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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Rio de Janeiro’s Legislative Assembly House (Alerj) on Wednesday, November 16th, to pressure legislators to reject the governor’s latest financial project for the city. The protest, which began peacefully, grew restless, with demonstrators trying to storm the building. Police officers tried to push them back using teargas and pepper spray as tension grew.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Protesters confront police in front of Rio's Alerj,
Protesters confront police in front of Rio’s Alerj, photo by Vladimir Platonow/Agência Brasil.

Rio Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão asked demonstrators to bring ideas and not violence to state legislators. “I ask that these people who are going there with violence, to bring ideas into the parliament, for us to solve the crisis, which is not only in Rio de Janeiro, but a crisis faced in Brazil,” the governor was quoted as saying by Agencia Brasil.

Most of the demonstrators at hand on Wednesday were off-duty police officers, firefighters and correction officers, protesting against the possibility of not receiving their Christmas bonus, due to the state’s financial crisis. With shouts of “No Bonus, No New Year’s Eve Party” demonstrators set fire to trashcans as legislators started to deliberate on two of the items included in mayor’s project.

Governor Pezão has stated that without drastic economic measures the state will not be able to pay the wages of public servants next year. According to the official, if a solution is not found the state may end up with a deficit in its public accounts of over R$52 billion by the end of 2018.

As part of his economic plan, Pezão has asked for a reduction by thirty percent in the salaries of the top municipal executives, including himself, an increase in social security contribution by state employees and the termination of several social programs throughout the state.

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