Anti-corruption protests swept across Brazil as citizens took to the streets to protest against rampant perceived graft and abuse of power.
Although the demonstrations were not as large as those in 2015 against Dilma Rousseff, the biggest marches took place in the Sao Paulo’s business district, and on the beach in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.
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The movements that organized the marches avoided directing their criticism towards current president Michel Temer; on the contrary, they zeroed in on Senator Renan Calheiros and his colleagues who voted for the amnesty law.
Many protesters also called for the elimination of Congressional immunity, which prevent politicians with pending criminal charges from being tried by ordinary courts.
The protest signs contained messages like “Kick Out the Thieves!” and “We are all Sergio Moro,” the judge in charge of the historic Lava Jato investigation, which has sent dozens of politicians and businessmen to prison.
Protesters are unhappy after the lower house of Congress passed several amendments to a landmark anti-corruption bill last Tuesday. They say politicians regularly try to intimidate prosecutors.
“The politicians, who are being investigated, watered down the bill,” say the protesters, who controversially included in the legislation the prospect of harsh punishment for judges and prosecutors who abuse their powers.
In response, the team of prosecutors heading the Lava Jato operation threatened to resign, prompting Senator Calheiros to attempt to speed up the process of ramming the controversial legislation through Congress, sparking the fury of many Brazilians who took to the streets to participate in a “cacerolazo”; the traditional Brazilian protest in which marchers bang pots and pans in disgust.
The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate before it becomes law.
According to the newspaper O Globo there were marches in 18 states of the country (of a total 27). While the majority of protests attracted large turnout, other states reported only minor gatherings.