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Major anti-government protests across Brazil condemn corruption, economic woes

For the second time this year, there was a wave of protests across Brazil against President Dilma Rousseff. She is blamed for economic woes and a corruption scandal.

Brazilian protesters took to the streets of a hundred cities across the country on Sunday.

They were voicing

dissent on a number of issues

including the corruption scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras, the state of the economy and a sliding currency and political infighting.

Prosecutors say at least $800 million (75.5 million euros) was paid in bribes and other funds by construction and engineering firms in exchange for inflated Petrobras contracts. Rousseff, a former chairwoman of Petrobras' board, has not been implicated and so far is not being investigated. Two of her former chiefs of staff are among the dozens of officials caught up in the inquiry.

Brought together via social media, most of the assortment of groups organizing the protests called for the impeachment of Rousseff.

In the opposition heartland of Sao Paulo, about 100,000 people marched down the city's main street, according to an assessment from the Datafolha polling agency.

The crowd was about half that of last month's demonstration, which had been the biggest in Sao Paulo since rallies demanding the end of the military dictatorship in 1984.

Rousseff rating

"I was on the avenue on March 15 and without a doubt, today's demonstration was much smaller," Antonio Guglielmi, a sales representative told AP. "I will keep coming back to demonstrations like this one - big or small - because it is the best way for us to make our voices heard and demand an end to the Dilma government and the PT and end to corruption. The country cannot go on like this," he said.

In Rio de Janiero, several thousand people marched along Copacabana beach, a number of them dressed in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag.

Some demonstrators in the capital Brasilia displayed a banner calling for the army to intervene.

Rousseff's popularity ratings are below 20 percent. The Petrobras affair is one cause, but so are economic problems after four years of anemic growth. The government has responded with budget cuts, but promised to protect welfare programs that form the foundation of support for Rousseff's party.

jm/jil (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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