Brazilian Congress calls for criminal charges against Bolsonaro

A special constitutional commission voted in favor of recommending criminal charges against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro after thousands of demonstrators marched in his country’s capital to demand he withdraw from his Cabinet after a soldier killed two protesters.

More than 20 lawmakers, mostly from the president’s political party, cast votes Saturday after three days of hearings that took place in Brazilian Congress’ committee on constitutional affairs.

According to Brazilian law, a commission cannot base recommendations on only two videos, so multiple videos of the Dec. 1 demonstration in Rio de Janeiro had to be considered.

The vote was close, with one member of the commission voting no and four remaining abstaining.

Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who was elected in October, was elected on a wave of discontent with Brazil’s political establishment. Thousands of demonstrators protested his Sept. 29 inauguration and are demanding he fire several Cabinet members.

The military barracks in Rio de Janeiro where the march took place was a scene of violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in the deaths of two people.

One of the protesters, Mauricio Sychiera, 28, said Saturday he thought Bolsonaro would not be removed from office because the military had warned him to be careful and cautious.

“He shouldn’t be targeted, that’s up to the law,” Sychiera said. “In the end, the Brazilian people have to decide whether they want him gone or not. We don’t know if Brazilians are tired of having politics of violence, but I don’t think this will alter our path.”

Bolsonaro resigned to make room for his vice president, Hamilton Mourao, and accepted his critics’ call to reduce the size of his Cabinet.

According to New York University Center on Global Energy Policy’s website, the last Brazilian president to resign was Fernando Collor de Mello, in 1989. The last to be removed was Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was impeached in March of this year.

Author Information: Sanika Dange is a staff writer at the New York Post.

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