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The constitutional amendment – passed by 53 votes for and 16 against on Tuesday – will freeze the government’s social spending at the rate of inflation for the next 20 years.
This is unprecedented.
Temer had replaced Dilma Rousseff as president in August and promised that he would push austerity and reform packages through – steps he says are crucial to pulling the Brazilian economy out of a stubborn recession.
The measures are deeply unpopular. Leftist senators had tried to delay the vote and asked that the 20-year spending cap not be applied to the education and health sectors.
But this motion is likely to be defeated in an upcoming vote of the Senate.
The United Nations has also criticised the spending cap saying it is extremely aggressive and does little more than punish the poor.
Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said the austerity measures were radical and lacked nuance and compassion.
“It is completely inappropriate to freeze only social expenditure and to tie the hands of all future governments for another two decades. If this amendment is adopted it will place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own,” Alston warned.
Opinion polls have showed that the measures are deeply unpopular and would likely to trigger mass rallies and demonstrations in a similar fashion to two years ago when hiking bus fares sparked protests throughout the country.
On Tuesday night thousands of people took to the streets in Sao Paulo and Brasilia to protest the Senate’s Constitutional Amendments.
Riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters in the beginning vandalizing buildings and stores.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies