Brazil's Temer govt revokes army deployment decree amid outrage
Brazil's government revoked Thursday a presidential decree deploying the military in Brasilia to quell mass protests against unelected President Michel Temer, high-level corruption and unpopular neoliberal austerity measures.
The government deployed soldiers Wednesday to crack down on the popular uprising, claiming that riot police forces were unable to handle the tens of thousands of demonstrators that flooded the streets of the capital city to demand Temer's resignation and early elections to choose a new president before the scheduled 2018 ballot. Organizers estimated the protests boasted a turnout of 150,000 demonstrators under the banner "Occupy Brasilia," a massive crowd in the city of about 3 million.
The decision to call in the military was strongly criticized by Temer's opponents, as well as some of his allies, with opposition lawmakers walking out of Congress Wednesday in protest of the move.
Approximately 50 people were injured amid clashes that erupted during the protests as police and military employed pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and batons against the demonstrators. The decree also gave soldiers policing rights and the power to make arrests.
According to Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, advisors had warned Temer before his announcement of the decree that the move could have a negative impact on his reputation, already tarnished by widespread government corruption and his forceful implementation of an austerity agenda.
The latest protests against the Temer administration, installed last year with the removal of former President Dilma Rousseff in an impeachment process widely condemned as a parliamentary coup, come on the heels of the most severe scandal to hit the government yet after a wiretap recording revealed Temer had endorsed bribes to keep quiet a powerful witness in corruption investigations.
Temer faces investigations for corruption and obstruction of justice after the damning wiretap.
The president has vowed that he will not step down over the scandal, saying in an interview with Folha de Sao Paulo, "I won't resign, oust me if you want."
The deeply unpopular Temer administration has also sparked widespread outrage with a series of controversial neoliberal policies — including a reform that freezes public spending for two decades — that are expected to hit poor and marginalized Brazilians hardest by rolling back a number of social programs, including education, health, pensions and labor laws.