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article imageHuge protest in Rio against oil royalties share-out plan (video)

By Anne Sewell     Nov 27, 2012 in World
Rio De Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro's streets were packed with hundreds of thousands of protesters on Monday, slamming a law that would spread the state's oil wealth around Brazil.
In 2007, massive oil reserves were found off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, estimated to hold more than 100 billion barrels of high-quality crude oil. This gives the potential to turn Brazil into the 4th largest world leader in oil exports.
New legislation is being introduced that would cost Rio an estimated $1.6 billion a year from 2013 onwards, by redistributing the state’s massive oil wealth evenly across Brazil’s other 25 states. The bill would effectively lower the royalties collected by producing states from 26% to 20%, redistributing the balance around the country's other states.
This new legislation brought hundreds of thousands of Rio's citizens into the streets on Monday, protesting that this bill would "cripple" the state and would endanger the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics set to be held in the city.
Many people were ferried in from surrounding towns into the center of Rio for the mass protest, which was dubbed "Veto Dilma! Against injustice. In defense of Rio. "
Transport was free around the city on Monday afternoon to encourage public support of the protest.
Isabel Johnson, a 24-year-old nurse, told AFP, "We cannot redistribute the royalties with other states. It is our heritage and our chance to climb on the international stage with the exploitation of the pre-salt," in reference to massive deep-water oil reserves discovered in 2007 off the shores of Rio de Janeiro state.
Rio's State Governor, Sergio Cabral, called the new legislation "unconstitutional.” He said, “I am expecting President Dilma to veto this."
"It represents a loss 4 billion reais (US$1.9 billion) for the state in 2013. Without this money the state will be crippled, there will be no Olympics or World Cup,” he added.
Cabral has reportedly ordered a huge "Veto Dilma" banner to be placed across the city's iconic Sugarloaf Mountain.
Protesters in Rio de Janeiro over oil royalties.
Protesters in Rio de Janeiro over oil royalties.
According to Julio Bueno, Rio's State Secretary for Economic Development, "the consequences would be disastrous" for the state, as some cities and towns get around 60% of their revenues from oil royalties.
The legislation was passed by the Brazilian Congress on November 7, but Rio's authorities and protesters alike are appealing to President Dilma Rouseff to axe the legislation before it is made law.
President Dilma has until Friday to exercise his veto. Rio's authorities say that if he does not, they have resolved to take the case to the Brazilian Supreme Court.
Huffington Post has many photos of the demonstration.
More about Rio de janeiro, Brazil, Oil, Share, Royalties
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