By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The traditional May 1st Labor Day celebrations across Brazil turned into pro and anti-impeachment protests on Sunday as the country’s President, Dilma Rousseff, struggles to remain in office. The rallies, organized by major labor union groups assembled thousands in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.
According to local media there were anti-impeachment rallies in at least thirty cities in nineteen states, but the crowds only numbered in the low thousands.
Government allies had hoped that Sunday’s rallies would be as big or bigger than the anti-impeachment protests that occurred on March 30th and April 17th.
President Rousseff was present at the anti-impeachment rally in São Paulo where she announced the increase of one of her government’s most successful social programs, Bolsa Familia.
Former President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva was also expected to speak to the crowd, but was not present. In other parts of the city there were rallies of those in favor of Rousseff’s impeachment and those seeking new presidential elections in October.
In Rio de Janeiro, the May 1st celebration was held at Lapa, with an open-air show for those present and organizers calling for the end of the impeachment process against President Rousseff.
“This year we are facing a coup, a sense of uncertainty. This year we should go beyond the celebration,” CUT (Workers’ Union) Rio de Janeiro Chapter President, Marcelo Rodrigues was quoted as saying by Agencia Brasil. “In addition to demanding our (workers’) rights, it is a time to denounce the coup currently going on right now.”
In Brasilia, workers held up signs in different languages to condemn what they deemed to be a coup against the President.
President Rousseff’s impeachment process is being analyzed by the country’s Senate, which should decide by next week whether or not there is sufficient proof to start an impeachment trial against the Brazilian leader.
If the Senate agrees to proceed with a trial, President Dilma Rousseff will be suspended from office up to 180 days.