Tens of thousands of protesters have poured onto the streets of Brazil’s largest cities to demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro over his catastrophic response to a coronavirus pandemic that has claimed nearly half a million Brazilian lives.
The demonstrators turned out in more than 200 cities and towns for what is the biggest anti-Bolsonaro mobilization since Brazil’s Covid outbreak began
“Today is a decisive milestone in the battle to defeat Bolsonaro’s genocidal administration,” said Silvia de Mendonça, 55, a civil rights activist from Brazil’s Unified Black Movement as she led a column of protesters through Rio’s dilapidated city center.
Osvaldo Bazani da Silva, a 48-year-old hairdresser who lost his younger brother to Covid-19, said: “We can’t lose any more Brazilian lives. We need to hit the streets every single day until this government falls.”
In Rio, many marchers carried homemade placards remembering loved ones they have lost to an epidemic that has killed nearly 460,000 Brazilians, the world’s second-largest official death toll after the US. “I’m here in his memory,” said Luiz Dantas, 18, clutching a photograph of his grandfather, Sebastião, who died in February aged 75.
“The culprit has a first and a second name,” Dantas claimed, in reference to his country’s far-right president who has repeatedly trivialized the coronavirus as a “little flu” and sabotaged containment efforts such as social distancing or lockdowns. “I want justice,” the teenager added, shedding tears as he spoke.
Irene Grether, a 69-year-old psychoanalyst who was also at the demo, said two relatives had died as a result of her government’s inaction. “This government is more dangerous than the virus,” she said as thousands of protesters gathered near a statue remembering the anti-slavery resistance leader Zumbi dos Palmares.
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