September 7 2016
Unelected President Michel Temer was greeted with shouts of “Out with Temer” upon his first public appearance in Brazil since being installed in office.
Demonstrators protest against President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 7, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday in over a dozen Brazilian cities for a national day of action dubbed the “Cry of the Excluded” to protest the country’s unelected government as President Michel Temer made his first public appearance one week after being installed in office.
OPINION: Democracy Is Dead in Brazil
Coinciding with Brazil’s independence and marked by shouts of slogans like “Out with Temer,” the marches protested the rollback in social programs and protection of human rights expected under the newly-inaugurated conservative government, which already began to implement an aggressive neoliberal agenda during its “interim” three months in office.
Living a coup
“This Sept. 7 is quite different because the people are living a coup,” Silvana Conti, a candidate with the Communist Party of Brazil in Porto Alegre, said in a statement, using the widely-repeated criticism of the impeachment process against ousted President Dilma Rousseff as a parliamentary coup. “It is important that the Brazilian people show that they are not accepting an illegitimate government and will not leave the streets until a return to democracy.”
Cries calling for his removal
When Temer made an appearance accompanied by his wife Marcela in Brasilia for the Independence Day parade, he was met with cries calling for his removal, local media reported. It was his first public appearance in Brazil since his speedy inauguration on Aug. 31 following the 61 to 20 vote in the Senate to impeach Rousseff, and the hostile greeting echoed the reception of boos he received during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Rio last month.
Protesters flooded the streets
Meanwhile, protesters also flooded the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife, Campo Grande, and several other locations. Solidarity protests were also held internationally, including in London.
“They did not calculate well the opposition there would be against the withdrawal of workers’ rights,” said Lindbergh Farias, senator with Rousseff’s Workers Party, during the demonstrations in Rio, Folha de Sao Paulo reported.
Labor unions and social movements have come together
In recent days, labor unions and social movements have come together to reject Temer’s plans for the country, which include lifting restrictions on foreign land ownership, cutting social programs, and privatizing the country’s natural resources, including rich offshore oil reserves. Temer has also moved toward cozier relations with the United States after years of independent foreign policy favoring South American regional integration under Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
On Monday, Brazil’s largest social movement – the Landless Worker Movement, or MST – occupied government offices in Brasilia to demand attention to agricultural issues while an estimated 12,000 protesters took to the streets in various actions across the country to echo demands for agrarian reform and guaranteed access to farmland for landless rural people.
A gang of corrupt politicians condemned an innocent person
Social movements have vowed to continue to protest the so-called coup against Brazilian democracy while fighting to protect the social gains won over more than a decade of Workers’ Party governments.
“Michel Temer’s government claimed that once the impeachment was approved, the country would be at peace. What we witnessed was a strong reaction because society realized that a gang of corrupt (politicians) condemned an innocent person,” Raimundo Bonfim of the Central Popular Movements told Folha. “And since then there have been protests against the neoliberal agenda.”
In recent weeks, police have cracked down on anti-Temer protests.