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Hundreds Of Thousands Stage Massive Street Protests In Brazil, In Loud Call For Rousseff's...

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Back in August, we said that while there are all kinds of charts one could look at on the way to judging just how bad things have truly gotten in Brazil, the most important graphic of all may indeed be this one, which depicts the scope of the various street protests that took place in the country last year.

 

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Popular discontent with President Dilma Rousseff has waxed and waned over the last six months along with the prospects for the opposition’s impeachment bid. At times, it looked like Rousseff might be on her way out, but political wrangling and questions about whether House Speaker Eduardo Cunha - the lawmaker pushing hardest for the President’s ouster- accepted bribes complicated the process.

 

As Bloomberg wrote earlier this week, a string of recent events tied to the seemingly never-ending Carwash Probe - the 2-year long investigation into corruption involving Petrobras - have brought prosecutors ever closer to Rousseff. That, combined with the fact that the country is mired in a deep economic downturn characterized by double-digit inflation and soaring unemployment has the public at wit’s end.

 

“On Feb. 22, Rousseff’s top campaign strategist, João Santana, was arrested for allegedly receiving $7.5 million, [then] the magazine IstoE reported that the government’s former leader in the senate, Delcídio do Amaral, had alleged that Rousseff had pushed judges to release political allies imprisoned on charges of graft,” Bloomberg recounted. Finally, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was held for questioning and five days later, he was charged with money laundering.

 

The BRL soared on the news as the market apparently believed the chances that Rousseff would be impeached were meaningfully higher after Lula’s detention.

 

On Sunday, protesters have once again taken to the streets by the “hundreds of thousands” to call for Rousseff’s departure. “As of about 10 a.m. local time (9 a.m. ET), demonstrators in green and yellow, the colors of the Brazilian flag, had begun to amass in locations including Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach and at the National Museum in Brasilia, the nation’s capital,” Bloomberg reports. “Nearly 400,000 people had signed up on a Facebook page pledging to take part in opposition marches."

 

“The Sunday protests, if they are nationwide, will in many ways put spine in the opposition or take the spine out of the opposition,” Matthew Taylor, an associate professor at American University, told WSJ.

 

“You can see that I don’t look like one who is about to resign,” Rousseff, speaking at the presidential palace on Friday. “I won’t leave this post without reason.”

 

We're not sure what would count as a "good reason" in Rousseff's mind, but if "massive public outcry" qualifies, then she pretty clearly has cause to consider bowing out.

 

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As WSJ goes on to note, "four street marches between March and December drew ever-dwindling numbers of supporters [as] critics said the protests were devolving into carnivalesque parties."

 

“If you have few people on the streets, fewer people than in previous protests, it will be a bucket of cold water on the opposition,” Mendonça Filho, a federal legislator and coordinator of a pro-impeachment group said.

 

As in Venezuela - where street protests also broke out in recent days - patience has simply run out with the rather unpalatable combination of perceived corruption, incompetence, and an increasingly acute economic downturn. Stay tuned to see what the verdict is for today's demonstrations - if there's broad support here it could very well determine how the BRL behaves this week.

 

As for Rousseff, for now she's simply appealing to detractors and supporters alike not to hurt each other. "I am appealing for there not to be violence," she said late last night. "I think all people have a right to be on the streets. However, no one has a right to be violent. No one."

 

We shall see if her pleas are heeded.

 

 

 

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