UPDATE 5-Brazilians protest after Lula named chief of staff, gains immunity

miércoles 16 de marzo de 2016 22:42 GYT

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By Anthony Boadle and Caroline Stauffer

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO, March 16 (Reuters) - Protests erupted in several Brazilian cities on Wednesday after President Dilma Rousseff named her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva chief of staff and a taped conversation fed opposition claims the move was meant to shield Lula from prosecution.

In the capital Brasilia, riot police fired pepper spray at more than 5,000 demonstrators who filled the streets outside the presidential palace and Congress building. They waved banners calling for the leftist leader's resignation and Lula's arrest.

Thousands more demonstrators packed the main Avenue Paulista in Sao Paulo, Brazil's financial hub, which was the center of national protests on Sunday that drew more than 1 million people onto the streets in a call for Rousseff's departure.

With Brazil's economy mired in its worst recession in a generation, popular anger at Rousseff is mounting as an investigation into bribes and political kickbacks at state oil company Petrobras taints her inner circle.

"I am here for the future of my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren," said Vera Carneiro, 75, draped in a yellow-and-green Brazilian flag outside the presidency. "Dilma has to go. She and Lula both. Enough is enough."

Rousseff's appointment of Lula, who was charged last week with money laundering and fraud as part of the probe, was slammed by opposition parties as a desperate attempt to rally support in Congress against impeachment proceedings due to start on Thursday.

Lula, a 70-year-old former union leader whose 2003-2010 government helped lift some 40 million Brazilians out of poverty, remains one of Brazil's most influential politicians.   Continuación...