Brazilians Take to Streets against Temer-Backed Reforms


Tens of thousands of Brazilians returned to the streets Friday to protest reforms backed by President Michel Temer's conservative government.

Union members, students, teachers and leftist groups gathered late in the afternoon in central Sao Paulo to demonstrate, as similar protests took place nationwide in cities including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.

Unions dubbed Friday's protests a "warm-up" for a general strike set for April 28.

"Today is another national day of demonstrations against the reform of the pension system, labor laws and all the attacks that the Temer government and its allies are committing against the workers of this country," said Marcella Azevedo, who leads the Movement of Women in Struggle group.

An Ibope poll commissioned by Brazil's National Confederation of Industry said Friday that just 31 percent consider Temer's government is doing an acceptable job, while 55 percent call the performance bad or terrible.

Just 10 percent said it was good or excellent.

Temer took over last year after the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff, who was found guilty of illegal government accounting tricks. 

He has promised to restore the economy to health after two years of recession, but his center-right government is no more popular than Rousseff's.

Despite government predictions of economic recovery within months, Brazil's jobless rate shot to 13.2 percent over the last quarter, the state statistics office said Friday.

Temer got Congress to pass a 20-year spending freeze and is now asking for pension reform and other painful measures. 

Those moves have fueled a strong resistance, even among those in Temer's allied base.