Tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets of the country on Saturday, once again calling for the ouster of unpopular President Jair Bolsonaro for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, among others.
Large crowds have gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia and dozens of other cities as part of the “National Bolsonaro Out Campaign”, which is supported by a dozen left-wing political parties and labor groups. .
Among other problems, the right-wing president has come under sharp criticism for his handling of the pandemic, which has claimed nearly 600,000 lives here.
Hundreds of people marched through Rio de Janeiro’s central neighborhood in Candelaria, shouting “Bolsonaro out!” which also appeared on several large banners.
“We are going to bring him out. The hope of the people here on the streets is to pressure lawmakers to call for impeachment,” retired professor Elizabeth Simoes, 69, told AFP.
More than 100 requests for Bolsonaro’s impeachment have been filed with the Chamber of Deputies, but its leader Arthur Lira, a government ally, has refused to take any of them.
The Supreme Court ordered several investigations into Bolsonaro and his collaborators, in particular for disseminating false information.
In Sao Paulo, tens of thousands of people gathered on Saturday afternoon on central Paulista Avenue, including former minister Ciro Gomes.
“Bolsonaro is destroying the national economy,” said the center-left politician, calling for unity. “It shames Brazil abroad and is responsible for the deaths of nearly 600,000 Brazilians” from Covid-19.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters gathered along the ministries plaza in Brasilia.
Local media reported protests in 24 of Brazil’s 27 states and in 84 cities, including 14 state capitals.
Red flags of the Workers’ Party of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, or Lula, could be seen on Saturday, as well as Brazilian flags and placards from several other left and centrist parties often seen during protests against the far right Bolsonaro.
In recent months, protests led by leftist movements demanded Bolsonaro’s dismissal over his mismanagement of the pandemic. But Saturday’s protests were also against rising food and fuel prices, as well as relief for the 14.1 million unemployed across the country.
“The people are hungry and we can no longer support this government,” said Isadora Lessa, 22, in Rio.
“How important is it to be here? Let him know that he does not have unanimity, that he is going to have a hard time getting elected again,” said Marcelo Werneck, who joined to protests in Rio in memory of “friends and family” who died from Covid-19.
“If he doesn’t face impeachment, he loses the election in 2022,” Werneck added.
Besieged by judicial inquiries and the economic crisis, Bolsonaro’s popularity has fallen in recent months to 22%, its lowest level since taking office in January 2019.
But the president’s backers have also become known in recent weeks, as around 125,000 of them gathered in Brasilia and Sao Paulo on September 7 to show their support for Bolsonaro.
An opinion poll carried out in mid-September by the Datafolha Institute found that Bolsonaro had 26% support compared to 44% for Lula, just a year before the presidential vote.
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