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Violent Clashes Mar Brazilian Senate Vote on Austerity

AFP

First published: November 30, 2016, 7:53 AM IST | Updated: 4 days ago
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Violent Clashes Mar Brazilian Senate Vote on Austerity
Protesters shield themselves as police fire tear gas at their demonstration outside Congress, where senators planned to vote on a spending cap bill and the lower Chamber of Deputies was considering controversial anti-corruption legislation, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Brazil. (AP Photo)

Brasilia: Brazilian riot police fought an angry crowd of demonstrators outside Congress as lawmakers prepared to vote on austerity measures freezing government spending for 20 years.

The violent scenes in the capital Brasilia underlined tensions in Latin America's biggest economy as the center-right government of President Michel Temer attempts to embark on major cutbacks.

Riot police yesterday fired tear gas and stun grenades into a crowd of thousands. Squads of officers occasionally beat and kicked isolated protesters.

Some demonstrators hurled objects at police and turned over a car. Thick clouds of tear gas eventually drove the crowds away but small groups continued to confront the security forces, throwing back tear gas canisters and attempting to block an avenue.

The disturbances occurred as the Senate was set to hold the first of two votes on Temer's proposed long-term spending freeze. It was already approved by the lower house.

Even more controversial measures, including pension reform, are planned to follow. Temer says action is needed to save Brazil, deep in its worst recession for decades, from bankruptcy.

The tensions also came amid national mourning after a plane crash late Monday in Colombia killed much of the southern Brazilian Chapecoense football team and 20 Brazilian journalists, among the more than 70 people who perished.

Flags outside Congress were at half-mast and earlier Temer declared three days of mourning.

Meanwhile in the lower house of Congress, deputies were preparing to vote on a controversial anti-corruption law. The bill would toughen penalties for illegal campaign funds, a major problem in Brazil.

However, last week there was uproar when deputies tried to change the text to include what would have amounted to an amnesty for any politicians who had accepted illegal campaign funds up until now. In the face of mounting public pressure, Temer announced that he would veto such a bill.

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