Jairo Nicolau, a professor of political science at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said the move to call in the armed forces was a “mistake.”
“It is a bad sign at this moment; it could signal weakness from the government,” Mr. Nicolau said. “We are in a moment of insecurity, and any act of this type creates more insecurity. We have had much worse demonstrations than this that were controlled by the police.”
Tensions have been rising in Brazil over a scandal engulfing Mr. Temer’s government, especially after a beef tycoon secretly recorded his discussion with the president about obstructing an anticorruption drive. The disclosure last week of the recording prompted a plunge in Brazil’s financial markets, an investigation of Mr. Temer and widespread calls for him to resign, but he has combatively refused to step down.
Brazilian news organizations reported on Wednesday that ministry buildings in Brasília were evacuated as a result of the protests, while a session of Congress was suspended after shouting matches erupted between opponents of Mr. Temer, 76, a centrist who has drifted to the right, and his supporters. Firefighters managed to control the blaze in the Agriculture Ministry.
The public security secretariat of Brazil’s Federal District, which includes Brasília, blamed protesters trying to get through a security cordon for the violence.
“Demonstrators tried to invade the security perimeter,” the secretariat said in a statement, but they were stopped by the police, “who used progressive force.”
Some demonstrators contested the official statement.
Vitor Guimarães, 26, an activist from the Landless Workers’ Movement, a militant leftist group, said that he was on the grassy area in front of Congress when the police attacked protesters.
“The main part of the demonstration had not arrived and they started throwing percussion grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets,” Mr. Guimarães said.
Some protesters hid behind shields, others threw percussion grenades back at the police, he said.
“There were various focal points of resistance,” Mr. Guimarães said. “People with shields wanting to get closer, and people throwing the bombs back and some letting off fireworks.”
Mr. Guimarães was hit in the face by a projectile he said he thought was a tear-gas canister.
“The police wanted to expel everyone from the esplanade,” he said.
In addition to the protests in Brasília, police officers in Rio de Janeiro came under attack by demonstrators wielding slingshots in the city’s downtown, officials said. Lawmakers in Rio had been debating measures to ease the state’s severe financial crisis.
Amid the impasse on the national level, Mr. Temer has also maintained pressure on Congress to vote on broadly unpopular austerity measures. A general strike already disrupted cities across Brazil in April when unions marshaled resistance to Mr. Temer’s proposals, which would curb pension benefits and overhaul labor laws.
Mr. Temer has gone on the offensive against his accuser, Joesley Batista, 44, an heir to the JBS food processing empire. Mr. Temer claimed that the recording of their conversation in March had been adulterated and manipulated, and he said he would seek the suspension of the graft investigation into his activities.
Mr. Temer is accused of receiving millions in illicit payments and seeking to obstruct corruption inquiries. He took power barely more than a year ago after helping to orchestrate the ouster of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, over accusations that she manipulated the budget to conceal mounting economic problems.
Mr. Nicolau, the political science professor, said that while Mr. Temer remained in office, protests like those on Wednesday were likely to worsen.
“I see these demonstrations as a radicalization that is going to get more serious,” he said. “There is enormous dissatisfaction.”
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