Ahead of a weekend protest against the Brazilian President, thousands of supporters of Dilma Rousseff gathered in several cities to show their allegiance to her and defend state-controlled oil giant Petrobras, which has been targeted by corruption allegations.
The police estimated that some 12000 people participated in the march in Sao Paulo and at least 1,000 in Rio. There were demonstrations in at least 24 states.
Labour unions and activists came out on the streets in a show of strength for Rousseff, who is not being investigated for corruption charges directly, although she was the chairperson of the Petrobras board when the alleged kickbacks took place.
Rousseff supporters marched on what they called “National Day of fight in Defense of Workers’ Rights, Petrobras, Democracy and Political Reform”, widely regarded as a response to a counter-movement which calls for the impeachment of Rousseff, whose opponents will organize a day of protests against her on Sunday.
In several state capitals, trade union members, students, left-wing activists and citizens called for the defense of democracy and the legitimacy of Rousseff’s government, saying that calling for her impeachment without legal basis is nothing more than a coup.
They also defended oil giant Petrobras, reasserting its importance to the country.
The company’s image has been severely tarnished by the involvement of several of its directors in a large scheme of money laundering and corruption. Investigating authorities have alleged Brazil’s biggest construction and engineering companies paid at least $800 million in bribes to Petrobras executives and politicians, in exchange for inflated contracts.
Vagner Freitas, head of Brazilian trade union CUT, qualified the marches as “an extraordinary success” after participating in the Sao Paulo demonstrations.
The supporters of Rousseff, however, did not avoid criticism of some of her recent measures, such as the changes in widow’s pensions, were criticized, and citizens also called for political reforms, which has been promised by many administrations, but has yet to become concrete.