Printable Page Headline News   Return to Menu - Page 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 13
 
 
Troops Guard Brazil Federal Buildings  05/25 05:52

   Troops guarded federal buildings in Brazil's capital early Thursday as the 
president struggles to hang onto power amid an outcry over corruption 
allegations and after clashes between police and protesters demanding his 
resignation forced the evacuations of several ministries.

   BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- Troops guarded federal buildings in Brazil's 
capital early Thursday as the president struggles to hang onto power amid an 
outcry over corruption allegations and after clashes between police and 
protesters demanding his resignation forced the evacuations of several 
ministries.

   With tens of thousands of demonstrators in the streets and lawmakers in 
Congress calling for his ouster, President Michel Temer ordered soldiers 
deployed in Brasilia on Wednesday. The Defense Ministry said 1,500 soldiers 
were being used.

   What began as small scuffles between police and protesters who tried to jump 
a cordon mushroomed into a series of confrontations in which officers fired 
tear gas and pepper spray to contain the crowd. A fire broke out in the 
Ministry of Agriculture, and protesters broke windows and doors at other 
ministries.

   Local media captured video images of military police firing pistols into the 
air. The Secretariat of Public Security issued a statement late Wednesday 
saying it would investigate the weapons firing, saying that "this procedure is 
not used in protests." Earlier, it said one person had been injured by a bullet 
but give no information on who fired the shot.

   Some government agencies were evacuated because of the violence, the 
president's office said.

   In a brief national address during the unrest, Defense Minister Raul 
Jungmann said troops were being sent to guard the presidential palace and other 
federal buildings. The weeklong deployment was authorized by a presidential 
decree that left open the possibility that soldiers could be used more widely 
in Brasilia.

   Late Wednesday, Temer's office issued a statement defending the order as 
necessary because the violence put the lives and safety of public servants at 
risk. It said the president had determined that using the country's National 
Force, an elite police entity, would not have been sufficient.

   "When order is re-established, the decree will be revoked," the statement 
said. "The president of the republic underscores that he will not hesitate to 
exercise the authority given to his office whenever it is necessary."

   Temer is struggling to retain power after the release of a recording that 
appears to capture him approving hush money for a convicted former lawmaker. 
Brazil's top court is investigating him for alleged obstruction of justice and 
involvement in passive corruption. The president has denied wrongdoing and 
insists he will not resign.

   His unusual decision to call in the military could heighten anger against 
the government if it is seen as the last gasp of a president trying to maintain 
power with the use of force.

   "This decree was never used in this context to protect an administration 
that is politically isolated," said Newton de Oliveira, a professor and 
security specialist at Mackenzie University in Rio.

   After the announcement that troops were taking up positions in the capital, 
some senior officials began distancing themselves from the decision.

   "If this government cannot hold itself up, the armed forces will not hold up 
this government," said Sen. Renan Calheiros, who is the whip for Temer's party 
in the upper house but has increasingly challenged the president.

   Sen. Romero Juca, a Temer ally, defended the president's decision. 
"President Temer brought in the armed forces because a bunch of criminals were 
setting ministries on fire," he said.

   With Brazil deeply divided and a political crisis deepening, sessions in 
both houses of Congress became chaotic as lawmakers shouted one another down.

   While Congress debated, 35,000 people were marching toward the legislative 
building, shouting "Out with Temer!" and carrying signs calling for an 
immediate direct presidential election.

   If Temer should resign, Brazil's constitution says Congress would elect the 
next president, who would hold power for the rest of his term, which runs to 
the end of 2018. But many Brazilians, disgusted with the political class, want 
to vote themselves.


(KA)

 
 
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN