By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio de Janeiro’s City Council rejected on Thursday, a request for the start of an impeachment process of mayor, Marcelo Crivella. Crivella was accused of a lack of administrative integrity for offering special benefits to Evangelical groups.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Protesters for and against Rio's Mayor Marcelo Crivella possible impeachment.
Protesters for and against Rio’s Mayor Marcelo Crivella possible impeachment, photo by Vladimir Platanow/Agencia Brasil.

“I want to thank God for one more victory, and the city council members for their determination to reject a petition for impeachment without a legal basis,” said Mayor Crivella on social media after the vote.

“Truth and justice will always prevail, we will not fade, we will stick to the purpose of governing for all,” added the mayor.

Those opposed to Crivella had argued the elected official could not govern only for a segment of the population.

“We cannot be silent at this moment. The recorded audios are from Crivella himself, making undue promises. What we decide here will signal to future administrations that we must govern for all,” said one of the authors of the request, councilman Atila Nunes.

The audios mentioned by the lawmaker were supposedly recorded last week during a reserved meeting at City Hall, where Crivella is heard offering religious leaders help in performing cataract, vasectomy and varicose veins surgeries through the public Unified Health System (SUS), for their flock.

The mayor also indicated the possibility of exempting evangelical temples of the payment the city’s Urban Land Tax (IPTU).

The city’s council, however, voted 29 to 16 against opening up a process.

Government ally, councilman Dr. Jairinho, justified the rejection of the process by telling colleagues during the vote that the country has more serious problems to resolve and that the cited meeting was no reason for impeachment.

“The country is going through so much trouble and we are going to talk about a secret meeting?” said the lawmaker.

Outside the municipal building where lawmakers were voting, hundreds, both for and against the mayor, gathered to protest.

“I am from an African-based religion and there are terreiros [worship grounds for some African religions] which have been trying to obtain the tax exemptions, established by law, for the past two years,” psychologist Basilia de Paula told a government news agency, when criticizing the benefits supposedly given to evangelical temples.

Others like Marcelo Francisco said that the meeting was no motive for impeachment. “The audios were mixed to harm him. We’ve had absurd things occur in our country and nothing [consequences] happened,” he told Agencia Brasil.

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