About 1.5 million protesters hit the streets across Brazil on Sunday in a major show of anger against leftist President Dilma Rousseff, who faces crises from a faltering economy to a massive corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras.
Many called for the impeachment of Rousseff, less than six months after she was narrowly returned to power in the most bitterly fought presidential race since the end of a military dictatorship in 1985.
The biggest demonstration took place in Sao Paulo, where a million people rallied — according to police estimates — many in the distinctive yellow and green of Brazil’s national football team. The city — South America’s biggest, and Brazil’s business and industrial hub — is a stronghold of opposition to Rousseff.
Peaceful demonstrations also took place in 83 cities and towns around the country, including major protests in the capital Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro.
The numbers matched the vast rallies that roiled Brazil in June 2013, when protesters angry at the cost of hosting the 2014 World Cup demanded an end to corruption and more spending on transportation, health and education.
The protests are significantly larger than those convened on Friday in support of Rousseff and Petrobras by unions and social movements related to her ruling Workers’ Party (PT).
In the capital Brasilia alone, between 45,000 and 50,000 people marched Sunday towards the Congress, according to police estimates.
Dozens of political figures, including close allies of Rousseff, and former Petrobras executives are under investigation over a kickback and money laundering scheme that saw an estimated $3.8 billion creamed off inflated contracts over a decade.
Twenty-two deputies, 13 senators and two governors have been implicated in the bribe-taking allegations. Rousseff is not being investigated.
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