Telesur | 05 September, 2016
State security officials, working on behalf of the coup regime in Brazil, unleashed a wave of repression against a 100,000 person strong demonstration Sunday in the city of Sao Paulo opposing the ouster of Dilma Rousseff.
In what was the largest rally since the consolidation of the coup earlier this week, demonstrators called for Michel Temer to step down and for snap elections to be held.
The demonstration was reportedly peaceful until the Military Police attacked the crowd with teargas as people began to disperse and demonstrators headed for metro entrances.
Police claim they were asked to intervene by transportation officials in order to stop vandalism and looting.
However, according to local media, officials with the ViaQuarto, the company in charge of running Line 4 of the Sao Paulo subway, denied there was any looting. It was not clear if the police were actually called by ViaQuarto or whether the vandalism occurred before or after the police attacked the crowd. A reporter for El Pais, who was inside the station when police arrived, said there was no sign of vandalism before police began to repress the crowd.
Police used teargas grenades against the boisterous but peaceful crowd inside the station, causing panic and disorder. Several people inside the station were said to have fallen ill as a result of exposure to the teargas.
The chaos then spread to the streets above, with police wantonly attacking anyone in their path. A journalist with BBC Brazil was attacked despite reportedly identifying himself as a member of the press.
In a video posted on social media, the journalist, identified as Felipe Souza, said he was covering a clash between police and demonstrators before he was physically assaulted by police. In the video, Souza says he received blows to his hand, leg, arms, and body.
Souza added that he personally witnessed police use rubber bullets against the crowd and that the smell of teargas hung in the air long after the protest had been dispersed.
Police also used water canons against demonstrators.
Meanwhile, 29 high school students were detained by police before they could even make it to the site of the rally, reported local media.
Sunday’s demonstration was the fifth in six days held in opposition to the ouster of democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff. Police were the subject of criticism for their heavy handed approach in earlier demonstrations. One young woman, Deborah Fabri, was left blind in her left eye after police shot her in the face with a rubber bullet during a rally earlier this week.
This most recent demonstration was jointly organized by the Popular Brazil Front and the People Without Fear Front, which together represent over 90 groups.
Social movement and trade union leaders promised that the coup against Rousseff would not go unchallenged.
“Those who think it ended with the vote in the Senate are being deceived. The game has just begun and it will be decided on the streets,” said Guilherme Boulos, a leading figure in the People Without Fear Front.
The demonstration filled over eight blocks of Paulista Avenue, one of Sao Paulo’s major streets. Organizers said over 100,000 people were present. Police did not give an estimate of the size of the crowd.
The demonstrators demanded labor rights be respected, called for new elections, and chanted “Out with Temer!”
Temer tried to play down the wave of protests in comments to reporters on the sidelines of a summit of the G20 group of leading world economies in Hangzhou, China.
“They are small groups, not popular movements of any size,” he said. “In a population of 204 million Brazilians, they are not representative.”
There were anti-Temer demonstrations on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and other Brazilian cities.
Another protest is expected Wednesday, which marks Brazil’s Independence Day and is often a focal point of protests.
The Popular Brazil Front and the People Without Fear Front have also called for another large-scale protest on Paulista Avenue for Thursday.