Protests in Brazil against Dilma Rousseff

Monday, 14 March, 2016 - 11:15

Large demonstrations across Brazil are putting even more pressure on embattled President Dilma Rousseff as she heads into a tough week for her attempt to survive impeachment proceedings in Congress.

According to police estimates, a total of 3 million people took to the streets in 200 cities on Sunday calling on the President to resign amid widespread anger over corruption investigations and the worst recession in years.

Panel sometime this week

Sometime this week, Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha, a Rousseff foe, is expected to form a commission to begin impeachment proceedings over allegations of fiscal mismanagement.

He doesn’t have any say on the panel’s membership, but on Saturday members of his centrist PMDB party pledged to be more independent from Ms. Rousseff’s administration.

She won’t resign, own party pressures her

Ms. Rousseff, who has said she won’t resign, is also under pressure from members of her own Workers’ Party, whose leaders want her mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, to intervene by taking a Cabinet post and bringing in others of his choice.

Yet Mr. Silva is awaiting a decision by a Sao Paulo judge on whether he will be detained on corruption charges.

Sprawling probe glares

Sunday’s protests add to the already-difficult position of Ms. Rousseff, who in addition to the impeachment effort is faced with a sprawling investigation by federal prosecutors into corruption at state-run oil giant Petrobras that has moved closer to her inner circle in recent weeks.

In a statement after Sunday’s protests, Ms. Rousseff said: “The peaceful character of this Sunday’s demonstrations shows the maturity of a country that knows how to coexist with different opinions and knows how to secure respect to its laws and institutions.”

Sao Paulo sees mega protest

The biggest demonstration took place in Brazil’s economic capital, Sao Paulo, a bastion of simmering dissatisfaction with Ms. Rousseff and the Workers’ Party.

The respected Datafolha polling agency estimated about 5,00,000 people took part in the demonstration, while police estimated turnout at nearly three times that number.

One million join the protest

About 1 million people joined the anti-Rousseff demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, organisers estimated.

Analysts said the strong turnout could lead to the unravelling of her fragile governing coalition.

“There is a situation of ungovernability,” said Francisco Fonseca, a political science professor at Pontifical Catholic University in Sao Paulo. “The President has few cards.”