Protesters against austerity clash with police in Rio
Police and protesters clashed Tuesday outside the state legislature in Rio de Janeiro during a demonstration against austerity measures being discussed in the chamber.
Military police said in a statement that protesters threw homemade grenades and rockets toward the assembly. Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, according to local media.
Images on TV showed protesters shooting off rockets and throwing debris onto a growing fire outside the legislature. Riot police could be seen moving in formation toward protesters. The tear gas apparently wafted into the assembly itself, and a photo on the G1 news portal showed some members of the assembly wearing surgeon\’s masks while they sat in the chamber.
The confrontations took place over several blocks around the legislature. At one point, police entered a church near the chamber and fired on protesters from there. Eight police were injured in the clashes, according to the police statement. It was not clear how many protesters were injured, but G1 reported that the Red Cross was on the scene taking care of them.
The legislators were voting on measures to address the crisis, in which thousands of state employees and retirees have not been paid or have been paid months late. Other states are facing similar crunches, underscoring the difficulty of pulling Latin America\’s largest economy out of recession while also addressing large deficits.
But Rio\’s situation has drawn particular ire since it comes months after it hosted the 2016 Olympics. Many fear that austerity measures will hamper already cash-strapped police amid a deteriorating security situation. Others blame the cash shortfalls on corruption, which is front and center in Brazil these days as a massive investigation ensnares many of the country\’s political and business elite.
As part of that investigation, prosecutors on Tuesday ordered that the wife of a former Rio governor be taken into preventative custody. Both Sergio Cabral, who is himself in custody, and his wife, Adriana Ancelmo, are facing corruption charges.
Prosecutors say Cabral accepted bribes from several companies in exchange for help securing building contracts. In total, Cabral received tens of millions of dollars in a scheme that included laundering money via the writing of fake contracts and buying luxury goods, according to investigators. Ancelmo is also facing charges that she laundered money.