Over a Million Brazilians Protest in Light of Multibillion-Dollar Corruption Scandal
By admin March 17, 2015



Over one million Brazilians marched peacefully on Sunday in over 22 states and 50 cities around Brazil in discontent of a sluggish economy, rising prices, corruption and demand for President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. It has been estimated 15,000 people marched along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, 45,000 people gathered on the Ministries’ Esplanade, and 24,000 people demonstrated in Belo Horizonte. The biggest protests were in Sao Paulo where almost one million people gathered on a main avenue, as well as in the capital city Brasilia. Many of the protesters waved Brazilian flags, wore the yellow shirts of the national football team, and shouted slogans against corruption and the Workers’ Party government. A few protesters even called for military intervention to end the Workers Party’s (PT) 12 years in power.

The majority of protesters were focused on a multibillion-dollar corruption and money laundering scandal at a state-run energy company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Over 3.6 million Euros were paid in bribes and other funds by the nation’s biggest construction and engineering firms in exchange for inflated Petrobras contracts, making it the biggest corruption scandal to date. The protesters believe that the president knew about the corruption scandal in the state oil firm because the alleged bribery took place when she was head of the company.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court approved the investigation of 54 people for their alleged involvement in the Petroleo money-laundering scheme. The investigation found that high-profile politicians also took a share of the money siphoned off from the oil company. The list includes Senate President Renan Calheiros, President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha, former Energy Minister Edison Lobao and former President Fernando Collor de Mello, but they all deny corruption allegations. What angers the protesters most is that Rousseff has been exonerated in an investigation by the attorney general and denies involvement.

There has been a buildup of events in the Brazilian economy that has added fuel to the fire. Brazilian growth has weakened since Rousseff took office in 2011 and has likely entered a recession in 2014. Most economists surveyed by the Central Bank forecasted negative growth for Brazil this year. In addition, inflation is rising, and the local currency has plummeted against the dollar in recent weeks, the real currency has lost 30% of its value against the dollar in the last 12 months. Government deficits have widened, and the overall cost of living is becoming more expensive in Brazil. In response to these changes in the economy, President Rousseff has pledged to implement austerity measures to end the government’s rising debt, but this has been highly criticized.

Many Brazilian political figures, such as the former president and the top candidates who ran against Rousseff in last year’s election believe impeachment will have a negative impact. As the president has already been exonerated of any connection to the Petroleo Brasileiro scandal, an impeachment could negatively influence Brazil’s stability, development, and trade with other nations.


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