her legs in the attack, which took place in the southern part of Bahia state.

The area has also been plagued by violent land conflicts, with the Tupinambá community claiming that more than 24 people have been killed in the struggle to secure the official demarcation of their territory.

In response to the crime, several hundred members of the community blocked a highway bridge on Monday, demanding an audience with the Justice Ministry and National Indian Foundation (Funai).

Violent attacks against indigenous leaders and activists have becoming increasingly common in Brazil and around Latin America as farmers and companies seek to exploit the region’s abundant resources.

A recent report by Global Witness showed that Latin America remains by far the most dangerous region for land and environmental defenders, with Brazil topping the global rankings with 29 killings in 2014 alone.

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Brazil: Teachers’ Protest Leaves Scores Wounded

The protests culminated outside of the Paraná State Assembly

The protests culminated outside of the Paraná State Assembly

Thirteen people have been arrested and a further 213 injured after a teachers’ protest turned violent in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba yesterday.

Thousands of teachers, who had travelled from all over the state of Paraná to participate in the demonstration, protested the changes to their pension plans, which had been approved earlier that day by the state congress. Under the new law, which has yet to be signed off by the governor, teachers will have to start contributing to the pensions system with part of their salary.

Their demonstration turned violent when a group of teachers tried to break through a police barrier that had been set up around the legislature. Police reacted with tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets, causing teachers to respond with sticks and stones.

According to authorities, 20 police officers were also wounded in the confrontation.

The Paraná Teacher’s Union repudiated the police action in a statement: “Hundreds of police were deployed from all regions to the capital, just in order to ensure the vote took place. We could have found consensus with the proposal through dialogue, but the incompetence of the governor led to this confrontation.” The union also said that the strike continues.

The Department of Security has announced it will open an inquiry into yesterday’s events, which involved the participation of a total of 1,600 police officers.

The protest came after a state-wide teacher’s strike was announced on Saturday, which has left thousands of children without classes.

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Brazil: Nationwide Protests Call for Rousseff Ouster

Protesters gather in the capital Brasilia calling to oust President Dilma Rousseff (Photo: Agencia Brasil)

Protesters gather in the capital Brasilia calling to oust President Dilma Rousseff (Photo: Agencia Brasil)

On Sunday hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Brazilian cities — São Paulo, Rio de Janiero, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, among others — to protest against President Dilma Rousseff.

Estimates of the number of protesters vary wildly, with polling agency Datafolha saying 210,000 people gathered in Sao Paulo while the Military Police counted up to one million. The masses expressed their dissatisfaction with the government, corruption, and the deteriorating economic situation.

Many anti-government protesters carried signs with phrases along the lines of “PT out!”, which stands for Brazil’s ruling Partido dos Trabalhadores, and “Dilma out!”. Some even urged a “military intervention” to bring an premature end to Rousseff’s mandate.

O Globo noted that many protesters collectively sang the national anthem as they paraded the streets holding banners and Brazilian flags. Despite the crowd’s discontent, the protest was peaceful, without major incidents.

Brazil has experienced several waves of unrest in recent years, including an anti-government uprising sparked by a hike in public transport fares in 2013. The run up to the 2014 World Cup was also marked by several violent protests.

This time, a corruption scandal at Petrobras has stirred up fresh controversy. Brazil’s state-owned oil firm is suspected of channelling illicit funds to political parties, with dozens of high-level politicians being investigated for kickbacks.

In response to the protests, Brazil’s Minister of Justice, José Eduardo Cardozo, held a press conference on national TV where he informed viewers that the administration would announce “a set of measures to combat corruption and impunity” in the days to come. They will then be sent to Congress for approval.

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