Sao Paulo, Jun 19 (EFE).- Supporters of the left took to the streets of Brazil’s major cities Saturday for another round of protests against right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on the same day the country’s Covid-19 death toll topped 500,000.
Thousands of people, most of them wearing masks, marched in Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Brasilia, Goiania and Cuiaba, among other urban hubs, to demand the ouster of the pandemic-denialist president for his handling of the public health crisis.
Another demand voiced at protests was for more vaccines, amid growing public anger spurred by revelations that the Bolsonaro government passed more than once last year on opportunities to obtain the Pfizer vaccine.
Demonstrators also demanded in increase in the size of pandemic relief payments to the poor.
In Sao Paulo, the most populous city in Latin America, the crowd took up several blocks of Avenida Paulista, the main axis of the downtown business and financial district.
“We are here protesting against the government of death, of the mass murderer Bolsonaro. We want the immediate vaccination of the entire Brazilian people,” sociologist and women’s rights activist Maria Lucia Silveira told Efe.
The nation of 210 million people has lost 500,800 lives to the coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases is approaching 17.9 million, the health ministry said Saturday in its latest bulletin.
In fatalities, Brazil is No. 2 worldwide behind the United States, where Covid-19 has killed more than 601,000 people, while only the US and India – home to 1.3 billion people – have more cases than the South American country.
Covid-19 deaths in Brazil have been running at above 2,000 per day over the last week, up from roughly 1,600 daily at the start of the month.
Bolsonaro, who notoriously referred to the coronavirus last year as a “measly flu,” has been dismissive of vaccines and frequently appears in public without a face mask. And having Covid-19 himself produced no discernible change in his public stance.
The left mobilized Saturday for the second time in less than a month after having ceded the streets to Bolsonaro’s supporters from the start of the pandemic.
Though the next presidential election is still more than a year away, Brazil’s political class is already gearing up for an expected battle between Bolsonaro and popular two-term former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, founder and standard-bearer of the center-left Workers Party.
The two men would have faced other in 2018 but for a since-overturned corruption conviction that put Lula behind bars and kept his name off the ballot.
Revelations of gross misconduct by the investigating magistrate behind the prosecution resulted in Lula’s exoneration and the restoration of his civil rights. EFE