By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Security officials in several cities in Brazil are bracing for what promises to be another tense day in the country, with supporters of former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva and the Workers’ Party (PT) promoting rallies in at least 45 cities throughout Brazil.
Friday morning police in São Paulo used water cannons to disperse a group of anti-PT, anti-government protesters who had been camping out in the city’s most famous street, Avenida Paulista, for the past 39 hours.
The demonstrators were protesting the nomination of former president Lula as Rousseff’s Chief of Staff. According to city officials the action was necessary because of the pro-government rally to occur along the avenue during the afternoon.
“We do not want, in any way, to clash with the PT rally and much less with the police, who have been cooperative (with the occupation). According to the negotiation made with the police we agree with the withdrawal because we all have equal rights in this country,” protester Bruno Balestrero told Globo’s G1 while getting ready to leave, adding, “Nobody wants a conflict here. I will return later.”
Rally organizers as well as opposition leaders have called upon the population opposed to the Administration and the Workers party to stay home and not confront PT supporters. According to rally organizers, Frente Brasil Popular, the demonstrations have the objective of ‘defending democracy, social rights, workers rights and (fighting) against a coup’.
Yet Friday’s rallies and Rousseff’s speeches in Brasília to calm the millions who came out to protest on Sunday against her administration may not be enough to keep Rousseff’s Workers’ Party in power, says Neil Shearing, Chief Emerging Markets Economist at Capital Economics.
“Brazil’s political crisis has spiraled further over the past 24 hours leaving President Dilma Rousseff’s chances of staying in office hanging by a thread,” he told clients on Friday morning.
According to Shearing if the injunction blocking President Rousseff’s appointment of her predecessor as her Chief of Staff is upheld Brazil will be ‘pushed to the brink of a constitutional crisis’. The court injunction was filed minutes after Lula’s swearing in ceremony on Thursday.
In addition to giving Lula immunity from state and federal prosecutors, making him answerable only to the Supreme Court, the appointment was also expected to help Rousseff avoid impeachment proceedings, currently underway in Congress.
The former leader is known for his ability of garnering support from Congressional representatives across the political spectrum and sealing alliances with centrist as well as right-wing parties.
Analysts say that Rousseff is going to need all the help she can get. Thursday night, while the country was still digesting the nomination and the injunction of the appointment Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies agreed on the 65-person committee that will rule on whether to send impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff to the Senate.
Representatives in favor of ousting the President hold 32 of the seats, giving the President a faint advantage. “One way or another, her term in office looks increasingly likely to be curtailed,” concluded Shearing.