Brazilians stage nationwide protests against Bolsonaro’s Covid response

The widespread demonstrations come as Brazil struggles to contend with a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 460,000 deaths reported since the outbreak first began.

Mr Bolsonaro has seen his popularity take a major dive in the midst of the Covid crisis, with the Brazilian leader accused of exacerbating the crisis with his doubts around mask wearing and the necessity of vaccines.

Currently, Brazil has recorded the third highest numbers of coronavirus cases in the world, after the US and India, according to data maintained by the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, 16,471,600 people had contracted the virus in the country, compared with 33,251,979 in the US and 27,894,800 in India.

Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in a nationwide protests against President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday.

Demonstrators in at least 16 cities across the country rallied against the leader’s response, carrying signs with slogans like “Out with Bolsonaro” and “Impeachment now”, according to Reuters.

In Rio de Janeiro, protesters could be seen kicking a prop made in Mr Bolsonaro’s likeness before setting it on fire.

While demonstrations were largely peaceful in Rio de Janeiro and in capital Brasilia, in some cities, including Recife, violence unfolded, with police shooting rubber bullets and firing tear gas at demonstrators.

Meanwhile 461,057 people have died of Covid in Brazil, compared with 594,306 in the US and 325,972 in India.

Despite facing widespread criticism, on Friday, Mr Bolsonaro touted his government’s vaccination programme, tweeting that “almost 100 million doses of vaccines” had been distributed by the Ministry of Health to states.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Renan Calheiros, the senator leading an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid crisis, said he believed further investigation into Mr Bolsonaro’s role in the management of Brazil’s Covid outbreak would be necessary.

Asked whether Mr Bolsonaro had bet on “herd immunity”, rather than pursuing a vaccination programme early on in the pandemic, Mr Calheiros said: “I think everything points in that direction.”

“The president first denied the disease, called it a flu, and then argued against social isolation and lockdown,” the senator, a strong critic of Brazil’s president said. “Then he played down the use of masks and encouraged crowds to gather.”

“Why is that? Because of herd immunity, the natural immunity … you have to encourage crowds and the spread of the virus,” Mr Calheiros said, adding: “This is why he never wanted a vaccine”.

The senator said it was too early to say whether Mr Bolsonaro may have committed any criminal offenses in his management of the coronavirus crisis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.