With Rousseff’s survival in doubt, eyes turn to protests

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff gestures during a meeting with rectors of public universities and technical education at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on March 11, 2016. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff dug in Friday amid a swirling political crisis, insisting she would not resign and adamantly backing her embattled predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. With money-laundering charges against Lula adding to the pressure on her administration, Rousseff rejected calls to stand down, vehemently defended her mentor and said she would even be proud to have him in her cabinet -- a move that could used to protect the ex-president. Rousseff is facing an impeachment drive, a bruising recession, a massive scandal at state oil company Petrobras and a probe into alleged violations of electoral law in her reelection campaign last year.   AFP PHOTO / EVARISTO SA / AFP / EVARISTO SA


Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians are gearing up to march in Sunday’s anti-government protests, which could tip the balance against President Dilma Rousseff in her struggle to remain in office.
As of Friday evening, more than 360,000 people had signed up on a Facebook page pledging to take part in opposition marches, a 20 percent increase from Thursday morning. Protests are scheduled for hundreds of cities throughout Brazil with smaller demonstrations planned for more than a dozen countries, including the US, France and Australia.
Many Brazilians say they have had enough after enduring the worst recession in decades and a corruption scandal involving politicians and business executives known as Lava Jato, or Carwash in English. The outburst of public sentiment will be decisive for legislators debating whether to remain loyal to the president or join a swelling opposition seeking her impeachment, said Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“If the protests are massive, they will increase pressure on the government and make impeachment more likely,” he said.
But it’s not just critics of the government who are taking to the streets, as supporters of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, known at the PT, also are planning demonstrations this month against the impeachment process. They also will show support for party co-founder and Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
While a weak turnout may reduce the impetus for impeachment in Congress, it’s unlikely to put an end to Rousseff’s political troubles. The country’s top electoral court is investigating whether she illegally funded her re-election campaign in 2014, and magazine IstoE this month reported allegations that she tried to interfere with Carwash investigations.
She has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.Rousseff’s supporters in Congress in recent days have been advocating a prompt vote on impeachment, with her deputy leader in the lower house, Silvio Costa, saying they still have enough votes to defeat the measure.

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