RIO DE JANEIRO â€“ Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday as part of a day of protest in dozens of cities across Brazil against President Dilma Rousseff.
The demonstration in Rio de Janeiro started at 9:30 a.m. at Copacabana beach and drew far more people than organizers expected.
The protests were organized by grassroots groups that oppose the president but have no official links to any political parties.
The demonstrators chanted slogans against Rousseff and the governing Workers Party, or PT, calling for an end to corruption.
The majority of the protesters wore yellow and green garments, symbolizing the colors of Brazilâ€™s flag.
One speaker drew huge rounds of applause when he called former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva the â€œchief of the gangâ€ of corrupt politicians and said â€œhe should be put in prison.â€
A great many of the demonstrators were middle- and upper-class residents of Rio, a group that voted in large numbers for the opposition in last yearâ€™s presidential election.
Numerous protesters carried posters calling for Rousseff, who started her second term on Jan. 1, to be impeached.
Rousseffâ€™s popularity has plunged amid a series of revelations about the corruption scandal at state-controlled oil giant Petrobras in which nearly 50 politicians have been implicated.
The oil company, which accounts for about 12 percent of Brazilâ€™s GDP, is currently under investigation following the disclosure of widespread corruption said to have cost it billions of dollars since the mid-1990s.
The scandal involves accusations that some of Brazilâ€™s leading engineering and construction companies formed a cartel to overcharge for Petrobras contracts.
Those outside companies then allegedly split the extra money with corrupt Petrobras officials while setting aside some of the loot to pay off politicians who provided cover for the graft.
The scandal has led to the resignation of top company executives, including Maria das Gracas Silva Foster, who was replaced as Petrobrasâ€™s CEO by Aldemir Bendine, former chief executive of state-run bank Banco do Brasil.- BERNAMA