By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilians once again took to the streets on Monday to protest against a proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC241) which limits public expenditures for the next twenty years in Brazil. Protesters in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo as well as other state capitals say the new amendment will decrease even more government investments in education and health.
“This protest is against the PEC 241, we are fighting against a spending freeze on social services, against cuts, and ultimately, (a cut of) social rights,” Real Democracy movement representative Marcio Ribeiro told Agencia Brasil in São Paulo. The protest in São Paulo was along the city’s famous Avenida Paulista and no major incidents were reported.
In Rio de Janeiro the protest began peacefully but quickly escalated to violence, with police clashing with protesters at Cinelandia. Police started to throw tear gas to disperse the crowd and some sought refuge in nearby bars and cafes.
According to protesters, police officers went after them inside the famous bohemian cafe Amarelinho. According to reports the situation escalated with clients and protesters throwing chairs and tables at police officers. There were, however, no reports of serious injuries.
The amendment calls for federal spending to be limited to a ceiling of the previous year’s budget, adjusted by the inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (IPCA). The measure, according to the Administration, is the first step to overcoming Brazil’s economic crisis.
Demonstrators however say the amendment, dubbed #AmendmentoftheEndoftheWorld, would reduce social programs, cut into the federal government’s education and health budget and do away with a real increase in the country’s minimum wage until 2036.
Protesters claim that once again the population is paying the ultimate price for bad decisions made in the political and economic realms. “There are other alternatives. Bankers who are very wealthy people who should split the bill for the crisis and the fiscal adjustment,” concluded Ribeiro.