WORLD / AMERICAS
Thousands join anti-Bolsonaro protests in Brazil
Published: Jul 04, 2021 07:03 PM

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Friday. Photo: AFP

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Friday. Photo: AFP


Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro, who faces an investigation over an allegedly corrupt COVID-19 vaccine deal. 

It was the third day of demonstrations against the government, which is also confronting mounting pressure from a parliamentary inquiry into its handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 500,000 lives in the country.

Lima Mendes, a 47-year-old physician taking part in a Rio de Janeiro protest, squarely blamed the government for the high death toll. 

In its first two months of hearings, the parliamentary panel of inquiry focused on the government's delays in ordering vaccine supplies even as it promoted ineffective drugs like hydroxychloroquine and as Bolsonaro belittled masking and social distancing measures.

The inquiry took a sudden turn, however, after a health ministry official, Luis Ricardo Miranda, said he had faced "atypical, excessive" pressure to approve the purchase of 3 million doses of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccine at a cost far higher than for other vaccines.

This led federal prosecutors to announce Friday that they were investigating to determine whether Bolsonaro had committed a crime by failing to denounce the alleged fraud.

Prosecutors are also investigating a businessman's assertion that he was offered a bribe by a health ministry official while negotiating a vaccine purchase. Bolsonaro has rejected all claims of government corruption, instead denouncing the parliamentary inquiry as a political "antic" aimed at forcing him from office.

The opposition this week presented a "super-impeachment-request" listing dozens of accusations, some old, some new, against the far-right leader.

AFP


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