RIO DE JANEIRO Oct 17 Police fired tear gas in
downtown Rio de Janeiro on Monday when protesters demonstrating
against a proposed government spending cap approached the
headquarters of state oil company Petrobras, the GloboNews
The police action marks the first time a new wave of
Brazilian street protests, this time against the signature
economic policy of the months-old government of President Michel
Temer, have turned violent.
The proposed constitutional limit on federal government
spending would restrict budget increases to the inflation rate
for 20 years. The measure is aimed at closing a budget deficit
that exceeded 10 percent of gross domestic product last year and
reviving confidence in the midst of a two-year recession that
has seen Brazil lose 12 million jobs.
Protesters say the measure will hurt health, education and
other social spending.
The protests also come as Temer's union-movement opponents,
plan a major strike against Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras
is formally known, over plans to sell assets and cut debt at the
financially troubled oil company.
Police moved to disperse the demonstrators shortly before 8
p.m. (2200 GMT) after they veered off an approved route, left
the main protest that was winding down Rio's main downtown
avenue and allegedly provoked police, GloboNews said.
The press office of the Rio de Janeiro-state police declined
to give an estimate of the crowd size or confirm if there were
any arrests or injuries. Protest organizers said about 5,000
The conflict occurred on a side street where the
headquarters of Petroleo Brasileiro SA and
state-owned development bank BNDES are located, the
news agency said.
Small standoffs between police and protesters continued in
adjacent streets and on a major public square for at least an
(Reporting by Jeb Blount; Editing by Andrew Hay and Leslie