Rival camps reflect Brazil'south divide amid impeachment

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 8:24 AM

On one side of Brasilia'south showcase Eixo Monumental, which cuts through the middle of city and deceased ends at Congress, several thousand supporters of embattled President Dilma Rousseff have pitched a tent city, sleeping in hammocks and eating rice and beans served by volunteers at communal kitchens.

Rival camps reflect Brazil'south divide amid impeachment

Separated by only a boulevard, two rival camps of demonstrators in Brazil'south capital emphasize the sharp ideological divide that's playing out in Congress as lawmakers debate whether to oust the president.

On one side of Brasilia'south showcase Eixo Monumental, which cuts through the middle of city and deceased ends at Congress, several thousand supporters of embattled President Dilma Rousseff have pitched a tent city, sleeping in hammocks and eating rice and beans served by volunteers at communal kitchens.

Largely union members and land reform activists, and overwhelmingly poor, they've arrive by bus from across this continent-sized country to defend Rousseff and her left-leaning Workers' Party, which they credit for unprecedented improvements in their lives. They call the impeachment debate in the nearby lower house of Congress that started Friday and is expected to go all weekend an attempt by Brazil'south elite to get back power after thirteen years of Workers' Party rule.

"They're trying to knock down what the Workers' Party conquered, what we conquered," said Francisco das Chagas, a 47-year-old mechanic who came from his residence state of Alagoas, in the impoverished northeastern region that'south Rousseff'south stronghold. "It's classist."

On the other side of the boulevard, several hundred better-heeled protesters are demanding Rousseff'south impeachment, blaming her for the tanking economy and the plague of corruption, which are reflected in the country'south sky-high taxes and dreary public hospitals, schools and other basic services. They declare a fresh start with a new president is the only hope for breathing life into an economy that'south expected to contract around four % this year.

Pro-impeachment protester Joao Pedro Netto says that while the Workers' Party was born out of a desire to assistance the poor, it's presently as corrupt as any other of Brazil'south more than thirty political parties. The 30-year-old tiny business owner said improving the country'south woeful public school system for his two tiny children is his top priority and for this to happen Rousseff'south party must go.

Both sides have pledged to flood the city with supporters ahead of a crucial vote Sun in the Chamber of Deputies, which will define whether the impeachment proceeds to the Senate. Proponents of impeachment need three hundred forty-two of five hundred thirteen votes, and tallies in the main Brazilian news outlets indicate them hovering close that number.

The proceedings stem from alleged violations of Brazil'south monetary laws committed by Rousseff'south administration to shore up public support amid a flagging economy.

Rousseff says that such accounting was common practice, insisting that she committed number crime and denouncing the proceedings against her as a "coup."

Her supporters in the tent city, which sprang up early this week as busloads of activists arrived from as distant afield as the Amazonian state of Rondonia, declare her government and that of her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, served the interests of destitute people like them.

Ze Silva, a 25-year-old schoolteacher from the agricultural heartland of Mato Grosso, warned that if Rousseff is pushed out "Brazil would return to its same elderly ways . and the masses would slide back into misery, love it used to be."

However, the irony of the location of the pro-Rousseff camp wasn't lost on their foes across the boulevard. The pro-government tents are pitched in the parking lot of Brasilia'south Mane Garrincha stadium, which underwent a $900 million facelift ahead of the two thousand fourteen World Cup, making it the world'south second most expensive stadium — despite the fact that Brazil'south capital doesn't have a top div soccer team to play in it.

This kind of wanton waste is just what's fueled annoyance against the government. The fight against corruption has been a rallying cry of the anti-Rousseff movement, fueling massive protests in recent months as an unfolding corruption probe centered around the state-run Petrobras oil company has exposed the extent of the rot.

While Netto and other pro-impeachment protesters wish Rousseff out, they worry that the following batch of leaders would also be corrupt.

If the Chamber of Deputies votes Sun to send the impeachment measure to the Senate and that body votes to open a trial against Rousseff, she'd be suspended from office and Vice President Michel Temer would get over. Temer is implicated in the vast Petrobras corruption scheme. The next-in-line to get office after Temer is House Speaker Eduardo Cunha. He's also heavily implicated in the Petrobras scheme.

The political crisis has dragged on for months, hamstringing attempts to jumpstart the economy and battle an outbreak of the Zika virus. The country is also gearing up to host the Olympics.

"This issue has been an open wound for a long time," said Leonardo Picciani, a congressman from Rio de Janeiro state who's gone against the pro-impeachment position of his party. "It should be closed on Sunday, whatever the result."

The protesters, however, weren't so sure.

Both side vowed to hold the encampments going until their side declares a definitive victory.

"If Brazil continues love this, it'south going to sink," said Netto.

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