Conflicts & War

Brazil sees new day of protests amid escalating COVID-19 epidemic

Sao Paulo, June 14 (efe-epa).- Supporters and detractors of Brazil’s far-right president protested for the third consecutive Sunday in several cities of the country, in the midst of the uncontrolled coronavirus epidemic.

The new day of demonstrations came as Brazil stands as the world’s second country with the most COVID-19 deaths (43,332) and infections (867,624) after the United States, and with the majority of states and municipalities focused on reopening.

Protesters opposed to Jair Bolsonaro, including social, anti-fascist and anti-racist movements, marched in Sao Paulo against what they called the president’s “genocidal policies” during the health crisis, and his “authoritarian” rhetoric.

Followers of the far-right leader, who described COVID-19 as just a “little cold” and claims to have the “people” and the Armed Forces on his side, again called in Brasilia for the “closure” of Parliament and Congress, and a “military intervention.”

Although these protests are far from being as big as those of 2013 and 2014, they do increase polarization in the country of 210 million inhabitants, which is simultaneously dealing with a health crisis, another political crisis and an economic crisis.

A few hundred supporters of the head of state gathered at the Army headquarters in Brasilia, with banners reading “SOS Armed Forces,” “Military intervention with Bolsonaro in power” and “New anti-communist alliance.”

On the other hand, a group calling itself “300 for Brazil,” made up of about 30 ultra-right activists, occupied the dome of Congress on Saturday for a few minutes and at night launched fireworks against the Supreme Court.

Some Supreme Court judges, including its president, José Antonio Dias Toffoli, condemned the attack, while the Prosecutor’s Office announced the opening of another investigation.

Two weeks ago, the same group marched with torches against the Supreme Court, evoking the United States’ Ku Klux Klan.

Bolsonaro, whose government has a strong military emphasis and is nostalgic for the last military dictatorship (1964-1985), maintains tension with the legislature and judiciary, which have suspended or highlighted some of his most controversial measures, such as easing Brazilians’ access to weapons.

Shortly after a Supreme Court judge outlined the military’s duties, the president on Friday said in an official note that the Armed Forces were under his authority, as dictated by the Constitution, and that they “do not follow absurd orders,” such as “the seizure of power,” nor do they accept “attempts” by other powers based on “political trials.”

Bolsonaro is being investigated in the Supreme Court for alleged illegal interference in the Federal Police and faces another case in the Electoral Justice that could nullify his victory in the 2018 elections due to the dissemination of fake news during his campaign.

In the city of Sao Paulo, the largest in Brazil, there were demonstrations both for and against Bolsonaro, although the latter had a greater attendance.

The president’s detractors, who also included anti-fascism fans of Corinthians and Palmeiras, Bolsonaro’s soccer team, met on Paulista Avenue and displayed a huge banner with the phrase “Fora Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro out).

“We live a constant threat against democracy in this country. It is important to be organized, on the street, because only then will we prevent a new dictatorship in the country,” Anderson D’Alecio, one of the coordinators of the protest, told EFE.

The participants, escorted by a strong police presence, also cried out against “the extermination of the black population,” the same weekend that two new episodes of police brutality occurred in Sao Paulo. EFE-EPA


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