Brasilia, April 13: Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Sunday, venting anger over government corruption and economic drift just one month after widespread protests drew more than a million people.
By early afternoon, organizers said some 190,000 people across the country had answered the call to protest, driven in large part by the widening scandal at state-owned oil giant Petrobras.
Protesters also expressed their displeasure over rising inflation and soaring utility bills. Those pocket-book issues -- as well as the perceived erosion of workers' rights -- have fueled growing opposition to leftist President Dilma Rousseff, re-elected just last October.
Turnout across the nation included some 25,000 in the capital Brasilia, although police put the overall figure at nearer 100,000, media conglomerate Globo reported on its website.
Organizers had hoped more than one million people would attend marches held in some 400 cities.
Rio hosted two modest protests at the tourist magnet of Copacabana beach, where media put participants at some 10,000, while another march was scheduled for early afternoon in business hub Sao Paulo.
"We have come to show what is going on in Brazil -- this government is doing nothing. The people must show their unsatisfaction," Dianara Loubet, a 75-year-old yoga instructor, told AFP as marchers converged on the capital Brasilia, where some protesters hung a banner calling for the army to intervene.
"Dilma out" and "corrupt government" were just 2 slogans borne on giant banners
"Dilma out" and "corrupt government" were just two slogans borne on giant banners held aloft by marchers. Many protesters wore the canary yellow of the Brazilian soccer team as they called for Rousseff to be impeached -- though most commentators believe that is unlikely to happen.
Similar protests on March 15 brought out more than 1.7 million people according to police, although polling organization Datafolha questioned what it deemed inflated figures in Sao Paulo.
Although today's numbers appeared modest, organizers said it was not the size of rallies that counts, but the message.
"We don't have an estimate for how many people there are. We want all Brazil to come out into the streets (but) we are not here to break records," said Rizzia Arreiro, a 35-year-old Rio protester from the Vem Pra Rua (take to the streets) protest group.
"The main objective is to get Rousseff's dismissal or resignation," Fabio Ostermann, an opposition leader organizing the rally, said yesterday.