Thousands march in Brazil against Rousseff, corruption

AFP , Sunday 7 Dec 2014

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff waves during a Christmas performance by people who recycle trash and member of the homeless in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Around 5,000 demonstrators marched Saturday through downtown Sao Paulo against government corruption and the recent re-election of President Dilma Rousseff.

The march, widely championed by opposition supporters, is the fifth of its kind in the weeks following Rousseff's October 26 re-election to a second four-year term.

Demonstrators carrying signs calling for a coup broke away from the main march and took an alternate path after several minutes of tension, according to police, who said the group totaled around 400 people.

One of the march's organizers, the VemPraRua (Come Down to the Streets) group, had sent out a call for a peaceful protest after supporters in favor of a return to the country's former military regime showed up in previous marches.

Protesters, who numbered around 5,000 according to police, had the support of defeated center-right opposition candidate Aecio Neves, who posted a video urging participation.

"We've already said the Petrobras scandal was the biggest corruption case in the history of Brazil, but the list is growing and we are learning it was not only at Petrobras," Neves said.

Rousseff's government is mired in a huge corruption scandal at state-owned oil giant Petrobras that has already led to the arrests of a clutch of top businessmen amid claims that dozens of politicians, chiefly Rousseff allies, received massive kickbacks on contracts.

In addition, some of Brazil's top companies, mainly construction firms, have become embroiled in the scandal and police have questioned dozens of suspects who have roundly denied accusations of wrongdoing.

"More than ever, we need to be mobilized. This is our weapon: our mobilization and our ability to be outraged," Neves said.

Residents of Sao Paulo, the richest and most populous city in Brazil, cast more than 60 percent of their votes for Neves in the election's second round.

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