Anti-Collor Demonstrations as Pro-Impeachment Movement Grows
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ President Fernando Collor de Mello asked Brazilians to support his government by wearing the national colors of yellow and green on Sunday, but most ignored his appeal or wore black - for impeachment.
In Brasilia, the capital, about 10,000 black-clad protestors gathered near the presidential palace to demand that Collor, threatened with impeachment over corruption, step down. A green-and-yellow Collor doll hanging from a noose was carried at the head of the procession.
Tens of thousands of other protesters drove cars in a procession that stretched for 13 miles through the capital, local media reported.
Among the protesters was Pedro Luis Rodrigues, Collor’s former press spokesman, who resigned earlier this month.
Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest and most respected newspaper, said Saturday that wearing black expr 0 on.″
Only about 500 people gathered Sunday at Collor’s Brasilia mansion to back the president. Most were bused in from slum communities on the city’s outskirts by businessmen who support Collor. Collor went out for a 15-minute jog, but refused to speak with the press.
Protestors outnumbered Collor supporters in other major cities as well.
Collor is accused of taking money from Paulo Cesar Farias, his close friend and 1989 campaign treasurer. Farias is under investigation for graft, corruption, tax evasion and influence trafficking.
Congressional hearings have revealed a corruption scheme linked to Farias involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Part of the money went to pay Collor’s personal and family expenses.
Collor says he won’t resign, but impeachment proceedings are expected to begin shorly after congressional investigators announce their findings on Saturday.
Opposition leaders admit that if a vote were held today, they couldn’t muster the two-thirds of the 503 legislators needed to impeach. But there have been signs that Collor’s political support is crumbling, including last week’s announcement by former president Jose Sarney that he would support impeachment.
Sarney, now a senator from the northern state of Amapa, controls a bloc of at least 10 congressional votes.
In Rio, more than 10,000 demonstrators wearing black clothing and beach wear marched through the ocean front district of Copacabana chanting anti- government slogans.
During a 30-minute drive through the city, not a single person was seen wearing yellow or green and just one Brazilian flag was spotted in an apartment building. No pro-government demonstrations were organized.
In Sao Paulo, six anti-Collor demonstrations were held, including a symbolic burial of Collor at the city’s Municipal Theater. Many city residents hung black cloth from windows and a huge black banner was hung from a downtown office building.
Other pro-impeachment demonstrations attracted huge crowds across the nation. In Belo Horizonte, the country’s third largest city, an estimated 10,000 people marched.
The president launched the ″war of the colors″ last Thursday when he urged people to ″go out next Sunday with some article of clothing in one of the colors of our flag, display in your windows towels, cloths or whatever you have in the colors of the flag.″
″We sold 400 meters (of black) in just one day,″ said Carlos Soares, the manager of a fabric store in the middle class neighborhood of Catete.