35 million protesters bring Brazil to standstill
President Michel Temer said in a statement that his government will continue to work to “modernize” Brazil’s national legislation, with ample discussion of the proposed changes in Congress, adding that his administration is doing all it can to spur economic growth.
At least eight buses were torched in Rio de Janeiro as riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters in attempts to quell anti-austerity demonstrations.
Marcelo Faisal, a landscape architect travelling from Sao Paulo to Rio, said “reforms need to take place” and that the general strike was not living up to the hype.
The CUT union said about 35 million Brazilians did not show up for work Friday, more than a third of the working population.
Unemployment in Brazil has been rising steadily for the past two years, ever since the economy was hit by recession in early 2015.
Brazil’s largest unions called for the strike to protest draconian measures to lower the public deficit, including raising the retirement age and slashing government welfare programs.
The government said the general strike would have no impact on the reforms.
Halfway into a 24-hour worker strike, Brazil’s biggest cities have partially shut down – with many major thoroughfares clogged and businesses shuttered for the day. ■