Update 2: Physical confrontation erupts in Brazil's Congress between Temer's supporters & opponents after he deploys the military against protesters.
Deputados da base e da oposição se agridem durante sessão após Presidência decretar Forças Armadas na rua para garantir a ordem pic.twitter.com/ENiarRgg5d— Folha de S.Paulo (@folha) May 24, 2017
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Update 1: Reuters reports that Temer has deployed troops to protect government buildings::
- BRAZIL DEFENSE MINISTER JUNGMANN SAYS PRESIDENT TEMER HAS ORDERED ARMY TROOPS TO PROTECT GOVT BUILDINGS FROM PROTESTERS
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Amid massive protests demanding the ouster of Brazilian President Michel Temer, local riot police used tear gas and concussion grenades against groups of violent protesters in the Brazilian capital, where according to GloboNews protesters set fire to several ministry buildings on Wednesday afternoon, as tens of thousands gathered outside Congress.
ERRATA: The protesters set on fire the Brazilian "IRS" federal buildings in Brasília the capital of Brazil and the Ministry of Agriculture pic.twitter.com/NZRHvFfQGC— Silver Surfer (@AlexLFz) May 24, 2017
Protesters chanting "Out with Temer!" marched to the presidential palace to demand an end to austerity reforms, AFP reports adding that police stopped their advance by using tear gas, while the protesters retaliated by throwing stones at the officers.
"It's the end of this putchist government. That's why the people have taken to the streets," said Francisca Gomes, 59, who came from Sao Paulo for the protest and carried a funeral ribbon carrying the image of the president and the words: "RIP Temer."
Brasilia's security service said that 500 buses had converged on the capital, with some 25,000 protesters. Organizers claimed there were far more, but an independent estimate was not immediately possible.
The protest began peacefully but clashes erupted almost as soon as the crowd got close to the government complex, where large numbers of riot police hiding behind black shields and others on horseback stood in reserve. Driven back, the protesters spread out, with some throwing stones against ministry buildings.
"Damned government," a man said as he retreated, with eyes streaming from the effects of the tear gas.
"In a democracy, no government can resist when the people take to the streets," said Dorival Pereira, 60, who had traveled 18 hours from Mato Grosso do Sul to be at the protest. Like many demonstrators, she wore a T-shirt with the slogan "Elections now!"
"Four people were detained by police,” Brazil’s Globo broadcaster reported, citing a police statement that also said three of the arrested had drugs on them and another a melee weapon. Protesters then set the Agricultural Ministry’s building on fire and smashed windows at several other ministerial buildings, Brazilian media report. All ministry buildings were subsequently evacuated and civil servants sent home.
The protesters have erected barricades on the streets using “sofas, chairs and tables” from nearby buildings and are burning litter.
The demonstrators burnt public bicycles and “plundered” the Ministry of Planning, according to some reports. The demonstrators also “did some damage” to the Brasilia Metropolitan Cathedral and the Museum of the Republic, according to Globo.
Tension in Brazil has risen sharply over the past week, after news broke that the Supreme Court authorized an investigation into the president over allegations of passive corruption and obstruction of justice. Unions opposed to Temer’s labor and pension reforms organized Wednesday protests, with some 35,000 taking to the streets and calling for immediate general elections. According to Brazilian law if Temer resigns or is forced out of office, Congress will elect an interim president.
As the protests took place outside Congress, members of Temer’s allied base were meeting to discuss whether to stick by the embattled president.