A million people across Brazil say “it’s not about 20 cents”

Story Transcript

OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: Thursday, June 20, Brazil saw the biggest number of people in the streets since the demonstrations began, this despite having forced the government to lower the bus fare the day before on Wednesday the 19th, when President Dilma Rousseff was humiliated on live TV worldwide.

According to the Folha de S. Paulo, more than a million people came out to the streets to demonstrate and present a new list of demands, showing that the bus fare was not enough. Military police estimated that 939,500 people marched in Brazil’s 14 main state capital cities and 100 cities overall, demanding much more than 20 cents reduction in the bus fare. Now five points have been put forward by the assemblies of demonstrators in the main cities.

One, the abolition of PEC37, a legislation that will give immunity to congressmen and elected officials from local police departments and any other instance, with the exception of the Federal Police, controlled by the executive, which will wage the exclusive power to investigate government functionaries. Many fear this project will eventually nullify an ongoing investigation of public officials involved in broad corruption scandals, and is regarded as a massive corruption coverup.

Two, the immediate resignation of Renan Calheiros, chairman of the Brazilian Congress.

Three, an immediate investigation and eventual sanction for officials in the Public Ministry and the national police, believed to have illegally benefited from public contracts for the soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Four, a law making corruption in Congress a heinous crime.

Five, the end of the immunity privilege for congressman.

In Rio de Janeiro, Reuters reported an estimate of 300,000 people marching on the President Vargas avenue in downtown Rio at 18 hours local time. By local 11 p.m., 62 people have been reported injured by the local lawyers guild monitoring the demonstrations, whom also declared, “the number of arrest is undetermined because police is out of control,” as it was described by “Julia”, one of the monitors in the field, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

At night, the ICFS public school of Rio was surrounded by military police, which reportedly was throwing tear gas inside the building and didn’t let anyone leave.

On Ribeirao Preto in the state of São Paulo, Marcos Delefrate, an 18-year-old protester, was run over by a car in a demonstration and died. There, an official estimate of 25,000 people marched to demand better public services and an end to corruption among elected officials.

In Brasilia, Associated Press reported tens of thousands people marching to the building complex that houses Congress and the courts. And while the police managed to prevent a number of people from occupying the Palace of Itamaraty, house of the State Department, they couldn’t prevent the destruction of a number of windows and government offices.

At the end of the day, in Brasilia, the capital of the country, at least 26 people were reported injured, including a policeman in critical condition with a severe trauma to his head, adding to shocking images of police brutality towards demonstrators calling for nonviolence before being brutally repressed. A couple of videos have circulated on the internet showing a few police officers leaving their weapons and taking the side of protestors.

With protests in a reported 100 cities all around the country, as the world watches Brazil because of the Confederations Cup, President Rousseff seem to be cornered between a rock and a hard place. Having given up the one original demand of reduction for the bus fare, in hopes to quell the growing wave of dissent, now she will have to practically conduct a massive shakedown, not in the streets but in Congress, to be able to satisfy the demands of over a million people who had made very clear to Brazil’s political class that this is not about 20 cents.

Reporting for The Real News, this is Oscar León.

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