RIO DE JANEIRO – The Brazilian military is ignoring calls by government opponents for an army “intervention” against the government of President Dilma Rousseff, the country’s defense minister said Tuesday.
That request has “near zero” support in the barracks, said Jacques Wagner in remarks to reporters in the presence of several generals after participating in the opening of the LAAD Defense & Security trade fair.
The minister said he felt “sadness” to see that a portion of Brazilians want a military intervention, although he added that it is a “minority of between 9 percent and 11 percent” of those who participated in massive anti-government protests.
The call for a military coup, according to Wagner, is an “affront to democracy” and not only affects the government but all state institutions.
Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime jailed and tortured thousands, including a young Dilma Rousseff.
The largest protests against Rousseff and against corruption came on March 15, when about two million people turned out in dozens of cities around the country.
Last Sunday, the protests were repeated, but they attracted only about 700,000 people nationwide, according to police estimates, although in this case the demonstrators placed more emphasis on calling for the resignation or ousting of Rousseff.
Wagner said that the “rallying cry of removal doesn’t manage to motivate” the majority of Brazilians and he added that the government had witnessed the demonstrations “with humility and calmness.”
State oil company Petrobras is at the center of a corruption scandal that broke in March 2014 with revelations about over-inflated contracts and kickbacks.
Dozens of politicians, most of them Rousseff’s political allies, have been implicated in the scheme.
Even so, Brazil’s first female president was re-elected in October to another four-year term.