Rio de Jenario, Brazil: Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 461,000 people.
10,000 people marched through the streets of Rio de Janeiro wearing masks, some yelling “Bolsonaro genocide” or “Go away Bolsovirus.”
Similar protests took place in other large cities, the latest in a surge of anti-Bolsonaro dissent that began months ago. Brazil has the world’s second-highest coronavirus mortality toll, after the United States.
The far-right Bolsonaro dismissed Covid-19 as “little flu” at the start of the pandemic, and as the death toll has steadily risen, he has continued to enrage people in other ways, opposing stay-at-home measures and masks, touting ineffective medications, refusing offers of vaccines, and failing to anticipate oxygen shortages that caused patients to suffocate.
One of the rally’s main themes was how many lives could have been saved if the Bolsonaro government had begun Brazil’s vaccination campaign sooner. The trip is slow and has frequently stalled due to a lack of supplies.
“We must stop this government. We must say ‘enough is enough,'” businessman Omar Silveira told AFP at the Rio rally.
Tens of thousands of people in Brazil staged another day of protest against President Jair Bolsonaro, in particular for his chaotic handling of the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 460,000 lives here https://t.co/c398Sz9rGY pic.twitter.com/8LmBLpZaYN
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 29, 2021
Of Bolsonaro, he said: “He is a murderer, a psychopath. He has no feelings. He does not feel, as we do. He cannot perceive the disaster that he is causing.”
Demonstrators also accused Bolsonaro of encouraging violence and racism by allowing deforestation in the Amazon and land seizures from indigenous people.
Other major cities, including the capital Brasilia, Salvador in the northeast, and Belo Horizonte in the southeast, hosted rallies on Saturday.
According to the news website G1, police in the northeastern city of Recife dispersed a street gathering with tear gas and rubber bullets.
People marched towards Congress, where a Senate committee is examining Bolsonaro’s handling of the health issue, in Brasilia’s largest gathering since the outbreak began.
Bolsonaro supporters held rallies in favor of him over the previous two weekends, at his request, while his approval rating fell to a historic low of 24%, according to a Datafolha poll.
According to this pollster, almost 49 percent of those polled support Bolsonaro’s removal from office, while 46 percent oppose it.