With Brazil’s presidential election a year away, thousands of protesters marched in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and dozens of other cities across the country on Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro and called for his government’s impeachment for its handling of the pandemic. .
The last 7 September protests in support of Bolsonaro were fueled by leftist parties and some union movements affiliated with the Workers’ Party of former President Luiz Insio Lula da Silva. Da Silva is widely expected to run against Bolsonaro in Brazil’s October 2, 2022 presidential election.
Saturday’s protests target the president for his mishandling COVID-19 global pandemic. Bolsonaro, who has not been vaccinated and does not usually wear a mask, has underestimated the severity of the virus and has promoted crowding during the pandemic. Some 597,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, a country of 212 million people. The protesters also protested against rising inflation in staple products such as food and electricity.
“It is very painful to see that health and education are being destroyed, and there are many starving people in the country,” said retired 75-year-old Marilena Magnano. The Associated Press. “We need Bolsonaro from the government, his time has passed.”
The president’s approval ratings have declined steadily throughout the years, but he remains far more popular than former presidents who were impeached—most recently in 2016 the Workers’ Party’s Dilma Rousseff.
More than 130 impeachment requests have been filed since the start of Bolsonaro’s administration, but lower house Speaker Arthur Lira and his predecessor have refused to initiate proceedings. The split among the opposition is the major reason analysts believe there will not be enough pressure on Lira to open an impeachment process.