BRASILIA – Brazil’s president on Thursday revoked a controversial decree that allowed the military to be deployed on the streets of this capital to help quell violent anti-government protests.
The notice revoking the decree, which Michel Temer issued Wednesday, was published in the Official Gazette and stated that the presence of troops in the streets was no longer necessary because order had been restored.
The decree authorized up to 1,500 troops to be sent out onto the streets Wednesday after several buildings housing federal government ministries in Brasilia were vandalized, although members of opposition parties and some legal experts criticized the deployment.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann told reporters that only 200 troops were mobilized Wednesday in Brasilia.
He also noted that the troops were specifically ordered to safeguard public buildings and at no time used force against protesters, adding that only Brasilia’s police confronted the violent demonstrators.
Temer on Wednesday authorized the deployment of military personnel on Brasilia’s streets until May 31 in response to the violent protest, although Jungmann had told a radio station earlier Thursday that they could be removed earlier if order were fully restored.
Demonstrators had initially planned to denounce austerity measures aimed at getting the recession-hit country’s financial house in order, but many of the estimated 50,000 people who marched Wednesday in Brasilia also called for the beleaguered head of state’s resignation over serious corruption allegations.
At least 49 people were injured and seven were arrested in the violent incidents.
The Supreme Court launched a formal investigation into Temer last week on the basis of plea-bargain testimony by executives at Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS.
Those executives said they had paid bribes to Temer; his two immediate predecessors, Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; and hundreds of other politicians from across Brazil’s political spectrum in exchange for favors.
They also provided prosecutors with an explosive secret recording in which the head of state appears to recommend that JBS Chairman Joesley Batista continue to pay hush money to Eduardo Cunha, a former speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress who was convicted of graft earlier this year and sentenced to a long prison term.
Temer vehemently denies the allegations and says he has no intention of stepping down, although a loss of support from some key allies has him fighting for his political life.