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Mass Rio protest over oil royalty measure

Tens of thousands rally against a measure that would deprive the state of Rio $1.7bn oil royalties in 2013 alone.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2012 06:31


Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to press Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to veto a bill that would divide oil royalties more evenly between all Brazil's 26 states instead of favouring top oil producers like Rio and neighbouring Espirito Santo.

Late Monday’s protest was by called Governor Sergio Cabral and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes who said that the measure would deprive Rio of $1.7 billion in 2013 alone and cripple plans to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The measure would cut from 30 to 20 per cent the royalties collected by the federal government, and from 26 to 20 per cent those of producing states.

Non-producing states in turn would see their oil royalty revenues rise from seven to 21 per  cent by 2013, and up to 27 per cent by 2020.

The rally dubbed "Veto Dilma! Against injustice. In defense of Rio" was held in a festive atmosphere and police estimated that 200,000 people from various cities across Rio de Janeiro state participated.

Rousseff has until Friday to endorse or veto the measure, which has already been approved by both chambers of Brazil's congress.

To encourage the public to join the protest, civil servants were given the afternoon off and public transportation was free.

And Cabral ordered a huge "Veto Dilma" banner to be placed across the city's iconic Sugarloaf Mountain.

Non-producing states have been pressing for an equitable distribution of oil royalties among the country's 26 states and the federal district of Brasilia, a move bitterly opposed by producing states.

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