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Brazilians Stage Anti-Government Protest

At least 30,000 Brazilian government workers have rallied in Brasilia to voice their opposition to planned pension reforms.

The demonstrators braved intense heat Wednesday as they marched in the capital to stop the government from cutting their benefits.

This was the first mass protest against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office January first.

Popularly known as Lula, President da Silva says pension reform is necessary to save substantial amounts of government money.

The former labor leader also wants to raise the retirement age and levy a tax on the pensions of retired public workers. The change could affect as many as four million people.

But, some members of the president's Workers Party oppose pension reform. They tell the French news agency the overhaul is designed to satisfy the giant corporations and banks as well as the International Monetary Fund.

The president took office pledging to honor Brazil's financial commitments, keep inflation low and maintain fiscal stability. He also said his administration will work with the International Monetary Fund to stabilize Brazil's finances.