Rio de Janeiro (AFP)
Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets on Saturday to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro, who faces mounting pressure as the pandemic takes a devastating toll.
It was the fourth weekend of protests called by left-wing political parties, unions and social groups against Bolsonaro, who is under investigation for allegedly turning a blind eye to a scheme to embezzle funds public in the purchase of vaccines.
Protest marches were planned in 400 towns and villages.
In Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people dressed in red and wearing face masks marched with banners bearing slogans berating the beleaguered leader, including “No one can take more” and “Bring out the corrupt criminal”.
Organizers said they were part of a day meant to galvanize the country “to defend democracy, the lives of Brazilians and bring Bolsonaro out”.
In Rio and elsewhere, protesters complained about the late start of Brazil’s immunization program and high unemployment, and demanded more emergency aid for the poor struggling with the pandemic.
“It is very important that all those who feel offended or oppressed by this government go out into the streets, because we must fight for the return to democracy”, told AFP Laise de Oliveira, a social worker of 65 years.
# photo1The Brazilian press ran images and reports of crowded streets of anti-Bolsonaro protesters in 20 of Brazil’s 26 states until early afternoon.
– Record low approval –
Neither the organizers nor the authorities have released an overall estimate of the number of people attending the marches.
But large demonstrations were planned in Sao Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil with 12.3 million inhabitants, and the capital Brasilia.
# photo2Bolsonaro, criticized for his words in favor of exploiting the Amazon’s protected areas, his take on guns and an ambitious privatization program, is going through his worst period since coming to power in 2019.
His approval rating is at an all-time high of 24% and polls suggest he could lose the October presidential election to his main rival, former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose Party of workers was one of the forces behind Saturday’s protests.
Brazil has suffered nearly 550,000 deaths from the Covid, a toll exceeded only by that of the United States, which has nearly 120 million more people.
Bolsonaro has been famous for his disregard for the health crisis, the need to wear face masks and lockdown measures to stop the spread of the virus.
But Bolsonaro still has enough backers in Congress to block these initiatives, including that of the president, who decides whether complaints are allowed to continue.
© 2021 AFP