Brasilia: Brazilians marched across the country Sunday, protesting against corrupt politicians and what they see as attempts by Congress to shut down a huge anti-graft probe.
Dressed overwhelmingly in the green and yellow national colors and waving the Brazilian flag, thousands of demonstrators flocked to a beachside avenue in Rio’s posh Copacabana, outside Congress in the capital Brasilia, and to the center of the country’s financial powerhouse Sao Paulo.
The peaceful crowds expressed support for Operation Car Wash, a probe that has uncovered mass embezzlement by politicians and top executives at state oil company Petrobras and other businesses.
“Car Wash — protected by the people,” read one placard in Rio carried by a man wrapped in the Brazilian flag.
Demonstrators were furious at a vote earlier this week by the lower house of Congress — where many deputies are themselves suspects in criminal probes — to weaken a long-planned anti-corruption bill and to intimidate judges and prosecutors.
The vote, which took place while most Brazilians slept during the early hours of Wednesday, prompted prosecutors from the Car Wash case to threaten resignation.
In Rio, protesters lauded Sergio Moro, the judge heading Car Wash cases, chanting: “Moro, fighter for the Brazilian people.” “We trust in Moro,” read placards in Sao Paulo.
Latin America’s biggest country has been in turmoil all year.
Car Wash revelations have already brought down major political and business figures, the economy is in its worst recession in decades, and in August the leftist president Dilma Rousseff was impeached and replaced by center right veteran Michel Temer, triggering nationwide tensions.
The protesters’ main villain on Sunday was the powerful Senate speaker, Renan Calheiros, who this week attempted to hold a lightening quick vote to confirm the lower house’s controversial corruption bill, but had to retreat. Calheiros also faced a ruling this week by the Supreme Court that he must stand trial on multiple corruption charges.
This rage could be bad news for Temer, who came to power with promises of putting a broken Brazil back together.
“Right now there’s a perception that the main target of the demonstrations is the Senate president, Renan Calheiros,” Camarotti wrote. “But there’s a private recognition that this wave of protests could rapidly reach the president of the republic.”