Thousands protest in Brazil against the President’s handling of the Covid19 crisis
Protests are taking place across Brazil over the management of the Covid-19 crisis by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. In the capital, Brasilia, thousands of people gathered in front of Congress calling for the president’s impeachment, and demanding more vaccines. Demonstrations are taking place in several other major cities, including Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil has registered nearly 460,000 deaths – the second highest toll in the world after the US. It also has the third highest number of coronavirus cases at more than 16 million.
At the outset of the pandemic, the far right Bolsonaro dismissed Covid-19 as “a little flu” and as the death toll has risen steadily he has gone on to infuriate people in other ways, opposing stay-at-home measures and masks, touting ineffective medications, refusing offers of vaccines, and failing to anticipate oxygen shortages that left patients to suffocate.
The protests were largely peaceful, except for Pernambuco state capital Recife, where the police used rubber bullets, gas bombs, and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Videos circulating on social media appeared to show one protester was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet and police were seen using pepper spray on Liana Cisne, a local councilwoman from the Worker’s Party.
In Brasilia, protesters marched alongside a giant plastic doll of the president. Placards demanded his impeachment and called for more vaccines and emergency financial aid. There were also calls to better protect indigenous people and to stop deforestation of the Amazon.