Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Disturbing Parallel

From north of the border to (mostly) south of the equator, a glimpse of a possible North American future?
A riot police officer lies on the ground after getting hit with a brick thrown by protesters on Wednesday.
[Adriano Machado/Reuters]
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil's president on Thursday cancelled an order that sent soldiers into the streets of the capital, following criticism that the move was excessive and merely an effort to maintain power amid increasing calls for his resignation.

In a decree published in the Official Diary, President Michel Temer revoked the order issued a day earlier, "considering the halt to acts of destruction and violence and the subsequent reestablishment of law and order." On Thursday afternoon, soldiers began to leave their posts in Brasilia, the Defence Ministry said.

The troops were deployed late Wednesday following a day of clashes between police and protesters demanding Temer's ouster amid allegations against him of corruption. Fires broke out in two ministries and several were evacuated. Protesters also set fires in the streets and vandalized government buildings.


Temer's popularity has been in a freefall since he took office a little more than a year ago after his predecessor was impeached and removed. Some Brazilians consider his presidency illegitimate because of the way he came to power, and his efforts to pass a series of economic reforms to cap the budget, loosen labour laws and reduce pension benefits have made him even more unpopular. In addition, several of his advisers have been linked to Brazil's big corruption investigation, known as Operation Car Wash.

As part of the Car Wash probe, Temer now faces allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to a former lawmaker who has been jailed for corruption. Brazil's highest court is investigating him for alleged obstruction of justice and involvement in passive corruption after a recording seemed to capture his approval of the bribe. Temer denies wrongdoing.

Many Brazilians want him out one way or another and are calling for him to resign or be impeached. The demands for his resignation have heated up since the release of the recording and came to a head in Wednesday's protest, when 45,000 demonstrators took to the streets.

Opposition lawmakers have submitted several requests in Congress for Temer's impeachment. On Thursday, the Brazilian bar association submitted another such request in a move that carried special symbolic weight because the association is not partisan.
Srsly, what're the odds?

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