Disgruntled Brazilians took to the streets Sunday to express their discontent with a poor economy and corrupt officials, but not in a massive number the government had feared.
Anti-government protests took place in more than 180 cities across the country, Brazil’s G1 news website reported, with the largest in Sao Paulo, the country’s most populous city.
The Datafolha polling firm estimated 135,000 people gathered in Sao Paulo, while organizers put the number at a million and police put the number at 350,000, reported G1.
Sunday’s protests, the third of their kind this year, attracted fewer people than those in March, which gathered 1.5 million nationwide.
The protests had been expected — mainly thanks to media hype and a vociferous right-wing — to be large enough to possibly force the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, who is admittedly suffering from abysmal approval ratings that have dipped below 10 percent.
Pre-protest coverage, in fact, was so aggressive that Rousseff had to go on the defensive, announcing she had no intention of stepping down.
“It’s not possible that someone wants to take down a president elected by popular vote, just for disagreeing with some policies and procedures,” she said in a televised interview earlier this week.
A poor economy has forced Rousseff to cut back on public sector spending in her second term, marking a significant departure from her left-leaning government’s initial years, during which generous social programs succeeded in lifting tens of thousands out of poverty.
She has also had the misfortune of presiding over politics as Brazil’s biggest public sector corruption scandal unfolds and the disappointment runs much deeper.
Rousseff has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but the conservative opposition — still wincing from its scant loss to the ruling Worker’s Party in past presidential elections — wants her crucified nevertheless.
The president has also come under fire from former members of the ruling leftist coalition who are trying to distance themselves from her government, perhaps for future political cachet.
She went on the offensive last week, meeting with legislators to shore up support in the lead-up to the protests.
Rousseff had acknowledged the crisis and was betting on dialogue and negotiation to help overcome widespread discontent, said Social Communications Minister Edinho Silva. Enditem