Demonstrators march in Brazil to support corruption crackdown

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2016 10:45 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Demonstrators marched in major cities across Brazil on Sunday, protesting government corruption and a recent vote in Congress that was widely perceived as an effort to intimidate judges and prosecutors currently leading graft probes.

Dressed mostly in the national colors of yellow and green, thousands of residents of Rio de Janeiro gathered along the city's Copacabana waterfront waving banners with messages like "Thieves Out!" and "We are all Sergio Moro," the judge who has overseen a historic corruption investigation that has jailed dozens of political and corporate chieftains.

The demonstrations, also underway in cities like São Paulo and Brasília, are smaller than some of the massive marches that erupted across Brazil in recent years as an economic boom soured into recession and citizens grew frustrated with corruption and once-successful leftist policies that exhausted public finances.

Those problems this year helped topple former President Dilma Rousseff, formally impeached for breaking budget rules, and now plague the nascent administration of President Michel Temer, her conservative successor and a politician who many Brazilians already complain inspires little hope for change.

"The struggle has to continue," says Iara Soares, a 56-year-old schoolteacher at Rio's beachside march, wearing a cape-like Brazilian flag over her shoulders. "We need a real renovation of the political class."

Temer, who took over for Rousseff amid impeachment proceedings last May, has already lost four cabinet members to corruption allegations.

Last week, Brazil's Supreme Court indicted Renan Calheiros, the president of the Senate and a member of Temer's grab-bag Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, over long-standing graft charges.

Then there was the uproar over a hasty, late-night vote last week by the lower house of Congress to gut what originally was supposed to be an anti-corruption bill and amend it with clauses that would enable prosecutors and judges to be punished for alleged abuses of authority.

"Our politicians are used to doing whatever is in their own interests, not the people's," said Wagner Carneiro, 51, a civil service worker at the Rio demonstration. "We have to continue to be heard."

(Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Mary Milliken)