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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 11:39 GMT
Brazil bingo staff march over ban
Bingo staff wave their workers books during a march in Brasilia
Bingo workers say they are being made to suffer for the scandal
Around 30,000 bingo workers in Brazil have taken to the streets in protest at the government's decision to shut bingo halls in a clampdown on corruption.

The order came after it was revealed a former government official demanded a kick-back from gambling bosses in 2002.

The halls are considered fronts for organised crime and money laundering.

Workers waving benefit books marched in Brasilia, Rio and Sao Paulo demanding President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva fire corrupt officials, not workers.

"We're workers, not criminals," shouted Adriana Souta, a bingo casher from Sao Paulo, who wore a t-shirt saying: "We voted for this coward."

Union bosses say the government's decision will leave more than 100,000 without jobs.


The order to shut bingo halls was aimed at hitting gambling executives linked to the worst crisis of Lula's 14-month-old government.

It came as the opposition called for a congressional probe into the scandal involving official Waldomiro Diniz.

Waldomiro Diniz (right) pictured on TV speaking to Carlos Ramos
Diniz was alleged to have taken bribes
Mr Diniz was fired on 13 February, after a video emerged showing him demanding a kick-back from gambling boss Carlos Ramos while he was head of the Rio de Janeiro lottery.

He was later given a job on the presidential staff when the Lula administration took over in January 2003.

Lula's Workers' Party insisted there has been no wrongdoing during its time in office.

But politically the incident has been embarrassing for a president who was elected partly because of a reputation for honesty, said the BBC's Steve Kingstone at the time of Mr Diniz's sacking.

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