Thousands of Brazilians protested in demonstrations Wednesday night, some of them lasting to Thursday morning, after the latest twist in the country’s political crisis. On Wednesday, President Dilma Rousseff appointed her predecessor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to a Cabinet post, apparently as a way to give Lula limited immunity from prosecution in a spreading corruption case. Police on Wednesday night released recordings of phone taps on former President Lula’s phone. The conversations between Lula and Rousseff seemed to reinforce ideas that Rousseff is attempting to shield Lula from prosecution. Release of the phone taps has itself become controversial. Opposition political leaders said the taps show that Rousseff is guilty of obstruction of justice. But a spokesman for the Brazilian Bar Association said the taps were intrusive and illegal. Anti-Rousseff demonstrators used social media to organize protests in 16 of Brazil’s 27 states. According to press reports, about 10,000 gathered before the Congress building in Brasília, with police using tear gas to disburse the crowd. Demonstrators demanded Rousseff’s immediate resignation. About 5,000 gathered in São Paulo in an all-night vigil.
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