Angered by COVID-19 response, Brazilians protest against Bolsonaro
Published: Jul 25, 2021 07:48 PM
Brazil Covid Photo:VCG

Brazil Covid Photo:VCG

Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets Saturday to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing increasing pressure as the pandemic exacts a devastating toll.

It was the fourth weekend of protests called by leftist political parties, labor unions and social groups against Bolsonaro, who is being investigated for allegedly turning a blind eye to a scheme to embezzle government funds in the purchase of vaccines.

Protest marches were planned in 400 cities and towns.

In Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people in red clothes and wearing face masks marched with banners bearing slogans berating the embattled leader, including "No one can take any more" and "Get out corrupt criminal."

Organizers said they were part of a day intended to galvanize the country "in defense of democracy, the lives of Brazilians and getting Bolsonaro out."

In Rio and elsewhere, protesters complained about Brazil's late-starting vaccination program and high unemployment rate, and demanded more emergency aid for poor people grappling with the pandemic.

"It is very important that everyone who feels offended or oppressed by this government comes out to the streets, because we need to fight for the return to democracy," Laise de Oliveira, a 65-year-old social worker, told AFP. 

Brazilian press carried images and reports of streets thronged with anti-Bolsonaro demonstrators in 20 of Brazil's 26 states through early afternoon.

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, Brazil's most populous city with 12.3 million residents, and the capital Brasilia. 

Bolsonaro, criticized for remarks in favor of exploiting protected areas of the Amazon, his views on guns, and an ambitious privatization program, is enduring his worst stretch since coming to power in 2019.

Bolsonaro has been famously dismissive of the health crisis, the need to wear face masks, and lockdown measures to halt the spread of the virus.