© unknownSome socialist anti-Obama protests in Rio de Janeiro. Police scattered the crowd with rubber bullets on Friday. More protests are scheduled by political groups during Obama's two day trip to Brazil.
A molotov cocktail was launched in front of the US consulate in Rio de Janeiro late Friday in protest of the arrival of President Barack Obama, the O Globo
newspaper in Rio reported. Military police reacted by firing rubber bullets into the gathering of 200 at around 18:30 local time. A CBN news reporter suffered a minor injury from the shots and traffic was blocked.
"They came after us with clubs and tear gas and attacked," according to protestor Thiago Hastenheiter. "They chased us through the streets and started firing rounds of rubber bullets."
Police major Fabio Alessandro of the 13th Batallion of Rio's military police said that the protestors, all left leaning social movements associated with the Socialist Workers Party, PSTU, did not have a permit to protest near the consulate along Avenida Rio Branco and had refused to disperse from the area. They wore the ubiquitous Che Guevera T shirt and carried American flags that said Go Home Obama. Most of the protests had been peaceful until two home-made molotov cocktails were let loose in the direction of the Consulate. A guard at the Consulate was partially burned and was sent to the emergency room at Souza Aguiar Hospital.
Fourteen protestors have been arrested.
Obama will arrive in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday and give a speech to invited guests in downtown Rio. Originally, the speech was to take place at the Cinelândia square in the city, but was changed on Friday. The Embassy did not give a reason for the change. Rumors on the street and in the local press were that security officials were worried of a possible terrorist attack against Obama in open air in light of the UN Security Council resolution against Libya on Thursday. Obama endorsed military action against Libya following over a week of violence against anti-government rebels there. Moammar Gadhafi agreed to a cease fire.
What is most ironic about the Brazil protests is that the PSTU is a hard core socialist party in Brazil. While anti-Obama protests in the US consider Obama a socialist, the socialists in Brazil consider him a yankee capitalist, the bane of the Latin American left.
PSTU said on its website that protests will also take place in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte cities around 19:00 local time. More were planned for Saturday morning in the nation's capital, Brasilia, and a final protest was being organized by PSTU adherents for Sunday morning, the day of Obama's speech.
PSTU is a faction of the much larger Workers Party, or PT. It split from the ruling PT party in the first few years of the administration of populist pragmatic president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on claims that Lula wasn't left wing enough.
PSTU says the protest is to bring "American imperialism" to the attention of the millions of Brazilians who will be watching and reading about Obama over the next two days. The protestors say that Obama wants to promote a free trade agreement, long dead between the two countries, and aired concern of a potential US attack on Libya despite a cease fire call by Gadhafi.
Another complaint was that Obama wanted Brazilian president from the Workers Party, Dilma Rousseff, to sell Brazil's newfound oil to the US. One of the world's largest deep sea oil discoveries was made by Brazilian oil company Petrobras in the so called Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin off the coast of Rio back in November of 2007.
The US is interested in importing oil from Petrobras, and Obama has said as much. But the US has no powers over Petrobras, which is majority owned by the Brazilian government and intent on servicing local oil needs first.