Brazil­ians protest against pres­i­dent over run­away cor­rup­tion, re­ces­sion

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY NATALIA RAMOS

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of protesters de­manded Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff’s res­ig­na­tion Sun­day, blam­ing her and the left­ist Work­ers’ Party for run­away cor­rup­tion and loom­ing re­ces­sion in Latin Amer­ica’s big­gest coun­try.

Crowds singing the na­tional an­them and chant­ing “Dilma out!” pa­raded through the cap­i­tal Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, the coun­try’s largest city Sao Paulo and else­where across Brazil.

With some counts still in­com­plete, the G1 news site re­ported the latest po­lice es­ti­mate for turnout to be 866,000 in dozens of cities and towns.

Or­ga­niz­ers claimed a to­tal of 1.9 mil­lion, in­clud­ing a mil­lion in Sao Paulo, where po­lice counted only 350,000.

It was the third ma­jor an­tiRouss­eff protest this year, with 600,000 de­mon­stra­tors tak­ing to the streets in April and at least one mil­lion in March.

Less than a year into her sec­ond term, Rouss­eff is all but a lame duck, with the op­po­si­tion con­sid­er­ing con­tro­ver­sial im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, and the coun­try’s elite caught in a vast em­bez­zle­ment scan­dal cen­tered on state-oil com­pany Petro­bras.

“We can’t take this cor­rup­tion any longer,” said Roge­rio Che­quer, leader of the Vem Pra Rua (Go on the Streets) group, which helped or­ga­nize the protests.

“If Congress has even a min­i­mum of sense, it will de­cide on im­peach­ment,” he said at the Sao Paulo march, where many in the crowd wore the na­tional football team’s fa­mous yel­low shirt.

Rouss­eff, a for­mer left­ist guer­rilla, has likened im­peach­ment threats to a coup plot and in­sists she will not be forced from of­fice.

Late Sun­day, her spokesman Ed­inho Silva said “the gov­ern­ment sees these demon­stra­tions

as part of nor­mal democ­racy.”

Cor­rup­tion and Car­ni­val

These are dark days for Brazil, which hosts the Sum­mer Olympics in Rio next year.

The world’s sev­enth- largest econ­omy is slid­ing into re­ces­sion, its credit rat­ing re­duced to near junk sta­tus.

Aus­ter­ity mea­sures have re­placed the eco­nomic go- go years fu­eled by Chi­nese de­mand for com­modi­ties, while the ever- ex­pand­ing Petro­bras bribes and em­bez­zle­ment probe is fu­el­ing a deep po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

Pros­e­cu­tors have brought charges against a who’s who of Brazil­ian movers and shakers, in­clud­ing the bil­lion­aire head of the global con­struc­tion com­pany Ode­brecht and a navy ad­mi­ral once tasked with over­see­ing a se­cret nu­clear pro­gram.

Rouss­eff’s Work­ers’ Party has been badly hit by the scan­dal and she has been tainted by as­so­ci­a­tion, even if not di­rectly im­pli­cated.

Her party’s trea­surer was among those ar­rested in April.

The bois­ter­ous but peace­ful crowds in towns and cities across the coun­try pinned the blame on Rouss­eff, il­lus­trat­ing how Brazil’s “Iron Lady” has be­come the least pop­u­lar pres­i­dent in mod­ern times, with sin­gle- digit rat­ings.

In Rio, there was a car­ni­val­like mood. Samba mu­sic blasted, some protesters car­ried surf­boards, oth­ers rode skate­boards and many wore biki­nis or bathing suits.

But protesters said their op­po­si­tion to Rouss­eff and the Work­ers’ Party is se­ri­ous.

“They’re loot­ing Brazil, steal­ing ev­ery­thing,” said Jorge Por­tu­gal, 63, who is re­tired from a job in mar­ket­ing.

In Brasilia, re­tired engi­neer Elino Alves de Mo­raes, 77, called for Rouss­eff and her “gang” to be jailed.

At a rally in Belo Hor­i­zonte, the man who nar­rowly lost to Rouss­eff in her deeply di­vi­sive 2014 re­elec­tion, Ae­cio Neves, said the protests show that “Brazil has wo­ken up.”

But one of the most pop­u­lar he­roes for the op­po­si­tion masses was not Neves or even a politi­cian — it was Ser­gio Moro, the 43- year- old judge han­dling the Petro­bras cases.

“We are all Moro,” plac­ards read, and “Power to Ser­gio Moro!”

“Judge Moro is the coun­try’s sal­va­tion,” said one Sao Paulo pro­tester, Jose Fre­itas, 88.

Im­peach­ment Threat

Rouss­eff is strug­gling to stay afloat. The ques­tion is whether op­po­nents dare drag her all the way down.

A key fig­ure in her frag­ile gov­ern­ing coali­tion, House Speaker Ed­uardo Cunha, de­fected in July and is con­sid­er­ing whether to pull the trig­ger on im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings.

An­a­lysts say Cunha — un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­legedly de­mand­ing a US$5 mil­lion bribe — is wait­ing to be sure that Congress would fol­low his lead, while Rouss­eff is rac­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a truce.

One pos­si­ble re­lief for her came ear­lier this week when she and Se­nate Pres­i­dent Re­nan Cal­heiros — un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the Petro­bras af­fair — agreed to mar­ket- pleas­ing re­forms.

The deal took Rouss­eff ever fur­ther from her so­cial­ist roots, but could help lure her rightwing op­po­nents from the cliff edge.

“The mid­dle classes want to kick her out of power in any way, but to what end?” asked An­dre Per­feito, head economist at Grad­ual In­ves­ti­men­tos.

“In busi­ness cir­cles and the elite, there’s an idea that it would be even worse if she left. It doesn’t mean they’re for Rouss­eff, but that get­ting rid of her would be even riskier.”

Cap­tured from the In­ter­net

The Shin Kong Mit­sukoshi Depart­ment Store Hs­inYi A8 is seen in this Oct. 4, 2008 photo up­loaded to the Wiki­me­dia Com­mons by user kiri­gakure­tora. Shin Kong Life an­nounced yesterday that it plans to sell the shop­ping cen­ter in Taipei’s eastern com­mer­cial dis­trict with a start­ing bid of NT$28 bil­lion. As the unit is leased with a re­turn on in­vest­ment of 2.5 per­cent, it of­fers po­ten­tial against com­peti­tors in high­end dis­tricts of both Sin­ga­pore and Hong Kong, which have re­turn rates of 1.5 to 2.4 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. The auc­tion for the prop­erty will be held on Oct. 20.

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