Troops pull out of Brazil capital; president under pressure

Posted May 27, 2017

President Temer ordered military troops be deployed on the streets of Brasilia, which has caused controversy because of the sensitivity that prevails in Brazilian society due to the dictatorship that the country endured between the years of 1964 and 1985.

Brazil's president canceled an order that sent 1,500 soldiers onto the streets of the capital following criticism the move was excessive and merely an effort to maintain power amid increasing calls for his resignation.

The embattled politician ordered the military deployed to help quell the massive protests against his tenure Wednesday - protests that turned violent as demonstrators clashed with riot police and smashed the windows of some public buildings.

It was a "mistake" to deploy the almost 1,500 troops, said Jairo Nicolau, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

In a decree published in the Official Diary, Temer revoked the order issued the previous day, saying that "the halt to acts of destruction and violence and the subsequent reestablishment of law and order" had motivated him to pull back the troops.

As part of the Car Wash probe, Temer now faces allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to a former lawmaker who has been jailed for corruption. "They lit a fire in a room, broke photos in a gallery of ex-ministers and confronted police", a spokesman for the ministry told AFP. "President Temer will not allow that".

Brazil's top prosecutor has opened investigations into the president for alleged obstruction of justice and passive corruption. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said the army will leave the streets considering that the order has returned to the city now.

In a recorded message released later on Thursday, Temer, 76, said the nation has not come to a standstill and that Congress continues to vote on government proposals.

After the government said it had implemented the measure on the request of the president of the Lower Chamber, Rodrigo Maia, he said he had in fact requested the National Force to intervene, a mixed military troop frequently used in urban operations, not the Army.

The latest protests against the Temer administration, installed a year ago with the removal of former President Dilma Rousseff in an impeachment process widely condemned as a parliamentary coup, come on the heels of the most severe scandal to hit the government yet after a wiretap recording revealed Temer had endorsed bribes to keep quiet a powerful witness in corruption investigations.

Associated Press photographer Eraldo Peres reported this story in Brasilia and AP writer Mauricio Savarese reported from Rio de Janeiro.

If that happens, Congress would have 30 days to pick a successor to lead Brazil until elections late next year.

His popularly plummeted once he began governing as he tried to pass economic changes meant to jump-start the economy, which is in the deepest recession in a century.

"If this government can not hold itself up, the armed forces will not hold up this government", said Sen.

Some experts say government-backed measures to liberalize the labor market and raise the pension age have little chance of being passed until a new government is installed after fresh elections. Critics interpreted the troop deployment as a sign of desperation by a president under pressure.

But that's not going to be straightforward due to a lack of effective communication between the presidential palace and the court, said two people with direct knowledge of the TSE.