By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Thousands took to the streets in Brazil on Wednesday night to protest the announcement of Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva nomination as President Dilma Rousseff’s Chief of Staff. These protesters were confronted by PT and Lula supporters on Thursday morning as Rousseff swore in the former leader in Brasília.
As soon as the news of the nomination was released, protesters gathered outside the Palacio do Planalto (Presidential Palace) in Brasília, Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro and dozens of other cities demanding President Rousseff resign her post.
The protests became even more inflamed after a wiretap recording, released by federal judge Sergio Moro, showed Rousseff and Lula talking about the nomination.
According to opposition leaders and protesters the recordings show that there was a conspiracy between the leader and former leader to spare the latter from being prosecuted by judge Moro. As Chief of Staff, Lula now has the benefit to have charges against him be ruled by the Supreme Court and no longer by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Rousseff during the swearing in ceremony on Thursday morning passionately criticized the wiretap and questioned the legality of the recordings. Rousseff said that recordings such as these violate constitutional rights of Brazilian citizens. “These are how coups start,” added Rousseff to a cheering crowd attending the ceremony.
The President also justified Wednesday’s conversation, in which she gave Lula the option of just signing the swearing in document last night, with the fact that Lula’s wife ‘has not been feeling well’ and that could prevent the former leader from being present at Thursday’s ceremony.
There are reports that anti-PT demonstrations continued all through the ceremony and that police had to use pepper spray in several occasions to disperse the crowd in Brasília.
Protests are expected to continue during all of Thursday. Local media has been reporting clashes between anti-PT and Lula supporters in Brasília, with police unable to control the crowds.
There are fears that the anti-PT crowd may try to storm government buildings in Brasilia as the number of protesters continue to climb in many cities around the country.
Several opposition political parties have already filed court requests to invalidate the nomination. The requests will be judged by the Supreme Court, which should release its decision by the end of the day.