By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While marking the 50th anniversary of the events known as the Marcha da Família com Deus pela Liberdade (March of the Family with God for Freedom) on Saturday, March 22th, demonstrators both for and against military intervention clashed causing military police to intervene in front of the Palácio Duque de Caxias in Centro (downtown) Rio.
The Marcha da Família com Deus pela Liberdade events originally began on March 19, 1964 and lasted until June 8, 1964. They happened throughout Brazil in protest to perceived socialist and communist threats to the country from the policies of then President João Goulart. The movement preceded the military coup which took place later that year and overthrew Goulart placing Brazil under a military regime until 1985.
On Saturday, an estimated 150 people reportedly gathered in Rio’s downtown to revive the Marcha da Família com Deus pela Liberdade movement and celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.
During the demonstration a smaller opposed group of around fifty protesters against military dictatorship began chanting things including; “stop the fascists of the military regime.” They were meet by chants of “out communists” and “terrorists” from a group in favor of the military once again intervening in the country. The situation then turned tense.
Military police reportedly stepped in and placed a barrier between the two groups. One man from the March da Família managed to get past the blockade and allegedly attacked a proponent of military intervention. Using batons and rubber bullets, the police then dispersed the crowd.
Both groups of demonstrators relocated and continued to clash with at least two more reported incidents.
Emílio Alarcon, one of the organizers of March Família stated they did not want military intervention to lead to a military dictatorship but instead to hold new elections- with candidates with clean records-for the Brazilian Congress and for members of the Executive branch.
Demonstrations were also held in the cities of São Paulo and Recife. Four were arrested in São Paulo while in Recife black bloc members and fundamentalists reportedly joined the demonstrations.
The heated events on Saturday come roughly six months prior to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s bid for re-election as well as other politicians’ bids for Congress in October.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.