Protests in Brazil's 2 biggest cities against acting leader

AP News
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Posted: May 22, 2016 7:58 PM
Protests in Brazil's 2 biggest cities against acting leader

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil's two biggest cities Sunday to protest against acting President Michel Temer, trying to keep up pressure on his interim administration only 10 days after he was sworn in.

At least 2,000 protesters in Sao Paulo tried to march to Temer's residence but were blocked by police on neighboring roads. Led by the country's homeless movements, many decided to camp out only 300 meters (yards) from the house. The interim president had left for Brasilia hours earlier.

In Rio de Janeiro, about 1,000 protesters staged a march calling for Temer to resign.

Some protesters want suspended President Dilma Rousseff back. Temer replaced her after the Senate voted to suspend the president and put her on trial for allegedly breaking fiscal laws. If 54 of the 81 senators agree that she should be impeached, she would be permanently removed from office and Temer could hold the presidency through 2018.

Opinion polls say a majority of Brazilians want Rousseff and Temer impeached.

Some of the protesters Sunday called for new elections, a mechanism that is not in Brazil's electoral law at the moment.

Speaking near Temer's residence, homeless movement leader Guilherme Boulos said, "Mr. Temer's street is under siege by the Brazilian people and there will be no break until he is out."

"We will camp out as long as we need. This might be a fancy neighborhood, but now it will be all ours," Boulos told supporters over a speaker.

Temer has faced daily protests in Brazil's main cities since he took office. Artists, intellectuals and politicians both left-leaning and moderate have also rejected him acting as president, not only for their opposition to Rousseff's impeachment but also for Temer's naming of an all white-male Cabinet that is trying implement more conservative policies.

Protesters who have occupied a federal government building in Rio for a week has staged daily concerts against Temer and his administration. Among those that appeared are Grammy award winner Caetano Veloso and "City of God" actor and singer Seu Jorge. Neither are supporters of Rousseff's Worker's Party.

Sao Paulo also saw protests by artists in concerts organized this weekend by the administration of Mayor Fernando Haddad, a Rousseff ally. Even when singers did not call for Temer's resignation, those in the audience did.

Even before Temer took office, a poll said 58 percent of Brazilians wanted him impeached, too. A Supreme Court justice has ruled Temer could face impeachment proceedings for signing decrees of the same kind as those that led to the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, but that decision has yet to be ratified by a full court session.

Some of the protests against Temer were called by artists angered by his decision to fold the Culture Ministry into the Education Ministry under the control of a conservative politician with no experience in either area. On Saturday, Temer's administration announced he would re-establish the Culture Ministry, but critics said they would keep the pressure on him.