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Montevideo, December 14th 2017 - 08:06 UTC

Chaos taking hold of Brazil; a desperate Temer calls in the military to restore order

Thursday, May 25th 2017 - 10:54 UTC
Full article 48 comments
Scuffles between police and protesters who tried to jump a cordon mushroomed into a series of clashes in which officers fired tear gas and pepper spray (Pic AP) Scuffles between police and protesters who tried to jump a cordon mushroomed into a series of clashes in which officers fired tear gas and pepper spray (Pic AP)
Local media, including Globo news, captured video images of military police firing pistols into the air. Protestors carried signs calling for “Out with Temer” Local media, including Globo news, captured video images of military police firing pistols into the air. Protestors carried signs calling for “Out with Temer”
A fire broke out in the Ministry of Agriculture, and demonstrators smashed windows and doors at other ministries. A fire broke out in the Ministry of Agriculture, and demonstrators smashed windows and doors at other ministries.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said troops were being sent to guard federal buildings, including the presidential palace. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said troops were being sent to guard federal buildings, including the presidential palace.

Brazil’s president ordered the military to restore order in the country’s capital Wednesday after some government ministries were evacuated during clashes between police and protesters who are seeking the leader’s ouster. Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched to Congress to protest economic reforms that President Michel Temer is pushing through and to demand he step down amid a corruption scandal.

 Scuffles between police and protesters who tried to jump a cordon mushroomed into a series of clashes in which officers fired tear gas and pepper spray to contain the crowd. Protesters set fires and used portable toilets as barricades.

Local media, including Globo news, captured video images of military police firing pistols into the air. The Secretariat of Public Security later issued a statement saying one person had been injured by a bullet but did not give any information on who fired the shot.

A fire broke out in the Ministry of Agriculture, and demonstrators smashed windows and doors at other ministries. Some government agencies were evacuated in response, the president’s office said.

In a brief national address during the unrest, Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said troops were being sent to guard federal buildings, including the presidential palace. The weeklong deployment was authorized by a presidential decree, which left open the possibility that soldiers could be used more widely in Brasilia. The decree said Jungmann would decide the scope.

“This mess, this mayhem is unacceptable,” Jungmann said. “President Temer will not allow that.” Jungmann added that soldiers had entered the Foreign Ministry, and televised images showed troops outside the presidential palace. In all, 1,500 will be deployed, the Defense Ministry said.

Temer is struggling to retain power after the release of a recording that appears to capture him approving hush money for a convicted former lawmaker. Brazil’s top court is investigating him for alleged obstruction of justice and involvement in passive corruption. The president has denied wrongdoing and said he will not resign.

His unusual decision to call in the military could heighten anger against the government if it is seen as the last gasp of a president trying to maintain his hold on power.

“This decree was never used in this context to protect an administration that is politically isolated,” said Newton de Oliveira, a professor and security specialist at Mackenzie University in Rio de Janeiro. He said he thought the supreme court might be called on to evaluate whether the move was constitutional.

Late Wednesday, Temer’s office issued a statement saying the move was necessary after violence had put the lives and safety of public servants at risk. It said the president had determined that using the country’s National Force, an elite police entity, would not have been sufficient. He also denied the move was unusual, it said.

“When order is re-established, the decree will be revoked,” the statement said. “The president of the republic underscores that he will not hesitate to exercise the authority given to his office whenever it is necessary.”

Many Brazilians already see Temer as illegitimate because he came to office after his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed. His popularly plummeted once he began governing as he tried to pass economic changes meant to jump-start the economy, which is in the deepest recession in a century. A series of corruption allegations that have swirled around him and his administration also disillusioned voters.

Now, with the latest allegations against Temer himself, many Brazilians have had enough. In the wake of the announcement on the use of the military, senior officials began distancing themselves from the decision.

“If this government cannot hold itself up, the armed forces will not hold up this government,” said Sen. Renan Calheiros, who is the whip for Temer’s party in the upper house but has increasingly challenged the president.

Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house of Congress, who had asked Temer to instead use the National Force, called the move “an excess” and said he hoped it wouldn’t last longer than a day.

The pressure on Temer to resign continued to ratchet up Wednesday. Federal police asked the president to submit to questioning, his defense team said in a statement, but a supreme court justice later determined the police did not have the right to do that.

Temer also lost yet another aide when Sandro Mabel resigned Wednesday, saying he needs to spend more time with his family. He is the latest in a string of aides and allies who have resigned or been fired amid corruption allegations.

With Brazil deeply divided and a political crisis deepening, a session of the lower house of Congress became chaotic, with opposition politicians surrounding the speaker’s desk in protest and holding signs saying Congress’ workings should be transparent. The Senate’s session also descended into chaos.

While Congress debated, 35,000 people were marching toward the chamber down a long avenue lined with the main government buildings, including the Supreme Court, the presidential palace and the ministries.

Protesters shouted “Out with Temer!” and carried signs calling for immediate direct presidential elections. If Temer resigned, the Constitution says Congress would elect the next president, who would hold power for the rest of his term, which runs to the end of 2018. But many Brazilians, disgusted with the political class, want a snap election.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • Jack Bauer

    For once BrassHole is right...the photo is from 2005....but it diminishes in nothing the vandalism and the chaos we saw yesterday...
    Anyway, 800 bus loads of idiots, from all parts of Brazil, descended on Brasília, coopted by the leftist unions (and paid for with the infamous “contribuição sindical” - the obligatory contribution to the unions by all registered workers, equal to 1 day's pay - supposed to be used to improve worker relations, not cause chaos), to protest against the (essential) reforms of the pension system and the labour laws....the unions are against the reforms because it takes their billions in funding away, which means that most of the union leaders will need to look for jobs, instead of sponging off the worker. Their motivation is obvious, and the idiots who support them are just being manipulated...
    The protest, sponsored by these criminals, caused extensive damage (total destruction) to the ground floors of 8 Ministry buildings, set 3 on fire, destroyed dozens of chemical toilets (setting them afire), destroying hundreds of road signs as well as public lighting ....not to mention that the police confiscated dozens of knives and drugs....but of course, it was meant to be peaceful, and it only wasn't because the nasty police intervened when the protesters started to damage / set fire to public buildings... some even invaded the Cathedral of Brasília...must have been to pray...

    May 25th, 2017 - 06:18 pm +2
  • Jack Bauer

    @McStink
    The only good news is that the JBS recordings that might well condemn Temer, if he is not ousted before by the TSE, is that the same whistle blower, Joesley Batista, who has screwed Temer, has also pushed Lula deeper in to the sh*t....If the prosecutors believe what he said about Temer, they'll believe what he said about Lula (and Dilma).
    Now, the fact that 99% of the 'nordestinos' reject Temer is nothing new....they'd reject anyone who took the place of their beloved “Nine”.....

    May 25th, 2017 - 10:08 pm +2
  • Don Alberto

    I have always been unable to understand the Latin American tendency to destroy their own country.


    I was there (for a brief moment) and clearly recall when porteños set fire to one of the railway stations in Buenos Aires, because the trains were delayed for two hours by a derailed train.

    May 25th, 2017 - 11:26 pm +1
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