By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After almost 43 uninterrupted hours of debates representatives from Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies will vote this Sunday whether or not to authorize the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff to move ahead to a trial in the Senate. Millions of Brazilians are expected to flood streets throughout the country as the 513 Representatives cast their votes Sunday afternoon.
The voting session is expected to start at 2PM (Brasilia time) and representatives will have approximately ten seconds to state their vote through a microphone set up in the middle of the Chamber’s main auditorium.
The votes will start with the representatives from the Northern state of Roraima and then go to the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The alternation sequence between Northern states, believed to be more government friendly, and the Southern states, shown to be more pro-impeachment, will go on throughout the process.
For the impeachment to pass through the Lower House 342 of the 513 representatives must vote in favor. If the impeachment process is authorized by the Chamber it will go to the Senate where the President will face a formal trial. And while the 513 representatives are voting, millions of Brazilians are expected to be out on the streets rallying, with security issues being one of the top priorities for city officials throughout Brazil.
In Brasilia, a metal barrier has been set up to divide the anti-impeachment protesters from the pro-impeachment group and more than three thousand police are expected to be at hand to prevent tension from flaring into an all-out boxing match. Security officials have set up ‘rules’ with rally organizers which range from the number of sound trucks allowed by each side to which group leaves the Ministry Mall area first after the results are read.
According to security forces, the ‘losing’ group will leave the Mall area first, with the ‘winning’ side waiting to leave later so as not to have the two antagonists meet up in metro trains and busses.
In São Paulo, city officials have determined that the pro-impeachment protesters will gather at Avenida Paulista, while anti-impeachment demonstrators will congregate kilometers away at Vale do Anhangabau. Nonetheless, extra police officers have been called in to maintain peace in the city.
Bars and restaurants in the bohemian, upscale neighborhoods of Vila Madalena and Pinheiros are opening up earlier and promising wide-screen TV coverage of the vote to their customers, much like they do during championship soccer finals.
“I feel sort of funny about it but I’m coming with friends to see them (representatives) vote,” said Vinicius Melo, 23, a regular customer at one of the most popular bars in Vila Madalena on Saturday, admitted, “It seems to me that this [impeachment process] should be taken more seriously than it is. It feels more like a World Cup game, then the future of our country.”
For Amanda Vilares the celebration of whichever side wins will be short-lived. “If Dilma [Rousseff] remains she will not be able to govern the country, because the opposition won’t let her; if she is impeached, who knows what [VP Michel] Temer will do,” she told The Rio Times. “No one wins in a situation like this,” she concludes.
In Rio de Janeiro, the pro and anti impeachment groups are scheduled to hold rallies in Copacabana Beach, but at different times and in different locations along the beach front. The pro-impeachment group will hold its rally from 9AM to 1PM from Posto 1 to Posto 3, while the pro-Rousseff rally will be held between 3PM and 7PM between Posto 3 and Posto 5.
At Posto 3 a metal barrier has been placed which runs all the way from the sand all the way to the seaside avenue of Avenida Atlantica, so that the two groups do not have a chance to clash.