Brazil Calm, But Discontent Still Simmers

SAO PAULO (AP) -

After a week of protests at a frenetic pace, a restive calm settled over Brazil on Sunday, though there were a few peaceful demonstrations against corruption.

The protests that began more than a week ago in Sao Paulo quickly enveloped Brazil. A survey from the National Counties Federation said that every state in the nation had a protest of some sort in 438 counties, with the apex on Thursday when 1 million people went to the streets.

About 4,000 people marched on a road along Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana and Ipanema beaches Sunday, while a few hundred protested in the northeastern city of Fortaleza. No clashes were reported.

On Saturday a quarter-million Brazilians protested in more than 100 cities, but the gatherings were less violent than those seen earlier in the week. The movement, which arose with a sea of complaints of everything that ails the nation, has coalesced around demands for political reform to attack widespread corruption.

The sudden explosion of discontent and the political awakening of Brazilians has left everyone from President Dilma Rousseff on down bewildered, creating uncertainty about what will come next. The Globo media network reported Sunday that the Rousseff government was expected to announce its first concrete response Tuesday: additional funds for a health care program that aims to train more doctors.

It’s clear that Brazilians will use the big events as reasons to demand change.

“The violence that we saw this week was carried out by marginal groups attempting to demoralize this people’s movement, but it won’t be successful. The peaceful masses will carry on,” said Marcos Mahal, a 47-year-old economist, during a protest in Sao Paulo

A new poll said 75 percent of citizens support the demonstrations. Published by the weekly magazine Epoca, the survey was carried out by the respected Ibope institute, which interviewed 1,008 people across the country.

Despite the overwhelming support for the protests, 69 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their lives and optimistic of the future. The nation has nearly full employment and has seen 40 million people move into its definition of middle class in the past decade.