Brazil's Rousseff loses crucial impeachment vote in Congress

Updated: 2016-04-18 10:31


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Brazil's Rousseff loses crucial impeachment vote in Congress

Members of Brazil's Lower House of Congress voice their votes one by one over the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil April 17, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Despite anger at rising unemployment, Rousseff's Workers Party can rely on strong support among millions of working-class Brazilians, who credit its welfare programs with pulling their families out of poverty during the past decade.

"The fight is going to continue now in the streets and in the federal Senate," said Jose Guimaraes, the leader of the Workers' Party in the lower house, conceding that the governmenthad lost the vote. "We lost because the coup-mongers werestronger."

Opinion polls suggest more than 60 percent of Brazilians support impeaching Rousseff, Brazil's first female president.

While she has not been accused of corruption, Rousseff's government has been tainted by a vast graft scandal at state oil company Petrobras and by the economic recession.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from both sides took to the streets of towns and cities across the vast nation.

Millions watched the Congressional vote live on television in bars and restaurants, in their homes or on giant screens in the street.

On the grassy esplanade outside Congress, a 6.5-foot-high (2-meter) security barrier ran for more than 1 km separating rival demonstrations, a symbol of the political rift that hasemerged in one of the world's most unequal societies.

In Brazil's southern economic powerhouse of Sao Paulo, thousands of pro-impeachment demonstrators packed the central Avenida Paulista, draped in Brazilian flags and waving banners reading: "Dilma out".