Brazil takes to the streets en masse to demand Bolsonaro's impeachment

Brazilians protest against the president's handling of the pandemic
Protesters against the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

AFP/MICHAEL DANTAS  -   Protesters against the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

Thousands of people took to the streets in Brazil on Saturday to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the fourth protest in less than two months in which the country is massively rising up against the denialist leader.

In more than 400 cities across the country, protesters also called for speeding up the vaccination process and increasing the amount of benefits for the poorest people to cope with the crisis that came with the virus, which has already left more than 14.8 million unemployed.

Called by the trade union centres, left-wing parties and social movements, the protests took place peacefully throughout the day, with disturbances only in Sao Paulo.

In addition to the demonstrations in Brazil, a dozen countries, including Germany, Spain, Canada, the United States, England, Mexico and Portugal, accompanied the marches abroad from various cities.

Manifestación en Brasil
REUTERS/AMANDA PEROBELLI - Demonstration in Brazil

In the South American giant, the largest demonstrations took place in Sao Paulo, the country's most populous city and the hardest hit by the pandemic, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Belo Horizonte and also in Brasilia, where the protests were concentrated in front of the Congress building, to reinforce pressure for an impeachment trial against Bolsonaro.

In the Brazilian capital, political leaders and protesters agreed that the pressure from the Brazilian people against Bolsonaro is increasing.

"People's indignation and street protests are going to reach Congress. The parties and trade unions are pushing for the impeachment process to be opened," Gleissi Hoffman, president of the Workers' Party (PT), the main opposition party to which former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva belongs, told Efe.

Victor Ferreira, a 25-year-old businessman who came out to protest against the president dressed as Indiana Jones, said that Bolsonaro will be ousted by his own supporters.

El presidente brasileño Jair Bolsonaro
PHOTO/ISAC NOBREGA - Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro

"Just like Captain America he fights fascism and that reflects everything I think. It's good against evil (...) Indiana Jones fights fascism, he fights evil and I think it's a good analogy," he said.

Bolsonaro's government is being harshly questioned by suspicions of corruption in the purchase of vaccines, which have been uncovered by the investigations being carried out by a Senate commission and which have put even the president himself under the eye of the Attorney General's Office.

The far-right leader's denialism in dealing with the pandemic and alleged corruption at COVID's expense have raised calls in Brazil for his impeachment, driven by the opposition.

Huge banners with the slogans "Bolsonaro out!" "Vaccine for all now!" and "Bolsonaro genocidal" were the common denominator of the protests, which only saw violence in Sao Paulo.

Los pacientes de COVID-19 están acostados en las camas de un hospital de campaña construido dentro de un gimnasio en Santo Andre, en las afueras de Sao Paulo, Brasil
AP/ANDRE PENNER - COVID-19 patients lie in beds in a field hospital built inside a gymnasium in Santo Andre, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

At the beginning of the night, when the marches were already dispersing in the São Paulo capital, the police fired tear gas after being attacked with stones by a group of hooded men, who also destroyed the facade of a bank.

Despite the efforts of the organisers, there were crowds, although the vast majority of participants wore masks.

Brazil is one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 548,000 dead and 19.6 million infected.

The number of deaths and positives has fallen substantially in the last month, thanks to the vaccination campaign underway in the South American giant.

Since the immunisation process began in Brazil six months ago, 45 per cent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, only 17 per cent of Brazil's more than 212 million people are fully vaccinated.