Brazilian anti-austerity protests draw low turnout

AFP , Friday 30 Jun 2017

Riot police stand in front of burning barricade during a protest against President Michel Temer's proposed economic reforms in Sao Paulo, Brazil June 30, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

Demonstrators in major Brazilian cities snarled rush hour traffic Friday to protest austerity measures introduced by embattled President Michel Temer, but turnout was weak.

Groups of little more than 20 set fires to road barricades in Sao Paulo before being dispersed by police firing stun grenades. Protesters also were able to spark huge traffic jams in Rio de Janeiro by lighting car tires on highways.

Workers at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo demonstrated in a hall, waving banners calling for Temer to step down, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported.

More protests were announced for later in the day. However, the failure of major transport unions to join the action meant that an earlier call for a nationwide general strike had to be cancelled.

The apparent apathy masks deep anger on the left over Temer's reforms and almost unanimous dislike for his government.

Temer, who has only seven percent approval ratings, is battling for his political life after being charged with taking bribes. Congress is due to start deliberating on whether to accept the charge, meaning Temer would be put on trial at the Supreme Court.

The center-right president, who has made business friendly economic reforms his priority, says he has enough support in the lower house of Congress to have the charge thrown out.

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