Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Brazil’s largest cities to demand the removal of President Jair Bolsonaro for his catastrophic response to a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed nearly half a million Brazilian lives.
Protesters flocked to more than 200 cities and towns for what is the largest anti-Bolsonaro mobilization since the Covid outbreak began in Brazil.
“Today is a decisive milestone in the battle to defeat Bolsonaro’s genocidal administration,” said Silvia de Mendonça, 55, a civil rights activist with the Unified Black Movement of Brazil, as she led a column of protesters through the dilapidated center of the city of Rio.
Osvaldo Bazani da Silva, a 48-year-old hairdresser who lost his younger brother to Covid-19, said: “We cannot lose any more Brazilian lives. We need to go out into the streets every day until this government falls ”.
In Rio, many protesters carried homemade banners remembering their loved ones that they lost to an epidemic that killed nearly 460,000 Brazilians, the second-highest official death toll in the world after the United States. “I am here in his memory,” said 18-year-old Luiz Dantas, holding a photograph of his grandfather, Sebastião, who died in February at the age of 75.
“The culprit has a name and a middle name,” Dantas said, referring to his country’s far-right president, who has repeatedly trivialized the coronavirus as a “little flu” and sabotaged containment efforts such as distancing. social or confinements.
“I want justice,” added the teenager, shedding tears as he spoke.
Irene Grether, a 69-year-old psychoanalyst who was also at the rally, said that two family members had died as a result of her government’s inaction. “This government is more dangerous than the virus,” he said as thousands of protesters gathered near a statue that commemorated the leader of the resistance against slavery, Zumbi dos Palmares.
Grether’s niece, a 46-year-old economist named Ana Paula Carvalho, said she believed Bolsonaro should be brought before the international criminal court in The Hague “for crimes against the Brazilian people.” “He encourages death and destruction,” he said. “Bolsonaro is a Brazilian tragedy.”
Bolsonaro has defended his response to the pandemic, claiming that his stubborn opposition to the closure is designed to project Brazilian livelihoods and employment. But Carvalho said that by allowing the uncontrolled spread of the virus and by not acquiring enough vaccines, Bolsonaro had destroyed the economy and also lives. “Today, the Brazilian people have the option of dying from the virus or from hunger,” he said.
Saturday’s demonstrations, which also took place in major cities such as São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Recife and the capital Brasilia, as well as dozens of smaller cities, come with Bolsonaro at possibly his lowest ebb since he took office in January 2019.
Polls suggest growing anger over the handling of Covid by right-wing populists, with 57% of the population now support his impeachment.. A congressional investigation is looking into Bolsonaro’s dire response to the public health crisis with damaging revelations about his government’s conduct that are broadcast nightly on the news.
Bolsonaro appears particularly affected by the resurgence of his political rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former left-wing president who appears poised to challenge him for the presidency in next year’s elections. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Lula, whose political rights were recently restored, said he had no doubt that the Brazilian people would “liberate” themselves from Bolsonaro in 2022. “He could have prevented half of these deaths,” Lula said about Bolsonaro’s reaction. to Covid.
Roberto Anderson, a 67-year-old university professor and environmentalist who was at Saturday’s march, said he was encouraged by the large turnout that suggested the tide was finally turning against Brazil’s radical right-wing leader.
“People are waking up. Many people who voted for Bolsonaro are now reeling … and the politicians who support him are still opportunists: the moment they see people organizing, they will also switch sides, “said Anderson.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism